Bear Hump and Crypt Lake

On Wednesday afternoon we arrived in Waterton Lakes National Park.  We had already reserved a campsite in the town of Waterton, so we wasted no time in setting up camp.  Being in town, it’s not the most scenic (think lots of RV’s and no privacy), but it suited our needs in terms of the hikes we wanted to do.  And it is on the beautiful Waterton Lake, which makes up for the crowdedness a little.

Our campsite at Townsite Campground

On the recommendation of a couple of fellow hikers we met earlier on the trip, we decided to use the remainder of the afternoon to hike the short Bear Hump trail to an area that overlooks the town and Waterton Lake.   It was a steep but short climb (.9 miles) and did offer a beautiful view of the area.

Matt looking out over Waterton Lake from the top of Bear Hump

Matt and I atop Bear Hump

We had decided to tackle the Crypt Lake Hike on Thursday, and left the dock (you have to take a boat over to the trailhead from town) at 9 AM.  It only takes about 10-15 minutes to ride across Waterton Lake to the trailhead.  On the way, we passed the Prince of Wales Hotel – a famous landmark in Waterton.

The Prince of Wales Hotel

The Crypt Lake hike winds through the woods for the first few miles as you hike switchback after switchback. Between miles 3-5, however, you encounter 3 different waterfalls (Twin Falls, Burnt Rock Falls, and Crypt Falls), each one getting progressively bigger.  Crypt Falls was nearly 600’ tall, formed from the runoff of Crypt Lake.  Matt and I got to see it from both the top and the bottom, which was pretty cool.

Crypt Falls

Now the last mile is where the fun really began.  To actually get to the lake, you have to get around a pretty sheer cliff, and the designers of the trail decided to do this by making the trail about 2 feet wide as you follow the cliff around.  They were nice enough to put a cable in case you felt the need to hold on.  But the best part was the tunnel through the mountain.  To get around the curve of the cliff, you have to climb a 9 foot ladder into a short tunnel through the mountain, which spits you out on the other side so you can then reach the lake.  Pretty epic.

Matt ascending the ladder into the tunnel

Upon reaching the lake, we wasted no time in hiking to the opposite end to avoid the hoards of hikers on the near end.  Plus, there was a small glacier to walk on!  Oh, and the U.S./Canadian border is somewhere on the far end of the lake, and getting to cross a border without a passport is a rarity these days. Anyway, we enjoyed a hot backpacker’s lunch before walking back around the lake on the opposite side and heading back down the trail.

Me (Allison) cooking lunch

Walking on a glacier!

We got to cross through the tunnel and around the cliffs again on the return trip.

Hugging the cliff

Matt walking along the cliffs with Crypt Falls in the background

Crouching through the tunnel

Hiking the switchbacks

Partway through the hike we decided to take the Hellroaring Canyon loop back to the dock to get a change of scenery.  It was a beautiful canyon, though hard to photograph due to the amount of trees.  However, we also got a surprise visitor along the trail – a bear cub romping through the forest.  This one, we think a grizzly, was smaller than the two yesterday and very interested in finding berries.  So interested, in fact, that after we scared him off into the woods the first time, we encountered him again eating berries 50 feet from the trail.  This time, he was not inclined to be scared off. He just kept an eye on us as we passed by.  We took time to photograph what we could see of him between berry bushes, then moved on to avoid encountering the mother bear.

The bear cub eating berries

The rest of the trail was uneventful and we headed back on the 4 PM boat to Waterton.

Published in: on August 19, 2012 at 1:06 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a great day!

  2. It sure was beautiful scenery for you to enjoy. It looks like it could not have been a nicer day for the hike…well, I’m sure Matt would have preferred a cool rain! : )

  3. Great photos!

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