‘Fragrant evergreen forests, wind swept prairies, steep mountains and deep lakes meet in Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada”.
We left Glacier and travelled north across the border between USA and Canada (the quickest and simplest border crossing to date!) on to Waterton Lakes National Park the southernmost section of the Canadian side of The Rockies.
We had been told that Waterton was the “Jewel In The Crown” as far as The Rockies was concerned in that it was as impressive as most of the other parks and had the advantage of being less popular and therefore quieter. Indeed, less than a quarter of the people who visit Glacier NP and Yellowstone, visit Waterton each year.
The weather was still a little dull and grey, but at least it was dry, as we entered the park. We had only driven a mile or so from the entrance gate when we saw our first Grizzly of this trip…a young cub maybe a year old wandering through the long grass on the side of the road…. fantastic. Again…as it is peak season we are into camp early to claim a spot.
From our camp at Crandell Mountain we head due west along Red Rock Parkway to the end of this paved section of road at Red Rock Canyon. We had read about a nice forest mountain bike trail that exited the car park here, which slowly climbed up to Shoshone Falls….in all about a 12 kilometer return (we are in Canada now,..therefore we have gone metric).
The car park was quite full and we just managed to squeeze into a spot reserved for RV’s. Big Henry as usual was attracting a lot of attention. We kitted ourselves up, helmet, sun glasses, water bottles, bear spray…and jumped on the bikes and headed out. there were one or two hikers on the track bit not anywhere near the numbers we had seen on our hikes in Glacier. It took us just over an hour with a couple of stops at rough creek crossings to get to Shoshone Falls. There we met a couple of ladies who had also biked out but they were going to stay the night in the small tents only camp.
The Blonde Biker at Shoshone Falls Campground
And if you want to keep thebears out of your tent...get your food strung up!
The weather was threatening again…more dark clouds…rain or storms at the end of the afternoon were becoming a bit of a feature now. We started our way back…downhill…this was going to be fun! About half way down there was a sudden hissing noise…I looked down at the front wheel…puncture! I hailed the Blonde who was a little way ahead and she returned…just as well, she had the repair kit. Quickly…as the rain was looking about to start….I took off the offending wheel, removed the tyre, extracted the tube….sure enough, there was not one but two punctures side by side. Five minutes later patches adhered I was just about to put the tube back in when The Blonde said….”the back tire is flat as well!”. We are out of patches…so it is a 3km push back to the car park. I send The Blonde off ahead….only realizing after she had left that she has the bear spray. On her way back she comes across a young lady hiding behind a tree. She has had a first hand encounter with a mother black bear and her cub…and despite doing the best thing in making lots of noise, blowing her whistle and then retreating slowly away, the bears have not moved. By the time The Blonde arrives, they have moved off but the girl is hyperventilating and quite upset. It is now that The Blonde realizes that I am back down the track pushing the bike with no bear spray.
Well, all was well! I never saw either the bear cub or Mum, I did see some fresh scat on the track, but an hour later I arrived back at the trailhead car park somewhat tired with my malfunctioning steed. It was a bike ride to remember….but maybe not for what we started out to achieve.
The following day we drove through to Waterton Village, stopping a couple of times to take in the views and to get some photos of the majestic hotel The Prince Of Wales, which must sit in one of the most idyllic scenes for any hotel anywhere in the world at the foot of Waterton Lake with a huge bowl of mountains straight ahead.
We had planned to drive the Akamina Parkway and then take a hike, but alas the road was closed and under repair following two avalanches that had knocked out sections of the road during the Winter. Maybe next time!
On on now to Calgary and The Stampede!