Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hike to Crypt Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

This is the second installment of our Idaho-Montana 2018 Summer trip. For Part 1, click here. 

We woke up early at the Belly River campground and packed up. The kids were good at packing by now. We headed down the highway and spotted a dark spot along the side of the road. It was a black bear!

We had so much fun watching it forage. And it totally ignored us, which was nice. So was being in a vehicle!

Already feeling great about the day, we continued on. The night before, I had realized that we had a full day we could spend in Waterton and/or Glacier. We could deal with crowded parking lots and do short hikes. Or we could sign up for the Crypt Lake hike, which included a boat ride across the lake and a 5.5-mile hike to a mountain lake, with a tunnel to traverse along the way. The kids weren't super sure of so much hiking, but a few sweet snacks convinced them it might be okay.

The boat ride was uneventful, but we were surprised by just how many hikers were with us! It turned out a lot of people wanted to do this hike on this July Saturday.

We hung around the dock and let the crowds take off, then entered the very green forest.

Before long, we realized that we could forage, too, just like the bear. This made us all so happy. And we had most of the forest hike to ourselves.

Eventually we got to some very rocky sections.

We had been warned that we might see bears and were carrying the requisite bear spray, but all we saw was this little ground squirrel.

We also saw lots of waterfalls. Here's the second one along the way.

A bit further on and we saw the third one. The lake wasn't much above that! But how were we going to get up past that big cliff?

The answer lies in a tunnel. I'm not sure when the tunnel was made, but it was impressive to see people disappearing into the dark.

After walking on a narrow ledge, you climb up a steel ladder bolted into the cliff.

Then it's time to go into the dark.

The kids were right at home.

It was a little scramble coming out the other side.

The ledge got narrower.

And then we hung onto a cable as climbed higher along the cliff face. I had total confidence in these kids, they had done much harder stuff before.

Soon we were back in the forest for a short hike...

...and then we arrived at the lake! It was beautiful--but crowded.

The kids were happy to skip stones and eat more food while I walked around the lake. I even went into the U.S. at the far end of it, but thankfully there are no signs.

Here's Crypt Lake from the U.S. side.

We had to keep an eye on the time so we could catch our boat ride back. The return hike had more spectacular views.

Going back through the tunnel and down the ladder was easy.

And then we continued the rest of the way down to the lake, about 2,300 feet in elevation.

When we got to the dock, there was quite a crowd and we prepared ourselves for a long wait. But it turned out we had tickets for the first boat, and they went by ticket time. So we were able to board right away.

That meant we had time for dinner out in Waterton. The kids were into carbo loading--pizza and burgers! I didn't disagree.

Next up was a drive back into the U.S. (with a bear sighting at the boundary) and down to St. Mary's, where we found a private campground for the night. But I couldn't resist popping into Glacier, where we celebrated again with dessert. And if you're wondering why Desert Boy is making such weird faces, he thinks I'm just so millennial taking photos of what we're eating. The joke's on him--I'm too old to be a millennial. But whatever!
Here's more info on the Crypt Lake hike. It was a wonderful way to spend the day and get away from our vehicle for many hours. And when I ask the kids what was their favorite hike this year, they say Crypt Lake.

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