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15 days backpacking

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:28 am
by schouleur
Hi all!

I'm glad to find this forum because I would like to do a 15 day hike in Glacier with my girlfriend and we have a lot of practical questions, I hope you will be able to help us!
We plan to go in August to backpack for 15 days with 1 day for re-supply at the middle. The idea is to go to solitude places from Two Medecine to North Fork.
So here are the questions:
1/ Is there a place where we can buy food for re-supply the backpacks (hiking food like dried fruits, cereal bars, ...)
2/ Can we take a permit for the whole 15 days at one time
3/ Can we decide on the last minute at which campsite we will sleep
4/ Can we go off trails to join two areas
5/ If needed, can we sleep in wild areas (no campsite)
6/ What can we do if a campsite is full (linked to question 5)

Thanks a lot for your help!

Re: 15 days backpacking

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:20 am
by smahurin
1. Not readily available. A few of the gift shops in places like rising sun and many glacier will have some basics like ramen, and I think I saw last summer the gift shops carrying a couple of the mountain house freeze dried meals, but your options are going to be very limited. The gift shops aren't meant to service backpackers really. They're intent is more so to service some overnight campers who may have forgotten a meal.
2. You can get a 15-day permit. The first few days you'll have to take whatever walk-in sites are available, but after about the 4-th day I would imagine most of the sites will have walk-in availability. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong on trip duration, but I know I've met groups on 10-12 day trips before... I think you're only limited by your imagination.
3. Sort of. You have to get your permit before you start. Once you get a permit, you are locked into those sites on those nights. But you can decide on sites when you go for your walk-in, but again, you'll have to be flexible with the first few days of your trip.
4. You can go off trail, sort of. Don't cut switchbacks, but yes you can go off-trail. However, it's not as simple as it seems. While there are off-trail routes, with a few exceptions I suspect the park services won't recognize them as contiguous travel options. The park service has a few select wilderness permits for camping off trail, but these are usually reserved for mountaineering groups. I've never heard the park service issue a wilderness permit as part of an extended mostly on-trail backpacking trip, but others might know more. If you explain you want to go off trail to connect areas they'll might try and accommodate but keep in mind that this almost assuredly means you'll be summiting peaks off-trail which is not going to be easy loaded up for a 15-day trek. The trails are mostly set aside in discrete valleys with the "easy" way between them being the on-trail mountain passes. Most other routes between valleys are going to be difficult.
5. No, with a few exceptions. In the Nyack/Coal region offers wildernesses passes for that area specifically. And as mentioned before, there are wilderness permits for mountaineering groups used to summit peaks. But their real intent is to provide a way to access remote peaks. But otherwise you are required to camp in your designated campsite.
6. If the campsite is full, you won't be issued a permit for that site. Simple as that. You'll need to pick up your permit before you leave so you're going to know exactly where you're going to be each and every night over your 15-day trip.

Re: 15 days backpacking

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:36 am
by schouleur
Thanks a lot for your answers!

Now, can you please explain to me what does "walk-in" means? (Sorry, not english native)


Re: 15 days backpacking

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:46 am
by paul
You might want to check the Glacier's back country website

It will help you answer some of your questions.

To answer walk-in question, the park service uses designated campsites in the backcountry. Half the sites are available to reserve in advance and the other half can be reserved only the 24 hours prior to your trip. The latter are called walk-in permits because you walk-in the backcountry office to request a permit 24 hours prior to the permit start.


Re: 15 days backpacking

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:35 am
by Ear Mountain
schouleur wrote:...can you please explain to me what does "walk-in" means?

Glacier National Park wants backpackers to use specific designated backcountry campgrounds. Each campground has 2 or more specific campsites where tents may be set up. One-half of the campsites in each campground can be reserved in advance. Those without reservations can "walk up" to a ranger station the day before they plan to start their backpacking trip and request a permit.

Re: 15 days backpacking

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:58 am
by schouleur
Thanks a lot for all this information,

I guess our real problem remaining will be to find food re-supply :(

Re: 15 days backpacking

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:36 am
by joybird
Depending on your route, you may be able to cache resupply materials at one of the ranger stations. For example, I know of people who have cached stuff at Goat Haunt. Or, if your backcountry route were to take you through an area like Many Glacier or Two Medicine (which have a parking areas nearby where you could leave your car), or across a road like the Going to the Sun Road near the Gunsight trailhead, you might be able to cache your food in your car and pick it up as you passed through that area? Or, you could incorporate an out-and-back dogleg, for example involving two nights at Bowman Lake and hike out to the car campground during your layover day to pick up food cached in a car in the campground parking lot. (I would NOT count on caching food in a bear box in a front-country campground...I seem to remember someone on this site had their clothes stolen that way once?)

Note, you would NOT be allowed to have your route rely on you using the car to get from one trailhead to another mid-route. You could only use the car to cache the food and then continue on along the same continuous trail.

Good luck!