Need Advice! Planning North Circle Route (6/30-7/5)

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Need Advice! Planning North Circle Route (6/30-7/5)

Postby glien » Thu May 31, 2018 11:18 am

Hi. I need some help planning a backpacking trip with a friend. Need some clarification after reading the NPS site (trail conditions; how to obtain permits).
Has anyone done the North Circle Route in early July? Will the trail be clear?
Do I qualify for advance permit application? What are my options for getting permits?
Any other options if we are unable to do North Circle Route? I've been reading about Dawson Pass loop; Bowman Lake ; 6 miles / Pristine.

Thank you!!! :D
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Re: Need Advice! Planning North Circle Route (6/30-7/5)

Postby PeteE » Thu May 31, 2018 2:19 pm

glien wrote:Hi. I need some help planning a backpacking trip with a friend. Need some clarification after reading the NPS site (trail conditions; how to obtain permits).

Has anyone done the North Circle Route in early July? Will the trail be clear?

I haven't done the North Circle. However the chances of doing that route in early July approach Zero.
The Ptarmigan Tunnel isn't scheduled to be open until July 13th this year.
Then there is the Ahern Drift between Fifty Mountain and Granite Park. We had a big snow year and I very seriously doubt the Ahern Drift will be passable until well into July, and maybe as late as Aug 1st this year. UNLESS--you are, 1) are skilled in using an ice ax and crampons, and 2) experienced traversing steep snowfields. Take a look at Marmotman's pictures in this link. This was late July.
Swiftcurrent Pass and Stoney Indian Pass might be problematic that early this year as well.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9564&p=102802&hilit=ahern+drift#p102802



Do I qualify for advance permit application?
You can apply on line(Pay.Gov) for an itinerary, although at this point,imo, that's a long shot this late in the reservation process---which has had its problems this year. Look elsewhere on the forum for info on that.
Go here for the process:
https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/ ... ations.htm

What are my options for getting permits?

Your best option, imo, is to use the "Walk up" process.

Coincidentally, I'm going to utilize the walk up process tomorrow morning for a 2 night trip(GAB) in the Belly River beginning Saturday AM.
Maybe I'll use the opportunity to update my "lame video" 8) on how to use that process. If so, the video will be up tomorrow night.


Any other options if we are unable to do North Circle Route?
Your options will be limited in early July since most of the high passes will still be pretty sketchy, or unpassable.
The Dawson Pitamakan loop might be doable...all depends on the melt out.
A number of "out and backs" should be available. Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake are open now.
The trouble is Boulder Pass and Brown Pass almost certainly won't be passable in early July this year.


I've been reading about Dawson Pass loop; Bowman Lake ; 6 miles / Pristine.

Thank you!!! :D

Your welcome. You OK with doing an "out and back" trip?
Some of the others more experienced than I may have some additional, or different thoughts than I.

pete :wink:

In the meantime, learn to use this map and the campsite availability bulletin.
All the "fine print" on that map is important for planning a walk up trip.
https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/ ... b-2018.pdf
https://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/ ... status.cfm



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Re: Need Advice! Planning North Circle Route (6/30-7/5)

Postby paul » Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:20 pm

As Pete said, the Northern Circle is not a good option that early in the season. You are best off trying to get a permit for the lower elevation camps. Good places to try would be the Belly River area or the lakes in the north fork. A nice trip would be something like:
-in at Chief Mountain Customs
-to Elizabeth lake foot
-to Helen lake
-to Cosley lake
- and back out to Chief Mountain customs.
We are in the mountains and the mountains are in us. - John Muir
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