Monday August 6, 2012 – Cranbrook to Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta – 270 km
Waterton Lakes National Park ($30.00)
I camped in the Red Rock Canyon at Crandell Lake. It was the only place available as everything else was booked. There are mountains all around us and some have lovely red colours in the rock, hence the name I guess, Red Rock Parkway, Red Rock Canyon.
As I was looking for my campsite, a black bear popped out out of the bush on the side of the road, saw me, and after a good leisurely look at us, melted away into the bush. As I turned the corner, this turned out to be my campsite. Of course, Baloo was barking, so that might have helped the bear decide to leave. It is berry season and at the registration office when I asked the ranger about bears, he said there are lots of bears around, and to practice bear safety.
Five minutes later, I saw my first bear.
My campsite is small, dusty, and surrounded by scruffy bush. Baloo dug up some tasty garbage that some thoughtless person had buried at the edge of the campsite within the first minute of our arrival. I think he finished off the bear’s snack. There is a weathered grey picnic table and fire pit, but you have to purchase a fire permit to have a fire: I don’t like that idea, as I have my own firewood, it sounds like a forced extra fee to me so no evening fire.
When we went walking I found an inviting trail that heads into the lake but after walking a few steps along the quiet narrow path into dense bush, I decide to turn around. I am wary of bears, and I think Baloo could cause an interesting standoff and possible charge if he riled up a bear with his barking. I certainly find his loud bark annoying so God knows what a bear would think of it.
I arrived here about 5:30 tonight. I found it a long drive from Cranbrook, passing through the small towns of Fernie and Sparwood and of course I do stop a lot to look around, after all, that’s what I am travelling for, to see things, not to get somewhere. What added to the drive today was that there was a lot of traffic due to the Alberta Heritage Holiday. I discovered that there were many high speed drivers pulling trailers in Alberta and I kept pulling over and stopping in various pullouts to let them by and rush off to their own funeral. As soon as we crossed over the border into Alberta, I saw dozens of units pulled over and lined up for cheaper gas at a very strategically located gas station – they must have been driving on fumes.
Today was a beautiful drive over the Crowsnest Pass. Five towns make up the Crowsnest and there’s a lovely lake up at the top too. I passed the memorial sign for the Frank Slide, where a huge part of Turtle Mountain came down on part of a sleeping town in 1903, but kept going.
It was amazing to see how abruptly the huge formations of the Rocky mountains stopped and the flat prairie land and huge farms began. I felt sad and wondered how long it would be before I would see beautiful towering mountains again. But only for a moment, I was excited to see the prairie farms and to be in Alberta. And as it turns out, when you head south and get near Waterton Park, you are once again in the Rocky Mountains. I saw electricity generating wind farms and thought it must get awful windy around this area.
Fernie is a good place to stop, it’s a nice little town in the mountains. I walked along the Emily Brydon Trail that follows the Elk River and really enjoyed its quiet beauty.
I am happy and excited to be here, I have made it out of BC! It’s dusty though and I miss the sweet scent of the pine forest in Cranbrook. Tonight as I write in my journal I am amazed to see that I have been living in my trailer now for six weeks – a Vagabond Girl indeed.
Photos © Janice Henshaw