Hiking and Hammock Camping Trip in Glacier National Park with the Nubé Hammock Shelter
~ Adventure by Corey Schroeter ~
Our trek appeared simple enough. Land at point A, hike to first nighttime camp at B for 2 nights, and then make a trek to campsite C for one last night before hiking back.
It’s amazing how squiggly dotted lines can seem so unimpressive, but when translated to carrying gear and hiking mostly uphill, they become the most powerful lines you can draw. It’s not my first trek into Glacier National Park, and it won’t be my last, but it was my first chance to shed a lot of carry weight by packing in the Nubé Hammock Shelter instead of a formal tent!
After a lengthy drive down some very bumpy roads, we successfully landed at Bowman Lake campgrounds. For those interested in the views without the hike, this is one of the best places to go.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the launch point, only 20 or so yards from where people camp:
From there, we began our hike. It was less than 7 miles, but it felt like 15. The first 5 miles are almost exclusively uphill. Although the grade isn’t terribly steep, carrying packs and my own version of winter fat (a lot like a bear’s, but it lasts year round and is caused by cookies), the trek quickly becomes a sweaty challenge.
Oh, and there are mosquitos. In fact, were I to have had an electric swatter, we could have killed enough of those to more than replace our trail mix. If you were into eating bugs, that is. I’m not Bear Grylls, however, so I merely attempted swatting. I momentarily considered trying to wear the mesh that protects me when sleeping in the Nubé, but was reasonably sure it would void the warranty when worn like a coat. So tempting….
Anyway, the trek there had beautiful sites! Once we got out of the dense uphill climb. The photos don’t do it justice in the least, because believe it or not, this view was one of the prettiest in my opinion:
I will admit, however, that part of the enticement to this particular location is that I finally had stopped hiking uphill. The thought of being able to reshape my hammocks into makeshift gliders and just plummet made this a dreamy type of view. Darn warranty probably wouldn’t cover that, either, so I decided to just hike down after getting some pictures.
Finally, after a grueling steeply downhill hike, we reach our destination site (B). Before even setting up camp we take photos, proving to ourselves we actually made it.
Ah, upper quartz lake campsite – she was beautiful and buzzing. Not with people, but rather mosquitos. We apparently brought groupie mosquitos with us, and they met up with all their relatives who lived down this way. At this point, sky visibility is actually determined by whether or not you are in a cloud of the critters. As such, I realized it was time to get the Nubé launched and get some relief from my flying tormentors.
This was my first time using the Nubé in a real camping setting with two hammocks inside (Hambunks). And at times like this, let me tell you – the open design is heavenly. Unlike a normal tent, in which I would have cooked, I could actually relax (on the bottom bunk, at least) and remain capable of getting a breeze. It was wonderful!
Now, to be fair, I actually regretted not having the Winter Barrier at night, because the bottom bunk gets a lot of breeze, and if you are using a summer sleeping bag in the mountains where snow isn’t impossible to find, you are probably going to regret not having a wall. So if you are looking to camp in the mountains, you can carry a lighter bag if you go ahead and act smarter than I did and buy the Winter Barrier. Consider yourself warned!
Fishing was good. The lake was beautiful, and we ate well the next 36 hours!
Btw, I’m especially lumpy in this photo, but that’s a firearm under my coat. I’m not carrying all my fat on one side. I do a good job of putting it everywhere. Why a firearm? Cause I can shoot farther than I could use bear spray.
And yes, we did have a bear visit – though I was too busy yelling at it to get photos. Sorry.
More than enough for 5 of us, and even enough to have left overs!
On the second night there, a very strong storm came through. And this was a great test for the Nubé. I’ll admit, I was skeptical that it could hold well under winds. Thankfully, my fears were unnecessary. My friend and I in our Hambunks in the Nubé slept almost completely through the storm, while my friends in the regular tent were awake through most of it. Nothing in the Nubé got unhooked, damaged, or even moved, near as we could tell. We swayed back and forth with the wind in the most gentle of fashions, and it actually caused me to fall asleep within a minute of awakening to the sound of the rain. I now have a trust for this hammock tent that I couldn’t have had without giving it this test.
Of course, the bad news is that camping trips rarely go as planned. The rain started moving in in force, so we decided to end our trip without staying at lower quarter lake site ( C ). We did hike through it, but by then, I was too tired to take any photos. And the hike from C back to A… Well, we found out later they call it “Cardiac Hill”. Shame on me for not researching better, and shame on my body fat for not following the example of my sweat and fall out of me.
All in all, a beautiful (albeit exhausting) trip into some of the most incredible countryside you’ll ever see. The Nubé and Hambunks have changed camping for me, and I’ll never go back to the old way again!