We knew we had a few more days to wait until the Going-to-the-Sun Road opened, and Monday was supposed to be the coolest day of the week, so we decided that the best plan of action was to tackle the longer of our chosen hikes – the 8-mile round trip hike along Two Medicine Lake to Twin Falls.
We didn’t get quite as early of a start as we wanted to, but we had our lunch packed and were on the road by 9am. It was an 88 mile drive from the RV Park through East Glacier, to the Two Medicine Area of the park.
There were still some clouds lingering over the mountains as we set out.
We had read about the Goat Lick Overlook, where mountain goats were known to hang out, and it was on our way, so we made a quick stop.
From the parking lot, across the river, we could see some workers on the train track . . . and then we heard a train approaching!
I don’t think I would have wanted to be out on that track when the train went by!
We walked down the the overlook, and right away Tom spotted a couple of goats! As we watched, a couple more joined them.
Then the old guy wandered along!
We had a pretty big group of people gathered watching them, and everybody agreed that the baby was just adorable! They were probably over there wondering what we were all looking at!
We continued around the south edge of the park, crossing over Marias Pass. We were curious about the pass, since we’ll have to pull the RV over it when we leave on Saturday . . . but it’s not going to be a problem at all!
After crossing the pass, we soon arrived at East Glacier, and made our way around to the Two Medicine Entrance.
Before going to the trailhead, we made a quick stop at the Running Eagle Falls Nature Trail. It was a short walk to the falls, and we were rewarded with a beautiful view!
Running Eagle Falls is also known as Trick Falls, because it is actually two waterfalls (OK, I got that little tidbit of information from Howard!) . . . the large waterfall coming from the top of the rocks, and a smaller one about 2/3 of the way down, on the right side. With the high water flow, the lower fall gets pretty well hidden behind the other!
We saw lots of beargrass along the trail . . . Bryce says when the beargrass is blooming, the bears are out! I think he just made that up!
The trail we were looking for was at the north end of Two Medicine Lake, and we needed to drive through the campground to get to it.
As we entered the campground, we noticed a group of people with cameras and telescopes looking and pointing across the lake. Of course we stopped to see what they were looking at!
It turned out to be a large grizzly sow and her two cubs, high up on the side of the mountain. They were hard to spot at first, but once we looked through the telescope, we could find them easily! I took a couple pictures, but with al the zooming and cropping, they came out pretty blurry.
When she turned towards us, we could definitely see that she was a grizzly – she had the characteristic hump on her back and small ears.
After a while, the group broke up and we made our way to the trailhead parking lot at the end of the campground loop. These are some pretty nice campsites – no hookups, though.
What a beautiful setting!
It was almost noon by then, and we knew the 8-mile hike was going to take us several hours, so we ate our lunch before we set out on the trail.
By 12:15, we were on our way . . . the trail was a little muddy and wet in places!
The view along the trail was beautiful,
but we knew that grizzly and her cubs were up there somewhere!
Bryce was ready to fight off any bears that we came across on the trail!
They kept lookout, and I made sure to make plenty of noise . . .
I tried to get the boys to sing out loud, but they wouldn’t, so I had to resort to tapping my hiking stick on every rock I saw!
The view was still beautiful!
The four miles to the waterfall was starting to feel a little long . . . but we kept moving. We figured we had to be about halfway there, and we still hadn’t seen anybody else on the trail . . . very peaceful, but a little eerie, too . . . especially knowing that grizzly was out there somewhere!
We took a few little breaks, and finally started seeing a few more hikers on the trail. Most were on their way back, but some were still headed toward the falls.
Overall, the hike was pretty easy, with no real elevation gain, just rolling hills. There were quite a few areas where we had to cross over creeks and streams,
and some were bigger than others.
We finally reached the junction at the end of Two Medicine Lake, and had just 0.3 miles left to reach the falls. When we got there, we were surprised to see a large group of people there. It turns out, there’s a boat tour that brings groups to this end of the lake and then they have just about a half mile hike to the falls . . . talk about easy!
To the right was one waterfall,
and another to the left.
Together they make up Twin Falls, with a pretty impressive amount of water flowing over them – it’s hard to believe that this is all from melting snow!
We enjoyed the view of the falls for awhile, and when we were all rested, we started back on the same trail.
We could have taken a different trail around the other side of the lake, but it looked like it would add an additional mile to our hike, and we heard it involved climbing over a large mountain . . . so we went back the way we came . . .
The view was still just as beautiful in this direction!
We crossed over the water again, trying to keep our shoes dry . . .
it was easier for some than others!
It had taken us about 2 hours to get to the waterfall, and we were moving at a slower pace on the way back, so we thought is was going to take about 2-1/2 hours to return to the trailhead.
We took frequent breaks, and with our slow and steady pace, we actually made it back to the trailhead earlier than we expected.
It was an aggressive hike for us (OK, for Tom and I . . . not the boys . . . it was a walk in the park for them!), and we were tired by the time we got back to the car, but we were glad we tackled it . . . the scenery was well worth it!