Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lower two medicine river

There is relatively little information floating around about the lower two medicine river near Browing Montana and Cut Bank Montana. For instance, American Whitewater only has a single entry about a surf wave somewhere near Browining. "floating and recreation on Montana rivers" by Curt Thompson is the only source of information I've been able to find.

Thompson describes the section between Highway 89 near Heart Butte to Highway 358 near Cut Bank as "nine class II to III rapids. A class IV is just upstream and visible from the Highway 44 bridge.". Since maps don't clearly show where the Highway 44 bridge may be, the difficulty of this run is uncertain. In addition, translating Thompson's float grades to modern kayaking grades is uncertain. For instance, the upper two medicine describes two medicine falls as unportageable and unrunnable. It is in fact only moderately difficult and very easy if one knows the basics of a body rappel (and has a throw bag). The falls are also a straight forward V.

While the section from Highway 89 to 358 is 40 miles, Thompson describes a shorter section from highway 358 to Sullivan bridge as a 14 mile section containing two class IV and two class III.

If anyone is interested in taking advantage of the rare flows on this run this Saturday, please email Chris at cgoble72 at gmail.

UPDATE

Did the bike shuttle on the middle run (89 to 358) and then ran that section.  Very flat.  Scenery is nice, but gets repetitive.  All the rapids are very small and would be fun in a canoe.  I would definitely not call the last 9 miles "whitewater".  There are some easy waves and the occasional wide ledge with a nice flat spinning wave/hole.  The last rapid is a classic.  Much better than it looks from the road.  Well work hiking up with your boat to run.

It would be interesting to see what the lower section is like.

5 comments:

sigob said...

Looking at google maps, the last rapid on the long lower section looks quite good. It is just west of highway 385. The lower section down to cut bank looksnexceptional.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chis,

Have a good trip!

On June 3, 2000, Di, Wilco and I headed down to take a look but we couldn't find an access point to the lower part of long run above #358. Gates and no-tresspassing signs to prospective roads in from the road to the north. We did see the final rapid when we walked up a bit from the road - but didn't carry our boats up.

We then paddled the lower reach - 14 miles from the 358 bridge down to the Marias Bridge. My log suggests four rapids that were II+ to III and some smaller stuff. We found it intermediate between the Lower St. Mary Canyon and the standard Milk River run (Coffin-Weir). Quite scenic and some surfing.

We only had the Thompson book and no Google Earth back then - that could help a lot.

I like the river and I'd return, especially in higher flow when surfing could be good - sandstone features like the Lower St. Mary that could form good waves - ??

Stew

(we'll be near home this week-end, paddling Lower St. Mary during the week)

sigob said...

Thanks for the update Stew. If the flows are good I was thinking of trying for the full 40 mile upper section. That would eliminate the need for special access. I figure it can't be any worse than the 25km paddle out on Westwater that Wilco and I did a number of years back. But then, you know me - always up for an epic ;)

The rapid above 358 looks very interesting.

Glad to know the rapids are a bit overgraded in Thompson's book. I suspected so, but wasn't sure what high water would do. Should be good for an out of shape paddler like me.

If you're ever over by Koocanusa when you're at the cabin, you and Di should try Big creek located on the west side of the lake. I think you would like it.

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