C/C = Cariboo / Chilcotin Bridge Valley over to Lord River and Taseko Lake - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
Scaling New Heights
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Vancouver, , .
Posts: 58
Default Bridge Valley over to Lord River and Taseko Lake

Late August 2016 I did a trip in the Chilcotins through an area that I think gets back country skiers in winter, but I don’t believe anyone has done this particular traverse in summer. It was a combination hike / packraft from the Bridge River valley northwards over and down into the Lord River into Taseko Lake. I took lots of video and photos but I just can’t deal with the video right now so this will have to do. Spoiler alert!!! I survived.

I love looking at Google Earth and sometimes I find an area that just screams out to be explored. Usually it takes a few tries to get through the route I come up with. I think it took me three tries to get through (one previous trip down the adjacent Duane Creek is here). I tried twice with my bike which was not practical, then just decided to load up and hike it.

I drove up with my dog to the end of the Bridge Valley road at 60 something kilometers to the cabin by Thunder Creek, around 1600 m. Along the way we scared up a few black bears by the road which I wasn't too thrilled about – after the last trip up here.

I brought a newly acquired Monowalker thinking that it would lighten my load but it was totally impractical for the amount of weight I was hauling. I could barely maneuver it in the parking area so there was no way I was going to drag that through the bush. So I quickly re-deployed my equipment to my backpacks, which I had brought just in case of this happening. Big one on the back and small one on the front.

The next morning I headed out with Reina and we got most of the way up the valley. There are game trails to follow if you know where to go which makes the going much easier. I’ve been up and down this valley so many times I now know where they are…

It was after lunch and we got to a point in the meadows near the river and I noticed that I was missing my paddles!!!! OMG!!!!! I had no idea where they were.

That’s what you get for just stuffing them in a side pocket. I couldn’t believe how stupid I was. I was concerned because when you go backwards it’s difficult to exactly retrace your steps, so I could inadvertently backtrack past them. That of course happened and I went all the way back to the cabin and had to double back my exact route on the way up. Of course I found them a few hundred feet up the trail from the cabin…

And because of concerns about bears, I didn’t want to leave most of my gear unattended up the valley so I ended up having to do the hike 3 times that day, pretty much fully loaded. What a way to start the trip. At least the weather was nice. We camped at the spot I got to earlier, my feet were getting sore.

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Last edited by Mark_BC; 11-30-2017 at 11:15 AM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 12:58 PM
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Awesome. We look forward to more. Heading into Taseko Lakes tomorrow, but for a much less rigorous trip.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 05-23-2017, 12:24 PM
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This sounds like the start of a great trip! but the pictures aren't displaying for me.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 05-26-2017, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Vancouver, , .
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The next day we had to soon cross over to the west side of the river to avoid willow thickets on the east. Plus at the head of the valley I was going to hike up the west side of the creek, west of where it tumbles down the steep slopes. I decided to use the packraft to cross the river. I could have waded across but I wanted to try to keep my feet dry for as long as possible.

That was a good crossing and I only almost bailed once. I didn’t bring a PFD because everything I was intending to paddle was pretty tame. I brought one for Reina. I got that crossing all on video. But here I will only present to you a screen shot to keep you waiting in suspense to watch the full feature length film I will eventually put out… some day…

At the end of the valley we had lunch amongst the talus rocks with all the pikas and marmots. I contemplated the big climb up to the alpine. At this location I had previously decided to abandon an earlier attempt with my bike because it looked too rough. Here are some photos I took from this spot on a previous trip:



Little weasel scurrying around:

But as soon as we got through the initial brush the forest opened up nicely and the hike was extremely easy in terms of finding a clear route up. But it was pretty steep and I had to take frequent breaks. I found a stagnant pond to filter from.

And then suddenly we got to the top and it opened up into alpine. This is looking north in the direction we were just heading if we continued that way:

Instead we turned to the left, to the west, to cross over the head of the valley and then turn south again:

You can see the steep cliff edge along the top of the valley, which continues all along the length of the valley, hence why we had to hike up to the head of the valley to get up to alpine. This is looking south-west towards where we were going:

Looking south back down the valley to where we came from:

We headed westwards across the upper feeder creek and up further into the volcanic terrain on the other side of the “valley” which we were basically out of now. We headed south, kind of back-tracking our previous day’s progress, but paralleling it up on the alpine tables above the valley. The terrain became more and more barren.

I looked for a camping spot and found a sandy patch to pitch the tent.

But there was no water to be found. Further ahead I saw a remnant snow field so I filled up the collapsible bucket with snow and put it in my pots in the sun to melt. Reina had a lot of fun playing in the snow.

I recommend filling up with water from the last creeks as you transition from green to brown. The volcanic soil just soaks up the water and there are no creeks.
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Last edited by Mark_BC; 07-03-2017 at 02:26 AM.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 07-03-2017, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Got the photos transferred over from Photobucket to Flickr...

Reina had a good time chasing ground squirrels and almost got one.

That night was pretty windy and chilly. The next morning I made some more gorilla tape boots to put on Reina’s feet since I didn’t want her shredding her toes on this volcanic rock. She didn’t like it but I just walked off. Eventually she figured it out and followed. We continued south across the barren rocky landscape and encountered no creeks or water.

There were large wolf prints and I wondered what they were doing up here. I guess eating ground squirrels, or traversing.

We finally made our way around the southern flank of the mountain and began heading west then north again, this time up the adjacent valley to the west which would be impractically difficult to come up from the Bridge River.

At this point there is another flat slow moving creek to fill up. All in all, up until this point we probably hiked about 4 km without seeing any water. This route then flanks the western slope of the mountain as it goes up the east side of the valley and it was tough walking with all my weight since I had to go up and down over gullies and my ankles were bent on the sidehill with every step. At one point I lost it and fell to the ground uncontrollably. It was like slow motion; I just couldn’t do anything to stop it once it started with all the weight on my back and chest. Luckily I was OK. The thing is, I didn’t know what to expect on this trip so I didn’t know how much food to pack so I had to bring more than I thought. That was heavy.

Reina with her booties:

To the east it looks like there is a pass you could come over from Thunder Creek which would allow you to bypass the whole southern flanking of the mountain to get over here. I didn’t want to try it with Reina and the other unknowns of the trip. You can see it to the right of this photo:

We continued on to the moraine of the glacier we would be skirting the next day. You can see the pass we would be heading for the next day, around centre:

Behind the end moraine ridge was a protected flat area with sandy / muddy ground where we set up camp. I filtered some water from the clear stream nearby. There were old moose prints in the mud. Look for the pack in bottom right:

That night it rained pretty hard and I became very disillusioned. My weight was heavy and it looked like the weather was turning for the worse. I only had 2 weeks total for the entire trip including the drive up from Vancouver and back. I almost decided to give up and head back. That would have been failure 3 times in a row and I knew that I would probably not attempt it again.
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Last edited by Mark_BC; 07-03-2017 at 02:59 AM.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 07-03-2017, 03:58 PM
Scaling New Heights
Join Date: Jun 2016
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MOAR please!
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 07-05-2017, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
Scaling New Heights
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OK MagBumper, here you go. Just trying to update the photos on all my other trip reports that use Photobucket...

I felt a little better the next morning with the weather showing a slight improvement, at least a break in the rain. We decided to go for it and began hiking up. The moraine areas are rutted with frequent steep gullies, filled with large loose rocks. The traverse was more difficult than I had anticipated. That’s where we were going, Reina was going the wrong way!!

We had to cross several decent sized creeks and I got soaked feet. I found two loose surveying sticks that had obviously been washed down so I took one to use as a walking stick. We finally crossed the last gully and then headed north-west straight up the hill to the pass I had found on Google Earth.

Looking back to where we came from:

We got up to that around 2150 m, and looked for either of the little lakes I would use to identify the pass over to the next valley to the west. There it was, and we headed straight for it. I walked its shores and wondered if I was the first.

I thought about heading to the next lake to have a look-see but decided the weather didn’t look promising so we started to head down into the valley to a more sheltered spot. Finally, the valley I have been studying on Google Earth for years was finally at my feet!!! The views were spectacular.

Looking down-valley:

Looking up-valley:

I used my surveying stick to support me as I picked my way down the talus slopes, logically thinking through every single step. There was no room for auto-pilot on this route. Any wrong footstep could be big trouble and the end of my trip. The transition to heather meadow happens fast and at that point the rain came. We took shelter next to a big rock but then decided we had to set up camp so went down slope another 100 feet to a relatively flat spot. We set up in a beautiful location in the soft heather meadow with the low rumble of waterfalls tumbling down the opposite side of the valley.

Looking down to the river below:

The rain continued. And all night. It rained all morning and into the afternoon too. It rained for 20 hours straight.

I was wondering if I was going to be able to finish this trip but reasoned that it was now easier to go out my planned route than to turn around.
That afternoon of our day off, the weather was half decent in the afternoon. I decided to let Reina off the leash for a while since we were way up high with views all around. There was little sign of bears.

I was taking pictures of Reina and looking at some bones in the heather, wondering what they came from. Then all of a sudden Reina went berserk and ran off back up the hill from where we came.

What did I see come barrelling over the pass, but two large brown blobs … grizzly bears… Great.

And my dog was chasing after them. I immediately thought I would soon be joining those bones if this was a mother and cub. I was screaming at Reina to come back but she wouldn’t listen. She is really bad around bears and yes yes yes I know I shouldn’t have let her off the leash, but I did. Bad timing. She won’t be going on these trips anymore.

So what did they do? They started chasing her back towards me, of course. I turned on the Gopro, grabbed the bear spray and stood my ground and charged towards them a little bit as they came barrelling towards me and did a little bluff charge. There was a cross wind from the south so I would be OK using bear spray. I guess because I stood my ground without showing any fear, they got a little spooked and high-tailed it out of there. It took them about a minute to cross terrain that would have taken me half an hour. On the far ridge they looked back and I got some great photos.

They were two siblings. Luckily; no harm done. I wondered where they were going. Probably down to the next river valley. What an awesome display of their power. They own this place and what is stark wilderness to me is their everyday playground they can cross in a couple days. I guess they use this pass to get from one valley to the next, just like me. Great minds think alike…
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Last edited by Mark_BC; 07-06-2017 at 12:01 AM.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2017, 07:19 PM
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Wicked bear encounters! Lots of of perseverance on this trip...
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 07-15-2017, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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That experience freaked me out a bit and I was wired that evening. The next morning the weather was still decent and we continued down the hill over the hummocky heather.

At the bottom there was more of the subalpine fir mixed with meadows, and a few large grizzly tracks in the mud, but no major signs.

We crossed the creek and the meadows were extremely easy to walk across, literally like your front lawn.

Reina was having a great time and I had her on the leash.

As expected the meadows ended a few kilometers down the valley and the subalpine fir thickets funnelled us in.

Eventually we had to cross the avalanche chutes covered with thick, jumbled broken fir sticks. The going suddenly became very rough.

I knew that once we got to the Lord River we would be home-free. It was so close yet so far… only a couple kilometers but it was through thick bush and the final descent down a steep sidehill of the U-valley of the Lord River, carved out by glaciers. I wasn’t sure how that descent would go.

We finally made it across the avalanche chutes and picked our way through more mature forest, eating blueberries as we went. On a few of the breaks Reina started barking like nuts but I couldn’t see or hear anything. But I have learned to trust her senses…

When we reached the top of the sidehill I could see some rocky knolls. Great, they were dry and sunny, and there was water nearby in some ponds, with beautiful views of the Lord Valley.

That would be an ideal place to camp. We took a break on one and I was taking pictures of the stupid sounding Clark’s Nutcrackers.

I turned around and pointed my camera in the other direction and… freaked out a grizzly bear standing 20 feet away just watching.
Dad Gammit!!! I guess my confident motion towards it (because I didn’t know it was there, I was just turning around) freaked it out. It took off in a big huff of dust and Reina went nuts. I grabbed her before she could give chase.

It wasn’t very big but big enough. I set off a bear banger but that turned out to be a flare. I then set off a real bear banger which was unbelievably loud. It was so loud you don’t even really hear it, all you hear is ringing in your ears. It echoed for a while and I’m sure it could be heard 20 km down the valley. Whether that scared the bear away I wasn’t sure since I have heard that bears in the northern Rockies associate bangs with guns and a free meal and come running to the sound of a bang…

Now in my head I associate the call of Nutcrackers with lurking danger. The scene may seem serene, pretty and calm with the Nutcrackers going about their business but there’s something there, lurking… and the nutcrackers are laughing at me. Funny how your mind can make those associations in times of emotional stress. Kind of like how scents will bring you right back to long ago to where you were when you smelled them.

That incident REALLY freaked me out and there was no way I was going to sleep there. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with Chilcotin grizzlies. They are supposed to ignore you or run away but in all three encounters I’ve had, they just wanted to come join me in my tent.

We still had enough light to get down the slope but my body was really hurting. I just forced myself to go since once we were on the river I wouldn’t have any more hiking to do. The last thing I wanted to do was tackle that hill with a sore aching body the next morning.

The hill was very steep in places, and I had to do it twice, in sections, dropping off one bag and then going back up to get my dog and the other bag. Reina was now constantly tied off. And the amount of deadfall we had to climb over increased as we got lower until we had only 50 feet to go, the hardest jumble of dead pine trees to climb over.

Finally we made it to the floodplain meadow and set up camp on a sandbar by a side channel, a couple hundred feet from the edge of the forest.

There was nice evening sun but I didn’t take many photos since I was pretty busy organising. Reina went nuts once, barking towards the area where we emerged from the forest, but I didn’t see anything.

I tell you, I “slept” with one eye open that night. I learned my lesson from my last trip in this area and brought my super-bright LED spot flashlight so I could easily point out animals lurking in the bushes up to a few hundred feet away. I felt like the bears were just waiting for us, out of sight. Luckily, there was no incident.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 07-16-2017, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
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The next morning the rain came and I packed up fast to get outta dodge. Unfortunately the side channel was too shallow to raft and I had to pull it over some silty ground which sucked up my feet and pulled my sandals off. When we finally got to the main channel my feet were very cold, and wet. We were jam-packed into the packraft and I had poor blood flow to my cold feet because of that, but at least we were on the river! Finally!!! Years of dreaming of this moment had finally come to fruition!!!

The current was swift and we made really good progress. I learned how to pick the right lines in the meandering river. Too close to the slip-off slope and you get stuck on shallow gravel. Too close to the cut bank and you risk getting stuck in underwater sweepers and overhanging vegetation and trees.

It was actually a lot of fun heading down the river. I could see the bad weather following us down the valley. We made a quick stop to re-organise. Looking upriver:

Looking downriver:

I was going to message my mom with my Delorme GPS when I knew we would be ready for a float plane pickup which I had previously arranged with Tyax Air. Then she would call them to confirm. I wondered how far we should go today. The weather was spitting a bit but not too bad. I didn’t want to get stuck in rain the next day.

We got to that noisy part of the valley where there are two large waterfalls thundering down, on opposite sides of the valley. We stopped to investigate the one on the east side which is quite impressive. We walked as far as we could easily get to but I didn’t want to leave my packraft unattended so we ventured no further. I wondered if that waterfall has a name.

We continued down the valley and I marvelled at the magnitude and beauty of this place. I couldn’t believe that a place like this still exists so close to a major city like Vancouver. It is spectacular, with absolutely zero signs of humanity other than the jets flying overhead.

Full cockpit view:

The river is mostly meandering and braided over its length and I tried to always compare our location with my printed off Google Earth images so I would pick the best channel and not get stuck. This worked pretty well and we only got stuck on gravel bars a few times. A couple times we took swift little channels through the willow bushes, which were a lot of fun. But I had to be on my toes watching for hazards there. I got a lot of video with my Gopro and I'll try to organise that and upload some in the future.

We eventually came to the first Taseko Lake. The river enters on its east side through a big glacial silt delta. I quickly discovered how shallow this delta is… the visibility through the water is basically zero so you have no way of knowing if you are approaching a shallow area; you just have to judge it based on an estimate of water flow and what the surrounding banks look like. I was hitting silt pretty often as we entered the lake and I hugged the very eastern shore where I reasoned the water might channel and leave a few inches for our boat.

Eventually we had to go out into the lake proper and I prayed we wouldn’t get stuck. I don’t know what you’d do if you hit shallow silt. You can’t get out and push because your feet will just sink two feet under. And you can’t push with the paddle because it gets sucked in as well and the boat just bogs down.

After a few hundred meters out into the middle of the lake “paddling” in a couple inches of water we finally got to some decent depth where I could actually put the paddle down deep without hitting ground.

My low-tech weather report: rain.

Sunshine down-river. Let’s go there

Scenic mountains flanking the upper Taseko Lake:

The light rain continued but we had a really nice tailwind. I decided to take advantage of it and make some progress down the middle of the lake. It’s a very beautiful lake which few people visit since it is separated by the main Taseko Lake by a section of river which makes motorised boat travel difficult, and travel up by canoe very difficult. So I felt like I had the whole place to myself, which I actually did.

The vegetation was changing as we made our way down the valley, becoming more indicative of a drier warmer climate.

The north end of this lake hooks around a bit to the east before again turning into a sluggish river.

Transitioning to the second Taseko Lake:

I laid back and had a rest as the slow current gradually fed us into the next Taseko Lake. To the right is a creek which empties from Crystal Lake which itself is just a little further east of this lake. That's where we went the previous year via Duane Creek (see trip report linked at top), which also happens to empty into the Lord River at almost that exact same spot. We paddled the kilometer to the next little peninsula of land sticking out where I thought we could find some nice waterfront property to camp on. We actually found a little camp with teepee logs that I presumed was used by wintertime travellers.

I thought about staying. It would work but it wasn’t the nicest spot and I reasoned that we still had lots of time to get to the main Taseko Lake beach and rather than risk getting stuck under bad weather, we made the final run. And I’m not going to lie, I’d had enough grizzly bears.

So we made the final push across the second Taseko Lake, with the wind and weather at our backs. Reina had a snooze in the sun and it was very relaxing.

We then entered the final section of the Lord River which is lively and fun. As soon as the lake turned into river I saw an oil drum washed up on a log jam – the first signs of humanity other than the camp earlier.

I took in the scenery and the fun because I knew this would soon be the end of the river travel. We poked our way out into the big Taseko Lake and the views opened up.

Across the lake was a cabin, so I headed for that, with Taseko beach on the right at the very southern end of the lake:

The cabin was locked up but we pitched the tent on the covered porch.

There were two other guys over at the beach, each with a Toyota Landcruiser. They were actually heading back down, having been up Taseko and the Battlement Ridge area exploring. They were a bit surprised to see me, wondering how the hell I got there.

We beat the showers.

I was pretty beat too and glad to be finished with the physical activity. I called for a plane the next day at 1 pm.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 08:28 PM
Scaling New Heights
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Wow. Hell of a read. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the video too!

Those bear encounters sound pretty intense. I've yet to come across one with my dog, and not looking forward to it. Very unpredictable for all animals involved! Glad to see everything turned out ok.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sma2cci View Post
Wow. Hell of a read. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the video too!

Those bear encounters sound pretty intense. I've yet to come across one with my dog, and not looking forward to it. Very unpredictable for all animals involved! Glad to see everything turned out ok.
Thanks, the denouement is still to come!
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 08-31-2017, 01:19 AM Thread Starter
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The next day we got prepared and right on time, the plane showed up.

Reina went in the back and didn’t seem to be having a good time. Oh well. I got some beautiful views of the area I had been traversing the last few years. Here is looking south with the two upper Taseko Lakes on the right that I just came down:

We headed up the Taseko valley and crossed into the Warner Valley just south of Warner Pass. Here is Warner Pass that I went over the previous year (the green finger of vegetation extending up):

Here is my first mountain goat photo. Good luck finding it!

We flew into Tyax Lodge on Tyaughton Lake and that was it, the end of most of the trip.

I immediately went into culture shock but I had a nice burger in the restaurant and relaxed in the posh hotel – a great way to end the trip! I even had internet on my phone!!! Chris the plane pilot was going to give me a ride up to the end of Bridge River to my car that evening, which was a long drive. I was originally hoping he could drop me off by plane at that finger lake above Thunder Creek that I hiked the year previous, then I could just hike down the hill to the car, but it wasn’t long enough to take off from so he took me back to Tyax.

I followed him for a while on the drive back down but he wanted to haul a$$ so I fell behind. I blew a tire bead off the rim and had to change to the spare. There were growling sounds in the bushes while changing the tire and I wasn’t happy about it but I got it done and made it out OK. When I got home I re-seated the bead with my compressor. I want to be able to fix any tire calamity in the bush, and I should be able to, it isn’t hard; you just have to learn how to do it. Everything except a shredded tire.

On the way back over the Hurley the next day heading home there was fresh snow on the mountains. Then of course there was a week of beautiful warm weather…

Here is the route:

This is actually a nice trip in terms of “flow”, by that I mean you do the hard hiking first and get that out of the way, then when your feet are destroyed you get to sit in a raft for a day or two leisurely paddling your way downstream and across beautiful lakes with the wind at your back. Then there is a cabin at the lake where you can recuperate until a nice plane comes to pick you up. After a beautiful sight seeing flight you end the trip at a posh lodge… it just gets progressively easier. The only tricky part is getting back to your car at the end. If you had two cars you could shuttle. I think this route may become more travelled now; made possible with modern packrafts. Before packrafts were around it would have been basically impossible.

If you like this trip report I have another similar trip I did through the desert of Baja California, Mexico a few years ago (the same trip where I got Reina). It is on this website but the photos use Photobucket which has recently disabled 3rd party hosting:


In the meantime before I switch them over to Flickr (takes a while), you can download this Chrome thingy which will enable you to view the photos:

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