Friday, June 16, 2006
Kelsey Thompson on the endless white torrent known as East Rosebud Creek - Montana
High flows, snag-wood shores, strainers and a gradient of over 200 feet per mile might seem like a class V creek to walk away from. Other times it is best to follow through with your instincts, stick together with your friends, paddle like experts, and meet the challenge that lies ahead. If there ever is a creek to keep your heart rate at its highest throughout the entire length of the run, East Rosebud with around 2500 cfs coming out of the lake sits well in this category.
Essentially looking like the whole run.......
After Joey Vosburgh and Kelsey Thompson held a brief creekboat hole-riding competition near the takeout, we attempted to draw comparisons of a super stompin' East Rosebud with some other runs which we knew.
The tranquil outflow of East Rosebud Lake just before the chaos erupts
East Rosebud creek flows north out of beautiful East Rosebud Lake in the Beartooth range which borders Montana with Wyoming. In September of 1996 a forest fire started in the alpine and blazed out of East Rosebud Canyon and onto the front range. Today new tree growth is just beginning among dead standing trees which fill the valley. Along the river, the trees still standing look as if they are begging to be brought down by winds so that they too can join their friends resting along the banks.
As we made our way up the road along the river left shore twice we found ourselves making strange faces and noises as we envisioned being caught up in the spider-web log jams within a raging torrent. Although scouting these spots before putting on was the ideal decision, there was no doubt the wood and high water played with our heads as we continued on. As we drove across the final bridge where a wide flat channel exits the lake, our conversations ended at the sight of which seemed to be too much water for something called a creek. Russ Fry, Nick Turner and Matt Wilson capture the feelings exactly in their Montana Surf guide book with quotes about East Rosebud like: "Putting in at serene East Rosebud Lake gives you a moment of clarity before the rush begins" and "this is as close to sword fighting as you are going to get in a kayak"
If you are in the area, checking out East Rosebud is a must do. The road is nearly paved the entire way up and allows for easy scouting while you drive. The put-in for the run is straight out of the lake and finishes either at the bridge where the pavement ends or about 3/4 of a mile downstream from there. Depending on snowpack the creek flows throughout the early summer and runs longer thanks to a large drainage and lake support. Our decision to scout many corners on the way down was important for our first time but in no way did it prevent the action from feeling like anything but riding a white roller-coaster down a valley of sacred sticks.
Posted by Basso