Day 8 - Close Encounters of the Grizzly Kind!
Trip Start Jul 22, 2011
27Trip End Aug 15, 2011
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Our aim today was to get to Waterton Lakes National park, in Canada. Our plan is one day hiking, one day touring, so today was the latter and good timing to give Tegz’s foot a chance to heal. We travelled over the Looking Glass Road; the windiest, bumpiest road I have ever travelled on, with a terrible surface, and huge drop offs. Lyn loves it, I hate it. We got to the Canadian border, and luckily had remembered our passports. We were across the border with the minimum of fuss. A few minutes after that we came across a "bear jam"
Now, a few words about bears! Luckily we are quite used to the thought of sharing our holidays with bears, after staying in Mammoth Lakes, Yellowstone and Yosemite, but this was the first holiday we had been on where we had “Bear Spray” in a prominent position in our rented house. Cian, in particular, is quite nervous, especially seeing all the bear safe trash cans in the town.
We missed the bear in this particular bear jam, as he’d wandered into the trees, so we carried on our way to the first stop at Waterton Townsite, a beautiful little town just on the edge of Waterton Lake. The town is overlooked by the huge Prince of Wales Hotel, designed in a strong alpine style, and has amazing mountain views. The lake was a fantastic blue colour, but amazingly choppy. We had a look around, and the kids had an ice cream as we watched two deer wander into town. Lyn managed to bag himself a “Tilley” hat, which if the advert is true should out last him.
We then took the road up to Cameron Lake, which lead us to yet another fantastic turquoise lake, circled by snow filled mountains. We had a picnic on the beach, and then Lyn and I took the short walk around the shore line until we got to the sign saying we should go no further as we would then be well and truly in Grizzly Garden, as they forage for food on the avalanche slopes at the end of the lake, and the chances of surprising a grizzly was high
We called in at the Visitor Centre, and then took the other park road to Red Rock canyon, which is something I had been looking forward to as I have a bit of a fetish for canyons, especially red rock canyons.
We got within 5 minutes of the parking lot, and Lyn did an abrupt emergency stop. There was a grizzly eating on the side of the road, not 10 foot from our car. I wound the window down to take photos, telling Lyn in no uncertain terms he was to “wind my window up f***ing fast” should he come any closer. We watched him for a good 10 minutes, while other cars stopped around us to watch. It was amazing to see him so close, even closer than the one Lyn surprised in the river in Yosemite. He ambled back into the trees, we drove 30 seconds around a corner and ended up in the car park which was full of people. Did they know there was a hungry bear just, and I mean just, around the corner.
Red Rock Canyon was brilliant; it reminded us of Oak Creek canyon in Sedona
We spent ages there, until we really had to leave. On the way back to the border we saw another grizzly, this time across the road from us, and watched him for a good 15 minutes, taking loads of photos. Just after we drove off he ambled over the road behind us! Waiting for the Evans’s to leave!
Leaving Canada was a lot harder than entering it. The US border staff really quizzed us, and checked all through our car one telling Lyn to “put the car in park”, “apply the handbrake”, “turn off the engine” and “unlock all the doors” whilst the other armed border guard opened up the boot and browsed our car.
They asked if we had any fruit, including citrus to which we replied, yes, Cian had just eat a Tangerine, so the guard removed them from our cool box and even took the peel from Cian’s leftovers
Apparently we are not allowed to take tangerines back into the US which we had bought in Great Falls a few days earlier. I bet they were imported too !
Once we were back in the US we made one final stop in Many Glacier Valley, so we could check out the trail heads we had wanted to do for Iceberg Lake and Grinnell Glacier. The two walks are 9 and 11 miles long, and I can’t see any way Tegz will be able to do them. I’m a bit gutted, as I’ll stay with her now, while Lyn and Io do them. There’s no other option really. It’s a shame, but that’s life! At least I’ve bought a bear bell now, so Lyn and Io will be safe!
Going on the Going To The Sun Road tomorrow, across the park, which should be amazing…..if I can get up in the morning!