Such is the glacial pace of my blogging that I am only now getting to the next part of report on some travels in SE Alberta that Mrs. Padre and I took last month. After seeing Writing on Stone Provincial Park (see last post), we pointed Appa the Volksbison (see previous post) west, travelling along Alberta’s Mormon Trail through quiet rural towns like Magrath and Cardston, with the mountains growing closer on the horizon.

Our destination was Waterton National Park, one of my favourite places on earth. Waterton is sometimes called the place where the prairies and the mountains meet, and unlike the region further north around Banff and Canmore, there is hardly any interstitial area of foothills. You just kind of arrive at the base of this part of the Rockies. The weekend in question, June 22-24, was the Waterton Wildflower Festival, and Mrs. Padre was booked into several workshops on nature photography, something she is getting very good at. That left me free to hike on Saturday.

The trail I chose was the Rowe Lakes Trail, a moderate 12km route that takes you to two mountain lakes. The weather was threatening rain, but I got an early start and it was dry and misty, only starting to rain late in the morning as I was on my way back down. All the pictures that follow were taken with my iphone 1 using the HDR app.

There wildflowers aplenty in the meadows off the lower parts of the trail, and while I’m not an expert, I got this photo of some wild clematis (as I later learned it was) to show Kay.

Some lovely little waterfalls are visible off the lower part of the trail.

My favourite shot of the day, looking up the slopes of Mount Rowe at these trees in the mist.

AS I got about half way up the trail I noticed a small patch of snow, and since it was the second day of summer, that seemed rather cute to me. “Awwwww, snow!” I said, and bent down and touched it. Another few hundred metres of elevation, and the trail began to look like this, with snow covering long sections. I stayed warm enough in my shorts, but occasionally I broke through to the knee and that was both cold and scratchy.

I was able to make it to Lower Rowe and was rewarded with this incredible sight.

By Lower Rowe Lake, looking up the mountain side at a waterfall. Lots of snow!

After resting at Lower Rowe Lake I headed off to follow the trail to the upper Lake, and made it about a kilometre before giving up. At higher elevations the snow was everywhere, totally covering the ground, and the footprints marking the established trail grew fainter and fainter, until I became increasingly nervous about losing it altogether and blundering around in thick woods. With a magnetic compass and a topo map I would probably have been ok, but I felt discretion was the better part of valour, and turned around. An hour and a half later, as I got back off the trail to my car, a light drizzle had turned into a steady rain, and I felt sorry (slightly) for the pack of teenagers I had passed in tshirts, shorts and sandals. Not sure what they were thinking.

Waterton is one of the hidden gems of Canada’s parks, and is worth visiting if you are in this part of Canada. I hope to make it back before the summer is over and discover Upper Rowe Lake and parts beyond.

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