Backpacking in Two Medicine

After two days of intense hiking and climbing, we decided to scale things back by taking a short two-day backpacking trip to Upper Two Medicine Lake.

Allison en route to Upper Two Medicine Lake

Hiking on the Dawson Pass trail

Within the first half mile of our trip, we encountered a ranger posting something to a tree – “Danger: A mountain lion has been frequenting this area. Travel in pairs.” Maybe we should have realized this was a sign…because next thing we knew we passed a snake on the side of a trail, and further on another snake actually shot out of the tall grass across Allison’s feet (much to her dismay).  We reached our backcountry campsite without further incident around 5:00pm, leaving us with plenty of time to cook dinner and set up camp.

Our campsite

The downside to arriving early? We finished eating with plenty of daylight left, resulting in a bedtime of 9 PM strictly because we were bored and it looked like it was going to start raining. And it did rain most of the night. When we left the next morning, we were treated to cool temperatures and a light drizzle for the hike back to (lower) Two Medicine Lake.

Breaking camp

The wildlife was out in force for our return trip. Less than a mile down the trail, we spotted a bull moose.  Fortunately, he was busy munching his breakfast and didn’t seem interested in charging two hikers. We were prepared for the worst, having read a sign the previous day warning hikers to run around a tree if a moose charged. (The idea of playing ring-around-the-tree with a moose is an amusing one, you have to admit).  Anyway, after posing a moment for pictures, it wandered further into the underbrush and we moved on.

The moose

Only ten minutes or so after our moose encounter, we heard something large crashing through the woods to our left. Moments later, two juvenile bears darted onto the trail about 50-60 feet in front of us. They were each about 4-5 feet tall (standing upright) and maybe 150-200lbs.

Next thing we knew, both of the bears came galloping down the trail directly toward Allison and myself.  Obviously, neither of us were interested in playing fetch with these two playful bears in the event momma grizzly decided to show up.

“Oh crap.” –Allison

“Whoa! Uh…BEAR BEAR BEAR!!!” –Matt

I think that finally got their attention. Both bears slid to a stop, stood up on their hind legs, stared at us for a few seconds, then turned and ran off in the other direction.

That dark spot? One of the bears

By the time I had my camera out, they were pretty well hidden by the trees and shrubbery.

After waiting another 10-15 minutes, we continued down the trail. We’d now seen 3 large mammals within ten minutes; apparently the mountain lion decided not to show.

Crossing a footbridge

Two Medicine Lake, viewed from the parking lot

We finally arrived back at our car around noon, opting to get an early start on our way to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada.

Published in: on August 18, 2012 at 7:31 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for these – the photos reaaly add a lot and the writing is good. What are the elevations for these?

    • I’d have to double-check for the Two Medicine area, but most of the valleys are in the 4,000′-6,000′ range. The tallest mountains in Glacier are right around 10,000′, with most of the “average” mountains in the 8,000′-9,000′ range.

      It’s noticeably easier breathing than some of the taller mountains down in Colorado and Wyoming (13,000′-14,000′)…or maybe I’m just in better shape than I used to be, haha.

  2. Love it! Sounds like a great trip! Scenery and wildlife make Glacier tops!

  3. Mountain lion, snakes, bull moose and bear…I don’t think I would have slept one second all night! “Just do what you have to do!” (Matt will get this statement. : )

    On a side note…the “bear” photo above closely resembles many of the “Sasquatch / Bigfoot” photos I’ve seen over the years! Are you sure they were juvenile bear? Ha Ha

    • Hahaha! There’s a better bear picture coming in the next post, I promise!

  4. […] saw two grizzlies just a few minutes later…so keep your eyes peeled.” (Here’s the LINK, from […]

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