Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Nothing to Offer but Blood, Sweat and Bears
We buy tickets on the "International" in Waterton, Alberta. She's 84 years old, all wood and carries 200 passengers South to Goat Haunt, Montana four times a day.
Waterton Lake is ten miles long. Our tickets are "one-way". We plan to hike back. This is our third time on the 10.5 mile hike. It's sort of a way to prove to ourselves that we're still viable. Mrs. Phred and I are the only ones making the hike today..
When we get off the boat and two Homeland Security agents in black uniforms examine our passports. It's 90 miles of wilderness to the nearest US road, but it pays to screen out the threats. As Bush pointed out, "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
The trail is severely overgrown. Sometimes the vegetation is waist high. It's very hot. I'm sweating within a mile and swatting dozens of blood-filled mosquitoes. The trail has deer ticks and Lyme disease, but we stupidly wore shorts instead of long pants.
Entering the park, a big mama bear and two cubs run across the road in front of us. They're cute, but we get no pix.
On the trail we spot a motionless black bear about 100 feet down the trail. The bear is downwind of us. He eventually catches our scent (we don't see any cubs) and moves off the trail. I shout out a bunch of threats and tell the bear that I'm more dangerous than a Great White Shark and that he should just keep moving on because I'm bad to the bone....
About five miles north of Goat Haunt we run into the International border. By treaty agreement, the entire border must be clearly marked, so every ten years or so a team comes though and cuts down all the trees on the 2,000 or so miles where we connect on 49th parallel. Mrs. Phred has her left foot in Canada...The last two hours, we are pelted with hail, drenched with rain and menaced with lightning. The last five miles are very up and down...
The hike took five hours. We hurt all over, we're soaked, riddled with mosquito bites and probably covered with deer ticks...It was really great...I have a longer hike in mind for tomorrow. It's a 12 mile round trip up to a lovely lake filled with icebergs...