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  1. #1

    Default CDT/Glacier NP hiking

    After driving through Glacier last year, I've been wanting to go back and actually hike and am looking into the feasibility of doing a 1-2 week hike around the park, making as much of a loop with the CDT and other trails as I can. I have zero experience hiking in grizzly country and have lots of questions and concerns.

    One thing I keep seeing while doing research is warnings not to hike alone. The one person I know who expressed interest in going has decided against it, so it would most likely be just me if I went this year. I know groups are better, but is there a significantly increased risk hiking alone? I read where bells are not effective against surprising a bear and that is the most dangerous part.

    It looks like August is the busiest time in Glacier, but how is the weather in July? Is everything accessible? What are the odds of any snow danger needing special gear? Any recommendations on when to go?

    Any recommendations on routes or trails to take or to avoid? Was kinda thinking about doing 2 hikes, one on the north side of Going to the Sun road, and the other on the south side. See as much of the park as possible.

    Thanks for any input or suggestions!

  2. #2
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Given the Backcountry reservation crunch you won’t be alone.
    Lots of good YouTube videos to give you some ideas for loops. Look for Joey MyOwnFrontier & Glacier.
    Hike 734 blog has a ton of Glacier information and inspiration.
    There are shuttle busses operating between lodges on the east side of the park. A cross park bus operates between Apgar and St. Mary.
    July should be fine snow wise unless there is late heavy snow. The last half of July is good.
    Good luck and have fun.
    Wayne

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    This page will keep you entertained for awhile.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=1097s&v=5O0jTpD5p3o
    Enjoy.
    Wayne

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    I was into the Glacier NP loops a few years ago but I've moved on to the Bob. Hiked most of the park and it is quite amazing but there are a lot of hoops to jump through before you get a grasp of the park. Just so you know 1-2 weeks will get you very little hiking time in the park.

    NW corner: Pole Bridge & Hole in the wall, SW corner: Coal Nyack Loop, SE corner Triple divide peak, NE corner: ptarmigan tunnel & swift current are a few good spots.


    P.S. Campspots are not really hard to come by if you have a thru-hikers mentality. Of all my issues in the park I never had any trouble getting spots, even at Granite Park.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by magic_game03 View Post
    Just so you know 1-2 weeks will get you very little hiking time in the park.
    Can you elaborate?

    If I managed to get advance reservations, I would plan on flying into Kalispell Friday night and begin hiking Saturday by noon. I would need to be back in Kalispell by the next Friday night for a Saturday flight back home. I would rather it be Sunday, but departing on Sunday is way more expensive.

    If I was unable to get advance reservations, I would probably lose a day or two on the beginning of the trip trying to get a trip lined up with a walk in reservation. I would do some day hikes, so it would not be totally wasted time.

  6. #6

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    July is usually mostly snow free by July, but the high country is utterly impassable until August some years. Bears are a risk you accept, or not. Buy spray when you get there and sing passing through brushy areas. A group is helpful if you are all together, but not if you are spread out over a mile or two of trail. A week is not much time. Pick an area to explore in some depth. Maybe a loop starting at Logan pass? The east side is dryer and more open. The west side is more woodsy. See the park's web site for ideas. You won't be disappointed, I promise.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  7. #7

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    A few years ago I went there on July 1st with a group with the intensions of hiking a chunk of the CDT. Turns out some of the passes were still snow covered and some stream crossings were still impossible without great risk. We had to abort one segment entirely. It wasn't a real big snow season up there the winter before either. I can see why August or at least late July is peak season. September you start running the risk of snow.

    Get a good set of maps.

    Griz country: In the park you are required to stay at designated tent sites. These sites have a designated cooking and food storage area. Try to avoid getting food smells on your clothes, which basically means don't wipe your hands on your pants. Have a dedicated wash cloth (bandana) to wipe your hands on. I used to put my clothes out side my tent, under my rain jacket.

    If you come to a blind corner in the trail, make some noise but don't whistle. Apparently a shill sound can sound like a Pika call, something the Grizzly's have been known to move a ton of earth to get to.

    The only bears I saw while in GNP was a black bear and cub not far from Many Glaciers Lodge. She stood up as I came down the trail, saw I was a hiker and went back to eating something off the side of the trail, while the cub watched from up in a tree.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    I'd stay on the north side because I think the trails are overall more scenically interesting. I'd start at Waterton Lake on the Canadian side and hike generally south checking what's open and available Highline, Patarmagin Tunnel, Garden Wall, etc CS''s etc. This way you'll be spending more time on trail rather than loosing time bouncing around. work out a resupply somewhere. What I'd do or rec is different based on a 1 or 2 wk trip. Getting deeper into July the greatest route on paper means nothing if it doesn't agree with what's open and available or what you're comfortable. It's when the folks arrive.

    I've found the same in early July on the CDT as Slo-Go-en... snow still on some of the east side passes.

  9. #9

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    Most (if not all) the back country sites have four, two tent platforms. Half the site is reserved for "walk in" reservations which you do in person at the park. Due to prior reservations, you have to be flexible and work around what's available. The shuttle system is handy for getting around.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  10. #10
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    Sure, not really much to explain. It's just the learning curve of Glacier.

    So, let us say you do a 4-day loop and you end up back at Apgar. What are you going to want to do? Probably do laundry so you have a fresh set of clothes, take a shower, and get something to eat. Apgar doesn't have showers, and West Glacier (closest place) just sold it's laundry room and converted it to a duplex, and your only real food at Apgar is a buffalo burger that cost $15 before tax, tip, cheese, and a drink. Wouldn't you rather go down to McDonald lodge and get a whole pepperoni pizza for $15 (of course that's before the lodge burned down last year). It's really these gaps between loops that consume so much time.

    IMO, only Swift Current has all the amenities (food, beer, showers, laundry, permits, etc.) and loops to boot. Yet, that will burn a whole day to get to (and a whole day to get back to the airport from) that far away area.

    Essentially, what I'm getting at...expect it to take a few trips to Glacier before you really have a feel for hiking in the park and how to maximize your time. Sort of like thru-hiking, the very first time you thru it takes months or years to prepare. Once you've done 6 thru's you don't waste the same time getting on the trail as you did when you first hiked. Some places have a small learning curve (Shenandoah) and some places have a large learning curve (Glacier.).
    * Warning: I bite AND I do not play well with others! -hellkat-

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by magic_game03 View Post
    Sure, not really much to explain. It's just the learning curve of Glacier.

    So, let us say you do a 4-day loop and you end up back at Apgar. What are you going to want to do? Probably do laundry so you have a fresh set of clothes, take a shower, and get something to eat. Apgar doesn't have showers, and West Glacier (closest place) just sold it's laundry room and converted it to a duplex, and your only real food at Apgar is a buffalo burger that cost $15 before tax, tip, cheese, and a drink. Wouldn't you rather go down to McDonald lodge and get a whole pepperoni pizza for $15 (of course that's before the lodge burned down last year). It's really these gaps between loops that consume so much time.

    IMO, only Swift Current has all the amenities (food, beer, showers, laundry, permits, etc.) and loops to boot. Yet, that will burn a whole day to get to (and a whole day to get back to the airport from) that far away area.

    Essentially, what I'm getting at...expect it to take a few trips to Glacier before you really have a feel for hiking in the park and how to maximize your time. Sort of like thru-hiking, the very first time you thru it takes months or years to prepare. Once you've done 6 thru's you don't waste the same time getting on the trail as you did when you first hiked. Some places have a small learning curve (Shenandoah) and some places have a large learning curve (Glacier.).
    This could have been posted by me as I say the same things. OMG, a wk or even two at Glacier, Grand Canyon, Olympic, Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Alaska NP's, or any of the several large acreage spread out NP'S considering travel time to such areas, resupply, permits, wide diversity, learning the ropes, etc cut into those wk and 2 wk agendas.

    Pick two 5-6 day loops or logistically time sensitive end to enders or a 12 day larger such agenda and go for it.

    The Glacier Rangers are very serious about protecting food and other scented items from bears and other wildlife. IMO, they are very serious about not wanting a Yosemite or GSMNP type bear/human issue considering they aren't just dealing with black bears but also Grizzlies.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk

  12. #12

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    I spent some time in East Glacier and that town really knows how to drain your wallet.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  13. #13
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    How many huckleberry pies did you eat to loose the padding in your wallet, in E. Glacier?

    Really, though? How did you spend any money in E. Glacier? There's two hostels, a taco stand, a Mexican restaurant, a P.O. and a whole bunch of tumbleweed if memory serves me correctly. (there is of course the Glacier Park Lodge and golf course, maybe?)
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  14. #14

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    Food mostly. Between meals and hostel fees, I figure 60-70 a day to stay in town and I must of ended up with 5 town days for various reasons. And of course, can't leave without a park T-shirt.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  15. #15

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    One issue is transportation. It takes a long time to get anywhere via public transportation. You can rent a car, but then you have to do loops to get back to the car, which isn't bad, but takes more planning. We did the CDT route through the park as a vacation trip. We flew into Kalispell, then took the train to East Glacier. The train arrived an hour after the local bus headed north, so we had to stay the night at East Glacier. We took the bus north to Waterton and didn't get on the trail until about 2 pm. So basically, from home to the trail took 2 1/2 days. Our hike from Waterton to East Glacier took from July 29 to August 9, with a layover day at Red Eagle Lake that was required to get our permit. See http://spiriteaglehome.com/Glacier_1998_pt1.html

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    Indeed, be logistically mindful of between loops or end to ender traveling around times. Getting from Kalispell AP to the NP and obtaining permit(s) usually takes me a day. Getting from the far south side via shuttles or buses to Waterton PP through Customs and to the TH usually takes a day. Compound that time if you're doing so with snow/ice or on a mid July thur-sun obtaining a permit agenda.

    As far as permit(s) logistically arrange your hike on one permit w/ perhaps a sandwiched resupply, and/or getting them out of the way before arriving. Budgeted monet monet helps too with shuttles, etc

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Food mostly. Between meals and hostel fees, I figure 60-70 a day to stay in town and I must of ended up with 5 town days for various reasons. And of course, can't leave without a park T-shirt.

    Ahh, stay at one of the hostels, take only pictures, see how many ground squirrels you can count at the Amtrak Station, have a cup of cocoa inside the Lodge in the great room, spend your time catching snowflakes on your tongue, and resist the urge the play a round of golf as you're walking through the course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Ahh, stay at one of the hostels, take only pictures, see how many ground squirrels you can count at the Amtrak Station, have a cup of cocoa inside the Lodge in the great room, spend your time catching snowflakes on your tongue, and resist the urge the play a round of golf as you're walking through the course.
    This could have been posted by me as I say [exactly] the same things.
    * Warning: I bite AND I do not play well with others! -hellkat-

  19. #19

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    I was with a group of 4 older woman who set the agenda. That was a big mistake. Long story on how that came about and how it all fell apart, which we don't need to get into. Hint: limit your group to 4 max.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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