Glacier NP

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Glacier NP

Postby steelfrog » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:02 am

So, I am planning our "big trip" for next summer. Am strongly considering Glacier NP. The idea here is for an extended (5-9 day) backcountry pack, with hopefully a couple peaks thrown in, and fishing as well. Is Glacier the right place for that?

Also, have considered the High Uinta as well. There is I believe a Uinta High Trail or some such that would fit the bill?

May come to Colorado instead also, maybe do Chicago Basin and some other stuff.

Anyway, if anyone has any info on trails we could do in either of these areas, or opinions about what we should do (or shouldn't) i'd love to hear them. Many thanks!
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Re: Glacier NP

Postby Jon Frohlich » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:18 am

I would very highly recommend a similar trip to what I did last year if you go to Glacier. We did a 6 day backpack from Logan Pass to Many Glacier. If I recall right our camp sites were:

1) Granite Park (below the chalet)
2) Fifty Mountain
3) Stoney Indian Lake
4) Glenns Lake (Foot)
5) Elizabeth Lake (Foot)

Only thing I think I would have changed would have been maybe Cosley Lake instead of Glenns. The Cosley Lake site looked even more awesome. I'd advise applying for your permit very early. All applications before around April 15 are placed in a lottery. Anything after that is processed in the order they receive them. There are not many sites at each campground so you may or may not get lucky as I did. Keep your options open and apply for an alternate plan too just in case. Any plan for Glacier backcountry is totally dependent on what you can get for a permit.

Distance was ~50 miles if you didn't do many side trips. We tacked on a few other things and did closer to 60. You might even want another night or two and stretch it to 7 or 8 days to make it a bit more relaxing. You won't get much in the way of peaks on the trip I did but the scenery is epic enough. You could do Mount Cleveland if you really wanted (highpoint of the park) from Stoney Indian. You could do also some other peaks once you were done with the backpacking portion. As far as fishing goes I don't think there are many fish up there but maybe someone else knows better. I don't recall seeing many people fishing.

Pictures too:
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Re: Glacier NP

Postby TravelingMatt » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:45 am

steelfrog wrote:So, I am planning our "big trip" for next summer. Am strongly considering Glacier NP. The idea here is for an extended (5-9 day) backcountry pack, with hopefully a couple peaks thrown in, and fishing as well. Is Glacier the right place for that?

That's like asking whether there's any good hiking in Colorado.

Biggest caveat is if you're going relatively early in season to monitor the snowfall and adjust your plans as necassary. They had record show this year, and mid-July there were still substantial snowbanks below treeline, and entire portions of the park that were completely buried. How much snow you want to deal with is up to you, but you don't want to be surprised. Many footbridges are seasonal and not put up until streamflow permits. Also, check for the latest construction info on Going-to-the-Sun Road. They're in the midst of a multi-year rebuilding project and the road is frequently closed or slowed down. You may be better off basing yourself somehwhere on the east side of the park.

Permits are required for backcountry camping and are $5/night. Usually you have to reserve specific sites on specific nights, although I understand there are a few coveted "open permits" for people doing multi-day backpacks. Otherwise, if you wait until about 4-4.30 pm the day before you start your trip you can snag walkup and/or unclaimed spots, and book an entire multi-day trip at once; if you are flexible this is the best way to go. Hotels are ridiculously expensive in high season, but commercial and frontcountry campgrounds run about $20-25/night for tent sites. Or you can sleep in the national forest all you want for free, which I did more than once. :)

Most trails in Glacier are pretty gentle as long as there's no snow. The majority of higher summits OTOH involve at least some scrambling if not Class 4-5 moves. The rock is infamously rotten, and Glacier climbers use their own rating system (Class 0-6) mostly based on the looseness of the rock. Still, it's possible to get above 9000 feet with routes that are no harder than Colorado Class 2. Montana doesn't have the monsoons that Colorado does, so you don't *need* to start early, but doing so still helps you avoid crowds. And the touristy parts of Glacier can get crowded.

The authority on peakbagging is "The Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park" by J. Gordon Edwards. It is recently back in print. There's a gear store in downtown Kalispell (forget the name, but it's in the center of town on the east side of the main drag) that's staffed by veteran climbers with a wealth of info. Try to do all your provisioning in Kalispell, as everything is less available or more expensive closer to the park entrances.
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Re: Glacier NP

Postby scalba123 » Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:39 am

I was in Glacier over the July 4th and a few trails (along with the Going to the Sun Road) were still closed due to the snowfall. It was a record snowfall last winter, but you may want to keep that in consideration.
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Re: Glacier NP

Postby ptyrg » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:27 am

Having spent a lot of time in Glacier park, and a fair amount of time in the San Juans. HUMMM! Tough choice? I Guess if I had only one choice to make It would be Glacier park. The North end of the park, Bowman lake, Kintla lake, Are awesome places for Backpacking, and there are some fantastic peaks to climb Rainbow peak, numa peak Kintla peak, one of six 10,000' ers, Kinnerly peak is matterhorn shaped, remote, and sumwhat technical. Mt cleveland the highest in the park, and the list goes on... This is a very remote part of the country, and you are more likely to see a griz, than a human. Get Edwards ,climbing Glacier national park book. There are many, many peaks that are 3rd class and under. If in Kalispell Mt. the name of the store is Rocky Mountain Outfitters, Don, is the owner, and a wealth of info. Also for a small fee you can join the Glacier mountaineering society they have climbs every weekend in the summer, and are great folks to climb peaks with. Many of the old timers know the park like the back of there hand. Late july, and aug, are the best time of the year. As stated already, glacier dosn't have the afternoon thunder showers like colorado, so you don't have to be off the summits by noon.

Good luck Peter :P
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Re: Glacier NP

Postby Cruiser » Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:12 pm

I spent a month backpacking in Glacier several years ago. My favorite spots in no particular order were Logging Lake with Beaver Chief Falls in the background, Grace Lake, Hole in the Wall, Boulder Pass, Bowman Lake, Boulder Peak, and Browns Pass. I live in Colorado and just got back from a fantastic week in the San Juans, but I'd take 10 days backpacking in Glacier in a heartbeat over another trip down there. Glacier feels so much more pristine and remote to me than CO does. The hiking is lower in elevation than CO but so are the treelines so it still feels like an alpine environment in places. All in all, Glacier is probably the best National Park in the US for backpacking.
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Re: Glacier NP

Postby steelfrog » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:29 pm

Wow, that is high praise!

So, I have my Glacier/Waterton Lakes Trails Illustrated Map, I have ordered the Edwards book, sounds like the northern part of the park is the way to go. I guess next I need to figure out the permit/lottery system. And the fishing.

Still thinking about the Uinta high trail or whatever that's called as well. I'll do both eventually of course, but which order?

Also, one more question: Are there any good places to hike in Colorado?
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Re: Glacier NP

Postby MtHurd » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:46 pm

steelfrog wrote:Also, one more question: Are there any good places to hike in Colorado?

Not really, but I think Iowa has some great backpacking.

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