Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Waterton and Water

 Waterton National Park, in Alberta Canada is part of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a union of the Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and the Glacier National Park in the United States, their union is a World Heritage Site, achieved through the efforts of Rotary International members from Alberta and Montana, on June 18, 1932. No doubt the park name was coined from a nice abundance of water. Landscape photography is always better with water, and Waterton does not disappoint.

We rolled in to the park rather in late afternoon from what was an entire day's driving from Glacier. Having done little research on the park we went to the visitor's center right away and asked what was available for camping. Being from the states we were accustomed to dispersed camping around the perimeter of the national parks. Canada was surprisingly a lot different. The don't have national forests, just provincial parks, and national parks. The surrounding property in Canada is privately owned, so free camping is not on the menu. The fees were a bit steep too. $25/day will get you a week in our national park, but only a day in theirs. It didn't take long to figure out that when entering a Canadian National park you pay for a day and stay a week. If you wanted to say longer, and pay for it you would have to leave the park and enter again to pay. There was little enforcement, and no easy way to pay for longer stays with out going through the entrance station again.

 The visitor center was accommodating, and helped us find a campground with empty spots by calling them directly for us. Tired from driving we retired to our campground; pamphlets and research material in hand. Pulling up to the kiosk, the teller was sweating profusely and complaining about the heatwave. We notice a flier on the bulletin board announcing a native indian dance presentation they were having at the campground that evening. The native Canadian tribes are referred to as "First Nation" people.

 They share similar cultural practices as their Native American counterparts. They even get a monthly stipend from the Government. The early elders negotiated a stately sum of $5 a month per person in return for their land. In the day it may have been nice, but the contract didn't make provisions for inflation. They still get their $5, but have to wait in line all day to get it, and as you know, can only get you a nice cup of coffee. Tres bien.

 The next day the weather returned to normal temperatures, and finally some clouds made their appearance. Our day was full of bear sightings and waterfall hikes. We caught a bear swimming in Waterton creek, another bear dining on a kill, and a mother with two little cubs. The great thing about Canada's parks; you can hike with your dogs. We took them up Lineham Creek to the main falls, and leisurely back down again, acutely aware of the extreme bear activity.

 We made as much noise as possible as we passed trees with deep claw marks, and took care not to step in large droppings. Our running joke was "Does a bear shit in the woods...." as we side-stepped large mounds. "No." They shit on the trail. We wrapped up the day in Waterton townsite, visiting the cute shops and coffee houses. Ducking the occasional cloudburst, we stocked up on provisions getting ready for our next foray to Banff.

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