Thursday, May 11, 2006

Two Medicine Falls

Two Medicine Falls
Originally uploaded by cgoble72.
After reading "Floating in Montana" that describes most every large volume river in the state, I was a little bit worried about the possibility of a near unportable falls in a deep shale canyon. The truth is actually quite different.

The upper Two medicine is located 1.0 hours south of Cardston by the town of East Glacier. The run starts at the first bridge north of East Glacier. There is a pull out just south of the bridge. The suggested take out is the highway bridge. The easy walk out is on the east side up a large grassy hill.

The run is about 6km in length and has quite a few small features. I would guess a solid class II all the way down. It has a character similar to Livingstone, but more constant and with crux rapids a half grade down. At higher flows there should be loads of easy surf waves. After the falls things often run over a flalt bedrock base.

The falls are about 15 to 20 feet tall and quite clean. There are no undercuts. The left side feeds into a deadly tree. Porting requires a short hike to some trees and a rope to lower boats off a tree and perhaps a body rappel for 15 or 20 feet. (Pretty easy compared to the epic imagined). A large pool backs up the falls. A few ledges lead to this. Get out river left.

All in all a great run. I would say low flow is 600, medium probably 900

Standard rapids for the top 1/3. The bottom 2/3 is more wavy than ledgy.

There were two or three partial sweepers, but no river wide logs. It was pretty wood free all in all. Since it is about the same distance from Lethbridge as some of the Castle runs, I wouldn't be surprised if this run becomes quite popular. Since it is dam released the season may be fairly long.

UPDATE Low flow - 700 to 900

Medium - 900 - 1300

High 1300 - 2000?

More images from the trip on Thursday are here


Stew & Di said...

Chris - great report and pictures. Nice to know what's there.

chris g said...

Yeah, it will be a great run at around 1000cfs. Too bad the canyon epic story has prevented its recognition. I would be tempted to change my estimates on flow though. 650 to 700 would be low, while 900 would be medium. The book says peak flows would be around 2000. It would certainly be a fun run then.

I think I am going to check some of the smaller feeder streams coming off the pass there. They look doable. There is an interesting looking 30 footer just off the road by east glacier. I am not sure how deep the landing is though. I may have to save that one for clay.

When the flows come up, I'll run a club trip down the two medicine.

chris g said...

The smiths and I are going down to Two Medicine Thursday after school. It should be a great trip. The water will be up and the surfing should be fine. Make sure you are comfortable with a body rappel, or bring a harness. We will be meeting in front of DQ (alternate school at about 3:30. This should be a great trip, especially for experienced paddlers that have never run this section. FUN

chris g said...

I am sure Nathan and Janson will add more. The run was nice. The play waves didn't come in like I suspected. The falls stayed reasonable. The rap around it seemed to be alright. The hardest rapid was a class III double ledge about 200m above the falls, and before the waves leading to the big pool before it. The were some small to medium surf waves you could catch on the fly lower down

Nathan said...

Good times... good times.

The consistant big rollers were fun. The arched logs that went unoticed 'til too late were not fun. It's definately a step up from the Upper St., and I can understand why Chris stated that a roll is important. Swimmers not only would have a long swim to any large eddies or calm spots, they would be the ones required to bike shuttle... an easy 6km pedal. I didn't do it because I swam. When the best looking paddler was asked, he said no. When the smartest paddler was asked, he said no. When the most fit paddler was asked, I decided I couldn't turn them down for the third time :-).

Have an awesome weekend!

Burt Kornegay said...

A question: for tandem canoeists not wanting to run the Two Medicine falls, is there a place to put in a few miles below it? Is the "large grassy hill" you mention taking out at a possible put-in for canoeist? And if so, can you tell me where it is? Thanks!

sigob said...

Burt, I don't think there is an easy put in below the falls. You could just sling shot a tree and hip belay your canoe around it.

The grassy slope at the main highway bridge right next to east glacier is a possible put in for the lower run. Locals supposedly have a canoe race there yearly.

That lower run would require a take out on pivate property somewhere or a 2 day trip or so to get to the roads by Cut Bank. Float Montana has good descriptions. I think the AWA page also has some info.