Tumbleweed Stampedes, Surf's-Up Whitecaps Highlight the Day
We never thought we would be so eager to get to a town, but when we pulled into the Browning Town Pump, we were all ready for a break from the hairy driving. It was a challenge getting out of the doors, one at a time, holding the door so the wind wouldn't whip it off. Despite the wind, the weather was very sunny.
From there on into Two Medicine, the winds weren't so terrible; however, we faced a wall of clouds against the mountains, which produced some rain and a bit of sleet. Along the way, we were treated to the sight of stampeding herds of buffalo that looked just like we imaged they would when they free-roamed the plains. The wind and weather must have been disturbing them. The other animals we encountered were all huddled together in corners of fences, their rears toward the oncoming wind. In addition to these scenic animals, the mountains had a dusting of white from the night before. And we saw many, many rainbows, so the trip to get to Glacier was quite eventful.
The drive took us an extra 45 minutes due to the winds, so we were late meeting up with our West-side friends Joan and Marta, who had to get back early, so we started the hike, all bundled up against the spitting-sleet wind, but they quickly had to outpace us to meet their time constraints of getting back to the cars by 4:00 p.m. (We finished an hour later at 5:05.)
Yes, we were bundled up, but after we got into the trees, we stripped layers as the hiking warmed us quickly. The ground cover was quite a display with rosebushes and huckleberries in red, spiraea in yellow and orange, golden cottonwoods and aspen as well as lime green mountain maple, all contrasting with bright green beargrass.
Besides the gorgeous fall colors, the views were spectacular, especially of Siinopah and Pompelly's Pillar all the way until we reached the emerald-colored No Name Lake. The lake had what appeared to be a pair of golden eye ducks on it, the male sleeping with his head under his wing. Besides the ducks, we didn't see any other wildlife; however, we did see elk, moose, sheep sign and tracks as well as bear scat.
The whole day, threatening clouds swirled overhead as winds whipped the water into whitecaps on Two Medicine Lake as well as No Name. In addition, the gusts were so fierce over Two Medicine that they actually blew spray into the air.
Interestingly, we heard was seemed to be two gunshots toward the direction of Two Med lake about three miles into our hike. When we asked some other hikers, they thought it was falling rock; however, no shale or other rocks falling or tumbling sounds were heard, so we didn't think that could be the explanation. It made us nervous to go on for a minute.
After we ended our hike, we decided to hit the Two Medicine Grill, as we were all famished and didn't want to wait until Valier or Dupuyer to eat. The waitress was a bit cranky and very slow to clear a table and take our order, but the cook was fast and apologized to us for the delay. Katie had to order some triple berry and blackberry pie-for-strength to go.
Then it was time to head for home. We all felt a bit hypothermic, so we turned the car heat up full blast as we headed into Browning, where we took a short stop to stretch our legs after a long hike.
We ended our day at 9 p.m. Susan was so happy that the winds had died down significantly for the drive home. What a great "goodbye to Glacier" end-of-season hike!