Tag Archives: Two Medicine Valley

Give Me Them Bones, Them Dry Bones – What?

The HistorySome people are just plain odd.

In my line of work as a mental health counselor I have met my fair share of interesting and colorful characters, but I have never met anyone who demanded to keep their brother’s bones in a sack.

This is the story about the Native American name for Flinsch Peak in the Two Medicine Valley just above Dawson Pass.

173 R

Flinsch Peak from near Dawson Pass

Flinsch Peak (9,225 ft. / 2812 m.) was named for a young Austrian, Rudolf Ernst Ferdinand Flinsch, who came to the area in 1892 with Dr. Walter B. James to hunt mountain goats. They were guided in the area by William Jackson the namesake of Mount Jackson.

Flinsch was quite surprised later when he looked at a new map of the area and found his name on a peak. It used to be called Flinsch’s Peak.

The proposed Native American name for this peak was No Chief Mountain.

No Chief must have been quite a character and was more superstitious than most of his contemporaries. This caused problems with some of his wives.

Here is the story as James Willard Schultz told it.

Flinsch Peak from Rising Wolf Mountain

Flinsch Peak from Rising Wolf Mountain

No Chief was said to be a great Piegan warrior who led many raid against the Crows. In one particular raid his younger brother Little Antelope came along and No Chief went against a vision that was given to him.

In the vision No Chief saw bodies of Piegan warriors lying in the underbrush, but he did not see their faces because he awoke before he could see them. He shared his vision with his party and most of them including Little Antelope did not want to turn back. In fact, Little Antelope stated that if No Chief truly loved him he would lead them up the valley.

No Chief could not refuse his brother’s request and he lead the party on foot toward the enemies’ camp. Eventually, the party was discovered by a great number of Crow warriors on horseback.

A battle ensued and Little Antelope and other Piegans were killed. No Chief fought bravely and led his force against the Crows to ensure that they did not scalp and dishonor on the Piegan dead. The dead were recovered and buried properly.

Months later No Chief went back to seek revenge. He stole a number of prized horses and belongings as well as counted coup on his enemy. He returned with his spoils and a bag that he refused to let anyone else handle.

He entered his lodge with the bag and told his three wives, who were sisters, that the bag contained the bones of his fallen brother Little Antelope. His wives then feared for their safety and only his oldest wife remained in the lodge. Eventually the other wives came back as well after they decided that Little Antelope was kind in life so they had nothing to fear from his bones.

No Chief began to speak to his brother’s bones as if Little Antelope were alive. Some believed that the bones carried on a conversation with No Chief as well.

When No Chief died he was buried with his brother’s bones.

In conclusion, if someone you know wants to sleep with his brother’s bones try to steer clear of them. No Chief’s wives came back but I know of very few wives who would tolerate this in today’s culture.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

In the meantime, make sure you check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on my website.

The story featured in today’s  post can be found in Volume 2 of What They Called It that is planned for released in the Fall of 2015.

Thanks for joining me on this quest for the story behind the History.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

 

Don’t “Flinsch” When You Read This

The HistoryThere is a real sweet peak above Dawson Pass named Flinsch Peak.

It is pretty easy to climb from the pass and the views of the neighborhood are outstanding.

Flinsch Peak (9,225 ft. / 2,812 m.) was named for a young Austrian, named Rudolf Ernst Ferdinand Flinsch, who came to the area in 1892 with Dr. Walter B. James (the namesake for Mount James) and was guided in the area by William Jackson (of Mount Jackson) to hunt mountain goats.

Flinch Peak stands on the Continental Divide

Flinch Peak stands on the Continental Divide

Flinsch was quite surprised when he looked at a new map of the area and found his name on a peak.  It used to be called Flinsch’s Peak.

James Willard Schultz proposed the name No Chief Mountain for this peak.

No Chief was said to be a great Piegan warrior who led many raid against the Crows.  In one particular raid his younger brother Little Antelope came along and No Chief went against the vision that was given to him.  In the vision No Chief saw bodies of Piegan warriors lying in the underbrush, but he did not see their faces because he awoke before he could see them.

Flinsch Peak from the Rising Wolf Mountain route.

Flinsch Peak from the Rising Wolf Mountain route.

He shared his vision with his party and most of them including Little Antelope did not want to turn back.  In fact, Little Antelope stated that if his brother loved him No Chief would lead them up the valley.

No Chief could not turn his brother’s request away and he lead the party on foot toward the enemies’ camp.  Eventually, the party was discovered by a great number of Crow warriors on horseback.

A battle ensued and Little Antelope and other Piegans were killed.  No Chief fought bravely and led his force against the Crows to ensure that they did not scalp and dishonor on the Piegan dead.  The dead were recovered and buried properly.

View along the Continental Divide.

View along the Continental Divide.

Months later No Chief went back to seek revenge.  He stole a number of prized horses and belongings as well as counted coup on his enemy.  He returned with his spoils and a bag that he refused to let anyone else handle.

He entered his lodge with the bag and told his three wives, who were sisters, that the bag contained the bones of his fallen brother Little Antelope. His wives then feared for their safety and only his oldest wife remained in the lodge.

Eventually the other wives came back as well after they decided that Little Antelope was kind in life so they had nothing to fear from his bones.

No Chief began to speak to his brother’s bones as if Little Antelope were alive.  Some believed that the bones carried on a conversation with No Chief as well.

When No Chief died he was buried with his brother’s bones.

Okay, that might be a little creepy but visiting Flinsch Peak does not have to be.

Here are some recommendations:

  1. Start early.  Be at the North Shore Trailhead in the Two Medicine Valley early in the morning.
  2. Prepare for dry.  There is little water above No Name Lake so plan accordingly.  Filter or carry its your choice.
  3. Take your camera.  There are spectacular views above treeline.
  4. See the Route … Follow the Route.  Use the red-lines in Volume 2 to safely guide you to the summit of Flinsch Peak.
  5. Consider Sinopah. Use the Sinopah tour boat to save about 3 miles of trail travel on the way back.  The last boat leaves at 5:30 pm from the dock.
  6. Make it a bigger day.  If you have the time and energy getting Rising Wolf Mountain is not out of the question.  You could also consider Mount Helen from Dawson Pass.

What piece of Glacier National Park real estate do you want to learn more about?

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

Sources:
McClintock, Walter, The Old North Trail or Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians, University of Nebraska Press, 1992 (reprint of 1910 edition)
Schultz, W. R., Signposts of Adventure, Glacier National Park As the Indians Know It, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926
 Holterman, J. Place Names of Glacier National Park, Jack Holterman, Helena, MT, Riverbend Publishing, 2006

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

 

 

The Incredible Two Medicine Valley

Headers On RouteThe Two Medicine Valley is one of the most spectacular areas of Glacier National Park. You might disagree, but before you do please read on.

Here are some things I like about it.  In no particular order.

  • No shuttles
  • Great peaks
  • Bighorn sheep near Appistoki Creek
  • Incredible trails for hiking
  • More isolation
  • Ridge walks
  • Sinopah Mountain
  • Traverses
  • Rising Wolf Mountain
  • Pika
  • No road construction (usually)
  • Upper Two Medicine Lake
  • The Scenic Point Trail
  • Camping
  • An Abandoned trail
  • Five passes (Dawson, DeSanto, Two Medicine, Pitamakan and Cut Bank)
  • Boat rides with Clint and the crew
  • No crowds
  • Moose along the South Shore Trail
  • Fishing
  • Rockwell Falls
  • No long lines.
  • The Dawson – Pitamakan Traverse
  • Two Medicine Pass

I spent the entire summer of 2011 climbing and hiking in the Two Medicine Valley.  I had spent quite a bit of time there in previous years but still had not climbed all of the peaks.

Aurice Lake from the route to Mount Rockwell. It rocks well!

What I found was that the more I spent time there the more it started to feel like home.

I for one enjoy ridge walks a lot more than scramblewhacks.

I prefer flower-filled meadows to old growth forests.

I prefer open views of the plains to walking through valleys and creek drainages.

It seems that ever since the Great Northern Railway stopped running horse tours in the 1930 the Two Medicine Valley has become a blip on many people’s plans for a Glacier visit.  It used to be a main event and the 23 items listed above plus a bunch more were the reasons why it was such a popular place.

Rising Wolf Mountain from Aster Park

Rising Wolf Mountain from Aster Park

My Recommendations:

  1. Plan to spend part of your time in the Two Medicine Valley.
  2. Take a day hike.  Consider hiking to Upper Two Medicine Lake.  This is an easy hike along the North Shore Trail with a change of trails at the head of Two Medicine Lake.  Or to make it super easy ride the Sinopah and hike from there.
  3. Summit a mountain.  Appistoki Peak is a great first climb for this area.
  4. Take your bear spray.  We have seen bears, both black bears and grizzlies, here.
  5. Sinopah Mountain reflects in Two Medicine Lake

    Sinopah Mountain reflects in Two Medicine Lake

    See the waterfalls.  There are five worth checking out.  Running Eagle Falls is a great and easy walk BEFORE reaching the Two Medicine area, take the time to hike this flat and short trail.  If you want to hike make sure you Appistoki Falls on the Scenic Point Trail, Aster Falls on the Aster Park Trail which is a spur from the North Shore Trail, Rockwell Falls on the Two Medicine Pass Trail, and Twin Falls on the Upper Two Medicine Lake Trail.  My  personal favorite is Rockwell Falls.  The Insider Tip is that you need to climb up the Sinopah Mountain Climbers Trail to see the best parts.

  6. There is a lot of water so decide if you want to filter or carry your own.
  7. Take your fishing equipment.  This is a great place to wet a fly or cast a lure.

Stay tuned for posts on specific peaks in the Two Medicine Valley.

The best climbs in this area at least in my opinion are Lone Walker Mountain, Rising Wolf Mountain, and Mount Rockwell.  Of course there is Sinopah Mountain as well but everyone does that one and you should too.

Check out all of the peaks in Volume 2 of the Climb Glacier National Park series.

See you on the routes, Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013

Can You See Me Now?

Fall colors at its best!

The Two Medicine Valley from Looking Glass Highway. Fall colors at its best!

Montana Highway 89 travels between East Glacier Park and Babb, Montana.

Locally it is called The Looking Glass Highway. Many visitors drive this road to access the Two Medicine Valley and those who are brave enough accept the challenge and drive between the Two Medicine Road Junction and Kiowa Junction.

This is a horrible road!

This section of highway is broke up and seems to be in a constant state of disrepair.

A folded rock formation along the Looking Glass Highway.

A folded rock formation along the Looking Glass Highway.

There are ginormous holes that are simply filled with gravel.  The road has short sections of 8 feet or so that have dropped a few inches (or more) lower than the other parts of the road.

Nature has built in speed bumps to help you not drive too fast.

It’s not that the road has not been repaired, it appears that it can’t be fixed due to the herculean forces that the continental plates place on the earth’s surface as they collide then ride one over the other.

In fact, whole eastern side of Glacier National Park is located over the Lewis Overthrust which forces newer rock on top of older rocks.  This action formed the iconic Chief Mountain and can be seen in many places along Highway 89.  Click here for more information on the Lewis Overthrust.

What They Called It.

The HistoryAlthough technically not in Glacier National Park, the Looking Glass Hills are part of area folklore.

The Native Americans called them “Looking Glass Hills” because they said that “under certain atmospheric conditions Rising Wolf Mountain shines like a polished black-glass mirror.” 

The Looking Glass Hills were the site of a fire lookout at one time as well.  It was built in 1937 and the wind blew it away 3 years later. 

The wind must have been horrific that day.  It was located on a ridge overlooking Two Medicine Lake so the view would have been amazing. Read more about Glacier’s winds.

Please note: The Looking Glass Hills are all contained within the Blackfeet Reservation and are private property.  Please respect their lands.  A Blackfeet Use Permit can be purchased at most sporting goods stores as well as gas stations that sell hunting or fishing licenses.  The $10 cost allows you to cross the Blackfeet reservation to access Glacier National Park but please use ESTABLISHED access points and ask permission to cross private property.

Recommendations:

  1. Drive this incredible section of highway with caution.  Perhaps you should borrow your mother-in-law’s car, but definitely drive it.
  2. Drive slow and use the pull-outs for incredible views of the Two Medicine Valley.  Rising Wolf Mountain dominates the view from this highway but you can also spot peaks such as Mount Morgan, Flinsch Peak, Mount Henry and even Grizzly Mountain.
  3. By the way, all of the peaks in the Two Medicine Valley are within your grasp if you want to climb them.  Climb them all!  See The Featured Peaks for more info.  Purchase Volume 2 from our store.
  4. Again make sure to use all the pull-outs.  Spot Mountain, seen from the top of the hill and then again on the downhill section before Kiowa Junction, as well as the Basin Creek drainage are also worth a gander.
  5. The views get even better in the fall when the aspens start to turn.

What is your favorite section of road to drive in or around Glacier National Park?

Send me your comments.

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

Sources:
Ruhle, George C., The Ruhle handbook Roads and Trails of Waterton-Glacier National Parks, Falcon Press, 1986
Rex’s Fire Lookout Page, 2014.

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

A Telescope Saves The Day

The History

On the Continental Divide above Lake of the Seven Winds and Pitamakan Lake.

McClintock Peak is on the Continental Divide above Lake of the Seven Winds and Pitamakan Lake.

When was the last time something you carried ACTUALLY saved your life?

Most of us can’t think of anything … ever.

James Willard Schultz wrote of a chief named Bull Trail that saved a hunting party with a telescope.

Bull Trail used his telescope, the first every owned by the Piegan, to deceive a far superior force of Crows.

After a buffalo kill, a party of eight lodges led by Bull Trail met a party of 100 Crow warriors.  In a meeting prior to the inevitable conflict Bull Trail used the glass in the telescope to light his pipe and put fear in the hearts of the Crows.  

The Crows withdrew to a wooded area and built fires.  They later realized they had been duped by Bull Trail and made plans to wipe out the smaller force in the morning.

Bull Trail, who was wise to the Crows intentions, sent a runner to a nearby Piegan camp and reinforcements arrived before daybreak and hid themselves.  

Oldman Lake with Flinsch Peak in the distance from the trail to Pitamakan Pass.

Oldman Lake and Flinsch Peak from the trail below Pitamakan Pass.

When the Crows attacked, the Piegan retaliated and the battle ended when every Crow was dead.  This incident help Bull Trail become an honored Piegan chief.

Bull Trail saved his party with a telescope and you thought it was just to look through!

Schultz suggested naming McClintock Peak – Bull Trail Mountain to honor this great man.

McClintock Peak is named for Walter McClintock, who wrote The Old North Trail: Life, Legends, and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians.

A great part of the experience is riding in the Sinopah.

A great part of the experience is riding in the Sinopah.

McClintock was part of a 1886 U.S. Forest Service expedition.  He was adopted by the Blackfeet Chief Mad Dog, the high priest of the Sun Dance.  He spent four years living with the Blackfeet.

Mad Dog was also called Siyeh and is the name sake of Mount Siyeh and Mad Wolf Mountain.

McClintock Peak is located above Cut Bank Pass on the Continental Divide.  McClintock Peak does not present much of an off-trail climb.  It is reached via the Dry Fork Trail after reaching Pitamakan Pass (more on that later).  I recommend hitting this peak while you are hiking the “Dawson – Pitamakan Loop.”

This marvelous sixteen give-or-take mile loop travels through gorgeous alpine terrain and completely circumnavigates Rising Wolf Mountain.

If you plan to explore the area near McClintock Peak, or if you prefer Bull Trail Mountain, here are some things to consider:

  1. Make sure you are at the trail head early.  This loop takes all day.
  2. Clockwise or counter-clockwise?  I prefer counter-clockwise and start at the North Shore Trail head near the Two Medicine Campground and hike the Dry Fork Trail to Pitamakan Pass first.  The finish is made better by #4.
  3. Consider Off-trail Options.  Volume 2 of the Climb Glacier series features peaks that start from this traverse.  Consider Mount Morgan, rated Class III (4) LM, or Mount Helen, a Class II (2) LM walk-up.  McClintock Peak is an off-trail Class II (3) LM scramble that is about 400 feet above Cut Bank Pass.  All of these are possible while doing this traverse if you are in good shape.  It is a long day for many.
  4. Take Some Jingle.  The bonus of the counter-clockwise loop is riding the Sinopah.  A one-way ticket is $6 for adults and saves about 3 miles of hiking.  Man is it worth it!  The Sinopah is part of Glacier Park Boat Company.  Make sure you check the time of departure for the last boat.
  5. Bring water or water up on the trail.  There is little water between Oldman Lake and No Name Lake.  Fill water reserves prior to reaching the spur trail to Oldman Lake or hike to the lake for a gorgeous view of Flinsch Peak and Mount Morgan.
  6. Know the routes.  If you are considering climbing Mount Morgan make sure you purchase Volume 2.  There is a crux that must be located for safe ascent.
  7. Camp Overnight.  If you want to make this an overnighter camp at Oldman Lake.  You would need a backcountry permit to stay there.
  8. Show your kids.  Teach your kids this survival skill.  After reading this post with them go out and teach them how to start a fire with a magnifying glass just like Bull Trail did all those years ago.

What piece of Glacier National Park real estate do you want to learn more about?

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

Source: Schultz, W. R., Signposts of Adventure, Glacier National Park As the Indians Know It, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014