Last weekend Meg and I headed down south to Waterton Lake National Park for some hiking and camping action. Not wanting to drive too far to get our fix, Waterton was the perfect choice as it’s only 160km (just under a 2 hr drive) from Fernie.
We drove down on a Friday morning, stopping off in Crowsnest Pass at the Cinnamon Bear cafe for their famous cinnamon buns (have to get the cream cheese icing as well). Once in the park we headed straight for the town campsite to ensure we had a nice location and pitch our tent. It was almost 2 years since I’d visited the park at the same time of year and forgot how quiet it is. More than half of the towns businesses were closed for the season and the campsite reflected this. We were only one of 3 tents pitched and so could choose the more picturesque locations.
After a brief pitstop we headed straight for Red Rock Canyon, one of the most popular and touristy of the sites in the park but one neither of us had ever visited. We opted to go into and up the canyon rather than taking the short 10 minute walk from bridge to bridge above. With ninja like precision we managed to get up and back without getting our feet too wet (parkour!!!)
Driving back towards town, we enjoyed the fall colours amongst the mountain landscape and decided on another short hike before nightfall. Located at the visitors centre, the Bears Hump is a short 2.8km hike (225m elevation gain) up to a vantage point that offers one of the best panoramic views of the park. We knocked it out in just over half an hour and enjoyed some sunny views from the top.
Pleased with a fairly active day we stopped in at one of the few restaurants/pubs open and treated ourselves to a pint and braised short rib poutine. Quite the extravagant appetizer for our can of mushroom soup that was had for dinner later. After some food we settled in to our tent for a relatively cold night, managing to somehow zip our very differently sized mummy sleeping bags together.
We had checked the weather forecast at the pub earlier and were warned of severe thunderstorms developing overnight and in the morning. At around 5am we were woken up to the sound of fast approaching thunder, which despite being a little terrifying, sounded pretty amazing being echoed through the mountains. After a few minutes deliberation, we decided to spend the remainder of the morning sleeping int he car til sunrise.
Unfortunately the rain that ensued didn’t let up and after a coffee and bagel in town, we decided to abandon our plan of hiking to Bertha lake (and scrambling to the peak) and head back home. On the plus side we were able to drive through the Bison paddock on the way out and spot them grazing for a few minutes.