8/18-8/25 Backpacking

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8/18-8/25 Backpacking

Postby JoshSanders » Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:19 pm

Hi all,

I'm taking my first trip out to Glacier with a few friends from Aug 18 (we actually get in late on the 17th) to Aug 25 (the first of us flies out late that day). We didn't get ourselves together in time to have a realistic shot at advanced permits, so we're planning on going to a back country office at the crack of dawn on the 18th for walk-ups. I know we need to have a few options ready to go since we don't know what will be available Anyone have suggestions for a 4-5 night backpacking trip?

So far it seems like the Northern Circle or the Northern Traverse seem to be in the range of what we're looking for, but we're very open to suggestions. We're willing to put in some mileage to see cooler things. Overall, I'd say we're looking to prioritize alpine views over solitude (that's why I don't have Nyack on my list based on what I've read), but would take both if we can get them - though I know that we're likely trading one for the other at this time of year. I've laid out two itineraries below for some feedback, but since these share a few campgrounds there's a possibility that if one isn't available then the other won't be either, so if anyone has a trip in another part of the park with some great views then it would be much appreciated!

I have a couple general questions - what are the odds that we'll actually be able to get either of these as walk-ups? we may be adding a 5th person - how much of an issue will this be? I think the back country permits are generally limited to 4 people and two tents/site, but I don't fancy our odds of getting 2 sites at a campground on any given night.

Northern Circle (starting at Many Glacier):
1st night - ELF/ELH (maybe COS if these aren't available? I think COS puts us at about 14 miles for the first day?)
2nd night - MOL (GLH/GLF/MOJ if not available)
3rd night - STO/KOO (any suggestions here? just going to STO seems like a shorter day, but not sure how tough the climb is coming out of the pass.)
4th night - FIF (Maybe re-route to FLA if FIF isn't available, but this seems to make for two long days back-to-back)
5th night - GRN

Northern Traverse (starting at Chief Mountain):
1st night - COS/GLF/GLH
2nd night - STO (KOO if not available)
3rd night - WAT (maybe BRO/HOL if we stay the previous night at KOO. Anyone have strong feelings about JAN, FRA, or HAW?)
4th night - BRO/HOL
5th night - UPK (KIN if not available)
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Re: 8/18-8/25 Backpacking

Postby NDjason » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:37 pm

A couple quick thoughts.

As far as the routes you've mentioned - both are stellar and are very popular. You'll also be in there in the peak season for getting through these higher elevation areas. I don't know much about the odds of scoring a walk up permit for either (never tried getting a walk-in) but others may provide feedback on that. My guess is you'd be pretty lucky if you landed either. You can check the availability every day to see how often such a route may be available to help get a better idea?

On the question of adding a 5th. My guess is that would be a deal killer for scoring a permit like this. You'd need to have two sites available at every step of your itinerary.

Between JAN, FRA and HAW, I'd rank them Francis, Janet, and then Hawksbill. And there would be a big drop off from 1 to 2 to 3.

Good luck!
~ jason
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Re: 8/18-8/25 Backpacking

Postby JoshSanders » Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:00 pm

Thanks Jason! That's what I thought on the 5th person. I know our odds on getting permits on these are fairly small, but I figured we'd give it a shot and settle for something else if we can't get them (seems like there aren't any bad options here, so I'm sure it'll be amazing either way!). Anyone have a good alternative to these that might be less traveled and a little easier to get permits for?
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Re: 8/18-8/25 Backpacking

Postby NDjason » Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:29 pm

If you're open to long miles, there are probably a lot more chances to string together a route (even along the ones you've mentioned). So be flexible, and see what's open the night before you head to the permit office.

I've never been anywhere in the park that I wouldn't go back to, so I don't know if there are any really bad options. Some good options out of Two Medicine that you could consider as well!
~ jason
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