Sue Lake strategy

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Sue Lake strategy

Postby McKee80 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:13 pm

Hi, I'm planning a Northern Traverse type trip and I'd like to get up to Sue Lake. Does anyone have any opinions on the best strategy?

A: Two nights in MOK area, Sue Lake on the layover day without packs. MOK to KOO the next day.
B: One night in MOK area, next night at Stoney Indian. Set up camp at Stoney Indian and come back down to Sue Lake without packs
C: One night in MOK area, next night at Stoney Indian. Go up to Sue Lake on the way.

I guess I'm asking if it is worth the extra miles and elevation to avoid going up to Sue Lake with my pack on my back.

Thanks for any help!
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Re: Sue Lake strategy

Postby paul » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:33 am

That's a tough call. If it were me, I would do it as a day hike from one of the camps in the MOK area (GLH, MOL, or MOK). I think doing a day hike from Stoney Indian Lake might be a little more difficult of a hike. Although I might be wrong on that.

Going up to Sue lake on your way to Stoney Indian Lake would be the most efficient way to do it as far as miles and elevation goes, but I think it may reduce your enjoyment of it. It will probably reduce your options once you get there too.
We are in the mountains and the mountains are in us. - John Muir
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Re: Sue Lake strategy

Postby McKee80 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:18 am

Thank you Paul. I'll try for a layover day in the MOK area. Who knows what I'll end up with, if anything, but it is fun to plan!
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Re: Sue Lake strategy

Postby PeteE » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:10 am

McKee80 wrote:Thank you Paul. I'll try for a layover day in the MOK area. Who knows what I'll end up with, if anything, but it is fun to plan!


You might want to consider putting in for 2 nights at MOJ rather than 1 night at MOL and 1 night at GLH or some other combo.
MOJ has 5 spots, 3 which can be reserved. MOL has only 2 spots, only 1 of which can be reserved.
True that MOJ isn't a very "desirable" campground but it' ll give you a better shot at getting a permit.
Make sense? You can always try to upgrade one night to MOL if you want.
The idea us to improve you odds of getting a permit initially and improving it later.

just a thought

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Re: Sue Lake strategy

Postby McKee80 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:20 pm

Thank you Pete. I've been trying to "learn up" on the permitting system. Right now I have COS->MOL->MOL->KOO->FRA->BOU->HOL->JAN (sept 6-18). Which are very popular campsites. I have the option checked where they can substitute campsites, so I assumed if they couldn't make it work, they would put me at MOK for those two nights. I planned on being there early on walkup day to see if I can get the sites they substituted. Are you saying I have a better chance of getting a permit (that takes me from CME to Boulder Pass and back to Goat Haunt) if I choose the least popular campsites? For example, GAB instead of COS for the first night as well?
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Re: Sue Lake strategy

Postby daschmit » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:14 pm

McKee, as of now, where do you plan on leaving your vehicle and finishing your packtrip at? I ask for the following reasons:

(1) If you exit from the Belly River Trailhead near the Chief Mountain Border Crossing on the 18th, that could be very close to the period when they close southbound access to Chief Mountain Road. In 1978, I embarked on that trail around the 18th of September; I later learned from the backcountry ranger that southern access from the Chief Mountain Road had been closed a couple of days after I began my packtrip. I had to stop by his cabin on the way out to make arrangements for someone to drive up from the St. Mary Visitor Center the next day to unlock the gate and allow me to leave the area. So, you definitely want to verify accessibility for that time frame.

(2) With the exception of larch on the west side of the park, fall foliage in Glacier tends to peak during the last third of September and early October. It is, of course, impossible to predict weather patterns this far in advance, but, if conditions are right, the aspen really put on a show in Two Medicine Valley, Many Glacier, Upper and Lower St. Mary Lake, Cut Bank Valley and, particularly, the area around Chief Mountain. If you have one extra day to spare prior to flying back, take the opportunity to leisurely drive through the aforementioned sectors of the eastern side of the park.
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Re: Sue Lake strategy

Postby daschmit » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:34 pm

By the way, here are links to two lengthy Youtube videos of trips done in the portions of Glacier you will be visiting, which I believe that you will find to be of interest:

Backpacking Glacier National Park: 7 Day Belly River, Stoney Indian, Fifty Mountain, Ptarmigan Loop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUL7T0K ... MjAzMjAxOA

Backpacking Glacier National Park: Kintla Lake, Boulder Pass, Hole in the Wall, Bowman Lake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yILJjzdZ0qw
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Re: Sue Lake strategy

Postby McKee80 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:41 pm

Thanks for the help! I would bet I've seen most of the backpacking videos from Glacier. They are on when I'm on the treadmill. Those two in particular convinced me to try to piece together the route I am trying to get.

The tentative plan is to leave the car in Waterton and end the hike in Goat Haunt. We'd start the hike at Chief Mountain Trailhead. The 2017 schedule has the boat running until Sept 24, so we'll see what the 2018 schedule holds.

We'll see what shakes out of the permitting process and go from there. We will keep the foliage in mind, if it breaks a little early this year. We may have days at the end of our trip.
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Re: Sue Lake strategy

Postby PeteE » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:49 pm

McKee80 wrote:Thank you Pete. I've been trying to "learn up" on the permitting system. Right now I have COS->MOL->MOL->KOO->FRA->BOU->HOL->JAN (sept 6-18). Which are very popular campsites. I have the option checked where they can substitute campsites, so I assumed if they couldn't make it work, they would put me at MOK for those two nights. I planned on being there early on walkup day to see if I can get the sites they substituted.

Are you saying I have a better chance of getting a permit (that takes me from CME to Boulder Pass and back to Goat Haunt) if I choose the least popular campsites? For example, GAB instead of COS for the first night as well?
No. dunno what I was thinking.


My apologies!!
I must have had a "senior moment". Duh. 8)
Yeah, if you have checked you'll accept substitutes, you'll be fine.

Your biggest challenge, the same challenge everyone will have, is how fast can you "click" after 10:00:00:00AM Eastern Time
And get a good time.

Good luck!

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Re: Sue Lake strategy

Postby McKee80 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:05 pm

PeteE wrote:My apologies!!
I must have had a "senior moment". Duh. 8)
Yeah, if you have checked you'll accept substitutes, you'll be fine.

Your biggest challenge, the same challenge everyone will have, is how fast can you "click" after 10:00:00:00AM Eastern Time
And get a good time.

Good luck!

pete :wink:


Haha. No worries, I have never been there, so I am very grateful to those who take the time to help people out on here!
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