Boxelder creek, Wyoming

This post is long overdue, and I am not going to do this run any justice, but here is a video and some photos of our Boxelder season from this spring.


Boxelder Creek, Wyoming from Leif Anderson on Vimeo.


Boxelder is a strange little creek near Casper Wyoming. It has sort of a Cali feel, with a fair amount of exposed granite, but at the same time, it keeps that manky feel that Colorado is famous for. This year, we completely missed the good flow window because we were gone for a competition in Montana, so all we got was the ultra-low water shoulder. However, even at low water, Boxelder is a fun run, and we had a blast mobbing down this creek.

There are a lot of challenges associated with Boxelder. The first is access. In the past, we have been able to use a nice easy putin at a bridge across the creek. You had to hop a fence and take about 10 steps over private land to get back to the river, and as far as I know, this was pretty much ok. However, somewhat recently, the landowners changed their minds, and we are no longer allowed to take those crucial 10 steps. Natalie and I were informed of this by the sheriff's department, when we narrowly avoided a trip to jail.

There is a more legal putin, but I'm not very good at describing how to get there. From takeout, you take the next dirt road to the left, and follow it down and to the right until you are within sight of the river, at which point you scramble down a steep hill to put in.

Do not put in at this bridge.


The next challenge is the fun part: the whitewater. Most of my runs have been at very low water, and at those flows, Boxelder is a bit of a chess game. At high water, I remember it being a rollercoaster, but at low water there are a good number of slot boofs and boulder mazes.

On this trip, I had fun inventing names for all the rapids, especially the tiny riffles. The new names (in order) are:

Well of Souls
Rhomboid
Gentlemen's Club
Bird on a Wire
Trapeze act (left channel. Right channel has NEVER BEEN RUN to my knowledge)
Bank Robbery
Getaway Car
Cosmic Ballsack
Eternal Hangover
Triple Scoop
Turtle Dick
Minotaur
Four Move Checkmate
Tag
Wild Turkey
Exploratory Open Heart Surgery
Crack Whore (right line. Left line, high water, is Sunshine)
Unnamed Riffle
Electric Slide
Loaf
The Thing After Loaf
Dungball
Hairy Beaver
Bonus Boof

The newer, more legal putin puts you in just above Eternal Hangover, so you get the majority of the rapids. Unfortunately, I hate Eternal Hangover.

Here are a couple photos.

Brian Bank gets sprinkles on the third scoop of Triple Scoop.
Me working the frets on Electric Slide.  Photo by Nathan Werner.
Electric Slide from river left.
Scouting Loaf.
The main event of the run is definitely Loaf. Immediately after Electric Slide, the bedrock surfaces big time, and the river goes off a surprisingly technical slide/falls type thing. The rock right at the lip of the last part of the drop, on the left side, is undercut, which tended to flip people as they went off. The drop ends with a pretty sticky hole in a walled out coliseum. The hole has an especially sticky pocket on river left that has claimed many swimmers, probably because that side of the drop is backed up by an underwater rock. Things are better on the right, but there is still a shelf under there that Conor was able to find. If you run this drop, be sure to have some safety set up, since at least one person has needed the rope extraction from the hole at the bottom.
The crux of the Loaf
Chase Nobles entering the dessert slide (below Loaf).  Photo by Natalie Anderson.
We had surprisingly motivated crews, and there were around 16 descents of Loaf over our 4 different runs, with minimal crashes. There were one or two surfs, some rolls here and there, but no swims and no rope extractions needed.
The portage around Loaf is almost as sketchy as the drop itself, and certainly taller.
Conor on the Bonus Boof.  If you run this boof, you have passed takeout.
After Loaf, there are just a few more rapids as the creek approaches the middle gorge. The middle gorge has been run before, and will be run again, but it is highly sketchy. It basically involves one drop: a medium height waterfall with rocks on the left and a cave on the right (actually, I oversimplify. There are rocks center and right, and a cave right, but the left falls off a shelf that looked pretty hard to get on top of because of the entry to the drop). Almost everyone takes out above the middle gorge, and begins the next challenge of Boxelder: the hike out.

Boxelder is one of the few creeks I know of where the takeout is higher elevation than the putin. As we described it to Conor Flynn while we were driving in:

"See that highest point on the canyon wall there? That's where we hike out."

There are a couple trails up to the parking area, and the laws of physics dictate that they all gain about the same amount of elevation. The first time climbing out, it seems unbelievable, but with each new lap it gets easier and easier. When you finish, you really feel like you've accomplished something.
The end of the hike out.
Here is a slideshow with more photos from our trips.

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