Tag : waterton-lakes

Animals Animals Animals Animals Animals Everywhere

Also in Southern Alberta. My bear tally for the trip is up to three now. Everyone loves bears. I’m not sure why everyone loves bears so much. It occurred to me this morning, after seeing a bear, that bears are like the polynesians of the animal world in that:

  1. They’re big.
  2. They’re playful.
  3. If you cross them, they will literally kill you.

Was driving out of the park this morning when this guy jumped out of the bushes behind my truck and ran across the road:

He sized up me and I him.

It was the only photo of him I got. He seemed cool, though. More importantly, I was the only one on the road at that point. I’m selfish about my animal sightings that way. On the boat ride back from Crypt Lake all 80 of us saw another brown black bear on the lake shore going to town on a fish. I liked, though, that the road bear actually looked at me. Reminded me of that one time at Spring Training when I got Ken Griffey to nod at me.

This morning driving through Cardston, I saw a circle-of-life drama playing out in the temple parking lot:

Bird-on-bird crime.

There were another four or five magpies that were there for backup. Apparently the hawk had taken a chick out of someone’s nest. Not sure what the adult magpies were going to do about it, but the hawk was squawking at them and they were circling the asphalt menacingly. And then the hawk took off with the chick in its talons. I don’t know how it ended up. Maybe it’ll be on the news tonight.

I also saw some deer.

Deer at Waterton Townsite.

But deer are boring.

Maybe we’ll get some mountain sheep tomorrow.


Crypt Lake Hike: A Study in Group Dynamics (and Fear)

I didn’t actually study group dynamics while on the hike, but it sure lends itself to some theorizing. Crypt Lake, then. This is sort of THE HIKE at Waterton Lakes. It’s the Half Dome of the place. I suppose you don’t *have to* do it, but then again you don’t *have to* hike Half Dome either. I think they’re analogous.

One way in which they are *not* analogous, however, is that the Crypt Lake hike trailhead can only be accessed by taking a boat over from the Waterton Townsite harbor. The boat runs twice in the morning, then picks people up again in the evening. Thus the group dynamic: when you get to the trailhead, there are 50 or so people arriving at the same time and, thus, starting their hike at the same time. And when they do, it looks like this:

Speaking of bear bells, the first mate on the ship advised hikers against using them since bears do not associate bell sounds with danger, instead associating them with the bottom of the food chain. To little avail.

Everyone hikes together in a line. It’s like the Grand Prix of Monaco. Whoever starts out in front is going to stay there because the trail is too narrow to pass ever. And no one is going to move over to let you by since you’re all on the same lap. Exactly like Monaco. Anyway — enough crowd dynamics. Suffice it to say that you never walk alone (on this hike).

Some other details:

  • It’s an out-and-back.
  • 11 miles round-trip.
  • 2,500′ (iirc) elevation gain, although I think that’s a simple high point-to-low point measure.
  • The sun is always in the wrong place. This is probably endemic to being on the east side of the Rockies.
  • There aren’t any water sources until you get to the lake on top.

Also, if you don’t have your hiking legs, your altitude lungs, or your foot callouses, it’s a pretty solid warm-up hike.


Twin Falls -- and, no, I don't know where the other one is either.

This is the valley (canyon?) you hike up.

Then, once you get past there, the trail gets “interesting”, as (maybe) shown in the following photograph:

Note: Photo not taken for its aesthetic value.

You might have to click on that one a couple times to see the people there on that ledge/trail. If you get it zoomed in (click on the photo, then click on the photo again on the resulting page), you’ll also notice that the trail appears to dead end. But it does not!

And: 5 miles from the trailhead and we're still bumper-to-bumper.

So there’s kind of that hole at the end, right?

This is what the valley (canyon?) looks like from the ledge, btw.

Anyway, then, there’s a ladder that gets you up into the tunnel.

As evidenced by this photo.

But then, the tunnel’s not quite as big as it looks.

It gets tighter from there. Kind of like that one ride they had at Disneyland in the 70s.

View from the end of the tunnel.

And then when you get out of the tunnel, there’s *this* ledge:

This is the less-hairy part. I wasn't taking photos during the portion where I was holding onto the cable with both hands and dangling my feet over the abyss.

Seriously. Although, to be fair, it wasn’t bad going up. Coming back down, though, when you can’t look at where you’re stepping without also seeing how far you’re going to fall if you miss your step, is somewhat more fear-inducing.

Oh wait, here’s another view:

It's a long ways down.

And I’m kind of an acrophobe. Like, my palms used to sweat when I’d play Marble Madness on the XBox. Anyhoo:

Another mile, another waterfall. That's not Crypt Lake at right, btw.

*This* is Crypt Lake:

Which basically looks like other lakes that you can drive to.

It’s a little anti-climactic is all. And then you hike down the way you came. At the tunnel, you meet the people who came in the later boat. It’s awkward. Much dangling. And eventually the boat picks you up and takes you back to civilization. Everyone rides back together.


PS, The bottom 2.5 miles of this hike (each way, = 5 miles total) really suck due to tree prison issues. It’s an amazing set-up whereby the trees manage to block your view, but don’t block the sun. Stupid trees.

Waterton Lake Townsite

First stop in Canada other than the bathroom just on the other side of the border crossing: Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada. Not sure why they have to have the “of Canada” in there. Seems like the location’s coordinates would imply as much.

Waterton Lakes is sort of a National Park after the old-school model where it’s more like a big resort located in the mountains where people can do outdoors stuff if they want to — or can play golf, tennis, check out galleries, or go to the on-site spa. Here are some photos from the drive in and wandering around the Waterton Townsite:

The road in.

Also the road in.

One of the cooler aspects of Waterton Lakes is the drive in to the park and the sudden transition from the yellow grasses of the prairie to the steep, glacial horns of the Rockies. Maybe the photos convey as much.

Here’s a shot of the big hotel they have there. I think it’s expensive.

Prince of Wales Hotel

And I’m sure it has some story behind it that includes the Canadian Pacific Railway. And the photo from the other side doesn’t show much mountain (but it *does* show a small harbor where people can keep their boats parked).

Here is a warning sign:

Warning: deer and humans dance together here. Warning: inter-species seizures. Many possibilities.

This is a waterfall that’s adjacent to the townsite:

It is (they are?) called Cameron Falls.

I think that one looks better at larger size (click on the photo, then click on it again on the resultant page if you want to test my theory for yourself).

And then here are x more of the lake, where “x” represents the number y.

Vimy Peak and Waterton Lake

Apparently y = 1. I’d post more photos, but last road trip someone mentioned how nice it was that I didn’t post *too* many photos. No one offered a counter-argument.


PS, Since it’s only a couple hours from Calgary and Lethbridge, Waterton Lakes does a lot of business on the weekends. If you’re going there, probably avoid the weekend. Unless you like being around a lot of people, in which case probably aim for a weekend.