Our first of three backpacking trips was in the Two Medicine area and on our way in we saw a tan-colored black bear munching on foliage by the roadside. We got a bit of a late start but it was only a 3-hour hike to Cobalt Lake, our campsite. When we arrived at camp, we saw a couple standing perfectly still, perfectly silent. They told us that we just missed a pack of 5 wolves running across the snow. We didn’t, however, miss the bear scrambling up the scree slopes just a quarter mile from camp. It was too far to tell but, given the coloration, this very well could have been a grizzly. We also saw two marmots engaging in something resembling a wrestling match; this could very well have been their version of foreplay.
Devastated at by missing the wolves, we hung our bear canister in the food area, pitched our tent and headed toward Two Medicine Pass. We had been told that the pass was completely snowed in so we figured we would just hike as far a possible. What we quickly discovered was that the two-week-old trail conditions report was inaccurate and little snow remained at the pass.
The hike from Cobalt Lake to the pass was very exposed, sometimes hot, sometimes windy. The snowmelt left a small river with cute waterfalls crossing the trail several times. The wildflowers were flourishing in the wake of the fresh snowmelt and the wildlife was enjoying the new season. We saw a mama mountain goat walking her kid along steep snowy slopes.
We made it all the way to the pass and looked down the glacial valley towards camp. Turning around we saw a very different, much more jagged landscape on the other side of the saddle. The view from the ridge was exhilarating.
Fearing the intensifying clouds, which are always coming and going in Glacier, we headed back to Cobalt Lake. While Luke wanted to swim in all the lakes that we came upon, Cobalt was unattainably cold due to the ice and snow still floating in it.
We woke the next morning to find the sublimation at our snow-covered tent site had caused large quantities of condensation on all our gear. After a slow, cold start, we began our short trek back to the trailhead. There was plenty of bear activity in the area; scat, prints, smashed foliage. However, we did not see the bear, maybe because we were being too loud and obnoxious. We ran into some very quiet hikers; probably not the best way to hike when a bear was so obviously wondering the neighborhood.
Since the hike out was so short, we decided to add two small side trips. We went to Aster Falls, which were small and unimpressive but only .2 miles off the main trail. We also went to Paradise Point, which was a nice lunch stop on the shore of Two Medicine Lake.
When we made it back to the trailhead, I washed up a little in the bathroom while Luke checked out the general store (their espresso comes from a machine, what a bummer). Then we headed to our next mini-adventure, one night in the Belly River District, stopping at Running Eagle Falls. Also known as Trick falls, there was too much water to see the trick; water coming out from a cave half way down the fall.
Other Glacier National Park Adventures
For more national park adventure, visit our National Park Service Guide.