DuMore Packraft Trip

| August 22, 2013 | 3 Comments

The true beauty of  packrafts is that their lightweight portability allows you to boat wildly remote rivers which would be logistically daunting or expensive with a hard-shell boat.   Weighing in at about 15 pounds for the entire boat, paddle, pdf, drysuit, etc., means that you can hump them over mountain passes and carry them for many miles a day, and then float a pristine section of a river the next. They are one of those magical outdoor toys that make zealous believers out people the first time they use them.

In the Lower 48 (as the AK’er call it), one of the trickier aspects of wilderness packrafting is mapping out good routes which combine boating and hiking/biking/skiing. In this regard, Forrest McCarthy from Jackson Hole has an uncanny talent for piecing together 5 star outings.  His “River of Return” route earned him the Golden Paddle navigator award last year, and this year he has been awarded the Emerging Navigational Explorer of the Year award for refining his “DuMore” trip through the Teton Wilderness. Part of the brillance of the DuMore trip is that it combines perfect days of alternating hiking and packrafting with excellent campsites. All told, the trip is about 100 miles (47 hiking and 50 paddling) with whitewater up to Class 3 and a couple of big days of walking.

As I found out before starting this trip, there is no such thing as the DuMore river.  Forrest created the name as the trip starts on the DuNoir river and there are so many options for connecting more rivers and trails that you could always “do more.”  The DuMore starts with a car shuttle out of Turpin Meadows, which is about 45 minutes outside of Jackson Hole, WY, and it took us six days to complete.

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Day One

The day starts with an hour-long car shuttle...

The day starts with an hour-long car shuttle…

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The first few miles is off-piste hiking to avoid either a long circuitous trail or trespassing on private property.
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You eventually reach and cross the DuNoir river, which soon leads to a well established hiking trail.

Route finding is fairly obvious, but it never hurts to consult a map every now and then.

Route finding is fairly obvious, but it never hurts to consult a map every now and then.

Get yer' hike on... it is a long day (14 miles?) with full loads.

Get yer’ hike on… it is a long day (14 miles?) with full loads.

Ahhhh, at last.  Camp One right next to the South Fork of the Shoshone river.

Ahhhh, at last. Camp One right next to the South Fork of the Shoshone river.

Day Two

Starting out on the SF of the Shoshone river.

Starting out on the SF of the Shoshone river.

Most of this is mellow boating with a few portages around deadfall.

Most of this is mellow boating with a few portages around deadfall.

A major portage (1 mile?) around a narrow section of the river which was choked by deadfall.

A major portage (1 mile?) around a narrow section of the river which was choked by deadfall.

One of the cruxes of the boating on the DuMore trip was this short narrows section, which wasn't too bad this time around.

One of the cruxes of the boating on the DuMore trip was this short narrows section, which wasn’t too bad this time around. Jim Harris boating.

Camp Two is at a hunting camp located right at the base of Bruin Creek.

Camp Two is at a hunting camp located right at the base of Fall Creek. Forrest McCarthy holding his water.

Day Three

Heading up the Fall Creek trail and looking back to where we came from the day before.

Heading up the Fall Creek trail and looking back to where we came from the day before.

Moe Witschard shows his good side as he crosses Fall Creek.

Moe Witschard shows his good side as he crosses Fall Creek.

Canus Lupus was here.

Canis Lupus was here.

 

Heading over the 11,000+ foot high point of the trip.

Heading over the 11,000+ foot high point of the trip.

Having crested the ridge and heading back down towards Bruin Creek.

Having crested the ridge and heading back down towards Bruin Creek.

This is my favorite photo of the trip.  After looking at it for a moment, Mike Fiebig aptly said "Now there's a bit of Shingri la for you."  No kidding.  What a beautiful meadow.

This is my favorite photo of the trip. After looking at it for a moment, Mike Fiebig aptly said “Now there’s a bit of Shingri la for you.” No kidding. What a beautiful meadow.

The day ends with a beautiful gravel bank camp on the banks of the Thorofare River.

The day ends with a beautiful gravel bank camp on the banks of the Thorofare River.

Day Four

For the most part, the Thorofare River is low and slow.

For the most part, the Thorofare River is low and slow.

The Thorofare valley has lots of wildlife and scenery.

The Thorofare valley has lots of wildlife and scenery.

Taking out right at the Thorofare trail junction.

Taking out right at the Thorofare trail junction.

Heading up the well traveled Thorofare trail.

Heading up the well traveled Thorofare trail.

Crossing over the Yellowstone River (which is illegal for packrafting).

Crossing over the Yellowstone River (which is illegal for packrafting).

Along side the Yellowstone River.

Along side the Yellowstone River.

A beautiful night at a hunter's camp near Atlantic Creek.

A beautiful night at a hunter’s camp near Atlantic Creek.

Day Five

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Trying not to get lost while heading up to Two Oceans Pass on a seven-lane horse packing trail.

Moe Witschard nearing Two Ocean Pass.

Moe Witschard nearing Two Ocean Pass.

After cresting Two Ocean Pass and heading down the Pacific side.

After cresting Two Ocean Pass and heading down the Pacific side.

Getting ready to paddle the Buffalo River.

Getting ready to paddle the Buffalo River.

At this point, we could have punched it all the way back to the car/trailhead which was about ten miles away and made it a five day trip, but we camped for one more night to run part of the NF of the Buffalo the next day.

All of the campsites on this trip were 5-star.

All of the campsites on this trip were 5-star.  This one was right at the confluence of the main and the NF of the Buffalo rivers.

Day Six

Day six was an optional bonus whitewater day and could be skipped if time is short.  We hiked about 2-3 miles up a trail alongside the North Fork of the Buffalo and ran a series of rapids which probably pushed up towards Class 4 whitewater. It wasn’t huge or powerful water, but there were lots of must-miss hazards like trees and rocks.

Moe Witschard dispatching with a little drop in his usual calm style.

Moe Witschard dispatching with a little drop in his usual calm style.

Forrest McCarthy sets up for a run while Jim Harris takes photos, Mike Fiebig provides safety and I take photos of the photographer.

Forrest McCarthy sets up for a run while Jim Harris takes photos, Mike Fiebig provides safety and I take photos of the photographer.

Forrest sends it through some rocky, bumpy water.

Forrest sends it through some rocky, bumpy water.

From here, it was about another 1-2 hours on the Main Buffalo to get back to our car at Turpine Meadows, and then an hour car shuttle (each way) to bring the whole trip back together again.

A big thanks for Forrest McCarthy for envisioning the trip, Moe Witschard for organizing it, and Mike Fiebig & Jim Harris for providing such excellent company, stories and camping experience.

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Category: Trip Reports

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber and Mountain Unicycle rider. He and Polly Samuels McLean are the parents of two very loud little girls.

Comments (3)

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  1. Great write-up and photos Andrew. The best part of the trip for me was the company I was with. I look forward to our next adventure.

  2. Shelley says:

    Looks like a great trip and nice write up. Next one probably needs some female company to balance you out so let me know! ;)

  3. atommy says:

    Isn’t it time for you bozos to do another one of these pack raft trips? I’m hoping to finally get one of these pack rafts later this summer and hope to figure some trips out in the Bob Marshall.

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DuMore PackRaft trip

| July 30, 2013 | 0 Comments

Category: Random

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber and Mountain Unicycle rider. He and Polly Samuels McLean are the parents of two very loud little girls.

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