Friday, July 31, 2015

Day 51: Waterton River, Montana to Waterton Lakes, Alberta, CANADA!!!

The cold morning air hurt our fingers as we hiked along the trail. Through the trees, we watched the sunlight slowly creep down the mountains. Spotting a sunlight stretch of beach on Waterton Lake, we ducked through the brush to the beach to warm up and enjoy the views. 

Voices carried up the trail through the trees. Mike and Maggie!  We had missed them in camp the night before. The ranger had apparently directed them to the Goat Haunt Shelters, rather than the Waterton River Camp.  We were happy to see them, and the four of us began hiking together. 

A young black bear grazed near the trail. We were so engrossed in conversation, we almost missed him. He scampered away up the trail as we approached. 

Trail signs indicating the distance in kilometers were our first sign that we were approaching the border. Another sign provided immigration and customs information. And then we spotted the treeless strip that divides the Unites States from Canada. Two monuments, commemorating the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park and the United States/Canadian border marked the official end of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. 

Although we had reached the official end of the CDT, we had not yet reached end of our journey. After some time for photos and celebration, we continued another four miles to the trailhead in the Canadian town of Waterton, Alberta. There we said our goodbyes to our new friends, Mike and Maggie, hopeful our paths will cross again someday. 

Food was our first priority, as it is usually is when we reach town. But after refueling with lunch and, of course, ice cream, we had time to explore the town. We lounged by Waterton Lake, joining hordes of tourists as we cleaned up and played in the water. Then we were off to the Prince of Wales Hotel, enjoying the incredible view from a window- side table overlooking the lake and the surrounding mountains.