Day 8 - Close Encounters of the Grizzly Kind!

Trip Start Jul 22, 2011
Trip End Aug 15, 2011

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Friday, July 29, 2011

Wow, what a fantastic day, my favourite of the holiday so far. I'm knackered now; it’s 10.55pm, and we've had another long day, as we set off at 9.15am, and got in at 9.45pm! Well worth it though. I’m knackered, but need to write up this blog as if I leave it until tomorrow night I’ll have tomorrow to write up as well. Start of a slippery slope!

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 continued back along the trail, making a noise as we did so, not wanting to startle any bears! We passed people with bear bells attached to their rucksacks, which make a noise to alert the bears to their presence.

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 climbed (Tegz hobbled!) down to the river, and splashed into the icy cold water, wearing sandals to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s fiasco! The boys loved it, and we ended up hiking up the river as far as we could, while Tegz sunned herself on some rocks. All went well, till I fell on my bum in the freezing water! Good job I could see the funny side!

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. At this point it worth mentioning that Cian is fastidious with his peeling, and has like 100 pieces of peel and pith, so imagine an armed guard with handful of peel and bits. Very funny.

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!
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rhians on

Hellooo All, just caught up on your adventures, aw what a beautiful place, but i agree with you Lu, this is my favourite so far!! Aw poor Tegz, hope she not too bad now,never mind it's a good excuse to just sit in the sun and relax!! Am loving the pic of you in the drink, classic! Not like you to be! Keep on keeping on all, am loving the stories. Take care and may the bear bells ring out loud and proud!!.xxxxxxx

Mam on

Hi How is Tegz foot ?
You all look as if you are having a good time .Nice of you to show Tegz the correct way to fall on your bum, make sure you dont follow suit and cut your foot as well .Nice to be close to a bear and not have bars around it now I know why ou went running every morning Luce incase you needed to LOL. Gosh in most places they look for guns and explosive `s tangerines must be really powerfull things Do you throw them at people or just get them to smell them LOl
All for now watch those bears
Mam xx

Mam on

Whats a bear trash can look like ?
forgot to ask

mcfarlne on

I love the photos of the second bear, wicked. Really reminds me of my hiking in Alaska and how hard i was shaking my bear bell non stop. Also the fact that my knees were knocking together louder than the bell when we came across fresh paw prints and all a clawing post!!!

Just spent 20 mins catching up on the blog has been a busy weekend. I do hope Tegy is feeling a bit better and glad she is taking it easy with her foot. Big hugs all :0). Chris x

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