Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Dream (i.e bourgeois-licious) Trail Running Trip to Glacier...

Would be something like this:

Keeping this Glacier NP interactive map open while reading this would be useful to familiarize yourself with the park..
These may help too... Glacier NP trail maps

Day 1: 
Fly into Kalispell Airport... get a shuttle from one of these companies: to West Glacier or to any of the numerous hotels between the airport and the park.  Stop at Replay sports and pick up some bear spray, & fuel canisters (optional) for your trip.

Day 2: (13.5 miles) - Sperry Chalet

Wake up early and catch a shuttle into Glacier, then using Glacier's Shuttle System (FREE!), get a ride up to Jackson Glacier Overlook and hike into the historic Sperry Chalet (open July 12 - Sept 9) on the Gunsight Pass Trail.  Although this is going to be long hike (13 miles), you won't need to carry much as the chalet provides food and lodging services... as it costs 185$ for the first person and 130$ for any extra folks in your same room.

Day 3: (13.7 miles) - Lake McDonald Lodge

One great option in the morning would be to hike up to the Sperry Glacier, as the in and out trail (7 mi RT) starts at the chalet.  Check out the sad pics of this glacier retreating.  After a nice lunch at the Glacier, grab your pack and hike down 6.7 miles to the Lake McDonald Lodge for another well deserved meal overlooking the beautiful Lake McDonald.

Day 4: (7.6 miles) - Granite Park Chalet

After mowing down a big breakfast, buy some snack and hop back on the shuttle up to Logan Pass.  The visitor center is probably worth ducking into... and if you want to (and haven't yet) seen any mountain goats, you can make the 4 mi RT hike up to Hidden Lake.  Otherwise, fill up your bottles and hop on the Highline trail to the Granite Park Chalet (open July 1 to Sept 9th), where you can preorder meals that you'll have to prepare in the kitchen youself.  A bit more rustic than Sperry Chalet, but from the pictures I've seen this looks like a more picturesque hut, and cheaper too (90$ for the first person, then 73$ for each additional person).  Check it out... was recently highlighted on National Geo's Adventure blog...

Day 5: (7.5 miles) - Swiftcurrent Motor Inn or Many Glacier Hotel
From the chalet, hike up to Swiftcurrent Pass, and prepare your knees for 2000 ft descent down to the Many Glacier region of the park.  Here you'll have a few options for lodging & food.

Day 6: (12.5 miles): Whitefish - pass out at the GN Brewery

From Many Glacier, you could either take a boat ride, which would cut down 2 miles, but would be quite spendy (30$ or so... ) across Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes.  And you could also hike up to Grinnell Glacier as a side trip, which would add 7 miles to this trip.  Catch the shuttle all the way to West Glacier... then head to the airport dirty & smelly (which I like to do), or catch a train to Whitefish and relax with a fine meal and a bottle of wine in this fun, friendly town.  Soak at a spa, get a massage, and hop on a shuttle to the airport the next day.

Other optional routes... that are a bit burlier... but would be cool
  • Trail Marathon (26 miles) from Two Medicine to Essex via Two Medicine Pass and Park Creek.  You could catch a shuttle to Two Medicine then hop on the train from Essex back to wherever you were going.  
  • Or you could do the Two Medicine to Essex Trail Marathon, stay at the Izaak Walton Inn at Essex, and run a similar route (26 miles) all on different trails back to Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier.
  • From Granite Park Chalet, run up to Goat Haunt (25 miles) to catch the boat ride into Canada (bring your passport).  And into Waterton National Park.  And if you are there, you may as well go do the crypt lake hike, and the Carthew-Alderson hike.  You can hop on a shuttle back into the US from Waterton.  
  • 50k option from St. Mary to Two Medicine via Triple Divide Peak (the hydrological apex of the North American Continent) over Pitamakan Pass to Two Medicine, then a shuttle or hitch out to Glacier Park Lodge or other lodging options.  
Red Tape:
  • Getting the Chalets... sounds quite difficult as this park (or rather the Going to the Sun Road) has such a short window.  Sounds like they open up the reservations in late Oct.  So you'll have to plan 10 months or so in advance...
  • Lots of running... 
  • Bears... oh my.  Carry bear spray.  And know how to use it properly.  But also, as this is an ultralight trip, you won't be spending the night outside, or eating outside except for lunch, so you're set.  
  • Clothes... since you are going point to point... and won't be returning to the same spot... you are going to stink.  Oh well.  Carry a small bottle of dr. bronners and gold bond.  
Notice that most of these routes are point to point.  With the free park shuttle, glacier inc shuttles, and amtrak, there are many options for point to point hikes/runs in this park, which everyone can smile about.  

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