2021 summer trip questions

Let us know when you will be visiting,

Moderators: Tara, Kathy

Post Reply
McKee80
Donator
Donator
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:30 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11

2021 summer trip questions

Post by McKee80 »

Hi,

My non backpacking wife wants to take me on a backpacking trip for my 50th. I've backpacked the northern traverse (mostly) and it has to be somewhere new. I'm looking for easy-ish trips where she can see emerald colored lakes, wildflowers, and wildlife. Right now, I'm thinking Gunsight - Lake McDonald with overnights at Gunsight, Lake Ellen Wilson, and Sperry. Or two nights at Gunsight with a trip to Lake Ellen Wilson on the day between. I tried to get Granite Park Chalet, and I'll keep trying for cancellations. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

But the real question is in what order do I reserve things. I'm thinking beginning of August. Lodges are on cancellation monitoring, campground reservations for that time period at the end of the month, and backcountry requests go in March 15. I'm guessing get the backcountry permit, then fill in with cancellations and activities around it. We'll probably be there a week and looking to spend 2-4 nights in the backcountry.

Thanks!
Sean

wnysteve
Donator
Donator
Posts: 307
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:22 am
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11
Location: Clarence, NY

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by wnysteve »

One of the backcountry sites on the Quartz Lake Loop would seem to match the criteria you listed. And, being on the west side of the park, it takes the Blackfeet restrictions out of the picture.

McKee80
Donator
Donator
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:30 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by McKee80 »

Thanks! I’ll check that out.

User avatar
Fairbanks142
Donator
Donator
Posts: 194
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:14 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by Fairbanks142 »

Hey Sean, you're a lucky man to have your non-backpacking wife want to take you on a backcountry trip for your 50th! How cool is that?!

Lake Ellen Wilson is one of the most beautiful places in the park. It's not exactly an "easy" hike to get there with full packs, but much easier than what you did on the Northern Traverse. I think the easiest route would be to do one night at Sperry, then one night at Lake Ellen Wilson. Day hike up to Gunsight Pass from Lake Ellen Wilson, but then hike back out from Lake Ellen Wilson to Lake MacDonald.

Another thing you could consider since your wife isn't as much of a backpacker is to do two different one-nighters, with some days in between, since you'll be there for a week. One night at Granite Park, one night at Sperry, etc.

Glacier's backcountry, especially if it's still limited to the west side again this summer, doesn't offer a ton of options for easy hikes in. So honestly, my first thought was that Grand Teton and Yellowstone could be something you might want to consider, if you haven't done any backcountry camping there? There are many more options for very short hikes into great backcountry campsites in those parks.

But if you're set on Glacier -- we get it. (-:

McKee80
Donator
Donator
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:30 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by McKee80 »

Thanks, yeah, it is very generous of her. She debated between flying in friends and family for a party and taking me on a trip and decided I would like the latter better. She was right. It's a little complicated for me. She wants to go on a trip I've always wanted to go on, but my planning queue is mostly long, uncomfortable, off trail type trips. My nature is to plan trips that I know others will enjoy. I honed in on the Gunsight Pass area for a couple reasons:

1. I probably won't do it otherwise. If I do get back to Glacier, it will be on a longer trip and that trail doesn't lend itself to that.
2. Of all the trips I've taken, she's most jealous of turquoise lakes surrounded by towering mountains, wildflowers, and wildlife (in that order). The view of Gunsight Lake from the pass looks really awesome.

We've hiked the Mist Trail in Yosemite, that's about the level of exertion I'm looking for. The other options I'm looking at are Helen Lake (from Chief Mountain in 2 days) and Cracker Lake. If we end up in Glacier, we'll take a couple extra days and do the Highline and go up to Polebridge. Maybe like you said, a night at Cracker, a night at Granite Park with a day or two between.

Grand Teton seems like mostly big elevation, maybe I'll look into taking the tram up. And Yellowstone is a good suggestion, too. I'd really like to get her to a view of the blue/green lakes, though.

I like the Chalet idea. I'll be checking both of them, that might be the perfect compromise.

Thank you! You've given me a lot to think about :)

MarxMN
Donator
Donator
Posts: 560
Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2006 9:38 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11
Location: Mazeppa, MN

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by MarxMN »

Gunsight Pass - Sperry - Lake McDonald would be great if you can get two or three nights at campsites or one night at Sperry Chalet and one or two nights at campsites. But as Faribanks said it is not an easy trail. I think the views of Gunsight Lake and the rock patterns on the mountainside across the lake are fantastic when hiking from the lake toward Gunsight Pass. There is a hazardous snowfield on the Gunsight Lake side of Gunsight Pass that is often a probelm until very late July or early August.

Another possible location would be Cracker lake (if the east side is open). Cracker Lake is a great color - I don't know if I would call it emerald. Behind the Lake is Siyeh Mountain.

One other idea (again dependent on the east side being open) would be to hike into the Gable Creek campground near the Belly River Ranger Station. If you stay a couple nights you can take day trips to Elizabeth Lake and/or to Cosley Lake. Gable Creek is not a really scenic campground but it is near the Belly River and it mgith be easier to get a reservation there.

PeteE
Posts: 3247
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:20 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11
Location: Kalispell Montana

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by PeteE »

When, roughly are you planning on going Sean?
Regarding
I'm looking for easy-ish trips where she can see emerald colored lakes, wildflowers, and wildlife.
Don't give up on Granite Park. Check during the evening and before 0800 MST to see what may have opened.
Two nights there is way better than one if you can get it. That give you time to do the overlook where she'll have this view;
https://photos.smugmug.com/Granite-Park ... ano-XL.jpg
The Highline is as good as any for animals. Almost always see sheep. I was lucky to see a black bear, grizzly bears, and sheep on last years trip to Granite Park. Good wild flowers depending on time of year. You may have to fit in a day hike or two for chances at flowers and better chances at seeing animals.
All that said, I wouldn't argue with any of the other good suggestions.
One idea regarding the Gunsight Pass trail.
Put in for GUN--> ELL-->SPE. If you get it fine.(reverse route ok.) Just know going UP to Sperry from Lake McDonald is a B***ch.
As a second choice maybe ask for 3 nights at Gunsight Lake. Do day trips over Gunsight Pass to Lake Ellen Wilson on one day, and maybe to Jackson Glacier the other.
Gunsight Lake CG has 3 reservable campsite spots, one of very few CG's that have that.
Getting three nights there will be easier than GUN--> ELL-->SPE.
A note about Granite Park CG. YOu can't do an out and back to it. Must be part of a multi day backpack.
Good luck!!
pete :wink:
"If you are not curious, you will learn nothing" -Goethe-

"When you're born in this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show.
And when you're born in America, you're given a front row seat."

George Carlin

User avatar
Fairbanks142
Donator
Donator
Posts: 194
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:14 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by Fairbanks142 »

If the access from the east side does open up this summer (and it looks like that's still a big "if")....

I've never been to Morningstar Lake from the Cut Bank trailhead, but lots of good reviews of that. It would be a good site to consider for a shorter hike in -- stay there for a couple nights and day hike up to Ptarmigan Pass on the day between. You could also day hike to Medicine Grizzly Lake from there.

And a boat trip across Two Medicine and then a short hike up to the backcountry site at Upper Two Medicine could be another one to consider for a great, easy one-nighter. Again, depending on whether the east side access opens up.

User avatar
paul
Donator
Donator
Posts: 1423
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:42 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11
Location: MA

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by paul »

So far no one has mentioned Lake Francis. You could take the boat from Watertown and hike up to Lake Francis for a night, then the next day maybe go to HOL. I don't think the hike to Francis is too bad from the boat, hiking out from HOL might be a bit long but it's mostly downhill and flat. I don't think you can beat the scenery.
We are in the mountains and the mountains are in us. - John Muir

McKee80
Donator
Donator
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:30 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by McKee80 »

Thanks for all the great suggestions! We're going around the first week in August. I'll probably stay off the East or Canada side, just to be safe (although I desperately want to get to Frances or Helen). I'm going to get on the cancellation train, I think. I think we could make the whole Gunsight Pass trail, if we go slow. Hopefully, I can get into Sperry. I'm hoping to show her an overhead view of a glacial lake. If I could get a night at both chalets, maybe do a night or two at one of the other places mentioned... Lots of fun planning to do! Thanks again!

Sean

McKee80
Donator
Donator
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:30 pm
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by McKee80 »

Well, good news (for me, at least). I was able to pick up cancellations for Sperry for July 22 and 23. That will be a big hike, so we'll start early and go slow (or ride on a horse if necessary). Get as far up towards Comeau Pass as we feel like on the off day. I've only been to Glacier in September, so I imagine more people, bugs, water, and wildflowers. At least I won't have to sweat fire season!

We still want to do two nights in the backcountry, but our exertion allowance has been reduced :). I'll probably put in for Upper Two Medicine, Morningstar (or Atlantic Creek), or the backcountry sites on Lake McDonald. Just want her to get the experience of a short stay with a zero day to just relax. Then maybe sprinkle in part of the Highline, Hidden Lake, or Avalanche Lake, or a stroll around the lakes in Many Glacier. We usually stay on east coast time when we go out west, so we should be good getting places early. Of course, that could all change depending on what it open!

Thanks for the help!

User avatar
ptguard
Donator
Donator
Posts: 144
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:28 am
Gender?: Male
Please add the numbers(11): 11
Location: mentone, al

Re: 2021 summer trip questions

Post by ptguard »

did you find them on the availability calendar or by calling? i keep the calendar up on my PC all the time but haven't seen a cancellation yet. i've got 4 nights booked at MGH but will only use 2 because i'm trying to catch at least a night at sperry the week of 7/19-23.

Post Reply