Sierra Club Potomac Region Outings Backpacking Trip:
|Pretrip||-||Ship empty stoves & fuel bottles
to hotel in East Glacier if necessary (see notes about
stoves & fuel), allow 10 days for ground shipping
Ship resupply food, film, memory cards, batteries, supplies, clean clothes, etc. to hotel in Many Glacier, allow 10 days for ground shipping
|Sunday||Aug 24||Fly to Kalispell, MT, pick up rental car(s), drive to Glacier NP, get permit if possible, check into hotel, buy fuel for stoves|
|Monday||Aug 25||Open day in East Glacier for dayhiking, Red Bus rides, photography, tourist activities, etc.|
|Tuesday||Aug 26||Start the CDT backpack from Two Medicine, camp at Morning Star Lake MOR (begin segment 28)|
|Wednesday||Aug 27||Morning Star Lake MOR to Atlantic Creek ATL campsite (continue segment 28)|
|Thursday||Aug 28||Atlantic Creek ATL to Red Eagle Lake REH campsite (continue segment 28)|
|Friday||Aug 29||Red Eagle Lake REH to Reynolds Creek REY campsite (complete segment 28)|
|Saturday||Aug 30||Reynolds Creek REY to Many Glacier (segment 29)|
|Sunday||Aug 31||Open day in Many Glacier for resupply, hiking, tourist activities, etc.|
|Monday||Sep 1||Many Glacier Swift Current Pass TH to Granite Park GRN campsite (begin segment 30)|
|Tuesday||Sep 2||Granite Park GRN to Fifty Mountain FIF campsite (continue segment 30)|
|Wednesday||Sep 3||Fifty Mountain FIF to Waterton Lake WAT campsite (continue segment 30)|
|Thursday||Sep 4||Waterton Lake WAT to Waterton Townsite in Canada (complete segment 30 and CDT backpack)|
|Friday||Sep 5||Open day in Waterton for dayhiking, Red Bus rides, photography, tourist activities etc.|
|Saturday||Sep 6||Take shuttle #1 from Waterton to Chief Mountain, Canada, take shuttle #2 from Chief Mountain to hotel in East Glacier|
|Sunday||Sep 7||Drive from East Glacier to Kalispell airport, fly home|
Segment numbers correspond to trail segments in the CDT Guidebook
Glacier National Park
PO Box 128
West Glacier, Montana 59936
Phone (406) 888-7800
Glacier Natural History Association
PO Box 310
West Glacier, MT 59936
Click on the following links for more information. All
participants are required to read both this entire webpage and the GNP
Backcountry Guide available at the link below. There is also a video which we
are required to watch either at the ranger station when we pick up the permits
or it can be viewed online before arriving. I would prefer viewing this online
in advance so we don't have to spend time doing it once there. I will send
details to participants.
Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada
If people want to share: tents, stoves & fuel, water purifiers/filters, first aid kits, or meals, you can work that out for yourselves from the trip roster. At a minimum we need one stove, fuel, purifier/filter, and first aid kit for every two to three people. I will try to coordinate this somewhat. We would like to use stoves that can accept the same fuel in case one fails.
In addition to the above items there may be some other common gear that we will have to split up - probably not much. Some common gear that I will carry myself includes an altimeter, and a large detailed topographic map.
Guidebook & Maps
"Montana & Idaho's Continental Divide Trail", Lynna Howard, Westcliffe
This is the Official Guidebook of the Continental Divide Trail Alliance and is a well written and excellent trail guide.
Glacier National Park / Waterton Lakes National Park, Montana & Alberta,
Trails Illustrated, 1:100,000 scale
Will be supplemented by 1:24,000 daily detail maps that I will make with the Topo mapping software.
Two other books that you may find interesting, informative, and helpful
"Hiking in Glacier and Waterton National Parks", Falcon Press
Good information on other trails in the two parks that we will use for dayhikes
"Glacier National Park", Moon Publishing
A very good book for tourist information in the region, but contains very little information for the backpacking part of the trip.
Bears, Mountain Lions, & Wolves
Yes the big four all live here - although I've never heard of Wolves causing a problem for people.
Both Grizzly and Black bears live in both national parks. Although it is extremely unlikely, people have been killed and eaten by grizzly bears in Glacier NP. Not to worry, you've already accepted a far greater risk every time you get into a car. All of the normal bear Do's and Don'ts apply here even more so than other National Parks and wilderness areas. Check the GNP website for information about bears and mountain lions. I will provide more information about bears to participants.
In addition to food we also have to hang or somehow store, our garbage, and any toiletries. Bears are attracted to anything with an odor and their noses are 10,000 times more sensitive than ours! Do not bring any toiletries that have an odor. Also bring food that has little odor. LEAVE THE SPICY BEEF JERKY AT HOME - you don't want this scent to get into your pack! Unscented biodegradable soap, toothpaste, sun block, lip balm, and insect repellent should be all we will need
I tried to find the information, that I quote above, about bears sense of smell and was not able to find that reference but did find quite a few other - just as interesting sites. Bears have the most sensitive sense of smell in the animal world.
Information about bears sense of smell
Information about bears in general, check out the live bear den webcam & bears for dummies.
The PDF file on Staying Safe in Bear Country is outstanding - everyone should read it.
Horses, Mules, Burros, Llamas
We may meet horses, or other pack animals on some portions of trail, they have the right of way. Step off the trail on the downhill side and wait quietly until they pass.
Deer, Mountain Goats, Marmots, Rodents
Deer, mountain goats, marmots, and other rodents are attracted to urine and sweat to eat salt and other minerals. Do not leave sweaty clothing or boots unattended, they may be chewed and destroyed. Your boots are your wings - keep boots and clothes inside your tent at night. When urinating use the pit toilets when possible or durable surfaces such as rocks if you can do so - this last remark requested by the park rangers.
The weather on this trip could be anything from warm, sunny conditions to high winds and a snow storm. You must be prepared with gear and clothing to deal with either extreme. We will also be crossing six permanent snow fields - we will not be crossing any glaciers. If you don't know the difference between a permanent snowfield and a glacier you should take my Wilderness in Winter course. Temperatures could be below freezing - your sleeping bag should be rated to +20º F.
Everyone is responsible for providing their own backpacking food for meals and energy snacks. This is not a commissary based trip - I refuse to do them, they are way too inefficient and are really tailored for beginners. Bring more food than you would normally eat at home, but don't over do it. As a backpacker, you will appreciate the concept of food as fuel. Bring things that are lightweight, tasty, and nutritious but easy to prepare, cook, and clean up after. Extra points for meals that pass the "Lick Test". If you don't know what the lick test is you should buy the late Colin Flecther's "The Complete Walker" and read it, version IV is now available. This book is the Old Testament of backpacking - Backpacker Magazine is the New Testament.
Don't plan on buying backpacking food out there, it's too time consuming and we won't have time to do that. All of your food for the entire trip should be packed before we get on the plane. If you see some fresh food out there that looks good, add it to your pack but don't plan on it.
The backpack is split into a 5 day leg from Two Medicine to Many Glacier, where we will resupply, and a 4 day leg from Many Glacier to Waterton Townsite in Canada. I will provide mailing instructions for shipping your resupply food, gear, and supplies. For both legs, plan for food and snacks from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day. We will eat breakfast on both starting days and dinner on both ending days in restaurants.
Leg 1: Two Medicine to Many Glacier - 5 Days/4 Nights, lunch to lunch + energy drinks + energy snacks
Leg 2: Many Glacier to Waterton Townsite - 4 Days/3 Nights, lunch to lunch + energy drinks + energy snacks
We will have to treat all drinking water either with a purifier, filter, or tablets. I want each person to have a total of three water bottles or bladders with at least one bladder with a cap. An empty bladder weighs almost nothing and consumes almost no room - make sure you bring a cap to close it in case you lose the bite valve.
Leave No Trace
We will practice "Leave No Trace" backcountry ethics. This means that we pack out all of our trash and garbage. It also means that we do not use soap or shampoo to wash in lakes or streams. Just swimming in the water without using soap works pretty well all by itself for getting your body clean. Use a folding basin and/or wash cloth and soap 100' away from lakes or streams to wash more thoroughly. It's okay to use a tiny amount (couple of drops) of biodegradable soap in the lake or stream just to wash your hands and face.
Vapor Fuel Canisters (the simple plan):
Carry the stove in your luggage, buy a vapor gas canister out there.
Liquid Fuel (the complicated plan):
We will be shipping our empty stoves and empty fuel bottles to the starting motel. We cannot carry our stoves or fuel bottles with us on the airplane unless they are brand new and have NEVER been used. Once used they will contain fuel residue and cannot be taken onboard the plane. Although this policy varies from airline to airline. NO AIRLINE WILL ALLOW FUEL OF ANY KIND ON THE AIRPLANE! We will ship the stoves via Parcel Plus, or Mail Boxes Etc. they have been trained to deal with empty fuel containers. We will have to buy fuel out there before the trip, and ship the empty stoves and empty fuel bottles back the same way in the same boxes. We need to ship the stoves about 10 days prior to our trip departure to ensure that they are there IN TIME as we must use regular ground transportation.
The trip cost includes: your share of a rental car, one shuttle to the starting trailhead, two shuttles from the ending trailhead, and the required NPS per person per night fees. Not included: everything else, such as: park entrance fee, airfare, motel rooms, meals, necessary backpacking food and gear, rental car gas, tips, personal expenses, and any other necessary but excluded expenses.
It is important that each participant bring sufficient cash/credit cards for incidental personal expenses. Also if the trip plans should change for any reason such as injuries, or the backpack being shortened or extended by a few days due to circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, fires, high water, snowstorm, bear closure, etc - it could have an impact on your individual cost.
Make checks payable to: Sierra Club Potomac Regional Outings and mail to the Trip Leader.
Fixed per person costs
$35 Day use fee at $5/person/night for 7 campsite nights
$5 Blackfeet Tribal fee $5/person/year
$8 Start shuttle - East Glacier to Two Medicine
$40 End shuttle - Waterton to Chief Mountain to East Glacier
$88 per person in fixed costs + an equal share of the group costs below
Group costs shared equally among
$60 Advanced registration application fee per group - split among all participants (backpack split into two trips at $30/trip)
$900 Single rental car cost estimate for the 15 day trip with 3 people per car splitting this cost
Total cost estimate = fixed person cost + 1/8 of advanced registration fee + 1/3 of rental car cost
$88 + $7.50(assuming 8 participants) + $300 (assume 1 rental car shared by 3 people) = $395.50 total (actual cost could be higher or lower)
Cost Comparison: National vs. Local Sierra Club Trips
In 2000 I led a one week Paria Canyon backpacking trip to Utah & Arizona for Sierra Club MWROP. The cost of that trip was $900.00 per participant and included RT. airfare from BWI to Phoenix, the participants share of a rental car, two nights in a motel before the backpack and two additional nights after the backpack, plus the BLM permit fees. In comparison the national Sierra Club was running the same week long backpacking trip to Paria Canyon and they were charging $695.00 which included the BLM permits and $50 worth of backpacking food. The airfare, rental cars or shuttles, and motel costs were all extra. I've been on two national Sierra Club backpacking trips and they were both great trips with excellent leaders and I believe that it is a worthwhile and important financial cause but there are limits to my generosity. Spending $100.00 a night to sleep in your own tent is unreasonable. Also the national Sierra Club backpacks require participants to participate in mandatory commissary cooking. You don't have a choice. They bring way too much cooking and cleaning gear, my pack weight is approximately 6 to 10 lbs heavier per week doing it their way and I have the spreadsheets to prove it. I would rather carry 6 to 10 lbs of photography gear than 6 to 10 lbs of pots and pans. Their trips, while great, are designed for beginners.
Many people are unaware that the National Sierra Club has been prohibited from leading trips in many National Parks as they would compete with commercial concessionaires who provide professional guide services. In some parks, such as Rocky Mountain National Park they are only allowed to do a single fixed route every year. Local Sierra Club chapters, because they run their trips at cost, are allowed to run trips anywhere.
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