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First Backpacking Trip


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Hey guys, me and a few buddies are headed on our first backpacking trip at Glacier National Park. We head out early on the 17th of August, about a 24 hour drive. Since it is our first time I figured I would ask for some advice and a quick gear and plan look-over before we finalized everything. For starters, we are all in good physical shape. I personally don't exercise all that often lately since I work a full-time manual labor job and get plenty of it. The others exercise pretty often and get their fair share in. We are all experienced in hiking and climbing and have been very active in it for the past two years. Now for the trip: In total, it is a 52.4 mile excursion. We will complete this in 6 hiking days. After the second day we do get an entire day's rest before taking a shuttle to the nearby trail-head and continuing for another 4 days. Here is the day by day layout:

  • Day 1(8/18): Begin at Lake MacDonald trail-head and hike 9.4 miles to camp ELL. (Lake Ellen Wilson)
  • Day 2: Hike 9.9 miles from ELL to camp REY. (Reynold's Creek)
  • Day 3: Restock on food for next four days, get some rest, and maybe go on a small hike or two
  • Day 4: Take shuttle to Ahern Pass trail-head and walk 5.7 miles camp FLA. (Flattop)
  • Day 5: Walk 6.3 miles from camp FLA to camp FIF. (Fifty Mountain)
  • Day 6: Walk 11.9 miles from camp FIF to camp GRN. (Granite Park) <-- Strenuous day, hopefully the 3 easy days prior will allow this. Elevation change is around ~3000ft total
  • Day 7: Walk 7.6 miles from camp GRN to Many Glacier, take shuttle back, camp out one last night, head home in the morning.

We are feeling pretty good on the distances for the days since they are all relatively short(except for one) and the elevation change is at most ~5000ft which is the first day. As for Day 6: we'd really like some advice on how to go about this: we talked to some friends who have done more and they said it can be done, just gotta kick your ass which we are more than willing to do. Now as our gear goes: we are purchasing it all as this is our first trip and we cannot borrow all of the equipment for 3-4 people.

Backpack: Teton Sports Explorer4000

Tent: ALPS Mountaineering Taurus 2 1 per 2 people

Sleeping Bag: Suisse Sport Adventurer Mummy Ultra-Compactable Rated for 30 degrees (F)

Footwear: Merrell Moab Ventilator

Other gear:

  • Camelbaks
  • Water filters
  • Backpacking stove
  • Compactable pillow
  • Rope for food
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Wool socks
  • First aid kid
  • Compass
  • Map
  • Utility Knife
  • Rain gear (poncho, pack cover, etc..)
  • Ziplock bags
  • Jackets
  • Headlamps
  • Pants
  • Fuel
  • Soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Lighters
  • Food (4000 calories per day per person)

We definitely tried to budget so the equipment is not the best of course, but after doing research and reading tons of reviews this seemed to come out to a pretty solid pack. Please throw out any advice you have, any potential problems, and overall just beat up my plan so I can make it work. Thank you guys very much and I hope to become a huge part of this culture :)

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Right on, sounds like a blast! 

I guess my recommendation would be to forget the pillow and try to use other means to rest your head at night. I've found that I never need my pillow when I have all this gear. I usually use my pack cause it has a cushion for the lower back. A towel works too.

Just remember that the distance you travel in terms of climbing elevation will be far greater than the flatter sections. 4000 calories could be around 800-1000 calories short depending. I've worked in construction for 13 years and one thing I've figured out is that my metabolism is much faster on the trails and in the sun throughout an entire day, vs the short bursts of energy spent in a limited working day. I can go hours without water and food when I'm busy working, but can only go a short time without food and water when out on the trails. In this case, I'd try to limit the weight of equipment to ensure I could carry more than enough food and water. Every gram lost and added makes a difference. 

Your plan sounds solid. Just make sure you pack everything in your bag and try it out on a walk before you leave for your trip. Don't be caught on the day with a pack that is too heavy or not properly stocked to your needs. 

Hope that helps. :) good luck..I wish I was going with you guys lol

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