GiG Goes to Glacier's Two Med to Escape Extreme Heat
Facing temps in the high 90s in Great Falls, the GiG decided to find the coolest place around the state, so we could still get a hike in, one without a lot of elevation gain, and Two Medicine Lake fit the bill. We decided to hike around the lake and go to four waterfalls, so we could tick off a few on our 21 waterfalls goal for the year.
This hike also has several variations, so those who don't want to go as far can ride the boat. We had one group walk all the way around the lake and to Twin and Aster Falls, one group go over and back on the boat and to both the falls and one group that took the boat halfway and walked the other half around the lake, hitting the falls along the way. We were able to take 10 gals, with Doreen graciously giving up her boat ticket so Karen could come along.
After the lake hike, we drove to Scenic Point trailhead for Apistoki Falls and then a bit farther down the road to Trick/Running Eagle Falls.
It all started at 5 a.m. as the only boat tickets left by the time we decided on this plan were the 8 a.m. ones. But with the heat predicted to be 78-80 degrees, we were all happy to get an early start.
Nothing too eventful happened on the drive, except Katie had forgotten to fill her water bottles so we had to make an extra stop in Browning to buy some.
We made it to Two Medicine by 7:40, plenty of time to use the facilities and catch the boat. One car dropped off the hikers in the campground before heading for Two Med lake parking lot and the boat dock.
The hikers set a faster pace than normal as they needed to hoof it in order to meet up at Twin Falls with the faster boat. We figured they may need to wait 5-10 minutes even with the faster pace. On the hike, we only happened upon 4-5 other hikers, so it was a quiet trek. We saw lots of moose poo but no animals; the boat group, on the other hand, saw a moose swimming across the lake! What a sight.
The boat gals arrived about one minute before the hikers, so everything worked out perfectly! We were all amazed. They said the boat had been redone--over 30,000 man hours, and it looks beautiful. The boat was about 3/4 full, not the half as promised.
There were quite a few people at the falls at first, a result of many others who rode the boat doing it too, but it soon thinned. We took our packs off and had a snack. Then it was time for the boaters to decide if they were hiking around the lake or taking the boat back. All decided to hike except two, who would then hike to Aster Falls after taking the boat back. This option is 1.2 miles shorter and mostly flat. The hikers faced about 400 feet of elevation gain coming up from the boat dock, but this stretch is beautiful with views across the lake and flowers galore in this sunny, open section. In this section, we could shout and wave at those awaiting the boat.
And again, we were amazed that those hike the whole south shore met with those hiking from the boat dock reached Aster Falls within minutes of each other. Everything was working out with no glitches! There were quite a few people at Aster Falls, so we didn't stay long and opted to hike back to the foot of the lake to have our lunch. This stretch of trail was pretty crowded. We came across numerous hiking groups, as we helped give directions and advice when asked.
We arrived at the lake at 12:30 and took a half hour to visit the campstore and eat our lunches (they didn't make any of their awesome roasted red pepper gouda cheese soup since it was so hot, which was a disappointment. Some of us would have had soup anyway; it's that good.)
After our break and lunch, we drove to the Scenic Point parking area, which was full. We had to improvise space by the garbage cans. Then all except Gail hiked to Apistoki Falls, Katie taking us the shortcut way. This hike gets rather steep and has limited views of the falls, but we wanted to check one off the list, which we did. We happened upon a couple who said some sheep were by the falls. We didn't see any; however, the trail on the way down was covered in sheep poo, and lo and behold, the sheep were in the parking area when we got back down. There were several ewes, yearling and two babies from this year. They were right by the cars, a bit too close for comfort; they were bleating and bahing and licking a dark spot on the ground, which usually means someone urinated there. They like the salt. What a treat to watch them for a while.
Then we did our last hike of the day to Trick/Running Eagle Falls, a short jaunt of 3/4 of a mile to a "double" water falls, one spilling over the other (in early and late season, it is only one falls--it is only double during run-off season). The falls had a bit running over the top but the part out of the cave was rushing.
By now, it was almost 3:30. We decided to opt for eating in Dupuyer instead of East Glacier. We got there just before 5, had a nice meal and got home before 7:30. A great day!
Who went: Gail, Jo Ann, Karen, Randi, Maria, Susan, Sue, Doreen, Bonnie, Katie Hikers: Doreen, Katie, Susan Half Boat: Karen, Randi, Sue, Maria, Bonnie Boat: Gail, Jo Ann