Glacier's Highline Trail in Late June
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Joshua Knapp
(Joshjknapp) - F

Locale: Northern Mn, Superior Hiking Trail
Glacier's Highline Trail in Late June on 04/01/2008 19:26:22 MDT Print View

I'm going to be taking a trip to glacier in the later part of June. We were planning on hiking the Highline trail from logan pass, into waterton vallery, over stoney indian pass and out to chief mountain. I know this years snowpack is at 125% to 150% of normal. Will we be facing any snow hazards. We were planning on bringing ice axes. Will crampons be necessary, ropes? Or is it to early in the season to do this route.

Just looking for a little insight from others who have experience on the highline trail.
Thanks for the help

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Glacier's Highline Trail in Late June on 04/02/2008 07:52:22 MDT Print View

I was the first person to report going over Stoney Indian Pass last season on around June 22nd. I had my axe in hand ready to self-arrest but would have been comfortable with just trekking poles. This was following a low-snow year. As you mentioned Glacier has been getting slammed with snow (three feet at approx. 6000' in the last week alone) which without lots of early season heat will keep the snow packed in the high country into July.

The rangers will certainly suggest you carry crampons and ice axe and I would take their suggestions up to a point. If it's just snowpack the crampons won't be too helpful. I've been over Stoney on three occasions and honestly the most frustrating and dangerous part isn't the climb but rather a section next to a cliff that floods and you often have to walk through Stoney Indian Lake.

You have an excellent itinerary planned and you'll get to see a vast selection of what Glacier has to offer from the Fifty Mountain area to the Waterton Valley to the Belly River. Keep us posted!

Joshua Knapp
(Joshjknapp) - F

Locale: Northern Mn, Superior Hiking Trail
Glacier's Highline Trail in Late Jun on 04/02/2008 11:25:15 MDT Print View

Hi Sam,

Thanks for the info. Should be an quite an adventure!

Joshua Knapp
(Joshjknapp) - F

Locale: Northern Mn, Superior Hiking Trail
Glacier's Highline Trail in Late Jun on 04/02/2008 12:36:42 MDT Print View

Hi Sam,

My backpacking partner just talked to a ranger named Brian at Glacier. He said the trip was undoable since all the campsites in that section of the park are closed in late June. He also said that there was one stream ford that was super sketchy.
Is this info correct? Or is there a way to get around these regulations? (through (camping in non-established sites).

If this trip is undoable are there any other good 5 day early season alternatives.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Glacier's Highline Trail in Late June on 04/03/2008 10:25:02 MDT Print View

Joshua -

I took a closer look at your trip itinerary and don't think you're going to be able to hike the Highline trail at this time of year without either walking twenty-some miles to a low elevation spot or snow camping at either Granite Park or Fifty Mountain.

Glacier at the end of June is very, very snowy in the high country so you're trip options are limited to valley walks perhaps broken up by a snowy crossing of a mountain pass back down to another valley in which you can camp again.

Consider this trip:
1. Start at Walton Ranger Station at the Southern tip of GNP. 2. Hike NE up the Park Creek drainage, camping at Lower and Upper Park Creek (seven mile days). 3. Cross snowy but safe Two Medicine Pass and camp at Cobalt Lake. 4. Exit the park at the Two Medicein area.

Another possibility would be:
1. Enter the park at Chief Mountain located in the NE part of the park and explore the Glenns, Cosley , Elizabeth and Helen Lakes areas. This would require an in-and-out hike with some backtracking on the same trails but it's all low elevation . Or do a variation of that into just Glenns Lake and then day hike up to Stoney Indian Pass.

Other options would be rather than one five-day trip (which will be difficult to link up without lots of snow-travel) would be to do a couple shorter trips. For instance the one I suggested above as well as an overnighter to Cracker Lake from the Many Glacier area.

Mull these over using this (or another) map:
http://www.nps.gov/archive/glac/images/bigmap.gif

Feel free to ask questions about other sections of the park as well. I've been on 90% of the trails and I love talking about that place.

Joshua Knapp
(Joshjknapp) - F

Locale: Northern Mn, Superior Hiking Trail
Glacier's Highline Trail in Late June on 04/04/2008 08:44:12 MDT Print View

Sounds like we are going to be pretty limited in June. We may have to move the trip back a few weeks. I may need to tap into your vast knowledge of Glacier in the future! Thanks again for the beta!
Josh

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Glacier's Highline Trail in Late June on 04/07/2008 12:24:36 MDT Print View

You're welcome, Josh. Until then get out on the SHT!