Apr 9, 2012 at 12:37 am #1288487
Hey BPL family
I'm headed out to Glacier National Park at the end of May. Anyone thats familiar with GNP got any good 2/3 day loops or week long treks in this area? Also, what should I be concerned about..black flies, bears, etc.? Anything will help. Thanks! And I'll have a packraft hopefully by midsummer, so if you want to include some trips that could include a packraft that would be helpful too.
getupandgoApr 9, 2012 at 1:06 am #1865192
Be prepared to hike through rain and slushy snow. That's the wet time of year around here.
The big question on trip planning is what snow has melted off and what is still hanging around. That varies year to year. The other thing to remember is that trail crews haven't gone in to clear any deadfall yet or take care of washouts. That makes connecting trails a lot more difficult.
I don't mean to be too negative, but I want you to have a realistic sense of what the park is like at the end of May. If you're prepared for it and willing to take what's there, it is excellent. It's just not a summer Glacier experience.
Keep us in the loop, though. I hope you can put together something epic.Apr 9, 2012 at 6:34 am #1865213
Late may is early for most everything in GNP. Your best bet would be to try an in-and-out in the Belly River area, which has probably the earliest melt-out in the Park. I expect that none of the passes will be open by then, and most campsites will be under winter rules. The low elevation lakes in the NW part of the Park (Bowman, Kintla, and Logging lakes) might be possible, but the trails through the shaded forest will still have a lot of snow in late May.Apr 9, 2012 at 6:57 am #1865222
What they said, roughly. Bears will be awake and moving, and in lower areas the mosquitos can be really had in late May. No Black Flies.
Rivers and creeks will likely be pretty huge then, as well. Packrafting can be fast, but should be approached with serious caution given the likelihood of wood (both in log jams and moving with the current).
The Belly is a reliable option, and exploring up to Elizabeth and Mok. Lakes would easily fill three days. The lower Belly is probably good packrafting; its been on my list but have yet to get in there.
If you have a bit of mountaineering experience, late May is fantastic. Snowshoes, crampons, and an axe open all sorts of possibilities.Apr 9, 2012 at 9:45 pm #1865593
I forgot to mention that I'm actually going to be in this general location for all of the summer. So I'm not just gonna be around there only in the beginning of the summer, but late summer/early fall which, I'm sure, makes some more trails/routes available on the map.
Clayton, I'd rather you be real with me than me be dead, so no worries there. And yes, I'll keep you updated if I do a trip, as a write up on this trip will be a must.
Gary, what exactly do "winter rules" mean and limit a hiker to?
Dave, I don't have any mountaineering experience except from what I've read on the net, but plan to take some lessons/classes while I'm out that way. Packrafting I'm still new too as well, but hope to pick up quickly. And yeah, I figured most of the streams and rivers will be starting to melt making it so you can't run them even?
The Belly River seems like a spot I'd like to explore. Also, I'd like to do some fishing in hgh mountain lakes. Any good ideas? As far as shelter goes, I"m using a silnylon Trailstar with no bug netting as of now. Is a bivy/bug protection is a must? What degree bag should I be looking at carrying? Thanks for all the info guys, it's going to help alot.Apr 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm #1865597
What are you doing for the summer, if you don't mind me asking? I worked out in West Glacier for two summers, which eventually pulled me out here permanently.Apr 10, 2012 at 6:24 am #1865659
Looks like we'll have to go packrafting together. May and June are a bit rough, after that the possibilities are vast.
I'd say that some kind of bug bivvy is obligatory. I try to avoid the bugs, but eventually you'll end up camping in some windless, wooded spot where they'll eat you alive. A bag rated to around freezing is most versatile. If the forecast is a bit chilly or you'll be camping high, bring a little more clothing.Apr 10, 2012 at 7:24 am #1865678
"Gary, what exactly do "winter rules" mean and limit a hiker to?"
If the designated campsites are covered with a couple feet of snow, then they want you to carry your human waste back out (the privies aren't usable). Also, you'll be carrying a bear canister, since the food poles or bear boxes aren't functional. Last July-early August they wouldn't even allow camping at some of the sites until the snow melted.Apr 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm #1867233
I'm, ( finances permit) headed out to east glacier and working there for the summer- maybe longer.
Yeah , we should definitely plan some floating/ bike rafting trips, Dave. And I've made it through the southeast this long without some sort of big protection, but am finally gonna have to give in and get some.
Well, I guess I might have some limitations as soon as camping as soon as I get out there, but that's fine. I'll take it as it comes. Thanks for the feedback everyone.Apr 15, 2012 at 6:27 am #1867407
Kyle, are you working for GPI in the lodge or somewhere else? Make sure to spend plenty of afternoons in Two Medicine. It's my favorite part of the park.
If you want PM me sometime–I'd love to talk with you more, but it may get off thread quick.Apr 15, 2012 at 9:02 am #1867432
@lilorphanbillyLocale: Montana, MT (Stealth Mode)
Check out MT Topo Finder for free 1:24000 topos. Triple Divide (Pacific, Atlantic, and Hudson Bay) is way cool but probably not easily done til late july. I also recommend Two Medicine. Early may is quite early for hiking in the park. Most passes aren't open til july or later. Good luck and keep us posted.Apr 15, 2012 at 11:27 am #1867475
Yeah it is GPI. And two medicine I will look into . Thank youApr 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm #1867623
@kwersalLocale: Western Colorado
I worked three summers at GPL (and met my husband there!). They were the best summers of my life. You'll have a blast. You are likely to get to know Two Med very well. It will be your new back yard!May 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm #1873597
Me and two friends applied for two routes (Kintla Lake to St. Mary & Nyack Creek Area) in late August this year, but our application was denied. I'm pretty disappointed as I had my hopes up for a trip to GNP this summer. Does anyone have any recommendations for a 5 day 6 night trip in GNP that we could check out? If you don't think that's possible, does anyone have any trip recommendations for the Wind River Range or the John Muir Trail? Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks!May 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm #1873605
You could always just show up in Glacier and see what sites are open at the Backcountry Permit Office in the morning. They keep so many open for day-if hikers. I'll be doing that all summer to avoid early registration fees. If you're flexible and willing to get up early to wait in line, it's very doable.May 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm #1873614
Bummer. Still haven't heard back on either of my requests (fingers crossed).
Walk-in will indeed work. Get to the office uber-early (6am), and have a bunch of routes picked out. This will almost certainly result in compromises. Late August is crazy busy in the park, if you can go a bit later that would clear things out options wise.
Doing something in the Bob Marshall would be a headache-free alternative. Looping up to the Chinese Wall from either Gibson Reservoir (N Fork Sun, Moose Creek, S Fork Sun) or Spotted Bear (S Fork Flathead, White River, Spotted Bear river) are excellent trips. Doing the Limestone Pass-Hahn Creek loop out of Monture Creek in the south Bob is also good. Excellent fishing that time of year.
The JMT would have permit headaches. The Winds have no permits, and would be another good alternative. As would the Absarokas.May 2, 2012 at 3:21 pm #1873677
We lucked out and got a permit for August. I'm pretty excited.May 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm #1873695
Where are you headed?May 3, 2012 at 6:29 am #1873899
Congrats Jeff, I am jealous.
Thanks for the advice on the walk-in permits. My only concern is that we will have to fly into Kalispell and I don't want to run the risk of getting there and not being able to get a walk-in permit.
Anyone have any good trip recommendations for the Wind River Range? Looking to do around 10 miles per day for 7 days, 6 nights. Thanks!May 3, 2012 at 8:08 am #1873921
Clayton – We are doing what is referred to as the Dawson Pass loop in the guide book I have. Starting at Two Medicine. Staying first night at No Name Lake and the second night at Old Man Lake then back to Two Medicine. Mileage is pretty light since I am taking my kids. From what I hear it's a great loop.May 3, 2012 at 8:31 am #1873928
It is quite excellent–one of my favorites. You'll definitely enjoy it. There are some excellent huckleberries along the trail, and you just might catch them in season.May 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm #1878265
After a few rejected permits our group finally got a route approved:
DATE CODE CAMPSITE
8/18 QUA 23 QUARTZ LAKE, FT
8/19 BOW 33 BOWMAN LAKE, HD
8/20 HAW 23 HAWKSBILL
8/21 GOA 22 GOAT HAUNT SHELTERS
8/22 GLF 45 GLENNS LAKE, FT
8/23 SLI SLIDE LAKE
8/24 MAN MANY GLACIER
Needless to say, I am pretty excited! Any idea if this route is usually pretty "crowded"? Since I've never been to GNP before I was curious to see how many other people we could expect to see per day.
Thanks!May 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm #1878271
Up in the North Fork, you should have some great solitude. It will get progressively busier the closer you get to Many Glacier.
Honestly, that is very close to a route that I am hoping to do in August, if I can get the time off. It is an excellent route through the park.May 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm #1878287
I find that to be a rather unusual route. You'll get good exercise along the way. I assume you are starting at the Quartz Creek campground, rather than at the Bowman Lake campground? That second night at the head of Bowman Lake could be shared with several people–that campsite is popular with the canoe crowd out of Kalispell.
You might also have very little solitude at the Goat Haunt shelters during the day, since they are right next to the boat dock. But if you arrive after the last tour boat heads back to Waterton, and hit the trail before the first one arrives the next morning, you will only be seeing the other campers and the occasional ranger. Goat Haunt is the least appealing campsite in GNP, in my opinion. You'll be sleeping on a concrete slab in a 3-sided shelter, with neighbors close by.
I'm curious as to how you will get to Many Glacier from Slide Lake. Will you backtrack to the Belly River ranger station and then take either the Ptarmigan Tunnel route or Redgap Pass, or will you just hike east from Slide Lake to get to the highway (and thumb a ride back to Many Glacier)? Will you have your own vehicle? If not, I assume you know the logistical issues of getting to the North Fork areas.
I hope you have a stellar hike–you will be seeing some of GNP's finest scenery.May 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm #1878374
Thank for the responses guys; sounds like we picked a winner! Right now we're planning on backtracking and going the Ptarmigan tunnel route. Not our ideal campsites for the route but our first choices were taken so we're just happy to be able to go.
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