High River, (just south of Calgary eh!), Alberta
Posted - 06/03/2007 : 7:14 PM
| Bertha Lake (Waterton N.P) June 2, 2007
Family outing so an ‘easy one’ was requested.
Trailhead: Just past Cameron Falls South of Waterton townsite, signed Trailhead.
Distance: Total 10.4 km 2.6km to falls, 2.6 km falls to lake
Elevations: TH 1295m, Bertha Falls 1475m, Bertha Lake 1795m.
Trail condition: Good, with some snow at final approach to lake and around lake.
Waterton is one of my favorite places and it was a real treat to get down here for an early season hike.
A quick check in at the info center and they informed me that there was a bear warning on the first bit of the lakeshore trail and a bear closure for the Bertha Bay backcountry campsite. Apparently a bear had ‘obtained’ some food left in a hikers tent so as a precaution they closed the site. We saw half a dozen fresh bear scat along the trail composed mostly of plant material. No bear-bells, must be from a black bear.
The first 1.5km is easy rolling grade parallel to the lake through lush forest which at this time of year is teaming with wildflowers. At approx. 1.5 km the trail reaches a viewpoint from which you can see back North toward the Waterton townsite and out to the prairies and onward south down Waterton Lake into Montana’s Glacier National Park.
At this point the trail departs inland through mature forest providing views back toward Waterton Lake and across to Vimy Peak.
An example of apical dominance.
Some Indian Paintbrush and Beargrass Xerophyllum tenax a plant unique to the Southern Rockies. My wife (who is always very aware of the risks around bears) narrows her eyes and says ‘Why do they call it bear grass?’ … ‘Tell ya later hon’
A short scramble up the slope for a better view.
Soon we began to encounter the remains of winter snow drifts and avalanche chutes and it was obvious the trail had very recently been snow covered.
Upper Bertha Falls thru the trees.
Upon reaching the lake there was a lot more snow but the lake was free of ice. There is a circuit of the lake but it was pretty snow covered so we had lunch.
Did someone say lunch?
The end of the line.
Some Pussy Willows and Glacier Lilies… quite a contrast to the lower elevations.
True to the forecast the clouds rolled in and peals of thunder warned of what was coming. I wanted to go a little further up the lakeshore trail to see Bertha Bay (trail guide says lots of flat stones for skipping) but incoming rain and rumbles of ice-cream; outvoted 3:1. Another time.
Parting shot from a scenic viewpoint off Hwy 6 on the way toward Pincher Creek. It always amazes me how fast the mountains rise up from rolling grassland right into the mountains here. Had to look up the name of this plant… Arrowhead balsam root Balsamorhiza sagittata. It was in a lot of the roadside pastures from Waterton to all along the Whaleback area next to hwy 22.