Statistics: mileage 11.8 miles, ascent 1440′, descent 3150′.
We approached Alberta’s Waterton National Park from the east after passing through a small US/Canada border-crossing at Chief Mountain in Montana’s Glacier Park. After a short drive into the park, we located our hotel, The Prince of Wales Hotel high on a hilltop, clearly visible for miles around. It had been built in 1927 by the Great Northern Railway to encourage the public to visit and enjoy the park.
The elegantly rustic hotel, which maintained the flavor of its heyday, was to be our home for the next three days as we enjoyed three separate day-hikes. After settling in, we headed down to the local sports shop for any current directions or information available about the first hike, the Carthew-Alderson Trail. We also needed to book a bus ride to that hike’s trailhead the next morning and (may I add, very importantly) bought bear spray, which included a lesson in how to use it! Now the only potential problem was an impending storm, expected to begin the next morning.
All night the windows rattled due to the severe wind and torrents of rain, but by the morning the sun appeared behind the clouds and we were a “go” for the hike! After breakfast we boarded the bus and were off to the trailhead at Cameron Lake!
We were excited as we embarked on our first adventure in Waterton, initially climbing a series of switchbacks which ended near small, peaceful Summit Lake. We had been warned of an aggressive moose in the area so we made a lot of noise to avoid surprising it. As an aside, I have to say, moose have always managed to elude me to the point that I really wonder if they exist! So, true to form, the elusive, aggressive moose did not show itself which was probably for the best!
Soon we broke free of the trees and worked our way up a large, scree-filled cirque. At the Carthew Summit, we were able to easily see the trail we had just climbed on the southern face of Mt. Carthew.
Approaching the summit, the views in all directions were stunning. Far below us, Lake Wurdeman and Lake Nooney looked like two sapphires nestled among the trees.
The view in the opposite direction was just as impressive, as the Carthew lakes came into view.
Winding our way down from the very windy summit we came to the first of the three Carthew Lakes. The trail was almost in the water!
As we continued, it was easy to see why this trail is a park favorite. The water splashing down a lovely waterfall from the Carthew lakes went on to Lake Alderson.
Lake Alderson was another show stopper! Its deep blue color was worthy of the dozen or more pictures we took, ever trying to capture the perfect image.
We continued to descend through a heavily wooded path, a perfect location for bears dining on the berries growing everywhere. So as not to startle a bear, we constantly kept up a conversation and when we were tired of talking or singing we resorted to “Yo, Bear, we’re coming!”
Even the rocks in the streams were beautiful and highly colored!
Still on the trail, we had a good view of the town of Waterton Park below us.
One more gorgeous waterfall, Cameron Falls, and soon we had returned to the hotel. What an amazing day!!