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5 Day Glacier National Park Hike

I went to Glacier National Park  in the latter half of September with 3 other members of my backpacking club (Northeast Ohio Backpacking Club), all of whom had been to Glacier at least once before. Our plan was to acclimate with a couple of day hikes, then do two 5-day, 4-night backpacking trips, separated by a night at Many Glacier lodge for recuperation and resupply.

Glacier National Park

We had decided to drive (rather than fly) from Ohio, going straight through without stopping overnight. We left at 6 PM on September 13 and arrived in West Glacier at about 8 PM the next day, a 28-hour marathon. Our plan had been to camp for 3 nights at Apgar, one of the few campgrounds still open. However, Apgar was full, so we ended up in the Glacier Highlands motel in West Glacier for our first 3 nights. I highly recommend their restaurant if you are ever in the neighborhood (try the Razzleberry pie a la mode for a real treat).

On Sunday the 15th, the day looked beautiful and we decided for our first day hike to take the Highline trail from Logan Pass to the Garden Wall. We looked too quickly at the map and estimated this to be about 10 miles roundtrip. With our side hike up a spur trial to the top of the Wall, overlooking Grinell glacier, it ended up being more than 15 miles. So a bit more than we had bargained for. Nevertheless, the views were fantastic and the weather ideal and even a bit warm.

Be sure to check out the next part of this article

9 Responses to 5 Day Glacier National Park Hike

  1. renegadepilgrim December 3, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    I did the Bowman-Kintla Horseshoe this summer, in August and it was amazing! I love GNP so much. Glad you had such a great time!

  2. Jacob D December 3, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    Sounds like you had a great trip out there Rob. Nice photos too! Cheers!

    – Jacob.

  3. heather-lee December 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    hi there.
    It’s a beautiful area – I spent some time over the border in Canada a couple of years ago and loved hiking the area. I am from Australia though so the bears spooked me a bit ! :)
    I’m just wondering if you carry any spare charge for your iphone, as you say you do some reading and use it for GPS/ location finding ??
    I frequently do 9 – 15 days remote hiking (or bushwalking as we call it here) without any resupply and am looking at options to recharge my iphone whilst out – without adding too much weight.
    My other adventures are 3 – 6 days solo for which I’d like to have the charge incase I need to contact home or rangers.
    Would appreciate any suggestions – thanks :)

  4. Gary Dunckel December 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    That was a well written account of a rather ambitious GNP itinerary, Rob. You make a great Trail Ambassador!

  5. James December 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    Sounds like a gorgeous part of the world!

    I am an Australian and was interested in the gear you carried as I recently completed the Appalachian trail and did some of the PCT last year. In terms of best gear:

    For shelter, I have switched to a hammock which means I don’t need to carry an extra tarp and can cook in the rain. I also like the marmot driclime jacket – it is great even in snow! Instead of a sleeping bag I use a Wilderness Equipment quilt (beautiful quality) but would use the Steripen over the Aquamera.

    For extended IPhone battery life, I use the Trent Power Rock Case with Extended Rechargeable Battery Juice Case 2100mAh for iPhone 4S. It lasted 10 days of listening to podcasts and music (Airplane mode On). However I haven’t yet checked out the cooking systems that also generate electricity!

    All the best…

  6. DaveC December 6, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Good job on knocking off the two classic trips in Glacier in one trip. You got the best and worst of September weather, too, along with a bunch of the best BC campsites. My mom and I were a day behind you for the second half of your first backpack.

    For readers who aren’t familiar with the park and want to come backpack, planning ahead is higly recommended. Even the autumn season is becoming crowded, and applying for a permit in advance is recommended.

  7. Rob Kelly aka QiWiz December 10, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    @ heather-lee – I can get by for a weekend without a recharge. For longer trips, I bring a rechargeable external battery. I have a smaller/lighter one for 3-5 day trips and a larger/heavier one for longer trips. The one I would use for 9-10 days is a New Trent 7000mAh. I can get 2.5 full recharges out of it with my iPhone 5. There are more capacious models (more mAh) available, but this one has met my needs well at a 6-7 oz weight penalty.

    @ James – in Glacier, you have to camp in permit-specified designated campsites that hold 1-2 small tents. I would not attempt to use a hammock without checking that this is allowed, as in most cases you would have to hang outside the designated site.

  8. DaveC December 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Hammock don’t work well in Glacier. Perhaps 1/3 of the sites have enough trees, and those are the less interesting ones for the most part. This being GRIZZ country, you also have to cook in a designated area well removed from where you sleep, which eliminates the dual use of your tarp.

  9. Grover Caldwell December 18, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Picture yourself standing on the Continental Divide overlooking a crackling glacier that feeds a string of sparkling turquoise lakes. That is only part of the panorama you’ll enjoy from Glacier Overlook, a no-nonsense notch on a section of the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park named the Garden Wall. Approached from the west, Glacier Overlook offers a window looking east over a glacier and a trio of subalpine lakes. To reach the stellar overlook, Garden Wall Trail climbs a thousand feet in one mile. If that sounds intimidating, there is more tough news. The bottom of Garden Wall Trail is located 6.8 miles up Highline Trail from the trailhead at Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road. While Glacier Overlook is not easily reached, the views are worth any effort.

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