Here we learned that earlier this year, a bill was passed in congress that now allows visitors to carry a gun while in the national parks. This is something I was not aware of. Being in grizzly country, this would have been nice to know ahead of time. By the way, this was tacked on to the credit card legislation that was passed earlier this year, so don’t be surprised you didn’t hear about it.
Anyway, Wendy had already planned a few itineraries for our trip. We were able to get the second trip she had planned as the campsites for our first one were taken on the dates we wanted to be there. Even the campsites for the trip we got found us taking the last spot in some of the campsites. We were surprised that so many people would be visiting this time of year.
The itinerary we got was to start at the loop on the Going to the Sun Road. The following was the order for the camps:
- Flattop Mountain
- Fifty Mountain
- Stoney Indian Lake
- Fifty Mountain
- Granite park
We then would have the choice to hike back to the loop which was less than 4 miles or to head back over some more of the Highline trail to Logan Pass, a relatively flat trail but at 11 miles.
Since our plans were not to hit the trail until the next day, we spent the rest of the day doing touristy stuff around the west side of glacier. We went to Lake McDonald Lodge and walked around Lake McDonald. We took some pictures and then decided to head back to the town of West Glacier to check into our motel. It was called the West Glacier Village. It was a room, but that’s about it.
The next morning was day one of our trek. We drove up to the loop and had a difficult time finding a parking place. Once we got all of our stuff ready, we headed off on down the trail.
Most of the beginning of our trip had us hiking through a forest that had been in a fire in 2003. It was kind of neat getting to see what a 7 year old forest looks like, but after a while everything starts to look the same. The other problem is that with so much 100% consumption, there wasn’t much shade. The first leg of the hike had us going downhill a little ways, then across a river. From there we began our first real climb. The trail followed up a ridge that had a large waterfall on it. It was unusually steep and certainly did not meet the 8% grade that I had learned about from the conservation department at Philmont. Wendy and I had thankfully been keeping up with exercising and we made it with out any problems, but it wasn’t an easy climb. In this first stretch of the trail we encountered two National Park Service employees and the both asked to see our backcountry permit. We only saw one other NPS employee the rest of our trip, but I’m glad to see there was someone out enforcing the rules.
Our first day had us hike about 6 miles and elevation change of 500 ft down and 2640 ft up.
One of the nice things about Glacier is that all the camps have bear poles and pit toilets of some kind. There is a fair amount of structure to the camps as it seems they are trying to limit bear encounters. Each camp has designated sleeping areas where you set up your tent. There is also a designated food area where you eat and cook. This is for everyone who is staying at the camp for the night. I feel like this has both its pluses and minuses. Wendy and I tended to compare our backcountry experience at Glacier with that of the Tetons where there was much less structure in the backcountry arrangements. In the Tetons you would see two signs along the trail letting you know where the camping zones were at. You were then allowed to camp anywhere between those signs. Here, there was definitely a much higher emphasis on concentrating impact. Wendy and I were first to get to the campgrounds all but the last night which allowed us the choice of where to set up our tent.