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#91988 - 03/05/08 10:29 AM Glacier in June
Blazinall91 Offline

Registered: 03/05/08
Posts: 1
I will be going to Glacier N.P. for the first time this June and I was wanting to try backcountry camping. I've never been backcountry before. I've tent camped, I mountain bike, I go hunting, I go on hikes. I'm fairly familiar with being outdoors. I am going to Glacier by myself. My question being, how risky is going backcountry hiking/ camping solo. I am going to do some regular campground camping as well, but for a night or two I wanted to try backcountry hiking/ camping. I love the outdoors and it seems like it could be thrilling and very enjoyable.

Any tips, recomendations, or concerns?

Thank You in advance.

#91989 - 03/05/08 01:33 PM Re: Glacier in June [Re: Blazinall91]
TomD Offline

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
There is a thread on solo hiking in the Lite Philosophy forum.

I have done a fair amount of solo hiking and bike touring, but it isn't for everyone.
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

#91990 - 03/05/08 04:31 PM Re: Glacier in June [Re: Blazinall91]
Fiddleback Offline

Registered: 06/22/04
Posts: 478
Loc: Northern Rockies
There are increased risks in solo hiking/camping. Among them is a meaningful, statistical increase in bear encounters when solo as opposed to being in groups. That being said, many solo here in western Montana and most of my trips too are solo...and in grizzly country. While the risk increases it starts from a low point...IMO; care, awareness, bear avoidance techniques, etc., will mitigate (but not eliminate) the risks. It's a matter of drawing lines...risk is always there, solo hiking/camping in bear country increases the risk...where are you going to draw the line? Will you not do Glacier because of the increase risk of going solo? My own decision is 'no', I won't give up Glacier simply because I'm going solo and may, in fact, do my first solo in Glacier myself this year.

Perhaps more importantly, there will be a lot of snow in Glacier in June...happily and especially, this June. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

"...inalienable rights...include the right to a clean and healthful environment..." Montana Constitution

#91991 - 03/07/08 07:23 PM Re: Glacier in June [Re: Fiddleback]
tchiker Offline

Registered: 08/28/06
Posts: 162
Loc: Atlanta, GA, USA
Yes bears would be my main worry, mainly when I was sleeping. I doubt I could fall asleep in a tent, knowing some bear could suddenly attack me.

However, I guess you could say the same thing for being home in your bed...some armed intruder could always break in and attack you.

It is all about the odds and probabilities. I suspect that if I forced myself to backpack/camp alone for long enough, I would get used to it and get more comfortable with it. I remember the first time I went car camping and I was just a little nervous sleeping in my car alone in a remote area with no one around. But now it is second nature to me.

So I might recommend going solo camping somewhere closer to home a few nights first, just to get more used to it and then you will be more comfortable and have more fun in Glacier.

And consider briging a really big knife and/or bear mace and/or a firearm (regardless of the laws) and that may make you safer and let you sleep better as well.

Edited by tchiker (03/07/08 07:25 PM)

#91992 - 03/08/08 12:03 PM Re: Glacier in June [Re: Blazinall91]
lcrans Offline

Registered: 09/23/07
Posts: 4
Loc: Bigfork, MT
I will be going to Glacier N.P. for the first time this June and I was wanting to try backcountry camping. I've never been backcountry before. I've tent camped, I mountain bike, I go hunting, I go on hikes. I'm fairly familiar with being outdoors. I am going to Glacier by myself. My question being, how risky is going backcountry hiking/ camping solo. I am going to do some regular campground camping as well, but for a night or two I wanted to try backcountry hiking/ camping. I love the outdoors and it seems like it could be thrilling and very enjoyable.

Any tips, recomendations, or concerns?

Thank You in advance.

Just a few notes:
* you know you have to get a backcountry permit? Go to the Glacier website for info on that. Lots of bc camps will still be under lots of snow. Going to the Sun Road may well not be open yet....lots of snow this year.

* Pack snowshows and an ice axe just in case.

* Bears, Griz and/or Blacks? they will recently have left their dens, and so will be pretty skittery and nervous. Sows with cubs will be super hyper about protecting them. They all will be searching relentlessly for winter-kill carcasses. A big knife won't do diddly squat even if you are one of the 3 musketeers!! Carrying a firearm of sufficient size to stop a bear will be super obvious, and sure to land you in the Park Service Pokey!!...and considering that a bear can cover enough ground to take a good bite before you even get it out of your holster.....well, you can finish that. Carry Bear Spray.....Counter Assault brand is what most carry around here.

* when hiking watch your surroundings, not your can be onto a bear before you know it. Make noise....singing the ugliest song you know might work. Forget 'bear-bells....they aren't loud enough. If you hear any thrashing or such, pay attention until you know what it is. If you smell anything that is remotely like rotting flesh (a carcass) think about going someplace else.....critters protect their food maybe as much as their kids!

Above all, have fun!!
Larry C.

#91993 - 03/08/08 12:49 PM Re: Glacier in June [Re: Blazinall91]
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3982
Loc: Bend, Oregon
What they said.
To add something: Take every precaution and be 100% careful. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> Backcountry solo travel with a pack requires a LOT of different skills, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />not the least of which is navigation. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />BUT by far the number one thing that must occupy your mind is being absolutely 100% careful, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />like a rock climber climbing <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />- there is no option for failure. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> You may not carry an extremely sharp knife <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" />- you could injure yourself with it - stop at the first rock and run the blade over it to take the extreme edge off it - sharp is good , but you do not want a scalpel and all that it implies. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

You might also be scared Sh******less being alone in backcountry in grizz territory for the first time <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> - something to ponder. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> There IS safety in numbers. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

In this group it is mostly the very most experienced people who prefer to travel solo. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Those people are certain of their ability to deal with ANY situation and have the experience to make wise decisions. They know how to use their gear effectively. Wisdom BTW does not mean knowing the right thing to do, wisdom eans doing the right thing because you know there is a good reason too. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

#91994 - 03/11/08 03:49 PM Re: Glacier in June [Re: Blazinall91]
MattnID Offline

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
Well, last time I was in Glacier NP a few years ago, in June coincidentally, Going to the Sun Road was closed for a day because of snowfall. So, make sure you're ready for any kind of weather because it can snow on you at any time.

And the storms that time of year can roll in with some wicked wind and rainfall/snow, so be prepared. Also, I'd say have a nice backup plan or two for possibly a lower elevation hike if the road is closed or certain trails are still inaccessible.

Temperatures can vary too. When I was there last, it varied from freezing or near freezing temps when it was overcast(not including wind chill) and nice and comfortable when the sun was out and the skies were gorgeous.

Obviously there are the precautions about bears. Simply said, when you get there, pay attention to and heed the advice the video tape you'll watch gives you and keep your eyes, ears and nose open all of the time. Chances are, the bears will be looking for left over winter deaths and eating a ton of roots and berries. Pack some bear spray and enjoy. Don't let it ruin your trip, just be aware of the dangers.

Too, I'd recommend and few days before your trip, you call the the park's backcountry office and see how conditions are concerning weather and trails. You don't want to watse all of that time going out there and finding you can't do anything. I almost had that happen to me this last September when I was trying to go back to Denali NP one more time before it snowed. The area I'd planned on going, the same one I'd been in two weeks prior, had just gotten six inches of snow and the buses no longer went back that far. Had I not called, I'd have gone all the way down there only to be turned around.

My advice is pretty much this. Be prepared for just about anything because just about anything can still happen that time of year.

Whatever happens though have fun and enjoy the scenery because there is little else that compares to Glacier.
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle

#91995 - 03/13/08 05:17 PM Re: Glacier in June [Re: Blazinall91]
Carter Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 355
Loc: Missoula, MT
Western Montana this year has had above average snowfall, and even in drier years Going to the Sun Road is often still closed in June. The chances of there being any open back country sites along the Highline Trail this June are next to nil.

As you probably noticed if you went to the GNP web site, there actually is only limited back country camping available in the park, and you cannot camp anywhere you want. To add to the misery, you have to make a reservation, which is especially annoying for those finishing the last part of the CDT.

The park's web site also has a very good trail reporting system: what's open, what's closed, what's passable if you can negotiate downed timber or a six foot deep snow drift.

One thing that the Park Service takes very seriously in Glacier is trail closures: they will put a chain across the trail, and in some cases (such as on the Highline Trail at Logan Pass) there will be a sign that says you are subject to arrest if you go beyond the chain. This is intended to protect tourists from lethal slides on the snow (or bear activity).

Other than perhaps in the far northeast corner or in the south where you have to cross the middle fork of the Flathead River, I wouldn't worry too much about going solo: the trails are as crowded as Switzerland.

And don't even think of taking a gun for bear protection: if a ranger doesn't see you, maybe someone else will and report you (I've done it myself to one very flagrant violator of the gun law). You may have heard that some western senators are trying to force the NPS to adhere to the gun laws of whatever state a park is in, which would allow open carry in GNP. Somewhat surprisingly, letters to the editor in Montana newspapers are overwhelmingly against allowing loaded guns in Glacier.

While we're on the matter of law enforcement, stick to the posted speed limits on the road: the law enforcement rangers write a lot of tickets.

You should also consider that many of the trails in GNP rely on bridges and tunnels that need to be cleared of snow and avalanche debris before they are opened to hikers, so I'm afraid to say that most probably only the lower elevation trails will be available to you this June.

If you get a chance, I highly recommend a trip to the hamlet of Polebridge on the North Fork of the Flathead (stay at the Hostel if you can).


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