Glacier National Park (Chief Mtn. Border to Many Glacier)

Chuck the Mauler

Formally known as "kcwins"
Aug 20, 2014
Let me preface this by saying I suck at trip reports and I took the wrong lens for my Nikon DSLR (55-200mm). But here goes..................

So every year I spend at least a week in the Tetons. Sometimes 2. Last year I did an off-trail trip in the Northern section of the park with Joey. After the trip he convinced me that I should do a trip with him in Glacier in 2015. I talked it over with the guys and we decided to take him up on his offer.

We spent a few months trying to get the best cost on a flight to Kalispell. Long story short, we missed our chance. The prices never came down and in fact continued to climb. About 2 weeks before our trip we nailed down a flight out of Indy (we’re from MI) to Missoula for $399. So we pulled the trigger.

Friday the 31st of July we landed in Missoula around midnight. I called Joey to let him know of our arrival. His response was “Awesome. I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is I’m here. The bad news is, I’m not sure if the van’s gonna start.” This is a typical “Joey response. The van started and we then headed off to the hotel for the night.

After breakfast we filled the van with gas and headed north. Still needed cooking fuel so we stopped again in Kalispell then in to the park. Oh wait....we still needed a few last minute food items along with lunch (a box of ice cream sandwiches, and hot dogs). Not so fast. We still needed to get the permit and as long as we’re stopping fill our water bottles and use the restroom.

We finally reach the trail at 5:00pm. We’re off! 8.2 miles up past Chief Mountain and down to Slide lake. It was a pleasant walk. Nice gradual uphill climb, then a short 2ish miles down to the lake. The sun had started to set and we really wanted to get to camp. We arrived at 9:00pm. This would become the norm. There was already a fire going which was nice. Joe and Dave went to set up the tents and Matt and I went to get water. We enjoyed the fire with a couple of guys who had driven in on their motorcycles and had just randomly met that day. Wrapped up dinner and headed off to bed.

Day 2: We slept in this day and got a late start out of camp. As I recall around noon. After a steep 2+ miles up hill we would spend the next hour and a half heading across open meadows and then down towards the Belly River. We finally reached the patrol cabin where we would have lunch. It was now 5:00pm. There was a ranger who lived there during the summer months. As we chatted with him for a minute Joey rounded the corner and the ranger said “Hello, Joey”. I guess Ranger Bruce had met and talked with Joey on a couple other occasions over the years. After we finished up lunch we headed towards Cosley Lake. We stopped and took some pics at a waterfall just before the lake then continued on. Once we got to the lake I wanted to stop and check for wildlife. That usually works out pretty well for me. So we did. As we scanned the lake Matt saw a large bull moose about 50-75 yards away. We took a few pics then continued on. We had made our way to Glenns Lake where we just needed to get to the end of the lake where we would camp for the night. We arrived at?........9:00pm. After setting up camp and eating dinner we headed in for the night. There was a mule deer snooping around but was harmless. Just a bit nosey. I wanted to hang my shirt up because it was soaked from the long hot hike that day. So I threw it up in the tree.

Day 3: I wake to a loud thud. I knew just what it was. That deer had leaped up to grab my shirt from the tree. I opened the tent and sure enough, there was the deer with my shirt in his mouth just staring at me. I got out of the tent and had to threaten the deer. He reluctantly decided not to mess with me and dropped the shirt. Soon we would finish breakfast, pack up and hit the trail. Today was to be a long uphill day giving us the classic mountain views I had hoped for. We had made our way to Stoney Indian Pass where we would leave the trail and take a shortcut over to Fifty Mountain. We headed across the open meadow and snow field where we would start our off trail adventure. One of the guys in the group was not feeling comfortable enough to attempt what was now right in front of him. A little climbing and some minor exposure. He wanted nothing to do with it so we decided to head back to Stoney Indian Pass and figure out how or what we would do next. Moral was at an all-time low. There was no way we were going to make it to Fifty Mountain. It was now after 5:00PM. So we headed towards Stoney Indian Lake and continued down the valley until we got to the patrol cabin. Joey knew of an off trail spot less than a mile from an old abandon cabin where we could stealth camp for the night. Sure enough, just as he had remembered. We had dinner, hung our food and found a spot to set up our tents around……9:00pm. It was sketchy to say the least. Game trails close by, the river, brown bear scat, etc…But we made it work and were without incident.

Day 4: We had some catching up to do! It would be a 17+ mile day gaining over 5000’ and losing over 2500’. We got out of camp early. We made really good time getting to Fifty Mountain Camp where we would stop and enjoy lunch. It was a beautiful area! From there we would spend the rest of the day on the Highline trail which if you haven’t ever hiked it, is an American classic must do hike! One of the guys didn’t care for the exposure on the trail, but the scenery made up for any blisters, soreness, thirst or anything else that was bothersome. We spotted a mountain goat just off the trail near Ahern Pass. It was awesome watching the sun set as we finished up the day and reaching Granite Park camp at?........9:00pm. Long day but by far the best!

Day 5: After a little 1000’ “bump” climb up to Swiftcurrent Pass, we would hike downhill the rest of the day. The views were amazing as we neared Bullhead and Redrock Lakes. We stopped many times along the way for drink, food and pics. I think we even took a nap. Joey spotted a moose with calf too. The trail got really busy with day hikers as we neared Swiftcurrent. We finally made our destination at Many Glacier campground at?.....4:00. This was a first. After we set up camp we all took 8 minute showers…..except me. My shower only lasted 3 minutes. Oh well. I guess they didn’t know who they were messing with. We would walk what Joey said was half a mile to Many Glacier Hotel to grab a cold adult drink and dinner. Then back to camp where we would call it a night.

Day 6: This is the day we would say good bye to Joey for the next few hours. Dave had a ton a blisters on his feet. His brother Matt had an issue with his achilles tendon. Me? I had no excuse. The 3 of us stayed back and enjoyed the next few hours at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn where we would feast and feast and feast. I felt bad that Joe had to head off alone, in an on and off rain to get the van, but he assured me it was no big deal and that we should enjoy the rest of our vacation. We did. Joey headed toward the Ptarmagin Tunnel then down to Elizabeth Lake for the night.

Day 7: Joey made it back to the van where he would reshoot the opening scene. The guy running the camera had made a mistake and there was only one way to correct it. And that was to shoot it where it all had started. We sat at Swiftcurrent and waited for Joe. When he pulled up Dave ran in to the store and bought him his favorite IPA. Now we had a long haul back to Missoula. Matt and Dave found a place for us to stay and we looked forward to a shower and good meal. We did just that.

Total miles for the trip were 52 according to the map, but Dave’s fitbit clocked the 3 of us at closer to 56. Joey had the extra day and a half and ended up over 70.

Here are a few take-a-ways.

While the Tetons will always be my favorite place to hike, Glacier was majestic, powerful and similar times 10. The wildlife was just OK and I realize that seeing it is always a shot in the dark. Perhaps the heat had something to do with that. But just knowing there is a chance, which you have put yourself in a place where you are not the top of the food chain, heightens your senses just a little bit increasing your adventure. The highline trail is one of the best I’ve ever hiked. I would love to go back next year and spend more time in the park and perhaps hike part of the highline again. I sure hope the fires currently going on in the park don’t do too much damage. The park is incredibly diverse. Long valley trails along the lake shore. Trails that follow rivers and streams. High exposed trails above tree line. Off trail possibilities if you’re willing to give them a try. Switchbacks or straight up and down. Forest walking., etc... The park has it all. Due to the low snow pack and above average temps, water was tough to get. I can’t tell you how many times we were out of water or running on fumes. I take the blame for that. I could have better prepared the other 2 guys or had them bring additional water bottles. Picture taking took a hit due to the Reynolds Creek fire and fires throughout the west in general. Just another reason to go back which I'm tentatively planning to do in 2016. It’s a truly incredible place. And I thank Joey for the invite!

GNP 2015 035.JPG On our way past Chief Mtn. towards Slide LakeGNP 2015 050.JPG Slide LakeGNP 2015 056.JPG 11885245_10153557786989766_7956671166464755538_n.jpg Lunch and rest at the patrol cabin11846579_10153557787674766_5478290141720940757_n.jpg GNP 2015 072.JPG 11846599_10153557788624766_5347738160065976320_n.jpg Heading toward Stoney Indian Pass11863392_10153557789794766_3053792343921947823_n.jpg Making our way across the snow towards the short cut.11885253_10153557789459766_6966606902269631800_n.jpg Back at Stoney Indian Pass where moral was looooow.11880569_10153557790044766_7959020423552876072_n.jpg Joey doing his best "Chuck the Mauler" pose.GNP 2015 100.JPG Made it to Fifty Mtn. for lunch 11825992_10153557792339766_7034809935289469263_n.jpg GNP 2015 129.JPG The Highline trail near Aherm Pass
GNP 2015 134.JPG The sunset was awesomeGNP 2015 137.JPGI'll add a few more pics soon. And I'm sure Joey will follow up with a full video and picture report when he takes a break from the trail.

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Last edited:
For somebody who sucks at trip reports you did a great job Mauler! I loved all the pictures. It's nice to see you expand your home range from the Tetons so to speak. Now if you can just get me out of Yellowstone. :)

By the way, what did you do with kcwins?
Nice write up Chuck! That was a great, memorable trip.

I'm still wondering how you got that nickname. Was that from your days of wrestling in the WWE, or was that what your middle school principle called you?

Looking forward to the next one!
@scatman , I will always spend a week or so each year in the T's. However, I can see spending time in other mountain west locations going forward. Furthermore, this past spring I had a chance to explore southern Utah with my wife and will also take that in to consideration. What happened to kcwins you ask? He invited me to a puke party that went bad. I guess that's a story (or 2) for another day.

@Joey, Yes the next trip is right around the corner. Can't wait to see more of your pics from the trip and video. Remember to post them to the folder I set up on FB where all 4 of us can add to it. As far as the name? Make sure to pull over if you see me driving in your direction.

Side note: It's interesting how few people read the TR as compared to all the others here on BCP. Maybe Glacier is no longer a popular backpacking destination after all. Who knew....
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