You have to get up pretty early to make it to Two Medicine Pass. It requires nearly 8 miles of hiking through some of the Two Medicine Valley’s most beautiful country. Perhaps the highlight is the ridge walk between the Two Medicine and Park Creek drainages. Other fascinating places along the trail include Rockwell Falls and Cobalt Lake. I will add information about Cobalt Lake in a later post.
Two Medicine Pass is located south of Two Medicine Lake in the Two Medicine Valley. In A Climber’s Guide To Glacier National Park, J. Gordon Edwards called the trail that leads to Two Medicine Pass a “tightrope in the sky.” When the clouds are boiling out of the valleys it seems like you are literally walking through the clouds. Peaks featured in Volume 2 of the Climb Glacier National Park guidebook series that are accessed from near Two Medicine Pass include Painted Tepee Peak, Mount Rockwell, and Grizzly Mountain. If you want to climb one of these the book will definitely help.
What They Called It
Jack Holterman suggests that the Blackfeet called this pass, Natoki-okas or “to sleep” and it refers to a dream or vision. Two Medicine refers to a native story which suggested that two medicine lodges were set up on opposite sides of a creek during the Sun Dance. Holterman also wrotes that the Kootenai used to use the Two Medicine Valley for medicine quests. According to Chief David Paul, Kootenai came from far and wide to seek visions in the Two Medicine Valley. Just imagine young Native Americans seeking to unite with their Creator. The Two Medicine Valley certainly evokes that same power in modern-day visitors as well. The 16 miles you will have walked will most likely leave you with tired legs but the memories will be strong. If it is windy at all prepare to be buffeted by a wind that literally knock you off the trail. Read blogs about wind and The “W”.
Recommendations if you want to visit this sleepy pass.
- Get to the South Shore Trailhead early.
- Stay on the main trail and read the signs. Carry the Day Hikes of Glacier National Park Map Guide.
- Talk about water. There is plenty of water along the way until you reach the ridge above Cobalt Lake. The water literally pours out of the ground just before making the final switchback before the trail heads to Chief Lodgepole Peak. I drink that water without filtering, but that’s your call. It is straight out of the side of a mountain. Delicious!
- Surprise! You get to summit a named peak. Chief Lodgepole Peak is right on the trail. Two Medicine Pass is about 1/3 of a mile beyond this small summit. Look for a blog on this peak at a later date. You do not need a guidebook to summit this one!
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Send me a message and I will get to work. Thanks for joining in for this small bit of fun history about Glacier National Park. Not all of it is true, but it is interesting. Blake
Holterman, J. Place Names of Glacier National Park, Jack Holterman, Helena, MT, Riverbend Publishing, 2006
© Blake Passmore, 2014