High­line Trail

Backpacker - - The Survival Issue -

GLACIER NA­TIONAL PARK, MON­TANA

As you can imag­ine, the Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide is pretty in­hos­pitable, fea­tur­ing lit­tle more than rock and thin air on its north-south course across the coun­try. But Mother Na­ture made an ex­cep­tion in Mon­tana, where the crest dips to 8,400 feet and min­gles with a per­fect cock­tail of sun­light, oxy­gen, and pre­cip to cre­ate an oasis for flora and fauna. Moun­tain goats, wolver­ines, and bears (both kinds) call the area home, while mead­ows choked with wild­flow­ers cling to the slopes. And so will you, on the 7.6-mile trip along the Gar­den Wall.

The High­line Trail hits you with ma­jor ex­po­sure right out of the gate, de­liv­er­ing you to a 3-foot-wide shelf etched into a rock wall with 500-foot drop-offs in the first quar­ter-mile. Though the stress-sweat sec­tion lasts a mere .3 mile—and a hand ca­ble on the cliff adds

a layer of safety—there’s no rail­ing, so make the rock your friend. Af­ter that, leave the crowds as you hug the cliffs of the Gar­den Wall on a rel­a­tively mel­low jour­ney to Gran­ite Park, bob­bing through alpine mead­ows with long views of Glacier’s toothy to­pog­ra­phy. At Gran­ite Park, you can head about 4 miles down to Go­ing-to-theSun Road via the Loop Trail to catch the shut­tle back, or stay awhile: Spend the night ei­ther in the Gran­ite Park Chalet (reser­va­tions re­quired; gran­iteparkchalet.com), an early-1900s hiker’s hos­tel with cots and a stove, or in the tree-shaded camp­sites nearby (reser­va­tions also re­quired). Once you’ve got­ten this far, you sim­ply can’t go wrong.

Trail­head Lo­gan Pass (48.6956, -113.7177) Shut­tle Take the free re­turn shut­tle to Lo­gan Pass. Sea­son July to Oc­to­ber Per­mit Re­quired ($7/per­son per night); re­serve on­line for $40 ex­tra. Contact nps.gov/glac

Get face to face with Grin­nell and Sala­man­der Glaciers on the High­line.

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