Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Transportation can be a challenge in Glacier. If you have ideas, offer ride shares, or used a commercial service that you were happy with, let everyone know. Also, ask questions about road information, or share road information you may have.

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Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby jkomiskey » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:42 am

My girlfriend and I submitted a number of itineraries for back country camping. The itinerary that was approved is one created by the Glacier staff. It has us entering at Kintla Lake and exiting at Chief Mountain. We will have a rental car which will help us get to Kintla Lake. Getting from Chief Mountain back to Kintla Lake appears to be quite difficult. I called the park service and she basically told me my best bet would be to hitchhike but she couldn't officially recommend it. Does anyone have some suggestions or perhaps someone will be out there the same dates as us and maybe we can coordinate something. Thank you!

-Jake
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby PeteE » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:53 am

Hey Jake!
Welcome to the forum.
Your problem is a common one for that Northern Traverse.
Check the forums here. You'll see other backpackers with same problem.
Key swaps work if you can find another party to swap with.
I would allow a whole day to get one of you back to Kintla. It's a 3-4 hour drive even if you drive yourself!!
I hitchhike within the park every year, but getting to Kintla from Chief Mountain will be a major problem.
Not too soon to work on it.
Good luck!

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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby teapot57 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:32 am

What are the dates of your trip?
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby jkomiskey » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:52 am

My planned dates are Enter Kintla Lake trail head on July 1 and exit Chief Mountain on July 5th. Would it be easier to find a place to leave my car in West Glacier or Apgar and take a taxi to Polebridge and then try and hitch hike the rest of the way to Kintla lake? It seems much easier to get ground transportation from Chief Mountain. Thanks again for all of your help
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby orin » Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:47 pm

July 1 - 5 for Kintla to Chief? Really? That raises a big red flag in my mind. That route crosses some of the snowiest country in the park at high elevation. It is not clear to me that anyone short of mountaineers could do that route in earlt July especially this year. And it makes no sense to me that Glacier would issue that permit. Are you sure those dates are right?
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby jkomiskey » Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:52 pm

This is the itinerary that was approved.

ENTER - KINTLA LAKE (TRAILHEAD)

7-1-2018 - UPK - UPPER KINTLA LK
Fires; YES
Segment; Length 11.60
Elevation; Up 400 | Down 0

7-2-2018 - HAW - HAWKSBILL
Fires; NO
Segment; Length 13.30
Elevation; Up 3070 | Down 2030

7-3-2018 - KOO - KOOTENAI LK
Fires; YES
Segment; Length 9.30
Elevation; Up 200 | Down 1240

7-4-2018 - GLH - GLENNS HEAD
Fires; NO
Segment; Length 11.40
Elevation; Up 2975 | Down 2448

EXIT - CHIEF MOUNTAIN (TRAILHEAD)
Segment; Length 12.90
Elevation; Up 744 | Down 277

This was actually our 4th choice out of 4, though the camp sites are different than our requested sites.
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby orin » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:11 pm

I would never have guessed they would issue that. The higher camps along that route such as Boulder Pass and Hole in the Wall will not yet be open on those dates so what they have done is give you lower camps on each side. That means that Upper Kintla to Hawksbill is not only long and hard (13 miles, 3000') but also may be very snowy. The trail could be completely covered for substantial distances so you will need great route finding abilities and probably crampons and an ice ax to cross the steep spots safely. Kootenai Lake to Glenns Head will be similarly difficult. So unless those kinds of conditions are within your abilities I would seriously question whether you should do this. Don't take my word for it. I'm sure others will post their opinions too. Perhaps the park knows that conditions there are not what I think they will be but I have my doubts. I would call the backcountry office and talk to them about it.
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby paul » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:41 pm

I agree with Orin. That's a difficult route to cover at the beginning of July. There's no doubt that Boulder pass will be completely snow covered and hiking down to Hole in the wall from there will probably have some tough snow fields to cross. I don't understand how the park rangers approved this. Maybe it was a newbie ranger who is unfamiliar with this route.

If you have good skills with an ice axe, hiking over snow fields and route finding abilities it may be okay. However, without those skills this itinerary and time frame is a stretch.

I guess one option is to change your itinerary when you pick your permit. You could start Bowman lake and hike over Brown pass. However, you still might have an issue with snow at Stoney Indian pass.
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby Jay w » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:40 pm

I'd call the Polebridge ranger station a call and discuss your route.

Have you been through this area before?

I agree that Boulder Pass and the hike towards Hole might be an adventure and avoided by going through Brown Pass. I haven't hiked Stoney Indian but it also has a reputation for snow. The logistics of trip your really suggest you should look at an out-and-back or at least a smaller loop. Getting from Chief Mt to Kintla is an all day drive when you have a car at your disposal.

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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby NDjason » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:46 pm

First of all, welcome! Any trip to Glacier will be good, so get excited!

As for your route, I agree that it seems highly unlikely it will be passable without ice ax, crampons, and great route finding skills by early July. But you never know. And besides, even if you show up and the route is impassable, all is not lost. You can try to modify it when you pick it up and figure out something that will be easier on transportation and still give you a great trip.

As an absolute worst case scenario, you could modify it to do a relaxed out and back up to Upper Kintla (maybe add an extra night at UPK and then a night at KIN on your way back) and day hike up to Boulder Pass. While the campground may still be closed for winter conditions, you can likely get at least as far as the campground, and possibly near the pass itself, coming from the west. A couple of days in the North Fork area sounds great to me!

If possible, you could also do an out and back of sorts from Chief mountain and explore some of the Belly River. Maybe a loop of sorts heading up to Mokiwanis Lake and back by Elizabeth Lake. Likely to be in high demand with most of the high country still likely to be closed, but an early morning at the permit office on June 30th could pay off!

Good luck!
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby jkomiskey » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:31 pm

I have actually never been to Glacier National Park before. I will call the Polebridge ranger station tomorrow to discuss options but I did call Glacier's customer service number. What they told me is that route right now is completely impassible but they are not sure if it will clear up in 2 weeks for our proposed start date. I was advised to watch the trail status report, check for closures, and call back a few days before my departure date to discuss potential options as two weeks is too far out in the future. She stated that it was even possible that so much snow might melt that an ice axe and crampons might be completely unnecessary. Given what she knows, the route and times are completely feasible but difficult. She told me to make sure that I know how to handle and ice axe and told me to make sure that I know how to use crampons. We have talked about getting up early and going into the Saint Mary visitors center to try and change our itinerary. I appreciate all of the help and insight thus far as this is giving us a lot to think about.
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby PeteE » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:19 pm

jkomiskey wrote:...Given what she knows, the route and times are completely feasible but difficult...


I agree with all the postings so far.
Nobody here knows you or what your expertise is. So if something I/we say sounds condescending, it's simply for safety reasons.

Yeah well....The "Customer Service Office"? what exactly does she know about that route?
You need to call the Polebridge Ranger Station and if possible, talk to Reggie Altop.
Reggie has been a GNP Ranger out there for 30 years.
If Reggie isn't available, ask to speak to a ranger who has done that route under the current conditions.
And who knows what conditions are likely to obtain around July 1....that's always a tough call given the vagaries of the weather.
Bottom line is you need to talk with Backcountry Office personnel who have actually done that route in winter conditions and...
with respect...not someone in the Customer Service Office.

my 2 cents

pete :wink:

PS
Now, if you're a backpacker/explorer who has climbed and hiked the Himalayas, etc.
Then you should be good! 8)
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby PeteE » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:43 pm

The good news for you, for all of us, maybe....
I was out at Iceberg Lake which is close to the area you'll be hiking through.
I was very surprised at the lack of snow in that cirque.
Iceberg lake is at a much lower elevation, but it's possible other areas are melting out faster as well.
All that said, July 1st is a very early starting date for that route any year.
Coupled with those long days like UPK to HAW!! Yikes :shock:

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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby jkomiskey » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:10 am

I called the Polebridge Ranger Station yesterday and left a message. I am still awaiting a returned phone call. I am more worried about getting there and not being able to put together an itinerary that coincides with some of the hotel lodging that we have booked. At this point the flights are booked, the rental car is booked, and the hotel is booked.
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Re: Transportation from Chief Mountain to Kintla Lake

Postby PeteE » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:24 am

jkomiskey wrote:I called the Polebridge Ranger Station yesterday and left a message. I am still awaiting a returned phone call. I am more worried about getting there and not being able to put together an itinerary that coincides with some of the hotel lodging that we have booked. At this point the flights are booked, the rental car is booked, and the hotel is booked.


IMO...you'll be able to get an itinerary in the July1-4 time frame; it just may not be the one you listed.
Depending on what you hear before you get here, upon arrival I would go to the Apgar Backcountry Office and talk to the rangers there.
I'm reasonably confident you'll get as good a trip itinerary as the conditions at the time allow.

I'm driving over to Many Glacier late tonight/early Saturday AM.
I'll see what the Rangers at Swiftcurrent have to say about current conditions in that area.
And see if I can get a post out here Sunday afternoon.

In the mean time, keep trying to reach the Polebridge Station.
I feel that's your best bet at reliable information.

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