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Glacier National Park


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I know, climbing forum but was wondering if locals could recommend a few day hikes and maybe an overnighter. Modest scrambles would be good too.


Also, never been hiking much in grizzly bear country. Wondering if carrying bear spray is a must.


Finally, anyone do much lake fishing in the park? Mainly interested in trout for dinner.




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A few years ago, I did a ride around Glacier on my bike. Here's what I was told: Bear spray is a really good idea, but make sure it's a large can. They go for around $50 a pop. That said, you better be quick and have good aim, because if you surprise a grizzly, they're very fast. You get one shot with those things, from what I hear. There are also other precautions to take, such as make a lot of noise on trails; especially when going around a blind corner. You don't want to surprise them. If you make noise, most often they'll go away before you get to them. The tiny little bear bells they sell all over the place don't make nearly enough noise. I took to singing My Darling Clementine really loudly as I rode! It's obnoxious enough to make anyone leave you alone. Also, no slinking around...and don't run if you come across a grizzly. Back away slowly. No food in the tent or anywhere near you at night. Don't carry dead fish in your pack, etc.

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I went out to Glacier a couple of weeks ago and if you can afford it you should definately plan more than one night. That place is amazing and there are plenty of great hikes available.


Check out: http://www.summitpost.org/area/range/170953/glacier-national-park-mt.html


The park offers a shuttle service that runs throughout the park which you could use to drop you off at a trail head and then pick you up. Definately makes transportation a dream without having to worry about parking.


Bears are a very real possibility. I came within 120 feet of a black bear and her cub while out doing a heavily traveled trail on avalanch creek. As my daughter and I came around a corner there they were crossing the trail in front of us and then continued up a forested hillside. They paid us no mind, but I would be very uncomfortable with no line of defense. I had purchased the 290g canister of Counter Assult from REI (they sell it at the park and surprisingly for about $5 cheaper). Grizzly bears, I believe, are more of a crap shoot temperment wise and not as nonchalant as a black bear. God help you if you come across one with no line of defense but to play dead. A $50 investment of counter assult is like buying a lottery ticket, if your lucky It might work. Obviously the manufacturer recommends buying two, one to practice with ahead of time. I think this is a good idea as this crap can seriously mess you up (think wind), and it would be good to get a visual on how far the blast goes ahead of time. Counter Assult sells a 270g and 290g canister. The 290 offers 2 more seconds of spray which sounds good to me. Hell if your prone to firing prematurely this may be good ;)



Here is a pic of one type of sign posted a the trailhead on one of the hikes we did. There are bear frequenting area signs posted on others too.







Lastly, I don't know how the fishing is. I do know it's free in National Parks and you would not need a license. Looks sweet.Lake_McDonald_Boat.jpg

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In Russia where they have more bears and less money they use road flares.


bear spray causes bears pain and pisses them off. The smell of it also attracts other bears from a distance


the smoke from flares inundates a bears primary sense, it's sense of smell. Essentially blinding/confusing them and they freak out and back away. They also have an instinctual fear of fire.


I learned this after being charged by a mother grizzly, luckily it was a bluff charge. The mistake I made was keeping food in camp. I has to be kept 100+ yards crosswind.


there are certain times when bears are more of a problem, like when the blueberry crop is low and they can't find food.


there is also safety in numbers. If you can find a group or wait at a trailhead and go with a large group it's safer.

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Thanks for the replies and the link to summitpost, that will be some good reading. Just scanning the photos is impressive.


We have ten days in the park and will do a mix of hikes, bike rides and fishing/relazing.


From what you guys say and what I've read sounds like you should carry large cans of bear spray but don't count on it to save your ass if you do something stupid. Don't own a handgun and they aren't allowed in the park, or are they now? but if I had to spend a fair amount of time in grizzly bear country I'd probably get one and learn how to use it.


Are flares legal in the park? Whatever "protection" you carry needs to be easily accessible so hiding it from inquiring rangers would defeat the purpose.

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  • 2 years later...

I'm heading there in a few weeks for a biz trip & making a 4 day weekend out of it....how hard is it to get back country camping permits? Any hikes that are a must do if we don't score a permit? I'm pretty excited but don't have much knowledge of the park, other than the last time we hit it was a weekend in August and every camp ground and parking lot was closed do to maximum capacity. :(

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Flares? Come on - do some research, buy some bear spray and learn to use it. Travel smart and ignore the silliness. Store your food and cook at least 100 feet away and keep a clean camp. If you keep fish - clean them well away and preferably in a stream where the guts can wash away. Keep your cooking clothes with your food and wear different ones to sleep in.


I live in bear country, I travel in it. Bears are not hiding behind trees hoping to pounce. Make a bit of noise and let them know you are in the area. That said - bears in this part of the world are typically hungrier than those in AK or BC so they are more opportunistic.


Here is the deal - you owe it to bears to get your act together and avoid them. You get hurt - so does a bear so do some reading, talk to some knowledgeable people and form a mindset not based on fear or ignorance.

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