Kicking off in Glacier Park
Aaaaaalrighty. FINALLY I’ve given a minute to catch up on the blog. This has been quite possibly the busiest, craziest summer I’ve ever had. I spent all year talking about how excited I was for an Oregon summer, yet I only spent a handful of weekends here. Anyhow – I’m going to kick off a series of posts with my first trip of the season, Montana. I can take zero credit for planning this trip. Himself did a mighty job co-ordinating it all from getting to Montana to the trails we were going to hike. We decided to drive and it normally takes around 10hrs to get to the west side of Glacier Park. We stopped half way in Spokane, WA though at the Davenport Lusso to break up the journey.
Camping at Glacier
Glacier Park was absolutely incredible. From driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road, arguing with mountain goats and swimming in glacier water, this was a trip not to forget. There are a bunch of campsites to choose from and there are two ways you can get a place. To get a campsite you can A) Enter in lottery and have one booked or B) Arrive on the day and chance it. Aim for arriving at your chosen place around 7am and if any spots free up, at least you’ll be within a chance of getting one. We got in a bit late but found this perfect spot just half an hour from Many Glacier.
Our first hike was over on East Glacier leaving from the Many Glacier campsite. Round trip to Bullhead Lake is around 7.2 miles with some great viewing points. We didn’t get to see any bears or moose but Korey witnessed my panic attack at seeing not one, or two but three feckin snakes. Not to go completely off topic but I honest to God thought it was going to be the end of my life. Outside of those slipper yolks though, the hike was a good warm up for what was to come.
Backpacking in the Backcountry – Gunsight Pass Trail
Now here’s the fun stuff. To get your backcountry passes, you have to visit a ranger station and book your site 24hrs before you plan to leave. Spots are taken rapidly though so be there at 8am when they open the doors. We were really lucky and secured a campsite that was only taking one group at a time! That Friday, we parked up the car at Lake McDonald and got two shuttle buses from there to our drop off at St. Marys to do the Gunsight Pass trail. From here, we hiked through what I can only call a jungle to Gunsight Lake. It started with a solid descent which entered in to a thick underbrush. There was a fun footbridge to cross which eventually leads out a pasture.
I loved this hike as it was like walking through something in the 3 Little Bears. Elevation gain here is 1500ft and the trail was around 6 miles. The campground at Gunsight Lake is really beautiful but there was so many bugs! You’re willing to over look it though with all of the snowy mountains surrounding you!
Around 11am, we packed up our gear and took off for Lake Ellen Wilson. This was the most challenging trek I’d say with an immediate 2.9 mile assent to Gunsight Pass. But Oh My Lord were the views like nothing I’ve seen before! Everywhere you look there are waterfalls pouring in to Gunsight Lake falling from the glaciers. We didn’t come across any major wildlife except a sort of beaver thing. I actually still don’t know what type of animal it is even after scouring the internet! Reaching Gunsight Pass with an elevation of 6,974 ft felt like such an achievement (there was a high possibility of slipping off the side of the cliff getting there haha!) and we took some time to take in the sites.
From here, we took the switch back drop to Lake Ellen Wilson. This place was something else and is top of my list for places I’ve slept. From gunsight Lake to Lake Ellen Wilson, it’s about 5 miles hiking. The campsite itself is right on a crystal clear lake and I could have easily lived here forever. Definitely highlight of LEW is the goat and beaver who were just stalking around us. I will forever laugh at the curious beaver (?) coming right up to Korey’s face! LOL!
The next afternoon, we cleared up our things and started the next part of our journey. We stopped at Sperry Chalet, at the top of an alpine ledge overlooking Lake McDonald and Whitefish Range, for some tasty snacks. I’m so upset to find out though that the chalet has just been lost to the Sprague fire. It truly was a lovely spot to recharge your batteries with some super friendly staff.
After leaving Sperry Chalet, the next 6-7 smiles consisted of mostly running down the switch backs to break out at Lake McDonald Lodge. There’s a delicious restaurant, and shop here where you can stock up with last minute camping supplies and treats. This is where all of the shuttles take you to the places you need to go to.
I’d like to say that I’m outdoorsy but I’m not going to lie, I had a new appreciation for hot showers and running water after Glacier. Saying that though, I would 100% go back and do it all over again. That time of year was perfect as well because Glacier still had the snowy ice caps yet it was hot and we had no rain. I think an annual backpacking trip is absolutely going to be a thing though!
- Bear spray
- Mountain pants
- Lots of bug spray
- Rope to hang your food
- Dehydrated food
- Water filter
- Sweater for the nights
- Light rain coat
PS – More pics in the Gallery!