Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Two Medicine, Glacier NP, 7/24/2016

Today we are off to Two Medicine where we have reservations for a boat tour on the lake. Everything is a pretty long drive (about 2 hours from West Glacier to Two Medicine), but, oh my, so worth it!

Traveling along Highway 2 east, we stopped at the Goat Lick (look for signs and it is on the right). In the spring mountain goats descend from the rocky cliffs at higher elevations to natural mineral licks along the banks of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. The gray sections on the banks in the photo below are the primary licks. The goats need the salt and minerals in their diet. Unfortunately for us, we did not see any goats when we stopped. Earlier in the year (spring) is the best time to see them here. The goats are sometimes seen on the banks directly across from the parking area. There is a short path to an observation platform as well. 

Our next stop was at the Glacier Train (Amtrak) Station that provides services for travelers to the area. Originally built by the Great Northern Railroad Company in 1912-1913, visitors would arrive on the train (8 passenger trains a day in the 1920s!); walk to the nearby (historic and beautiful) Glacier Park Lodge; then travel by horseback to Two Medicine to take in the beauty of the mountains, glaciers, lakes, and hiking trails. There are exhibits in the lobby of the train station of days gone by. 

Check out for information about reaching some of our national parks by rail. 

The Blackfeet Reservation boundary runs along the east side of Glacier National Park. The Great Northern Railway hired Blackfeet to promote travel on their railroad to Glacier. They also hired them to "entertain" visitors to the park with ceremonial dances. There is a display next to the train station with historical information about their encounters with Lewis & Clark in this area. 

I love the architecture of these historic hotels built in the early 1900s in many national parks. We stopped in at the Glacier Park Lodge (rooms start at $159/night but cabins are also available)...within walking distance of the train station. 

The 3-story lobby is beautiful featuring massive log columns and Native American-themed decor.

There is a 9-hole golf course, heated swimming pool, spa and other upscale amenities. The Glacier NP tour buses also pick up/drop off guests from this location. 

We arrived at Two Medicine Lake well before our scheduled boat tour departure. We checked in at the Glacier Boat Company (that provides all of the boat tours at Glacier NP and has been doing so since 1938). Canoes and kayaks can also be rented from them (by the hour). We had purchased our tickets in advance ($13/per for 45 minute tour). Half of the tickets can be sold in advance and the other 50% are reserved for same day purchases. You need to be at the dock about 20 minutes before departure. 

With time to spare we spent time at the Two Medicine General Store, Ranger Station, and exploring the area with our doggy, Sadie. 

The vintage wooden boat, Sinopah, has a capacity of 49 people and our tour was full. An optional guided hike is also available. Passengers disembark at the opposite end of the lake and catch a boat back in two hours. We did not do the hike because we had Sadie waiting for us in the car and did not want to leave her for that period of time. The weather was cool and the car was parked in a nice shady spot for her.

The boathouse (on the right) is where the boat is stored during the cold weather. 

Our tour guide provided a running commentary of the cultural and geologic history of the area. This was a sacred place for Native Americans (multiple tribes) who hunted and fished here in the summer months. 

The dock on the opposite side of Two Medicine Lake is located near a shelter where lots of folks were waiting for the return trip. The majority of the passengers on our tour disembarked for the hike. Some hike to this side of the lake and then get a ride back on the boat ($6.50 cash was required if they had not already purchased a ticket). The same person that provided the commentary on the boat leads the hike. Our boat captain answered questions about the lake and surrounding area on the return trip. All and all a good time.

On our return trip, we stopped at nearby Running Eagle Falls. Running Eagle was a woman of the Pikuni tribe who lived before the 1700s. Her story has been passed down in the oral tradition of the tribe telling of her illustrious career as a leader and warrior. She was a great horsewoman, fast runner, and skilled hunter. She made her own bow, arrows, spears, shield, and eagle-feather war bonnet. During her teenage years, her father died and she became head of his lodge; raising her brothers and sisters. When she was about 30, she was killed in battle during a raid across the Continental Divide in Flathead country. She was brought back to this sacred location and buried in a tree above the falls. She was revered by her people for her great courage, knowledge, and wisdom

It is a short walk along a trail and across the creek to view the falls. In the spring, water flows over the cliffs above the falls you see in the photo creating what is called "trick falls," sort of double falls at the same location. 

Below are a couple of photos of Two Medicine Creek. I have been enchanted by the multi-hued rocks that can be found in the beds of creeks in this area. 

What a fun day! This part of Glacier NP is not nearly as crowded as the Going-to-the-Sun Road. And we enjoyed some time on the water where you get a different a perspective on the spectacular scenery here.

Admission at the Two Medicine Entrance is $30/vehicle for a 7-day pass. If you have already purchased a pass from another entrance center, you may, of course, use it here. For additional information about Glacier NP, check out their website.


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