Map of events
Joe’s Diner Logo

Home » Adventures » Glacier » Pre-trip

Following the Man’s Rules

Due partially to Glacier National Park’s popularity, backpackers are restricted in their self-supported travel. To help limit overuse a potential hiker must obtain a permit before dwelling at one of the backcountry campsites. Because of an unpredicted personal situation, I did not know until late in the season that I would take this trip. As a result, America celebrated its independence prior to me mailing my application, even though popular destinations fill quickly. My primary route choice was a sweeping whirlwind tour across the interior of the park — entering in the northeast corner at Belly River and making my way through the mountainous terrain to emerge at Apgar Campground on the park’s southwest edge. My belated inquiry curtailed my grand expedition though, and the park service assigned me slightly less ambitious plan. I would instead begin at Two Medicine and explore Glacier’s southern half, never venturing north of the Going to the Sun Road. I was a bit disappointed in this alternate itinerary but it would still allow for a great trip. I had no room to complain either as some travelers who mailed their request on the first permissible day did not receive their preferred schedule.

Practice Makes Perfect

Several weeks before departing I visited nearby Pleasant Creek State Park to slightly reduce the chances of killing myself in Montana’s backcountry. Being a semi-serious runner left me in decent shape, but packing can stress a completely different set of muscles. Iowa does not offer any mountains (or even many big hills) like I would encounter, but I could at least cover a little distance shouldering my pack. It is easy to forget the burden of carrying an entire week’s provisions upon your back, and I needed to locate any hot spots in my boots anyway.

I followed a ten mile trail encircling the lake. This path does not receive much foot traffic though, being used mainly by equestrians. That day proved no exception as the few horseback riders who passed greeted me with bewildered expressions. It was moderately warm, but I finished the practice hike with little trouble. My feet did not develop any blisters either, but my pack was not fully loaded. Whatever my feet would be forced to endure though, Glacier had infected my consciousness, and I eagerly awaited my departure.