Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

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delliott
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Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by delliott »

I worked in the park for the concessioner in 1999 at Lake McDonald. Had a great summer and did most of the reasonable accessible days hikes and a couple overnight hikes. This year was going to be a reunion trip where we hiked the Northern Circle (which I never got to do in 1999). I submitted 10 applications to be safe and got exactly what I requested. After the advanced reservations were cancelled, I made hotel reservations at Many Glacier to accomplished the same trails or portions of them, but as you know these reservations have also been canceled. So, we have plane tickets to Kalispell and a VRBO in West Glacier for the nights of 8/14 and 8/15, both of which are already paid. We fly home on the afternoon of 8/23. We will have a rental car. The morning of 8/15 we plan to start hiking somewhere through the walk up reservation process on 8/14. My first hope is that Hole in the Wall will open up during the next few days and we can figure out a route in the Kintla / Bowman Lake Area (I also never saw this area as a college student). If this does not pan out, my second target is some version of Gunsight Pass which I did as a long day hike in 1999. Given all the constraints and difficulties with reservations this year, we plan to be flexible and make the best of some wonderful time in Montana. There will be 2 of us. I could use this groups help with the following questions:

1) What time should I be in line on the morning of the 14th at Apgar?
2) Do you have any alternate itineraries or trails that I should be considering, perhaps in the National Forest surrounding GNP? Ideally we want to enjoy our trip and keep the distances pretty light (7 to 12 miles per day)
3) If I end up doing gunsight pass or Kintla / Bowman, is there somewhere that I can find additional information on side trails off the park maintained trails to increase the mileage and see some great sights?
4) Are there any reliable shuttle services this year or should I just plan on an in and out?
4) If you were in my position, what would your plan be?

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Fairbanks142
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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by Fairbanks142 »

With the limited options at Glacier this year, you're definitely locked in on the two best routes. Both are incredible. With the number of days that you're planning, that will help to give you some options. Of course everyone will be going for those same routes.

The policy at the Apgar backcountry office is that they don't want you to line up any earlier than 4am. If it were me, I'd be there at 4am. Worse case scenario you'll feel like you didn't need to get there that early....but you may be glad that you did.

Make sure to review the backcountry planning info and site availability on the Glacier NPS site. You can get creative with some itinerary options. like multiple nights at the same site to start your trip if the better sites aren't available until 3 or 4 nights into your trip. For example, something like two or even three nights at KIN, BOW or UPK to start your trip if BOU or HOL aren't available until the 3rd or 4th night of your itinerary. (In this case, especially if you like to fish, there are far worse places that KIN or BOW for a multiple night layover if needed.)

If there is absolutely no way to get either of those prime routes that you're trying to get....if it were me, my 3rd option would be to go for Lake Isabel. I haven't been there, but with the limited options this year I'd consider that. The hike there would be much more of a slog in the trees, but from everything I've read, Lake Isabel would be nice for a couple nights. Again here, it has good fishing. And others might be able to confirm (and this would probably be a key point in my decision to go there), if you're doing a couple nights at Lake Isabel you might be able to day hike up to Two Medicine Pass, depending on where they've closed that trail.

I'm sure that others are going to chime in to assist you here as well. Good luck!

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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by PeteE »

I think Fairbanks suggestions are spot on, e.g. multiple nights at KIN or BOW to get sites farther out.

Being at the BC Office at 4AM is especially important. Recently, I've driven by the BC Office around ~5AM on the way to Logan Pass.
There were always people there already at that hour. You really want to be 1st in line if possible for those popular itineraries.

Regarding the Gunsight Pass itinerary, if you get GUN for multiple nights, do a side trip up to Jackson Glacier.
It's very close by at around 2 miles one way. Use the beginning of the mountaineering trail that goes to the summit of Mt Jackson.

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."

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delliott
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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by delliott »

Thanks All - I was planning to either bring a light spinning rod or DSLR camera as my one luxury item, and decided on the camera. Sounds like I might should at least fly out with both. Please keep the suggestions coming if others have thoughts.

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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by PeteE »

delliott wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:21 pm
Thanks All - I was planning to either bring a light spinning rod or DSLR camera as my one luxury item, and decided on the camera. Sounds like I might should at least fly out with both. Please keep the suggestions coming if others have thoughts.
You should take both camera and fishing gear!!
How you come to GNP with no camera to record your trip? :D

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

delliott
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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by delliott »

One more question - Are there any water shortages to be aware of at the higher elevations on the Kintla / Bowman Loop? Do the Boulder Pass, Hole in Wall, and Brown Pass campgrounds have reliable water sources nearby?

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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by orin »

There is water everywhere on that route especially higher up. No worries.

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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by Fairbanks142 »

Also Brown Pass is by far the least desirable campsite on that route. Definitely use it if it helps you to then get nights at Hole in the Wall and/or Boulder Pass on subsequent nights, but otherwise don't put BRO on your itinerary unless you have to.

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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by zozeppelin »

10 applications......

Nothing personal, as you're playing within the rules, but wish they would have a large permit application fee as a deterrent to this action. Something that is refundable upon arrival and picking up the permit. This would fix the no-show issue as well.

That said, hope you have a nice trip. Besides Kintla/Bowman and Gunsight Pass, maybe consider Nyack if you are feeling adventurous (looks like they are beginning to clear it).

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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by Sue Z »

delliott wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:22 am
One more question - Are there any water shortages to be aware of at the higher elevations on the Kintla / Bowman Loop? Do the Boulder Pass, Hole in Wall, and Brown Pass campgrounds have reliable water sources nearby?
When I was there in late August, the campgrounds had water. The hike between Boulder Pass and Hole in the Wall, however, was hot and dry. Carry enough for the whole hike.
Sue Z

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Re: Itenerary Help Needed - 5 nights, 6 days on the trail

Post by Sue Z »

delliott wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:15 pm

3) If I end up doing gunsight pass or Kintla / Bowman, is there somewhere that I can find additional information on side trails off the park maintained trails to increase the mileage and see some great sights?
4) Are there any reliable shuttle services this year or should I just plan on an in and out?

If you're fortunate enough to make it to Boulder Pass,
I recommend climbing Boulder Peak. It was awesome! Our group hiked up along the ridge on the right, as you face it from the campground. It was awesome! Fab views of Pocket Lake, Kintla Mtn., Hole in the Wall, etc. We spent the night at the Boulder Pass campground, hiked the peak the next morning, then continued on to the Hole in the Wall campground in the afternoon. Doable for an older lady. You can leave your backpack hanging at the campground, and just carry a day pack for the climb.

On the trail toward Hole in the Wall, my husband enjoyed hiking across the plateau over to the place where the waterfall goes over the edge and plunges down the cliff.

We rented 2 SUVs so we could do the loop. Left one at Bowman Lake, then drove to Kintla Lake.
Sue Z

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