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Glacier National Park: Many Glacier to Chief Mountain

  • Aug 23, 2012 · 7:00 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

This is a 54-mile hike in the northeast quarter of Glacier National Park. It is 7 days & 6 nights on the trail, traversing high mountain passes, forests & lakes in glacial valleys, and broad prairies. Here are the details:

1) Flight dates: Arrive Kalispell (FCA, Glacier Park International Airport) Thursday 23 August, as early as you can so we can at least pick up permits that day. Depart Kalispell Friday 31 August whenever suits you. Fares are never good to FCA – that’s just the way it is. Ditto for the days of the week – it’s hard to get permits for Glacier NP.

2) Itinerary: Pick up permit (which is already reserved) on 23rd and stay in a campground; it is not possible to fly+drive+hike in one day. We can stay in the park or at the San-Suz-Ed (= showers, plus Cathy's homemade huckleberry pie!), and hopefully set up the shuttle via a bus service. Site-nights are: Poia Lake; Helen Lake; Glenns Lake; Slide Lake (2 nights); Gable Creek. Hike out at Chief Mountain. If we are not able to set up the shuttle the first day, we can take a bus service from Chief Mountain back to Many Glacier. We will campground it the last night (30th); laundry and showers – and did I mention pie? – are available at the San-Suz-Ed.

3) Car & shuttle: I will have my own car out there and pick you up at the airport. It would be great to set the shuttle up the first night by me driving my car to Chief Mountain and taking the bus back. The last one is at 4P, so it would depend on you arriving before noon on the 23rd, which may or may not be possible, and on getting a campground at Many Glacier, which also may or may not be possible. Else, we can take the bus back (one or all of us, depending on the capacity of the bus service).

4) Distances & deltas: The hike is 54 miles per the park mileage estimates in the backcountry guide ( By day, that's: 6½, 14½ (longest and hardest day), 10, 10½, 0 (day off at Slide Lake), 6½, and 6. The hard climbing is on the front end, so be in shape. We gain about 2,500 feet in the first two days… oh, and also lose all of it (delta = +2500 – 2500 = 0, ha-ha); the middle days are flat; the day into Slide Lake gains 2,000 feet & loses 1,000 feet. We reverse that to go to Gable Creek, and then pick up about 1,000 feet on the last day out to Chief Mountain. Start training, bitches.

5) Fishing may be allowed although the restrictions are growing every year due to the endangered status of bull trout. After checking the regulations, we could conceivably off a few fish for dinner, especially if they are non-native (i.e., brook & lake trout). We can discuss the wisdom of that in grizzly country when we get there. No license is required within the park, which is nice. I will carry a rod if you want to try it out.

6) Bears: This is grizzly country, the real deal. Let me know if you want to borrow a bear can; I have a loaner. But since we are at designated sites, there are poles for hanging food, and we would have to hang the cans anyway. I also have 4 cans of bear spray, which you cannot take on planes. And I have a small airhorn, which is what people use in Alaska instead of pepper spray, believe it or not. Oh, and you can watch the bear video online: (

7) Weather: Temps are typically 80F daytime high & 40F nightime low, but it can easily go over 90F in the day or down below freezing at night. At the higher sites, we will probably hit 30's at night. It can also rain, or snow up high, but the park lists July & August as 3 weeks out of 4 being sunny/no precip. My own experience is that the weather is pretty nice at that time of year. Note, however, it can be quite buggy; bring a headnet & your preferred bug juice.

8) Tents: The permit is for “one site” = 4 people in 2 tents, so we will need to bring 2 two-man tents. I have one, but it is a heavy beast, so if there are others, that would help. Also, we if have heavy snorers, you may want to bring some foam earplugs if you are a light sleeper.

9) “Advanced” = You are presumed to be in good shape, have experience, understand your limits, practice leave-no-trace, etc., for this excursion. The elevation never exceeds 8,000 feet, so altitude sickness is off the table. However, the distances and deltas are challenging, and the weather can be, too – autumn will be on its way and serious cold snaps are not out of the question. Bear safety, proper hydration, and hypothermia are the paramount safety concerns.

10) Other stuff:
- Dogs & minors are not allowed on this trip.
- Meals will not be planned.
- This trip is for club members only.
- There is a $5 non-refundable fee for signing up for the trip.
- Participation is at the discretion of the organizer.
- If the trip appears full and you are interested, just go ahead & email me, and I will maintain a waitlist. Also, email me if you have any questions before signing up, too.
- I will be closing the sign-up in early July, as it gets difficult to plan seriously too close to the departure date.

Let me know if you want to go as soon as possible, so we can chat at the meeting Monday, or sometime this month. I always do a “beer, gear, & maps” session where everyone gets together before the trip. Since the route is decided, we won't have much heavy to discuss (tents, filters, fuel, etc.) but it is always nice. Expect an email soon if you are signed up!

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  • Ben P.

    Have fun!!

    August 22, 2012

4 went

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