When the Bitterroot River is between 1K to 3K cfs, Kootenai Creek will be at a good level.
My good friend Nate Moody and I were looking for a specific adventure. As Middle Fork Salmon river guides we had limited time. First, we wanted to find a creek with an easy hike to class V whitewater. Second, at least one waterfall. Lastly, a brewery in close proximity to drink to our mini adventure. Granted, a lot to ask for, yet Kootenai Creek delivered on all three wishes.
From Salmon, Idaho we drove north on US-93 towards Victor, Montana. Took about 2 hours. 15 minutes or so past Victor, signs pointed us to the Kootenai trailhead, 5 minutes driving on dirt and boom we were there.
Before we geared up, we decided to hike up the trail to scout out the fun ahead; 400 yards from the parking lot we saw glorious whitewater. We continued another 3/4th of mile up to a 10ft waterfall. Below the drop, was a series of steep slides with many boofs and necessary moves. The final drop was a huge airplane turn into a big slide. The run looked about 1 mile long, and at least 250 FPM. Nervous and stoked, we ran back to the truck.
I decided to run the waterfall and Nate set safety below. A couple things about the 10 footer. The current above the drop is deceiving, there’s a diagonal wave which pushes left into a nasty room of doom against a rock. Basically, half the drop goes into this rock. Not good. I boofed as far right as I could to avoid the rock. Below the drop, it was game on. The creek was incredibly fast, giving us no time to eddy out till the last drop. At the bottom of the final drop, we had shit smiling grins and both of us decided to give it another go! 10 minute hike back up to the put-in and we did it again. And then again.
Pumped from Kootenai, we drove to the Bitterroot Brewery in Hamilton and eased our adrenaline with some tasty IPA’s. A successful day.