Cruising Waterton Lake
Waterton Glacier International Peace Park
Tourist season in the village of Waterton Lake, Albert, Canada winds down in mid-September. We’ve hit a pleasant day with sunshine therefore we decide to take the morning cruise on the Historic M.V. International. The 9-mile long lake spans the US/Canadian boarder. The narrated 2-¼-hour trip on Upper Waterton Lake leaves from the townsite, the boat stops at Goat Haunt, Montana for 30 minutes.
Haze from several forest fires in the American west affects our views of the rugged mountains in the backcountry of Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. Ridge after ridge – each becomes fainter.
The crew spots two American Bald Eagles, slows the boat and shuts down the engines. We watch as one of the eagles stands on the stony shore spreading and flapping it’s wings. Our guide informs us that eagles do not have waterproof feathers so if one goes underwater for a fish they must dry their wings before flying again. The second eagle sits high in a pine tree seemingly on lookout.
About half way down the lake we cross the 49th parallel the boundary between the United States and Canada. Passengers may disembark at Goat Haunt to peruse the open-air visitor center focusing on local wildlife or take the lakeside walk to a viewing platform. Those wishing to hike further into the park must clear US customs – surely one of the most remote of border custom stations. Hikers may return on a later trip this afternoon or the hearty can hike back up the lake to the townsite.
With decreased wind and increased sunshine the trip back to Waterton Lakes is uncommonly warm and pleasant, no need for jacket or the shelter of the lower deck. We’ve been on this cruise a couple of times in the summer yet today is the mildest we’ve experienced.
The stately Prince of Wales hotel sits above the north end of the lake. Bob hoped to partake of high tea at the hotel but it has closed for the season with the tall lobby windows being boarded up for winter protection. Last week a snow storm hit the park; we’re incredibly fortunate to have such a lovely September day in the park.