[Cdt-l] 8. Flip Flop Question

Paul Healy paul.healy at gmail.com
Wed Dec 16 13:08:19 CST 2009

I did this flip in 2008 to get around what seemed at the time to be
impassable conditions in the Bob.  At the time we made the decision to flip
we thought that everyone who had tried to get thru the Bob had turned back
due to the deep snow and high runoff/impassable stream crossings.  This
would have been last week in June.  Flipping south to Rawlins seemed to be a
reasonable way to keep the hike going.  We knew we would hit snow in the
Winds, but we figured flipping south at least bought us another couple of
weeks of snow melt.   So the flip puts us in the Winds the second week of
July.  We encountered significant snow and snow melt runoff in the Winds, on
one snow field crossing I stepped on a covered void and dropped into an 8 or
9 foot hole, we had a couple of chest deep lake outlet stream crossings...
It was Great!   We made it thru with no problems.   Later, comparing
experiences with other hikers who did make it thru the Bob in late June,  I
thought that we had probably had more difficult conditions with our flip
route than we would have had had we not flipped and crossed the Bob in late
June.  More difficult meaning our Winds flip resulted in more miles on snow,
more post-holing, and certainly deeper stream crossings.   Add to that the
logistical issues and expense of flipping, and the disruption to the
continuity of a boarder to boarder hike.... I think the flip is a very poor

I think most years you are probably likely to see more late spring trail
snow in the Winds than in northern Montana because of the higher tail
elevations in the Winds.

I think a better option is to just go with the snow.  Get some training and
experience in self arrest, build some confidence in your snow crossing
skills.  I think crossing the snow covered passes in Glacier and in the Bob
is part of the challenge (and fun) of a south bound thruhike.  Just go with
it.  Know how to self arrest.  You'll be fine.

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