Madison River - SW Montana

Hello packrafters. This is my first post to the Alpacka forums. I’m new to the sport and am quickly falling in love with it. I’ve only floated two rivers (Yellowstone and Madison, Montana) ranging in difficulty from class I to III.

This past weekend a group of us did a 45 mile, 2.5 day float on the Madison River in SW Montana. I only took pictures of the class I and II stuff as I had the camera in the dry bag for the first part of the trip where we encountered II and III. Below are a few photos. The complete photoset can be seen on my Flickr page:

Above: Scott Christy and Andy Skurka chatting and floating

Above: Ryan Jordan’s packraft shelter

Above: Carol Crooker lends advice to Andy Skurka and Brett French

Howdy Sam - Good to see you around these parts. Thanks for the photos; looks like a fun and relaxing time was had by all.

Say, how did your open boat fare on any class 3 stuff you indicated having encountered?

By the way, the boats as shelters (interesting rigs!) were in addition to bivy sacks, I guess? Your photo set shows a few storms…?

Thanks, you too. I was stoked to find out a few months ago that you were a packrafter and putting them to good use down in the SW.

The class III sections I encountered were short and while in them I took on a fair amount of water. Having read Packrafting! and learning that an open boat is a good way to learn proper paddling and maneuvering techniques I didn’t feel uncomfortable trying that out. Had it been much colder however it would have been more comfortable to have a skirt. I don’t own this boat but when I do acquire one for myself it will be complete with spray deck.

By the way,

7 out of 8 of us had wp/b bivies with us (Scott managed to forget his) so we were using the packrafts to cover our faces to avoid the “Chinese water torture” effect rain can have on an enclosed bivy. It ended up staying dry regardless of how the weather may have looked so we weren’t really able to put our shelters to the test.

Looks like a very fun trip. After viewing some video’s on youtube I now have a desire to packraft young creek, gordon creek, or the south fork flathead up there in MT.

Brett French of the Billings Gazette did a story on this trip. Check it out here:

In a similar quest for multiple-use of the raft to reduce packweight, I had a recurring idea to construct an Alpacka Tarp. This would be sort of a lean-to design with the raft as a vertical “wall” extending downward from where a standard tarp’s ridgeline would be. The lean-to “awning” (spinnaker) would be trapezoidal, with the longest side opposite and parallel to the boat’s long axis. The opposite side would be of a length equivalent to the distance between the raft’s front and rear corner lash tabs. The awning would have four corner attachment points. The two that attach to the raft would feature mini-biners rather than guylines. To set it up, fill the raft part-way full with water to weigh it down for stability, then tilt it vertically with the bottom facing the shelter’s interior, and the raft’s deck and lash tabs facing away. Run a pair of guylines through the raft’s now-upward-corner lash tabs and stake them out away from the shelter. Now create the awning’s ridgeline by clipping the two corner carabiners to these same two raft lash tabs. Guy out the tarp’s remaining corners and behold whatever you’ve just created! Presumably the lower legs would need additional coverage in any sort of weather, possibly a homemade 1/2 bivy and use a 50 or 75L empty drybag as a complementing 1/2 groundsheet for the torso.

Kudos to Mr French on his fun write-up, by the way.

I started a thread regarding the building of such a shelter:

I did a short section of this trip in July. I’d recommend it for someone wanting to try/learn a bit. I put in a Kelly’s Slide Inn just a couple of miles below Quake Lake and floated to the first take out below 3 Dollar Bridge. We took our time and would beach our boats on islands and fish…really fun.

This is perfect water to work on some basic skills.