Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

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Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby shiv » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:34 pm

My friends and I are planning a 3-day 2-night backcountry trip and were wondering which of the two, Iceberg-Elizabeth-Helen or BowmanLake-BrownPass-LakeFrancis, are better in terms of hiking pace and beautiful views. We wish we could do both but we are short on time. Any advice welcome.

Edit: We are planning this for the first week of August
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby PeteE » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:28 pm

shiv wrote:My friends and I are planning a 3-day 2-night backcountry trip and were wondering which of the two, Iceberg-Elizabeth-Helen or BowmanLake-BrownPass-LakeFrancis, are better in terms of hiking pace and beautiful views. We wish we could do both but we are short on time. Any advice welcome.

Edit: We are planning this for the first week of August


Hi and welcome to the GNP chat page :)

Hopefully, you'll get other advice/opinions.
You're coming at near, or at "peak" visitation time.
You're going to have a LOT of competition in the backpacking "lottery" on march 15th? is it? for campsites...
No matter where you want to go in the central/northern part of GNP.
I'm not being negative; that's just a fact.

As for your 2 choices.
Bowman(BOW)-->Brown Pass(BRO)--Lake Francis(FRA)
That's three nights and four days. You would begin that trip at the Bowman Lake Car camp ground, hike 7 miles to BOW, etc.
You would finish your trip at Goat Haunt after a 6-7 mile hike from FRA.
Then what? This itinerary is fine as a backpack trip, BUT...
It's an enormous logistical challenge in getting back to your car.
You'll waste a lot of time spotting and getting back to your vehicle.

Your 2nd choice can;t be done as your describe. No campsite at Iceberg lake.
And you end it at Helen Lake which is a 13.8 mile hike with 1000ft+ of gain to Chief Mountain parking, or
Hump your pack back to Many Glacier via the Ptarmigan Tunnel--14.8 miles and even more elv. gain.

Assuming you want to stay in that area...
I would suggest you do a 2 night/3 day trip in the Belly River region like.
Or 3 night/4 day by adding Helen Lake in that mix

In at Chief Mountain(CME)-->Cosley Lake(COS)--Elizabeth Lake(ELF)-->Out at Many Glacier(MAN) via the Ptarmigan Tunnel
Draw straws to see who hitch hikes back for the car at Chief Mountain.
I hope other members will help out here with itinerary suggestions and logistical advice.

You should also read this website thoroughly. There is both "MUST" know info there as well as very handy info.
The information in there will make your planning much easier.
https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

If you have other questions about things like places to eat, road and transportation, gear Q's...
You should ask those in the appropriate forum.

Chatter mattB developed this very handy tool for planning backpacks and hikes.
It's a good tool and very helpful.
http://www.mattb.nationalparkschat.com/ ... lanner.htm

Good luck in the lottery!

pete :wink:
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby paul » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:43 pm

If you want to camp at Bowman lake, Brown pass and Lake Francis. Your best bet is to start and end at the same location. That's and out and back trip, but it beats having to plan the logistics of getting back to your car from Canada. Another option which is not as bad logistically is to camp at Bowman, Brown pass or Hole in the wall, and Upper Kintla lake. You'll have to figure out how to get back to your car from Kintla but it's not as bad as getting from Waterton, alberta back to the North fork.

Personally, I wouldn't choose to camp at Brown pass unless I had to, I would choose HOL or FRA even it if meant a more difficult hike.

As far as Iceberg, Elizabeth lake and Helen lake goes. Pete's right, there is no back country site at Iceberg lake (and you wouldn't want to be camping there anyways with the hoards of people walking through there everyday!)

A route that you might want to try is staring at Many Glacier and camping at ELF, HEL, and COS (in that order) and hiking out at Chief Mountain Customs. You can find out what the acronyms mean by reading up on glacier national park back country camping page referenced in Pete's response.
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby teapot57 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:17 am

To clarify what you are asking, I think you are trying to decide between one of two, 2 night trips:

1. Enter Iceberg/Ptarmigan Trailhead, Night 1 at Elizabeth Lake, Night 2 at Helen Lake, exit Iceberg/Ptarmigan Trailhead

This trip would bring you from Many Glacier through the Ptarmigan Tunnel into the Belly River area. There are two campsites at Elizabeth Lake. I would choose ELizabeth Lake Foot (ELF). This would make a nice two night hike, but your exit day from Helen Lake to Many Glacier is long, at over 14 miles with 2,400 feet elevation gain/loss. But you know your abilities better than we do.

2. Enter Bowman Lake Trailhead, Night 1 at Brown Pass, Night 2 at Lake Francis, exit Bowman Lake Trailhead

I have never done this route, but to me, the enter and exit days are long, and the campground at Brown Pass not very desirable. I would change the campgrounds for this route to Bowman Lake Head and Hole In the Wall. You could maybe visit Lake Francis before heading up to HOL if you wanted to. But again I have never been to this area so maybe someone with experience could give you better advice.

Both trips bring you into great areas of the Park. Pick one as your first choice and use the other as your second choice and see where the chips fall.
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby shiv » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:24 pm

PeteE wrote:
shiv wrote:My friends and I are planning a 3-day 2-night backcountry trip and were wondering which of the two, Iceberg-Elizabeth-Helen or BowmanLake-BrownPass-LakeFrancis, are better in terms of hiking pace and beautiful views. We wish we could do both but we are short on time. Any advice welcome.

Edit: We are planning this for the first week of August


Hi and welcome to the GNP chat page :)

Hopefully, you'll get other advice/opinions.
You're coming at near, or at "peak" visitation time.
You're going to have a LOT of competition in the backpacking "lottery" on march 15th? is it? for campsites...
No matter where you want to go in the central/northern part of GNP.
I'm not being negative; that's just a fact.

As for your 2 choices.
Bowman(BOW)-->Brown Pass(BRO)--Lake Francis(FRA)
That's three nights and four days. You would begin that trip at the Bowman Lake Car camp ground, hike 7 miles to BOW, etc.
You would finish your trip at Goat Haunt after a 6-7 mile hike from FRA.
Then what? This itinerary is fine as a backpack trip, BUT...
It's an enormous logistical challenge in getting back to your car.
You'll waste a lot of time spotting and getting back to your vehicle.

Your 2nd choice can;t be done as your describe. No campsite at Iceberg lake.
And you end it at Helen Lake which is a 13.8 mile hike with 1000ft+ of gain to Chief Mountain parking, or
Hump your pack back to Many Glacier via the Ptarmigan Tunnel--14.8 miles and even more elv. gain.

Assuming you want to stay in that area...
I would suggest you do a 2 night/3 day trip in the Belly River region like.
Or 3 night/4 day by adding Helen Lake in that mix

In at Chief Mountain(CME)-->Cosley Lake(COS)--Elizabeth Lake(ELF)-->Out at Many Glacier(MAN) via the Ptarmigan Tunnel
Draw straws to see who hitch hikes back for the car at Chief Mountain.
I hope other members will help out here with itinerary suggestions and logistical advice.

You should also read this website thoroughly. There is both "MUST" know info there as well as very handy info.
The information in there will make your planning much easier.
https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

If you have other questions about things like places to eat, road and transportation, gear Q's...
You should ask those in the appropriate forum.

Chatter mattB developed this very handy tool for planning backpacks and hikes.
It's a good tool and very helpful.
http://www.mattb.nationalparkschat.com/ ... lanner.htm

Good luck in the lottery!

pete :wink:


Hello Pete,

Thanks for the warm and kind welcome!
Haha, we understand there will be a lot of competition and we will make sure we have backup plans. Yeah, the lottery opens on the 15th of March.

First choice:
Sorry, I think I wasn't clear enough. What I meant was BLE-BOW-FRA-BLE. Either way as you suggested it might be a logistical issue, and maybe adding an extra day would work well.

Second choice:
Again, what I meant was starting at IPE (Iceberg/Ptarmigan) and then heading to ELF (day 1). I wanted to add Iceberg lake as a side. And then heading to HEL (day 2) and then back to IPE (day 3) since it is downhill. I am guessing the same applies here, adding an extra day.

I used the NPS website to get a rough estimate of the route we wanted to go on. Thanks for the link to the mattB tool. Let me have a go at that.

Thank you for your time and consideration in answering my questions. Will let you know how it goes.

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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby shiv » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:29 pm

paul wrote:If you want to camp at Bowman lake, Brown pass and Lake Francis. Your best bet is to start and end at the same location. That's and out and back trip, but it beats having to plan the logistics of getting back to your car from Canada. Another option which is not as bad logistically is to camp at Bowman, Brown pass or Hole in the wall, and Upper Kintla lake. You'll have to figure out how to get back to your car from Kintla but it's not as bad as getting from Waterton, alberta back to the North fork.

Personally, I wouldn't choose to camp at Brown pass unless I had to, I would choose HOL or FRA even it if meant a more difficult hike.

As far as Iceberg, Elizabeth lake and Helen lake goes. Pete's right, there is no back country site at Iceberg lake (and you wouldn't want to be camping there anyways with the hoards of people walking through there everyday!)

A route that you might want to try is staring at Many Glacier and camping at ELF, HEL, and COS (in that order) and hiking out at Chief Mountain Customs. You can find out what the acronyms mean by reading up on glacier national park back country camping page referenced in Pete's response.


Hey Paul,

In reference to my response to Pete, I think to be clear what I meant was starting at BLE and then camping at BOW (day 1, night 1), then heading out to FRA (day 2, night 2) and then heading back to BLE (day 3). I understand this is a stretch and may have to add an extra day. Would you suggest adding HOL in the route somewhere?

For the second choice, what I meant was starting at IPE (Many Glacier) and heading out to ELF and HEL and then back to IPE.

shiv
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby shiv » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:35 pm

teapot57 wrote:To clarify what you are asking, I think you are trying to decide between one of two, 2 night trips:

1. Enter Iceberg/Ptarmigan Trailhead, Night 1 at Elizabeth Lake, Night 2 at Helen Lake, exit Iceberg/Ptarmigan Trailhead

This trip would bring you from Many Glacier through the Ptarmigan Tunnel into the Belly River area. There are two campsites at Elizabeth Lake. I would choose ELizabeth Lake Foot (ELF). This would make a nice two night hike, but your exit day from Helen Lake to Many Glacier is long, at over 14 miles with 2,400 feet elevation gain/loss. But you know your abilities better than we do.

2. Enter Bowman Lake Trailhead, Night 1 at Brown Pass, Night 2 at Lake Francis, exit Bowman Lake Trailhead

I have never done this route, but to me, the enter and exit days are long, and the campground at Brown Pass not very desirable. I would change the campgrounds for this route to Bowman Lake Head and Hole In the Wall. You could maybe visit Lake Francis before heading up to HOL if you wanted to. But again I have never been to this area so maybe someone with experience could give you better advice.

Both trips bring you into great areas of the Park. Pick one as your first choice and use the other as your second choice and see where the chips fall.


Hey teapot57,

Yes that is what I intended to get across. Sorry, I wasn't clear enough.

1. I think "14 miles with 2,400 feet elevation gain/loss" would mean adding an extra night.

2. Here what I meant was Enter Bowman Lake Trailhead, Night 1 at Bowman lake head and Night 2 at Lake Francis, exit at Bowman Lake Trailhead. Again I feel, adding an extra night would help in easing the route.

I know both are the great areas of the park and also know that competition to get permits would be on the same level. So fingers crossed we get picked for one.

Thanks for the response,
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby paul » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:21 pm

shiv wrote:
paul wrote:If you want to camp at Bowman lake, Brown pass and Lake Francis. Your best bet is to start and end at the same location. That's and out and back trip, but it beats having to plan the logistics of getting back to your car from Canada. Another option which is not as bad logistically is to camp at Bowman, Brown pass or Hole in the wall, and Upper Kintla lake. You'll have to figure out how to get back to your car from Kintla but it's not as bad as getting from Waterton, alberta back to the North fork.

Personally, I wouldn't choose to camp at Brown pass unless I had to, I would choose HOL or FRA even it if meant a more difficult hike.

As far as Iceberg, Elizabeth lake and Helen lake goes. Pete's right, there is no back country site at Iceberg lake (and you wouldn't want to be camping there anyways with the hoards of people walking through there everyday!)

A route that you might want to try is staring at Many Glacier and camping at ELF, HEL, and COS (in that order) and hiking out at Chief Mountain Customs. You can find out what the acronyms mean by reading up on glacier national park back country camping page referenced in Pete's response.


Hey Paul,

In reference to my response to Pete, I think to be clear what I meant was starting at BLE and then camping at BOW (day 1, night 1), then heading out to FRA (day 2, night 2) and then heading back to BLE (day 3). I understand this is a stretch and may have to add an extra day. Would you suggest adding HOL in the route somewhere?

For the second choice, what I meant was starting at IPE (Many Glacier) and heading out to ELF and HEL and then back to IPE.

shiv


Hi Shiv,

Ok, that clears it up. I think it's a good idea to add an extra day. It will make your trip more enjoyable. Getting back to BLE from FRA would be a pretty tough hike. So it would make sense to add another stop at BOW for the third night. However, if you used your third night for HOL, it would mean a pretty long like out but not as tough as FRA to BLE. HOL is beautiful so if you think you can handle it, go for it.

Paul
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby joybird » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:35 am

Hello Shiv. Welcome to the Chat.

I would definitely recommend a third night. On either route. I realize that some people like to pound out as many miles as they can and others who believe the more suffering, the better. More power to them, I say. But me, I've decided that a more leisurely pace not only lets me take my time and enjoy the views, but it also gives me a little extra wiggle-room in case the weather isn't cooperating and I want some extra time to dry out wet gear, etc. Much less stress all around.

I also like out-and-backs. Transportation logistics are usually much easier (leaving more time to hike!), it gives you a second chance to see stuff if the weather isn't being cooperative, and, even if the weather is perfect, you always see the views differently when you are going in reverse..

I wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation to try for Hole-in-the-Wall instead of Brown Pass. I did BOW-HOL-BOW back in 2013, and found it a lovely mix of leisure and just enough grunt to make me feel like I'd earned the spectacular views. Plus, on my way back down from HOL, I was able to take a side trip down to have lunch at Lake Frances before climbing back over Brown Pass to return to Bowman. Very doable in that configuration. (Ascending Brown Pass from the Frances side is a much easier climb than coming up from Bowman!) Another option (depending on your fitness) might be to leave your pack in camp at HOL and dayhike up to Boulder Pass in the morning before heading back down to Bowman. Bowman is actually a pretty nice campground to spend a slow morning in before heading the seven miles back to your car.

Good luck getting your permit!
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby Sue Z » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:27 am

Here's an idea (possibly crazy): Boulder Pass is amazing. Worth it if you can get there. From there, climbing Boulder Peak is easy and fabulous beyond words. I did it the easy way: UPK to BOU to HOL to BOW. (Short hikes 'cause I'm old and out of shape.) Got up in the morning at BOU, climbed Boulder Peak, then moseyed on down to HOL. If you were staying at HOL, however, you could day hike to Boulder Pass (or Peak) and back, then move camp to BRO (can't get two nights at HOL). So BOW, HOL, BRO, maybe.
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby shiv » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:56 am

paul wrote:
shiv wrote:
paul wrote:If you want to camp at Bowman lake, Brown pass and Lake Francis. Your best bet is to start and end at the same location. That's and out and back trip, but it beats having to plan the logistics of getting back to your car from Canada. Another option which is not as bad logistically is to camp at Bowman, Brown pass or Hole in the wall, and Upper Kintla lake. You'll have to figure out how to get back to your car from Kintla but it's not as bad as getting from Waterton, alberta back to the North fork.

Personally, I wouldn't choose to camp at Brown pass unless I had to, I would choose HOL or FRA even it if meant a more difficult hike.

As far as Iceberg, Elizabeth lake and Helen lake goes. Pete's right, there is no back country site at Iceberg lake (and you wouldn't want to be camping there anyways with the hoards of people walking through there everyday!)

A route that you might want to try is staring at Many Glacier and camping at ELF, HEL, and COS (in that order) and hiking out at Chief Mountain Customs. You can find out what the acronyms mean by reading up on glacier national park back country camping page referenced in Pete's response.


Hey Paul,

In reference to my response to Pete, I think to be clear what I meant was starting at BLE and then camping at BOW (day 1, night 1), then heading out to FRA (day 2, night 2) and then heading back to BLE (day 3). I understand this is a stretch and may have to add an extra day. Would you suggest adding HOL in the route somewhere?

For the second choice, what I meant was starting at IPE (Many Glacier) and heading out to ELF and HEL and then back to IPE.

shiv


Hi Shiv,

Ok, that clears it up. I think it's a good idea to add an extra day. It will make your trip more enjoyable. Getting back to BLE from FRA would be a pretty tough hike. So it would make sense to add another stop at BOW for the third night. However, if you used your third night for HOL, it would mean a pretty long like out but not as tough as FRA to BLE. HOL is beautiful so if you think you can handle it, go for it.

Paul


Hi Paul,

Thanks for the response. I think adding a third night would make it much more comfortable. Also, adding HOL would be icing on the cake if I manage to get the necessary permit.

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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby shiv » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:01 am

joybird wrote:Hello Shiv. Welcome to the Chat.

I would definitely recommend a third night. On either route. I realize that some people like to pound out as many miles as they can and others who believe the more suffering, the better. More power to them, I say. But me, I've decided that a more leisurely pace not only lets me take my time and enjoy the views, but it also gives me a little extra wiggle-room in case the weather isn't cooperating and I want some extra time to dry out wet gear, etc. Much less stress all around.

I also like out-and-backs. Transportation logistics are usually much easier (leaving more time to hike!), it gives you a second chance to see stuff if the weather isn't being cooperative, and, even if the weather is perfect, you always see the views differently when you are going in reverse..

I wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation to try for Hole-in-the-Wall instead of Brown Pass. I did BOW-HOL-BOW back in 2013, and found it a lovely mix of leisure and just enough grunt to make me feel like I'd earned the spectacular views. Plus, on my way back down from HOL, I was able to take a side trip down to have lunch at Lake Frances before climbing back over Brown Pass to return to Bowman. Very doable in that configuration. (Ascending Brown Pass from the Frances side is a much easier climb than coming up from Bowman!) Another option (depending on your fitness) might be to leave your pack in camp at HOL and dayhike up to Boulder Pass in the morning before heading back down to Bowman. Bowman is actually a pretty nice campground to spend a slow morning in before heading the seven miles back to your car.

Good luck getting your permit!


Hi Joybird,

Thanks for the welcome.

Yup, I have realized that adding an extra night and enjoying the views would be much better that rushing everything. I am glad to hear you had a great time, and I will definitely be having HOL as part of the itinerary. BOW-HOL-FRA-BOW sounds like a very good trip and doable as per your recommendation.

Thanks for the response.

Regards,
Shiv
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Re: Iceberg-Helen-Iceberg or Bowman-Francis-Bowman?

Postby shiv » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:04 am

Sue Z wrote:Here's an idea (possibly crazy): Boulder Pass is amazing. Worth it if you can get there. From there, climbing Boulder Peak is easy and fabulous beyond words. I did it the easy way: UPK to BOU to HOL to BOW. (Short hikes 'cause I'm old and out of shape.) Got up in the morning at BOU, climbed Boulder Peak, then moseyed on down to HOL. If you were staying at HOL, however, you could day hike to Boulder Pass (or Peak) and back, then move camp to BRO (can't get two nights at HOL). So BOW, HOL, BRO, maybe.


Hi Sue,

Thanks for the input. I think Boulder peak would be a wonderful addition to the trip but I starting at BOW for the BOU would be a stretch, though we are heading in that direction. Thanks for the suggestion and if we ending hiking Boulder (crazily) I will definitely let you know.

Thanks
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