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Backpack - Glacier National Park

Visit the northeast corner of the Glacier NP on this six day/five night tour. We will travel on trails, boot paths and off-trail; visiting special areas few ever see. This is an exceptional section of the park. Expect amazing fall colors, multiple glaciers, giant waterfalls, stunning lakes and abundant mega-fauna including: Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Wolves, Mountain Goats and Moose. Special Leader's Permission. Read the Leader's Notes in detail.

  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 64.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 12,000 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 7,500 ft
  • Pace: 1.5-2.0

Meet at the Iceberg/Ptarmigan  TH in the Many Glaciers area of the Glacier National Park the morning (early) of Sept. 27th.  We will leave one or more cars here and carpool together to the beginning TH at Belly River at the far north section of the park near the Canadian Border.  Glacier National Park is about a day and a half drive from Seattle.

The leader will be securing a car camping spot east of Many Glacier for the nights of Sept. 25th and 26th.  Participants are welcome to join him for either or both of those nights.

This is a stunning section of Glacier National Park.  I have been on most of the trails we will transverse.  The whole area is gorgeous and the camps are sweet.  Yet, new adventures await--on Day 2 we will explore both Margaret and Ipasa Lakes on a rough, sometimes brushy, boot-path and on Day 3 we will travel completely off-trail up to stunning Sue Bench.  These two areas will be exploratory in nature and we will need to figure things out as we go.  I have secured permits for the first four nights.  Glacier NP doesn't allow campsite reservations after Sept. 30th.  So will will get the last night spot at the ranger station when we get there.  Only four people are allowed per campsite. The campsites are not large.  It may be a tight fit some nights.  Bear Spray is required.  Here is the Gaia route:


Entry:  Day 1  Belly River TH

Night 1 Cosley Lake

Night 2 Mokowanis Lake, after setting up camp visit Margaret and Ipasa Lakes--day hike

Night 3 Mokowanis Lake, visit Sue Bench and area east of Stoney Indian Pass--day hike

Night 4 Elizabeth Lake Head

Night 5 Elizabeth Lake Head, visit Helen Lake--day hike

Day 6 out via Iceberg/Ptarmigan TH

This trip is being done in coordination with my other Glacier National Park trip that precedes this one on Sept. 19th-25th.  There will be a two night, one day rest period between the two trips.  Participants are welcome to do one or both trips.  First priority will be given to those doing both trips.

Special Registration:

Due to the special nature of this trip, participants will be chosen by application.  It is vitally important that we can work together well as a team, have similar goals and expectations, all have similar conditioning and travel speed and all observe safe wildlife practices.  Those that have been on a previous backpack trip with me will have a leg-up, because I know you and you know my style.  Those that I don't yet know can provide references from those I know and respect in the Mountaineers.  I have permits for a group of four.   I will choose group members that I believe will have the highest compatibility, commitment and skills for success.  I will respond to all applicants by or before June 4th.

Please use the Permission tab on the right sidebar to send in your application.  Send in your application ASAP.  I will respond back with my selections by June 4th.  Please address all of the questions/concerns below:

1) Tell me about your backpacking history.  Have you done long trips of about a week or more?  Please describe details and date.  Can you gain 3,000' in a day with a full backpack?  Can you store in your pack and carry six days of food for a five night trip?  Note:  You will not need a bear-canister.  They have bear-poles (high bars) at every camp.  You need to bring a hanging rope.

2)  If you have not been on several backpack trips with me, please give a reference of someone at the Mountaineers I can consult with about your appropriateness for this trip and your success on past trips.

3) There will be dangerous wildlife on this trip including Grizzly Bears, Wolves, and Moose.  They will likely be on or near the trails and camps.  Are you comfortable with this possibility?  Will you bring required bear-spray? Will you follow Glacier's wildlife safety protocol? 

4)  There will likely be some creeks/rivers to ford, a rough boot-path section and off-trail explorations up moderately steep ridges.  Are you okay with this type of travel?  None will be dangerous or too tricky but may have some challenge and unsure footing.

5) Will you reimburse the leader $38 for the permit?

6)  What sort of conditioning, earlier season backpacking trips will you be doing before this trip, this year, to demonstrate proper conditioning for this seven-day trip?  Do you have any health issues that could affect your ability to do this trip comfortably and successfully?

7)  This is an early fall trip and the weather is unpredictable.  It could be sunny and warm, sunny and cool or cold.  It could also snow before or during part of our trip.  Of course rain is also a possibility.  Can you work with the variable weather that we might encounter?

8) This trip requires a lot of logistics, permits and financial investment.  On a scale of 1-10 (10 is high), what is you commitment to making every effort to coming on this trip if you chose to register? Please do not request permission now and decide later if you really want to come.  Do the work upfront to decide if you can really do this and then stick to it.  If you can't make this sort of commitment then this trip is likely not for you.

9)  Is there anything else you would like me to know?  Is there any more information you need from me in your decision making?

Thanks all, I hope you can join me.  This should be an epic and memorable trip.  Rob


Glacier National Park

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel for six days
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Extra warm clothing
  • Warm hat and at least two pairs of gloves
  • Full rain gear--top and bottoms
  • Pack-cover
  • Extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Food for six days
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
  • Bear Spray
Trip Reports