Hiking in Grizzly Country: Best Ways To Avoid Bear Encounters

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Hiking in Grizzly Country:  Best Ways To Avoid Bear Encounters
Shannon and I hike well over 1,000 miles each year in Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, and we have experienced our share of grizzly bear encounters along these incredible trails.  Thank goodness every encounter has had a happy ending for both the grizzly(s) and ourselves, but we have always felt that the best “happy ending” is not having an encounter to begin with.

Through the past 40+ years, we have noticed that MOST of our encounters with grizzly bears along Glacier Park trails, Yellowstone Park trails and Grand Teton National Park trails occurred when we put our guard down, whether we were not paying attention because we were tired, or overly confident that a particular stretch along the trail wouldn’t have a grizzly on it.  Nearly every single time we are doing the right activities while hiking in Glacier Park, hiking in Yellowstone Park and hiking in Grand Teton Park, we do not experience a grizzly bear encounter.

Fight or Flight Instinct
Most grizzly encounters occur when a hiker surprises a grizzly bear(s) on the trail, thus triggering the bear’s “fight or flight” instinct.  If the “fight” instinct is switched on, then the hiker is in really big trouble.  If the bear’s “flight” instinct kicks in, then the hiker dodged a bullet.  So the goal of every hiker in Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton National Park is to NOT SURPRISE THE BEAR by letting the bear know well in advance that the hiker is in the area.  This way, the bear can avoid the hiker and not be surprised.

And of course the other potentially dangerous situation is when a sow grizzly thinks you are threatening her cub(s).  This can also be avoided by making sure you do not surprise them and to give them plenty of warning that you are in the area.  If a sow grizzly knows you are coming down the trail long before she sees you, she will more than likely move her cubs off the trail and avoid an encounter with you.

The “Boom Box” Lady
Several years ago we were enjoying one of the numerous Glacier Park hikes in the Two Medicine Area, and we began hearing music… even though we were about 8 miles up the trail.  The music got louder and louder, and closer and closer…. and we finally could hear that it was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”.  Finally, the source of the music came over the hill and our jaws about dropped to the ground: Before us was a woman hiking with her teenage daughter, and sticking out of her day pack was a huge “boom box” playing a cassette.

We said hello to the hikers and politely asked about the blaring music.  The mother told us that she always carried this boom box and always played Lynyrd Skynyrd as loud as possible to scare off the grizzly bears when she was hiking in Glacier National Park.  We politely said “well, whatever it takes!” and continued on our hike.  After she was completely out of sight and after the blaring music faded off into the distance, I turned to Shannon and asked, “But what if grizzly bears don’t like Lynyrd Skynyrd and it makes them mad?  Or what if grizzly bears actually like Lynyrd Skynyrd and they approach her to get a better listen?”  We both laughed and continued on with our hike.  Obviously there are better ways of avoiding encounters with grizzly bears, and at the same time not annoying every hiker within a 10 mile radius….

Bear Bells
Anyone who has ever enjoyed Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes and Grand Teton hikes, has also passed by hikers jingling like a Christmas sleigh because of the bear bells hanging from their day packs and other places on their body.  These “bear bells” are probably not quite as annoying as a large boom box blaring Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, but they are a close second.

The National Park Service has determined (as well as several other independent field studies) that bear bells are not only ineffective in avoiding grizzly bear encounters along the trail, but may actually act as an “attractant”.  This is because the sound of a bell is a foreign noise that can make a grizzly curious as to what is emitting this strange sound.  This curiosity can then potentially turn into an encounter.  So to all the bear bell fans out there, you are better off NOT wearing them while hiking in Glacier National Park, hiking in Yellowstone National Park or hiking in Grand Teton National Park.

Human Voice
Research as shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that the best “grizzly deterrent” while hiking in grizzly country is the HUMAN VOICE.  This powerful tool to avoid grizzly bear encounters is incredibly effective, and is endorsed by the National Park Service.  And through the many years and the tens of thousands of miles we’ve hiked in Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton National Park, we can honestly say that we’ve never had a grizzly encounter when we were talking loud along the trail.

And that’s the key…. TALK LOUD.  Don’t be shy because you want the bear to hear you well in advance so you can avoid surprising the bear.  This also gives the bear plenty of time to avoid you.  So as you are hiking, talk with your hiking partner(s) with an elevated volume.  You don’t have to yell  at the top of your lungs… just talk louder than normal.

Now when the wind is blowing, or you are near a loud river or stream, you may have to ramp up the volume much more so you can be heard over the sound of the river or wind.  Also, talk extra loud when rounding a blind corner along the hiking trail.

In some places along certain trails, especially on several of the backcountry Glacier Park hikes, we also clap occasionally to make our presence known as well as talk loud.  We’ve had very good luck with this technique, especially when we know a bear is in the area.

Hiking In Numbers
Statistics show that the more people you’re hiking with on the trail, the less likely you’ll have an encounter with a grizzly bear.  This also tells you that you should NEVER HIKE ALONE in grizzly country.  Now we’ve done all of our hiking with just the two of us (Shannon and I), and we’ve done just fine.  The National Park Service recommends at least three people while hiking in grizzly country, and that’s good advice too.  But we feel that if you can only round up one other person to hike with you, then talk loud and go ahead and enjoy your hike.

Bear Spray
No matter what, in all circumstances, whenever you are in grizzly country every hiker should ALWAYS CARRY BEAR SPRAY.  There really are no exceptions to this rule in our opinion.  Grizzly bears are completely unpredictable and don’t always act as we want them to.  This article will not go into what to do if you indeed have an encounter with a grizzly, but we do want to simply say that you need to not only carry bear spray (on your hip, not in your pack), but also know exactly how and when to use it.  And EVERY HIKER needs to carry bear spray, not just one or two hikers in the group.  (We’ll talk about how to handle an encounter in a future article.)

The Bottom Line
The bottom line while hiking in grizzly country is to avoid surprising a grizzly bear(s) along the trail.  Your goal is to not even see a grizzly bear while enjoying Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes, and Grand Teton hikes by making your presence known far in advance by talking loud and occasionally clapping, and have at least one other hiking partner with you.  This way you’ll let the bear know you’re in the area, and he or she can move off the trail to avoid you.

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Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park: Drive Both Ways!

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Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park:  Drive Both Ways!
The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park is not only one of the top attractions of Glacier National Park, but is one of the most scenic highways found anywhere on the planet…. and what we strongly recommend is that while visiting Glacier Park you drive the Going To The Sun Road from east to west and west to east, in no particular order.  Why?  Because each direction presents a completely different perspective and view of the mountains, and it is well worth the time to do this.

Where and What is the Going To The Sun Road?
The Going To The Sun Road is the only road that runs entirely through Glacier National Park, and is located between the west entrance of Glacier Park at West Glacier Montana, and the east entrance of Glacier Park at St. Mary.  This amazing civil engineering marvel climbs to the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, and provides views of mountains, lakes and valleys that are so incredibly beautiful it is impossible to describe or even photograph adequately.  The Going To The Sun Road is so amazing that we want to you enjoy it to the fullest, and that is why that we are STRONGLY recommending that you take the time to drive this famous road both ways.

Each Direction Looks Completely Different!
It is absolutely astounding to us just how different the views are along the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park depending on the direction you’re driving.  It’s really like two completely different roads, equally spectacular and equally worth seeing.  And just when we think we’ve picked our favorite direction, we change our minds.  Each direction presents a completely different landscape… so if you only go over the Going To The Sun Road in one direction, you are only seeing 50% of what this famous road has to offer.

Options: Split Up The Drive
If you don’t want to drive all the way along the Going To The Sun Road from the east entrance to the west entrance and then back again in one day, then split it up into two separate adventures.  Obviously you are going to want to spend plenty of time on the east side of the park, especially the Many Glacier Area and Two Medicine Area.  Once you’ve spent plenty of time on the east side (however many days you think you’ll need), then get up early and head up the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park and enjoy!

Make sure you stop at any or all of the Going To The Sun Road Turnouts and Overlooks that interest you, and DEFINITELY stop at Logan Pass, and enjoy the short hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook (The Highline Trail is also an amazing Logan Pass Hike that you may definitely want to consider.)  Once you’re finished enjoying some time on Logan Pass, then head down the west side of the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park, where again you’ll see several amazing overlooks and turnouts.

For more information on the Going To The Sun Road turnouts and overlooks, CLICK HERE.

Near the end of the west side of the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park you’ll see the “Trail of the Cedars“, which is a really short but really gorgeous boardwalk through an old growth Cedar and Hemlock forest that is definitely worth the effort.  Then you can either stay at the historic Lake McDonald Lodge (which is awesome) or you can keep driving another 10 miles and stay at Apgar Village.

Now that you’re on the west side, enjoy the Lake McDonald Area for as many days as you feel you’ll need, and then head back over the Going To The Sun Road and end up on the east side again. Of course you can do all of this in reverse, depending on whether you are coming from the east (Minneapolis, etc) or the west (Seattle, etc.)

Something else to consider is since you’re going to be on Logan Pass twice, if you like hiking, hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook the first time, and then hike along the Highline Trail the second time you’re on Logan Pass (or vice versa).

Both Directions in One Day?
If you want to drive the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park both ways in one day, therefore ending up where you started, then here’s some tips:

If you are starting at the East Entrance and you’re a little pressed for time to get back before dark, then we recommend that you drive to Lake McDonald Lodge, and then turn around and begin heading back.  This will cut off a total of 20 miles and you are seeing the majority of the Sun Road attractions.

If you are starting at the West Entrance, then at least go to Rising Sun (which is just past the famous Wild Goose Island Overlook on the east side) and begin heading back.  This will cut off about 12 miles and you’ll see most of the east side attractions along the Going To The Sun Road.

Helpful Tips…
LEAVE EARLY in the morning so you can enjoy your day on the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park.  Also, by leaving early, this will help ensure that you get an easy parking spot on Logan Pass.  If there is a sign on Logan Pass that says the “PARKING LOT FULL”, this simply means that there was no available parking spaces at the time they put up this sign.  But every minute someone is leaving the parking lot, so go ahead and drive into the parking lot and drive around a bit until you find a parking spot.  We’ve never had to drive around more than 15 minutes or so until a spot became available.  You just have to be determined and stubborn, and you’ll find a parking spot no matter what time of day, but obviously the earlier you get to Logan Pass, the easier it is to find a parking spot…. by 10:30 a.m. preferably.

For more details on the Going To The Sun Road, CLICK HERE.

Glacier National Park is a beautiful place, and the Going To The Sun Road is one of the top attractions in this world famous national park.  By driving the Going To The Sun Road both ways, you are maximizing your enjoyment of this iconic scenic road.  Once you do this, you’ll understand exactly what we’re trying to say in this article, and you’ll be extremely glad you followed our advice.

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Hiking Tip for Glacier Park, Grand Teton Park and Yellowstone Park: NEVER HIKE OR CLIMB ALONE

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Here’s a really important hiking tip for Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park: NEVER HIKE OR CLIMB ALONE! This is one of the fundamental rules of spending time not only in the mountains, but also the prairie, desert, or anywhere in the great outdoors.  Because there are so many things that can go wrong while spending time in these places, it is essential that you have a hiking partner with you to help avoid several potential disasters.

Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park offer incredible hiking and climbing opportunities, and if you follow this basic advice, you will have a far more pleasant and safer hiking and/or climbing experience.  We hike over 1,400 miles a year in these magnificent parks, and we occasionally see the lone hiker or mountain climber deep in the backcountry, and we of course don’t say a word, but we are definitely thinking that their decision to hike or climb alone is not a good one.

Yes, we understand that some people really need to literally “get away from it all”, which includes getting away from humans and human interaction, and some folks do not truly feel free unless they are literally “alone with the wilderness”.  We understand that desire… we truly do.  However, there can be consequences that may not be what that lone hiker or climber bargained for.  Below are several reasons why we feel it is essential to always have a hiking or climbing partner….

If you are hiking or climbing alone in Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, or Grand Teton National Park, and you become ill for whatever reason, if you don’t have someone with you, you could be in big trouble.  We’ve come across hikers who have had conditions ranging from a heart attack, flu, dehydration, heat stroke, pulmonary edema, appendicitis, to passing a kidney stone.  If you experience any acute illness in the backcounty and there is no one to help you OR NO ONE TO GO GET HELP, you could be in really big trouble.  The illness may not kill you, but hypothermia just might if you become incapacitated and cannot stay warm during a storm or after the sun goes down.

Another obvious reason why you should never hike or climb alone is in the event you get injured.  Even a simple ankle sprain could become a dangerous situation if you don’t have someone to go get help.  More serious injuries such as a broken bone (or bones), internal injuries or brain injuries as a result of a fall, make it even more critical that someone is there to help you and to get help fast.

If you are alone, injured and can’t walk, you are in really big trouble. This is when a hiking partner can save your life by helping you at the site and by getting help.  Don’t let a sprained ankle, concussion or broken bone end up costing you your life.

If you’re alone, you’re on your own.  This may seem really obvious, but it must not be so obvious to some outdoor enthusiasts because we have come across lone hikers and lone climbers in some of the most remote areas in Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.

Statistically, the more people you have with you while hiking or climbing, the less likely a grizzly will mess with you.  If fact, just having 3 hikers together dramatically decreases the chance of a problem with a grizzly bear.  Hiking or climbing alone is statistically the most dangerous situation when it comes to grizzly bears because you pose such a little threat to them.   In those rare instances where a grizzly is actually considering you to be his/her next meal, being alone creates a greater likelihood that that particular bear will see this as an easy opportunity.

And by the way, we’ve met grizzlies on top of some of the highest peaks in Glacier National Park, so you NEVER know where you are going to come across one of these amazing animals.  And when you do, you do not want to be alone because that will dramatically increase the chances of a real problem.

We’ve had lone hikers and climbers tell us through the years that if they get into trouble, that’s their problem, and they are prepared to face the consequences… it was worth the risk to them to enjoy the great outdoors without having any one else around.  Well that’s fine and dandy until one thinks about this:  When that particular hiker doesn’t come back when he/she was supposed to (that is assuming this person told someone when he/she was expecting to return….which is also a golden rule), then there are more people involved in their “consequences” than just themselves.

When a hiker or climber doesn’t return when expected, then many men and women of a search and rescue team are called in, as well as potentially many other people volunteering to help.  These people are now putting themselves at risk to find this lone hiker or climber.  If the weather goes bad, or the search is in some really treacherous terrain, then these search and rescue team members are actually putting their lives on the line to find and rescue this lone hiker and climber.

Now of course if this lone hiker or climber doesn’t tell anyone where he or she is going and when he or she is to be expected back, that exponentially increases the nightmare of finding that person because now the search and rescue team are literally trying to find a needle in a really, really big haystack.

When things go bad, every hiker or climber needs to have someone by their side to help them and to go get help if necessary. Otherwise, a bad situation just became a whole lot worse. What could have been a simple and quick rescue may turn into a disastrous and/or fatal situation.

We love the mountains and love hiking and climbing in them as much as anyone, but we also respect the mountains and know that anything can happen at any time.  We want you to enjoy them as well, but we also want you to be safe.  So we hope that everyone who reads this article takes our advice seriously and will always hike or climb with at least one other person.  The mountains of Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are going to be here for you to enjoy for your entire life… and the longer you’re alive and well on this planet, the more time you will have to explore them.  Please be safe by hiking and climbing with a partner, and get out there and Enjoy Your Parks!

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Hiking Tips For Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton Park: Choosing the Right Socks, Liners, Insoles and Hiking Boots

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Hiking Tip For Glacier Park Hikes, Yellowstone Park Hikes and Grand Teton Hikes: Choosing the Right Socks, Liners, Insoles and Boots

Of all the equipment and clothing you use for your Glacier Park Hikes, Yellowstone Park Hikes and Grand Teton Hikes, some of the most important pieces of equipment are what you are placing your feet in… because after all, your feet are what is pounding against the ground every step of the way!

Wearing the correct socks, liners, insoles and boots not only provides the maximum comfort and shock absorption for your feet, but it also helps reduce the wear-and-tear on your knees, hips and back.  And if you are someone who does a lot of hiking, the proper foot gear will help keep your feet, legs, hips and back healthy for many years into the future, so you can continue to enjoy hiking long into your later years.

With over 40 years experience hiking in Glacier Park, hiking in Yellowstone Park and hiking in Grand Teton National Park, and hiking over 1,300 miles each year in these parks, we’ve figured out what works best for us, and below are the details…  And by the way, we are not getting paid to promote anyone’s products.  We are simply sharing with you what works best for us…

The correct sock is essential.  Much of the shock absorption for your feet are performed by your socks.  Shock absorption is vitally important because it reduces the pounding that your feet, knees, hips and back have to endure during your Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes and Grand Teton hikes.  This reduction in pounding results in not only much more comfortable feet, even during the last mile of your hike, but also keeps your joints more apt to stay healthy and functional for the long term.

After many years of trying many different types and materials of hiking socks and many different thicknesses, we have found what works best for us… for now…. and that is a “heavy trekking sock” by SmartWool.  This heavy sock dramatically reduces the “pounding” of our feet, and it’s remarkable how much better our feet feel after a 26 mile day of hiking or climbing.  The material used by SmartWool is also the best we have found for our needs.  Their blend of 77% Merino wool, 22% nylon and 1% spandex makes our feet stay incredibly comfortable.  And the nice thing about Merino wool is our feet stay warm and comfortable even when the socks are wet from either sweat, rain or snow.  And if you want to dry them out, the hot sun dries them out quite quickly.

Now some of you are asking “Don’t your feet get hot?”  And our answer is this:  no matter what we wear, on a hot day our feet are going to be hot…whether it’s a thin sock or thicker sock.  So we focus on what we can control, and that is shock absorption.

And after you’ve hiked several hundred miles in these socks, we recommend that you retire them and purchase some new socks because the sock absorptive quality of these socks tend to diminish as the mileage increases.

Sock liners are also a vital part of your foot gear, because it’s what is directly touching your skin.  Liners not only help “wick” moisture away from your skin as you sweat, but it also dramatically reduces the chances of developing blisters.

The sock liners we have found that work best for us during our Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes and Grand Teton hikes (and climbs), is the sock liners by SmartWool.  Made with the same material as their trekking sock, with their same combination of Merino wool, nylon and spandex, these liners do a good job wicking away the moisture from our skin.  They also seem to reduce the occurrence of blisters, even during the first week of the hiking and climbing season when our skin is the most vulnerable.

Your boot insoles are vitally important because this is what your feet are directly standing on during your Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes and Grand Teton hikes.  And finding the best insole for your feet can make your hikes so much more pleasurable by reducing the amount of “pounding” your feet, knees, hips and back experiences during a typical hike.

Now here’s the first thing you need to do when you purchase your hiking boots:  Remove the liners and THROW THEM AWAY!  99% of all liners found in even the best boots available are usually extremely thin, non-supportive and useless.  After you’ve thrown these liners away, you then need to go to a reputable outdoor gear store that is knowledgeable about boots and hiking, and have them help you carefully choose the right insoles for your boots.

Please keep in mind that some of you need arch support and some of you have flat feet.  We have found that a lot of boot sales people love to put everyone in an “arch  support” insole, which is really not the right thing to do.  My feet (Dave) are flat, and I need an insole that is flat, whereas Shannon’s feet have a medium arch, and she therefore needs an insole that supports her particular arch type.

The main thing that we look for in an insole besides the arch support (or flatness), is the heal cushion. A sufficient amount of HEAL CUSHION dramatically increases the shock absorption of your foot gear, and therefore dramatically minimizes the pounding that your feet, knees, hips and back have to endure during your Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes and Grand Teton hikes.  We have found that a fairly heavy heal cushion really makes our feet and body feel so much better during a long 26 mile day hike… even during the last few miles.  There are so many different types of insoles and so many different contours of feet that you are going to have to literally “experiment” with several different brands and designs until you find “the one”.  This might cost a little bit of money, but once you find YOUR insole, you’ll be in heaven along the hiking trail.  So it’s worth the time, money and effort.  We are currently using the Sof Sole Athlete Performance Insoles for Men and the Sof Sole Arch Performance Insole for Women, but we have used several other brands with equally comparable performance.

And by the way, after a long season of hiking…. over 300 miles or so, we recommend that you replace your insoles with new ones.  The shock absorptive quality of any insole diminishes as the mileage placed on these insoles increases.

Obviously, choosing the right hiking boot is a vital component of your foot gear, and there are many good companies and many great boot designs available.  Below are some things that we have found that may help you find the right boot for your feet during your Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes and Grand Teton Park hikes…

What helps determine the right boot is what kind of hiking you will be doing.  Are you hiking on a smooth trail or walking over rocks?  Are you hiking with a 10 pound day pack or a 45 pound overnight pack?  Are you taking short day hikes or “marathon” day hikes or overnight backpacking trips?  All of these factors determine what boot you need.  As far as what we will talk about in this article is for what we need our boots for:  Day hikes from 12 to 26 miles in length (round trip) with about a 10 to 15 pound pack, and 5 to 6 day overnight backpacking trips (50+ miles) with a 35 to 40 pound pack…

Don’t Go Too Light
We have noticed a trend in hiking boots lately, and it can get you into trouble.  Several well-known boot companies are converting their cross-training running shoes into hiking boots by simply making them taller, therefore covering the ankle as a regular hiking boot would, and they are calling them hiking boots.  The trap is this:  THEY FEEL EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE in the store.  Of course they do… they are basically a tennis shoe!!!  We’ve heard so many people say “These are the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn!”… but that was in the store.  When they begin hiking in them and begin to hike over a rocky surface or start climbing up hill, they change their tune.  These “boots” have an extremely soft sole with absolutely no sole support, so when they step on the edge of a large rock, the sole flexes to conform to the rock, and that is not a good thing.

You want the sole of your boot to be fairly stiff (but not too stiff) so it keeps it’s shape no matter what surface you’re hiking on.  Also, if you’re hiking on a steep incline, a soft, flexible sole really makes your calf muscles tire out very quickly as opposed to a boot that keeps its shape.  A stiffer sole helps take the work load off your feet, ankles and calves. So the bottom line is that if you purchase a boot that is too “light” and too “flexible”, you will regret it if you are doing any serious hiking with a day pack on your back.

Choose the Correct Size
There’s only one thing worse than boots that are too big, and that is buying boots that are too small.  Boots that are too small cram your toes and by the end of the day your feet will be miserably uncomfortable.  But if you buy them too big, your feet will “swim” in the boot, causing you to have inadequate support and also will increase the chances of blisters.  Make sure you have a sales expert help you in determining the proper size of boot.  And make sure you wear the EXACT HIKING SOCKS AND LINERS that you will be using in the field while trying on your boots!  This will dictate the size of boot you will need.  And before you make the final purchase, try to choose your insole and have the sales person place them in your boot to see how everything works together.   If you can’t do this last step, at least where the exact socks and liners while trying on boots.

Walk On An Incline In The Store
Make sure you walk on an incline… both up and down… which some weight on your back similar to your daypack weight, and make sure the boots are still fitting properly.  If you feel a sharpness on your heel (or a “cutting” feeling as you are walking up hill, try a different boot because that boot will more than likely give you horrible heel blisters in the field.  And as you are walking down hill, make sure your toes do not touch the end of your boot.

What We Are Wearing
Presently, we are wearing hiking boots by Vasque.  Shannon has worn the Breeze design for several years, and this year she is wearing the Vasque Gore Tex Breeze 2 with great results.  I (Dave) have been wearing the Vasque Gore Tex Wasatch boot for several years with great success.  Now since we put on over 1,300 hiking and climbing miles each year, our boots only last one season (if that), but for the average hiker, he/she should get several years out of them.  Most of the internet reviews are positive, some are not… but as I said earlier, we are simply telling you what we are successfully wearing.  There are a lot of good companies out there for you to choose from.

Yes, Gore Tex!
We highly recommend that if you are going to be embarking on any Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone hikes or Grand Teton hikes, that you consider a water-proof boot.  We prefer Gore Tex, but there are several excellent materials that are equal in performance to Gore Tex that will also work just fine.  Now of course there is no such thing as a truly “water proof” boot, and if you stand in a creek for any length of time, you’re going to get wet.  But what a Gore Tex lined boot does is it keeps alot of the brief, incidental water encounters away from your socks and feet, such as a brief shallow creek crossing, mud puddles, wet snow, a brief rain shower, and morning dew.  90% of these encounters will leave your feet dry IF you are wearing Gore Tex (or equivalent) lined boots.  Without it, you will absolutely have wet socks and feet guaranteed for the rest of the day!

And yes we hear on occasion, “But my feet get too hot in Gore Tex boots!”  Well, we’ve worn both, and we really don’t notice much difference, other than we usually have dry boots, socks and feet at the end of the hike when we wear Gore Tex lined boots.  Maybe we’re being wimps, but we HATE wet feet, socks and boots when we are hiking.

Work Your Hiking Boots In
This doesn’t need to be mentioned, but I’ll do it anyway… NEVER wear brand new boots on a big hiking trip, whether it be a long day hike or an overnight backpacking trip.  Take some short hikes with your typical day pack weight on your back, and make sure you go up hills and down hills to see if any “hot spots” develop.  “Hot spots” will inevitably turn into blisters, and the most common place for a blister to form is on the heal while hiking up hill.  If your boots are in anyway “cutting” into your heal as you hike uphill, you may have to try a different boot brand and/or design, which is really unfortunate since most retail stores do not allow you to return your boots after you’ve worn them.

Hopefully the above information will shed some light as to what you may need for proper foot gear for your Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes and Grand Teton hikes.  Your foot wear is a vital component to not only an enjoyable hiking experience, but also keeping your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back healthy and strong for many, many years to come.

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