Glacier National Park: Two Medicine, July 2010 — Day Three

A warm night!!! I don’t know if it was because the temperature never got as low as the night before or if it was due to the blanket, but I stayed much warmer. I was up early for a busy day. My plan was to pack up my gear and head over to Running Eagle Falls before the light got too intense and then catch the boat tour to the head of Two Medicine Lake and begin my hike to Dawson Pass. Since I wanted to head back to Whitefish that afternoon, I thought using the boat was a great way to shorten the approach to the “real” hike up to the pass.

I didn’t get up early enough!!! The light at Running Eagle Falls, although much, much better than two years ago, was still intense. I think I’ll need to be there before dawn and catch more twilight. And, to top it off, I lost my polarized sunglasses somewhere on the hike out from the falls.

The camp store to the rescue again!!! I quickly grabbed some sunglasses, a couple more sodas, and headed to the boat for a very uneventful, but beautiful trip to the head of the lake.

The hike is quite gentle as you leave the shore and follow the creek. It turns to the right from the spur that leads to Upper Two Medicine Lake. After the trail meets the north shore trail, it starts to climb and the grade seemed to steadily increase albeit broken by several short downhill sections at creek crossings.

After the trail passes the spur to No Name Lake, it really starts to climb and soon I was nearing timberline and large snowfields. Without crampons and a snowaxe I was feeling pretty nervous on a couple of the fields. If I slipped, my trekking poles were no substitute for an axe to try to self-arrest a fall. I was quite cautious and let a party pass me before I even tried to cross the first field.

All was well after the third field. A more southerly exposure had melted any other patches and the trail was well used and stable. The thought did cross my mind that I was going to have to cross those fields again on my way down.

I ran across a hoary marmot (I think), but my camera wasn’t setup properly to try to catch wildlife (still setup up for waterfalls). Nothing but blurry pictures.

Upon reaching the summit of Dawson Pass, my heart stopped. What an incredible view back towards Two Medicine Lake! But, what a more incredible view to the west and down into the valley.

The party that I had let pass me before were just finishing their lunch break and offered to take my picture at the summit:

They encouraged me to continue the loop trail to Pitamakin overlook and back down the other valley past Oldman Lake to the Two Medicine campground. The distance seemed much too far to me. Again, I estimated 20 miles for the whole trip. In hindsight, it might have been closer to 16 miles since I had taken the boat.

They were headed for the summit of Rising Wolf Mountain. Just an extreme hike to them. But it looked much more difficult than I would ever try without climbing gear!!!

After taking a lot of pictures at the pass, I knew I better get moving if I was going to catch the boat back to the parking lot. Especially since I still had to cross those snowfields again. Without an axe I didn’t try glissading down the fields, but it sure looked like it would be fun to have tried.

When I arrived at the boat landing I was dehydrated and hot. A cool dip in the lake helped, but still I was out of filtered water and the boat was late. I groggily waited for the boat and misplaced my ticket. I thought I threw it in the garbage. Couldn’t find it. Fortunately, the captain remembered me from the morning ride and let me board. I found it later in my pocket!!! Dehydration is an amazing thing.

Once I was better hydrated I left the park for Whitefish and thinking I’ll have to come back for a backcountry adventure in Two Medicine.

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