We were now headed to Waterton Lakes International Peace Park which is the Canadian side of Glacier National Park.  How great that two countries can share the upkeep of such a special piece of land.  

On our journey to the park we were able to stock up a little on fresh veggies.  Once in the park there would only be tiny grocery stores which we were guessing wouldn’t have a lot of fresh things.

Day 1 – Arrival

The first thing we noticed about the park was that there were a handful of residential homes within park boundaries.  As with Banff and Kootenay national parks there was also a little town inside the boundaries of the park.  So very bizarre to see after being used to US national parks.  I do wonder how it all works; do residents lease the land?  What kind of rules do they have to adhere to I wonder? It’s a tricky balance to preserve the parks and to let people enjoy them without doing too much damage.

As soon as we arrived we got Azul and Wobbles parked at the Townsite Campground and walked to the visitor’s center.  Well, weather was hit and miss with rain and on our way it started down pouring.  We took shelter under a tree until it passed.

To our great relief, the visitor’s center was a good one.  Sadly there weren’t any books to read or any kind of trinkets to look at in a gift shop but they had a mini interactive museum that was full of good information as well as artistic talent.  There were two huge wall murals that were not only painted but sculpted as well.  The artist had the various animals within the scene popping out of the painting with life-like sculptures accenting each animal.  There was an interactive screen by each wall showing a digital image of the mural.  You could touch each animal or plant and the computer would not only identify it for you but give you a little informational paragraph about it.  It was so neat and such a great idea!  It made me want to make one at Crow Farm.

We also found a great display showing with lights on a 3D map how their 2017 wildfire spread.  It started with a lightening strike and ended up burning most of the park. Firefighters were able to save the Prince of Whales Hotel and some other structures. In exploring some of the park, it looks as though they had lost a number of structures as well and had rebuilt since. At the visitor’s center the Xplorer’s book was unfortunately the same as the one as in Banff so the young kids working at the center just gave the girls dog tag prizes without them doing the workbook.

About the time we were leaving the museum a storm came in with howling wind, pouring rain and some hail.  So, we decided to stay at the museum for a little bit longer.  We found a break in the rain and made a run for it back to the campground.  I felt bad for all the dozens of tenters.  The wind was crazy strong!!  We decided it was a good night for a movie.  We all snuggled while we watched Monster’s University.  Such a hoot!

Day 2 – Lineham Falls Trail

The next morning we set out to hike the Lineham Trail, a 6 mile there and back with a waterfall view at the end.  We found that most of the bathroom houses weren’t open quite yet after all the reconstruction from the 2017 fire and due to the fact that the park had only opened a week before we arrived.  We did, however, find some very snuggled up porta-potties in a parking lot close to the trailhead.  They were the funniest things wrapped in what was essentially a blanket for the winter.  I sure was glad that thing was somewhat insulated though.  The wind was so fierce I thought for sure I was going to get tipped over in that thing!  I didn’t dawdle in the slightest, I’ll tell you that. 

On our way back to the trailhead we saw a brown colored black bear with her two cubs.  They were beautiful and so incredibly different from what I have seen before.  The mama black bear had one blonde colored cub and one black!  Was one of these cubs a black bear and the other a grizzly I wondered.  I did some research and bears do sometimes adopt lost cubs from other mama’s but I also learned that sometimes black bear mamas have two different colored cubs.  So interesting and so beautiful!

Thankfully Justin had rented some bear spray for our hike because that fluffy family was basically at the trailhead.  That made me feel a bit better.  We also had a bear bell and… we’re not quiet hikers.  Just in case, I reviewed what to do if we see a bear with the family before we set off.

The trail took us through the burnt forest which I thought would have been not so picturesque but I was wrong.  The regrowth on the forest floor was amazing!  There were wildflowers and berry bushes everywhere.  I thought, “Oh man.  That’s too bad the berries aren’t ripe.  We could have been munching on them the whole way.”  And then another thought crossed my mind; “Thank goodness these bearalicious berries are NOT ripe while we are hiking.”  There were mostly salmon berries and strawberries carpeting the forest floor but also some huckleberries.  Yum!  There were lots of flowers I wasn’t familiar with and no signs to identify them for me but there was Bear Grass which looks like white Red Hot Pokers that we have in Oregon.  There was also some Lupines and many other purples and yellows.

The burnt trees themselves were beautiful as well.  Some of the trees had beautifully patterned burns that looked like a cheetah pattern.  Other tree’s burnt bark had fallen off revealing a smooth magical silver color.  I also noticed how straight and pole-like the pines were making a very uniformed looking forest of grey poles towering over a lush green berry bush forest floor.

It was quite windy throughout the first three-forth’s of the hike as we were passing along the mountainside, fairly exposed due to the absence of trees making it a bit chilly.  We crossed stream after mountain stream.  It was just so lovely!

The trail was a narrow one way track with some rocks here and there.  Sadly, our youngest took a digger when she tried to run to catch up with Justin.  I remember the times when the girls would practically fall down whenever they ran and am glad it’s more rare now.  I had all that we needed and we patched her back up.

We sang, “The hills are alive…” from sound of music at the top of our lungs.  It was a 6 mile hike so we had lots of time to sing.  It helped us stay happy and helped keep the bears away; a natural repellent if you will.  The girls and I made up 2 new verses to Jingle Bells and sang them until we perfected them.  Then we brainstormed how we would do a music video of it when we got back to Crow Farm.

The weather was very unpredictable as we made our way around the mountainside at a steady climb.  It rained on us in bursts here and there throughout our hike and it made us thankful we brought our rain shells.  

As we walked farther on the hike we could see the path of the fire through the woods.  Where the fire had burned really hot, the trees were bare except for remaining limbs and trunk.  Where the fire was either less hot or quickly moved past the trees were dead but still held onto their needles which were now a crimson gold.  Once in a while we would see a section of forest that was spared.  In those places the forest floor was much more sparse with periodic low shrubbery or grasses here and there.

Along the way, as we got into the forested area that the fire hadn’t touched, we found a phenomenal waterfall.  There was so much force behind the water coming down into a fairly narrow but deep craves. In our minds this waterfall beat the falls at the end as you couldn’t hike very close to it.  That being said, the waterfall at the end was also very pretty and we took that opportunity to have a little bite to eat.  As I type that I am thinking, “when on the hike were the girls not eating?” Haha.  Sometimes I think they only go on hikes with us for the snacks.

Upper Waterton Lake

We ended our day by exploring a nature park down by the water at Upper Waterton Lake.  We were going to get pictures at the Prince of Whales Hotel but they wanted us to pay $10 for parking so we decided it wasn’t that important (although we could have parked below for free and walked up).

Waterton Lake had very high water, my guess is from snowmelt.  The water went up and over the cement stairway which seemed to once lead down to a stoney beach.  We snagged some ice cream while we took in the views and the girls played among the trees.

The rest of the evening I spent blogging while the girls had a blast drawing dragons.  It’s fun how such a little thing will occupy them for so long.  After they were done drawing some of the dragons they came up with a complicated system of organizing them according to powers, strength of powers and hierarchy of power and played “dragon” for hours. I love all that creativity!