7 Days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

7:12 p.m. on October 6, 2016 (EDT)
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I was set to go on this trip last year but cancelled last minute due to the forest fires that blanketed the entire park in smoke.

So I finally made it!

However, I didn't have the weather that Joshua Taylor did on his excellent GNP trip that he recently shared with us here .

Unfortunately it rained, hailed and sleeted for a full 5 of the 7 days; often the only thing to see was fog or the ground at my feet. But I had one really pretty day where I saw the sun and at least got an idea of how amazing those views could be; I also had some nice weather windows that I enjoyed to the fullest. I would be lying if I said I wasn't massively disappointed to miss all those incredible views. But this trip made me ponder the concept of perspective more than once.

As I started across the Highline trail I was bemoaning the dense cloud cover. But after summiting Swiftcurrent Mountain where I experienced a brutal storm attack whose winds literally knocked me sideways and blew off my glasses, whose sudden cold stopped all my cameras from working, and whose driving rain stung my face so badly that I had to cover up with my gloved hands, I gained perspective....cloud cover wasn't so bad after all. :)

And more still, after being back at work for a few days and dealing with those stresses I found myself considering that even a stormy mountain top wasn't so bad. Perspective again!

Well, on to the pictures and short video; Most of my pictures worth sharing were taken within the same time frames of weather windows so I don't have much to reveal in the report.

*Crunch* Going to the Sun Road requires concentrated driving. This person didn't I guess. They surely have a different perspective now too (I bet).

This was the view from the Swiftcurrent Lookout (summit) before the storm hit.

And this was a hopeful moment of clarity after the worst of the storm passed and after my camera finally recovered from the cold on the way back down to the pass.  

The next morning a huge moose crossed in front of me on the way up the Ptarmigan Trail! Now that was super cool.

A few minutes more and I was rewarded with this fabulous sunny moment and color.

On the way down to Elizabeth Lake I think.

Fishing with my water bottle as a reel.

I tried some hand-lining in a pattering rain at Elizabeth lake but didn't catch anything. I had some camping neighbors that did quite well with full fly rods however, so I know there were fish in there.

A beautiful fall on the way up to Stoney Indian Pass two days later.

A fellow hiker took this for me at Stoney Indian Pass on my magic day.

A view of Stoney Indian Lake from the head end (camp was at the foot). I fished this lake for hours and hours but I'm pretty sure there was nothing in it. You could see the bottom from every vantage.

Hear I'm wearing every piece of clothing I brought to stay warm while walking around Fifty Mountain Camp. I'm guessing it was near single digits F. I had on: a base layer of merino wool, a second synthetic shirt, a wind shirt, a down sweater hoody, rain jacket, running pants, rain pants, thick wool socks and expedition class Nilas down mitts. It was the only way to be comfortable outside of the tent that afternoon.  It hailed sideways for hours up there and the wind was so fierce you couldn't stand it. I even had a mishap with my tent where the wind caught me adjusting a foot stake and torqued the pole on my Big Agnes Fly Creek causing a small break near a joint. I was able to repair it well enough by wrapping paracord around it as a repair sleeve.  I want a do-over for that camp and will be back to get it someday.

Here I'm at the Grinnell Glacier Overlook on my last day out.

And now the short video that mostly only shows the pretty moments. Full screen is best:

Happy Trails!

7:28 p.m. on October 6, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

Sorry the weather didn't work out but I am glad you kept it in perspective and got the most out of the trip. I hope you get to go back in decent weather in the future. As usual great photos!

7:41 p.m. on October 6, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

Very pretty stuff. The parts you could see might tempt you into going back to see the parts you couldn't. Bet you'll bring more insulation if you do :)

Thanks for sharing!

7:44 p.m. on October 6, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

Hey thanks Phil and LS

I should also mention that though I hiked alone for the almost the whole week, I met some great people on this trip. Definitely part of what I'll remember when I think back on it.

7:45 p.m. on October 6, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

Thanks for the TR Patrick!

9:54 a.m. on October 7, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

Glad you made it out there this year, even if the weather was sub-par. 

Maybe it wasn't as relaxing as anticipated, but it sounds like the challenge of the weather was rewarding nonetheless. 

Great report. Thanks for sharing Patman!

10:13 a.m. on October 7, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

I'm glad you brought your winter gear and your Nilas mitts.  Doesn't look like you needed a saw or pruners to battle thru briars and blowdowns or rhododendron thickets.  Did you say you brought your microspikes?  Looks like you needed them in places.

Why anyone would cut a road thru there is beyond me---I guess the rolling couch potatoes have to do something to get their no-calorie nature fix.  It always steams me to see a place like Glacier require hiking and backpacking permits and designated campsites and still keep a road open to allow rolling congestion. 

Do you have more pics anywhere else or a detailed written report???

1:36 p.m. on October 7, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

Love the pictures and Video..Took me away from the morning I was having LOL

BTW part of the park was open during the wildfires..My niece was there and they changed plans and just dayhiked alot of trails..Said it was a good trip and she wants to go back...Sorry you didn't have great weather...

1:40 p.m. on October 7, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

The northern Rockies wouldn't look they do without all of that weather. 

I bet you still had a great time.

It is exactly the kind of trip I would be building some fires.

6:26 p.m. on October 7, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

Hey thanks guys..


Trails were in great shape except for one very small section; there was all kinds of evidence of recent brush out work for miles and miles. I was lucky in that regard. I did carry microspikes the whole time but never really needed them. The remnant snow was mostly soft and patchy.

I do have more photos but not as many as you might think. There were multiple days with nothing to see but fog and I don't tend to take many pictures or videos in the rain.

No I haven't written a detailed report but I may. I've haven't made the time to right reports this year very much at all.

Thanks Denis,

yeah I had the option to try and day hike lower elevations last year but didn't want to spend the money on those plane tickets if I couldn't do the high trails.


yes indeed, it was still an amazing place and adventure ...just turned out to be a different type of adventure.

Honestly, I was in the mood for that magic western US summer/ early fall alpine experience where the sky is electric blue and views are stunning at every turn. If had arrived a few days earlier or later it would have been that. IN my mind I was going to loll about and soak up the beauty, but I did more hunkering than lolling, lol.

 But you're right , I adjusted to enjoy the challenge of the harsher weather on this one ; from what I saw, Montana is fantastic. I do hope to be back.

6:35 p.m. on October 7, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"


I was wishing you'd have better weather.  Glacier NP has always temped me, but cold and sustained wet really disagrees with me, and I know of too many who related stories similar to yours.  Some venues, like Olympic NP, are also known for the wet, but they have a few predictable, seasonal good weather windows - albeit small windows - where one has a reasonable chance for mostly acceptable camping weather.  I have not learned of such windows for Glacier, however; it seems you can get real wet any time of year in GNP.   Perhaps GNP is a park better visited when the wet stuff is snow?


11:21 a.m. on October 8, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

The Olympics have no such window.  The northern Rockies can turn on you any time. But that is why they are in bloom all summer.  So are the Cascades.  Finding water is easy. There is a lot of wildlife.

Appreciate every place for what it is.  If you want great weather look elsewhere like the Sierra. But then you often get dry and dusty and too many people. Water can be few and far between.

Last year I took my best hiking buddy to the eastern Cascades and hiked around Three Sisters west of Bend.  The second week of Sept we had rain and temperatures in the 30s with snow and sleet at night. It was beautiful and I will be going back.

Some how it is surprising when people go to places that are known for being cool and wet, and then they are surprised because it is cool and wet.

I am not picking on Patrick, he goes everywhere. I like his TRs. He would be a great guy to hike with.

6:27 p.m. on October 8, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

Amazing pictures and video, Patrick! That Highline Trail looks so beautiful. I hate it was closed when I was there. I will be back one day and will definitely do that and the Grinnell Glacier. Sorry your weather was so terrible! :(

10:52 a.m. on October 9, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"

The East is pretty consistently wet, and the temperatures gradually decrease with increasing latitude.

In the West, largely due to the topography, climates and micro-climates change radically within short distances. Vistors seem to have some trouble in anticipating these radically different conditions.

The Hoh River rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula is a good example. At sea level a town like Forks, WA get 100 inches of rain a year.  At the top of the watershed rainfall is more like 160-180 inches. Even the driest months are wet. So if you go hiking there expect it to rain, all the time. If it dries out, consider yourself lucky.  Now all the PNW boys will chime in. Glad to hear from everyone from up there.  Does 70-21 mean anything to you?

9:10 a.m. on October 13, 2016 (EDT)
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That looks amazing. I got my wife up early at RMNP to look for moose at a spot they are known to frequent, but no luck. Just tons of elk.

1:07 p.m. on October 13, 2016 (EDT)
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Patrick, Wow! Great video and pics... Thanks for sharing! Looks like you got to see a variety of wildlife and some great views. Too bad for the weather not cooperating for the duration.

12:53 p.m. on November 13, 2016 (EST)
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Despite the weather it looks like a great trip.

7:39 p.m. on November 15, 2016 (EST)
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Hey thanks, you are absolutely right. It was indeed.

5:34 a.m. on November 16, 2016 (EST)
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Re: 7 days in Glacier NP subtitle: "35 degrees and rainy"


9:31 a.m. on January 1, 2017 (EST)
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Great report!  On my list for sure... loved loved loved the video!

10:59 a.m. on January 1, 2017 (EST)
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Patrick,  your route looks almost identical to the intinerary we had planned in 2015 before changing our trip due to forest fires.  Maybe I missed it, but what were the dates of your trip to Glacier?

12:25 p.m. on January 1, 2017 (EST)
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Thanks slomo!

Chimney Rock, I was there from sept 16th to the 24th

June 19, 2018
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