Our time in Canada went by so quickly! Now we are on our way to Montana.
Waterton Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful places I have been in my entire life. The lakes are pristine and clear, and the mountains rise above them to sheer peaks. At just over four hundred feet, Waterton Lake is the deepest natural lake in the Rocky Mountains, carved out over four glacial periods, the last being roughly 10,000 years ago.
Though I grew up next to the Rocky Mountains and consider them home, they take on a more rugged life up here. The glaciers that moved through Alberta and Montana thousands of years ago, carved the mountains into severe cliffs with uncovered rock faces, giving them a ragged and wild look.
Thursday, Zach and I took a boat cruise across Waterton Lake, through the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, to Goat Haunt, Montana. We learned that the National Parks here have four very prestigious designations; the National Park Designation, a UNESCO world heritage designation, biosphere designation and the honor of being the world’s first international peace park. Though originally formed as two separate parks, Glacier National Park and Waterton National Park were later combined into one park, symbolizing the goodwill between the U.S. and Canada and acknowledging that nature/ecosystems know no bounds.
We only bought a one-way ticket at the dock in Canada, intending to hike back across the international border from U.S. back into Canada. The nine-mile journey took us through thick vegetation where we could barely see our feet to the edge of the lake, where Zach tried to get a stone to skip five times. I think he managed to once. I never managed to get more than two skips, because I’m a terrible throw.
One of my favorite parts of our hike, was crossing the border back into Canada. We reached the international border, marked by some clear cutting and two obelisks, at the same time as the next cruise ship. As they all looked toward the shore and tried to get pictures of the border, we stood there waving excitedly at them, a few waved back, a few were probably not amused. We’ll be in at least fifty tourist pictures of the border.
At one point of our hike, I was walking along without really paying attention to where I was going. My main intention for the hike, to Zach’s delight, was to talk as much as possible to make noise to keep bears away. Though the hike back to Waterton is considered prime bear country, I told Zach I was perfectly fine if we never saw one on the trail.
I was a few paces ahead when I heard Zach yell, “Holy shit!” It took me a minute to orient myself and figure out where he was staring, but then I saw a massive black bear clambering over the rocks, not fifteen yards away. Zach later told me that when he first saw it, it was much closer to where I was walking. Luckily, the noise I had been making was effective and the bear was already heading away from us before we saw it.
The point of making noise and having bear bells, which we do, is to let the animals know you are coming. They do not want to interact with you as much as you don’t want to interact with them, so the reasoning is that as long as you do not sneak up on them and disturb their peace, you should be OK.
We stopped to talk about seeing the bear and how quickly Zach pulled out his bear spray when we saw another bear on the rocks, this one was a tiny little baby, running up to the top of the hill. He kept stopping, looking back at us and then running again. The baby was cute, but made me nervous, so we left right away. We saw a lot of bear droppings on the trail after that, but no more actual bears, which I’m OK with.
When we got back to Waterton I took a shower and immediately fell asleep. We had a fancy dinner at the Prince of Wales hotel planned and I needed to be well rested. Plus, I really love naps.
Before dinner, we got dressed up. Zach looked smashing in his button up and slacks. I’m sure we were going to be the fanciest people there, but it didn’t bother me. It’s our honeymoon, we’ll do what we want.
As we walked into the hotel, we saw a sign that said due to a gas leak they were not serving any warm food in the hotel. We were so disappointed! We had gotten dressed up for nothing and were pretty hungry after our long day hiking. We went back to our own room to change and decided that we would go to main street for some authentic Canadian pizza.
Turns out the gas leak was village wide. Every single restaurant was closed that evening, except, of course, Subway. I’m sure they had the longest line they’ve ever had there. We decided to make our own dinner in the hotel room that night, so we grabbed some chips, cheese and salsa to make a Whitney classic; nachos. After dinner we took a drive through Red Rock Canyon, where we saw two more black bears and our first and only Canadian Grizzly of the trip.
Our whole Canada trip was eventful, but seeing the bears, hiking back across the border and having to scavenge for food all in one day definitely took the maple syrup…hehe.