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April 8, 2018

Waterton National park

by swebackpacker

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Waterton National Park was my last visit in Canadian Rocky Mountains. This is the most southern national park bordering the Glacier National Park in Montana United States. My main goals were walking the Crypt Lake trail and see the famous Price of Wales hotel fantastic setting at Upper Waterton Lake.

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The Prince of Wales hotel got its name from King Edward VIII, his title before becoming King of England was Prince of Wales. The hotel was built by Great Northern Railway Company in United States during 1926. The hotel blew down twice due to the strong winds in Waterton area but in the end engineers found a stable construction for the hotel. The Prince of Wales was on a tour in Canada during 1927 and the Great Northern Railway Company tried to entice the Prince of Wales to stay at the hotel by giving the hotel his title as name of the hotel. However Prince of Wales stayed at his own EP Ranch in Pekisko Creek instead

The Opening of Prince of Wales Hotel

EP Ranch Pekisko Creek

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Bison Paddock Loop Road is located just inside Waterton National Park. There are for the moment fourteen bison in the Paddock. One is allowed to drive into the Paddock Loop Road but not to leave the car. During spring, summer and autumn direct descendants from the original herd of Great Plain bison lives and graze in their natural habits.

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For sightings of wild bison in Alberta one has to travel to Wood Buffalo National Park or Elk Island National Park. However last year Canadian authorities introduced a small herd of bison to Banff National Park.

Wood Buffalo National Park

Elk Island National Park

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Crypt Lake trail is considered the most beautiful hike in Canada and one of the top twenty most thrilling hikes in the world (according to National Geographic). The 17.2 km return trek is both challenging and rewarding.

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Among the challenges is elevation gain 675 meter on a sometimes steep trail, climbing metal ladders up to a tunnel in the mountain, walk through a very narrow tunnel, after the tunnel use a steel wire to climb up the mountain side from the tunnel.

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One shall be prepared to meet bears on the trail particularly when walking through the wooded area of Crypt Lake trail. I didn´t see bears on Crypt Lake since I am walking slowly on steep trails and was one of the last through the woods. Two young girls did see black bear on the trail; they were probably the first ones through the woods? I only did see a badger (or maybe not a badger I am not familiar with the Canadian animals?).

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I have a strategy to walk slowly and breath on all small steps, in this way you never run out of energy, this is particularly helpful on steep trails. If you walk slowly and breathe on every step you can walk continuously for a very long time, maybe an hour or several hours. I learnt this strategy form a mountain guide in South America.

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Most people walk fast and become weary, they take a rest, walk fast again after the rest and becomes weary once again, these people are surprised to see me caching up with them and walk past them, while they are taking another rest. They don´t understand, that they are using up far more energy than I am doing. It cost a lot of energy, to start up walking again after a rest than it takes to walk slowly and continuously for a long time without rests.

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The Crypt Lake trail starts with a boat tour on Upper Waterton Lake, a recommend to go with the first boat in the morning at 08:30 am or the second at 09:00 am so you have as much times as possible on the Crypt Lake Trail. You have to be back at the pier 05:30 pm for the last boat back to Waterton! The Crypt Lake starts up with a couple of km walk in the woods not too step trail but be careful, you will need the energy later on the demanding parts near the top of the trail!

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The landscape opens up and the trail becomes much steeper. You will see three waterfalls on the way up. You will even have to come across a small water stream which can be tricky if you don´t have walking poles.

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The more demanding parts of Crypt Lake trail are on its way. We are walking towards the metal ladder and the entrance to the tunnel. This part is not for people afraid of heights. Crypt Lake trail is considered a difficult trail. This is one of the reasons.

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After the tunnel the steel wires waits it´s not easy to meet people in the bend you see behind the man in the red jacket. In the next picture one can see one person coming into the bend.

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The steel wire is the last demanding part of Crypt Lake trail and it comes in the end of the 8.9 km from the Upper Waterton Lake it’s only a few hundred meters left to the top. The elevation gain is 675 meter so see to that you have energy left for the last tricky part of Crypt Lake.

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The weather report said thirty degree Celsius during the day and sunny weather! Just after the steel wires there was rain and about fifteen degree Celsius. Luckily this was a short shower but the weather at Crypt Lake was cloudy.

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At last Crypt Lake as you can see from the picture it´s snow all the way down to the lake in the middle of July.

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The nice and beautiful Cameron Falls is almost in Waterton village Centre along Evergreen Avenue.

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Cameron Lake is a sixteen km drive from Waterton on Akamina Parkway. This is a nice and beautiful area but they warned for walking to far into the woods due to the risks for meeting Grizzly bears.

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My last visit in Waterton National Park was the Red Rock Canyon. This was a popular area for Canadian families. This is a fifteen km drive from Waterton on Red Rock Pathway.

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Prepare your trip to Waterton National Park well in advance. According to guidebooks this national park was the least visited national park in Canadian Rocky Mountains. This was far from the case all camping areas inside Waterton National Park was fully booked. I did stay at Waterton Spring Camping a couple of km from Waterton National Park. This was a nice camping area but be prepared for very strong winds. The camping area is an open area so shelter for strong winds is not possible find.

Cimate in Waterton

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© SWEBackpacker, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material including pictures without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SWEBackpacker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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