Waterton Lakes National Park

Myself, Marcus and Ada have become good friends over the winter and past few months and spend most days doing something together. To be honest, it’s a miracle we haven’t killed/got sick of each other so another weekend of camping might seem like a crazy idea to some. I mean nothing quite tests a friendship more than spending hours hiking, getting sweaty and smelly, not having a shower and then cramming into a dome shaped piece of material suspended by 2 poles.

Ramblings aside, we set off again on a Saturday morning to a beautiful area in Alberta only a few hours drive to the south east and no border crossing required (Ah Fernie how convenient you are). Cruising down the Crows Nest highway with some Timmy Ho-bags in our bellys and of course 90’s classics playing, we noticed how much snow covered the fields and mountains which placed some doubt over the success of our adventure. This was however quickly put aside as soon as we drove into the park.

Bison grazing on the edge of the park

Bison grazing on the edge of the park

Looking over the Upper Lake from the Prince of Wales Hotel lookout

Looking over the Upper Lake from the Prince of Wales Hotel lookout

A herd of Bison, a mother Grizzly with her cubs grazing on a hillside and a Big Horn Ram with horns as thick as an Elephants tusk greeted us within minutes . All of this coupled with stunning views of snow capped mountains and vistas of the Upper lake, we knew we were in for a good one.

We stopped at the information centre and had a chat with ranger McFriendly who strongly suggested we didn’t attempt the hike we came to do due to the great amounts of snow (up to 1m in parts). The Crypt Lake hike was something I’d been researching since winter and to hear this was a massive let down. Discouraged but not defeated, we decided to do a smaller hike on Saturday and then check back in the morning to see if conditions had changed.

Warming up by the fire

Ada warming up by the fire

Bertha Lake was still a beautiful hike. With an elevation gain on 360m and easy slopes, we completed it in around 3 hours which included some beautiful wooded areas and a run in with some young deer. We returned to camp happy and hungry and found a small shelter near our campsite with a wood stove to cook our food. The night was bitterly cold and we spent the next few hours before bed huddling around the stove, having some drinks and chatting until there was no more wood to burn.

 

We rose from our cocoons in the morning all relatively well rested despite the sardine can that was our tent. I’d packed a different one this week and it was like a tent for ants, I mean it should be at least three times bigger (eh eh). After an epic egg on toast breakfast cooked by yours truly and everyone but me shedding a few kg’s in the bathroom, we packed everything in a hurry to make the ferry that would take us across the lake to the trail head for Crypt Lake.

We decided to attempt the hike despite the snow and received an early good luck omen when the friendly girl at the coffee shop gave us our drinks for free. It was going to be a grand day. The ride only took 10 minutes on the ferry with which I used to sort out my camera and stuff my bag with toilet paper for an impending bush poo  and in no time we were already slogging it up the trails.

Snowy traverse

Snowy traverse

Marcus enjoying the serenity

Marcus enjoying the serenity

The hike itself was one of the most enjoyable I have ever done! The snow made it hard going at times but the wonderful views kept motivation levels high and the monotony of the hike was broken up by some cool features including steel ladders, via ferrata’s and a scrambling chute. In just under 3 hours we had made it to the beautiful Crypt Lake and enjoyed a hearty lunch bathed in the sun. All was calm and tranquil but little did we know that we would be having a visitor, however unlike last week this one would be much larger than a squirrel!

Around 20 hikers were splayed out around the perimeter of the lake after the strenuous hike when out of no where, a full grown black bear stormed in. Yogi wanted to join us for lunch but was quickly shooed off by a crowd. Not to be discouraged he walked around some trees and headed straight for where we were sitting, coming within 3 meters at one stage. Bear spray in hand we were ready to engage in ancient art of combat but thankfully it never came to that. The bear was actually quite docile in the end and never showed signs of aggression. Once shooed off again he continued to up turn rocks looking for other food, the whole time with us looking on in awe and taking photos.

Yogi

Yogi

Crooked selfie at Crypt Lake (1946 m)

Crooked selfie at Crypt Lake (1946 m)

 

 

After the encounter we decided it best to head back and started the journey to the dock. The snow had all melted on the trail from the heat of the day which made conditions boggy however despite this, we made it back with 30 minutes to spare even with a detour to some nearby waterfalls. We finally caught the Ferry and were back on the road before dusk for the drive back to Fernie.

Waiting for the Ferry after the hike

Waiting for the Ferry after the hike

Despite leaving the park, the drive home was also surprisingly enjoyable. An air on contentment filled us all after the short but eventful camping trip and we agreed not to talk about the inevitably of going to work tomorrow. We sat in silence listening to some Tina Turner classics and enjoyed the last moments of another great weekend.

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