Cathy Walker (Week 2): Monday morning trip was to Rowe Lakes with our interpretive guide, Karen. It was a wonderful start to the week. On our way back we met a hiker coming up the trail who was walking by himself. He said he’d seen what he thought was a wolverine. Wow, I thought. Highly unlikely, said the guide. Perhaps it was a badger, said the man. Also unlikely, said the guide. I’ll bet it was a marmot, I thought to myself, though I’d never seen a marmot right on a trail. Sure enough, walking down a little while later we saw a hoary marmot on the trail. We all had a good chance to take pictures of it as it wasn’t interested in moving off until we got very close to it. “What was it eating?” That’s the question posed by Wendy Wales, our group’s reporter at the camp meeting that evening. All sorts of sensible guesses were things like grass, flowers, etc. But one knowledgeable camper guessed “bear poop”. Well, almost right. It was horse poop, which must be full of nutritious, partly digested grasses. Who knew? Well, one knowledgeable camper certainly did.
Our hike to Bertha Lake was enjoyable, particularly at the beginning of the trail when we saw five young male white tail deer just off the trail to our left. The five sets of antlers barely poked above the lush vegetation. Oh why did I not have my camera out? On the way back I thought I’d go back a bit ahead of our group to see if I could catch a glimpse of them again in the same area. Not likely I thought but, camera in hand this time, I was still disappointed I didn’t see them on the same part of the trail. I thought I’d just have time to make a quick trip to the washroom before the rest of our hikers got back. And there were the bucks sitting down, resting and snoozing in front of the campground’s women’s washroom.
Bill Kinkaid (Week 1): Across the campground road from the dining and cook tents is the Nature Conservancy property, several hectares of preserved Rough Fescue Prairie, with a wonderful display of wildflowers. The early summer bloom there was a revelation, and went a long way toward making up for the relative disappointment that much of the bloom in the high alpine country was saving itself for the second week. Many of us enjoyed wandering around the area, especially in the evening when the light was right for sunsets and photography. One afternoon after returning from the day's hike, I started out through the flowers, but had only gone about 100 metres when a heavy thunderstorm began to hit. I quickly made my way back to the dining tent, and sat out the storm with a cup of tea.
About half an hour later, having collected my gore-tex, I ventured out again, and made it to the far end of the property when the next wave of the storm hit. Here I had no choice but to hunker down and practise my lightning avoidance technique (crouch down low in a hollow downhill from the high point of land and wait it out). The storm eased up what seemed like an hour later (but was probably no more than ten minutes) and I decided to make a break for the dining tent again, watching the sky intently and with images from the Pastoral Symphony segment of Fantasia running through my mind.
Which brings us to my own mammalian moment. The next day, in much improved weather, I successfully completed a circuit of the trail, noting that the flowers were already starting to fade. Near the end, in a stand of aspens near the south end of the trail, I saw something moving that was obviously bigger than the Columbian ground squirrels which were all over the campground. A marmot, I thought, maybe a yellow-bellied marmot. But when one of them got up on its hind legs to look at me, I had a better look: not one, but three badgers. They didn't give me much time, and I was reluctant to get closer, but I managed to get a couple of poor shots of them before they disappeared into the aspens or into a burrow. Afterward, looking them up in the guidebook, I learned that ground squirrels are their favourite meal and badgers often live nearby. They certainly picked a good spot there.
"Anonymous" (Week 2): Those of you who brought your cell phones to Waterton camp and compared experiences with fellow campers may have noted that some providers had better coverage than others.
I was seated outside the mess tent enjoying breakfast with a woman under the expanse of the wide open prairie sky. I now forget what what we were talking about; maybe somewhere during the conversation the topic of cell phones had come in.
Suddenly she put her plate down and excused herself, saying that "When I get this call I must take care of it." And she trundled off into the distance. I continued on, enjoying Jane's eggs and sausage and whatever else I could pile on my plate. I thought it was nice of her to spare me having to listen in on fragments of whatever domestic business would have come on this call. Many minutes later my breakfast companion came back to join me.
I said, "have you got your cell phone set on "vibrate"? I never heard it ring."
She replied, "Oh no, that was not my phone, that was the call of nature!"
For a map from Parks Canada showing directions to the park, a map of the park, and a map of the Waterton townsite, click here
|List of hikes at Waterton Lakes||44 KB|
|Easy walks and trips at Waterton||30 KB|
|Waterton Quick Facts.pdf (from Parks Canada)||53.62 KB|
|Waterton Plant List||89.88 KB|
|Plants recorded at 2011 Waterton camp||63.5 KB|
|Birds seen and/or heard at camp||28 KB|