My home away from home is in such a convenient location that I can visit a number of hiking locations by just walking out my door. I made a list to tackle today and got going early to beat the heat and potential crowds. Well the heat happened early but the crowds never did materialize.
It was a short easy stroll from my front door to the trailhead for Bear's Hump. Then it was an unrelenting steep grunt to the top. This trail just opened a number of days ago. Lots of work was put into repairing and improving the route as it was another location devastated by the 2017 wildfire. From the top I could see forever. I shared the summit with only two people who were just as in awe as I was. I could see down to the townsite Campground and the construction taking place there. The majestic Prince of Wales Hotel looked like a speck in the grand scheme of things. My summit visit was 45 minutes then it was time to descend and get on with day.
I was keen to see Lower Bertha Falls so walked to the trailhead. I knew the bridge was out over the creek but you could get across if you wanted to head up to Bertha Lake. The views along the trail were amazing. The wildfires growing on the sides of the trail and amongst the scorched trees was quite a dramatic sight. As it turned out today was the day they were building the new bridge. The helicopter was bringing supplies in and out. Access to the Lower Falls was off limits while this was taking place. I could see a bit of them through the tres. You could still hike the horse trail to reach a temporary plank bridge to cross the creek and carry on to Bertha Lake. I wanted the Falls today not the Lake so made this my turn around point.
Instead of seeing Bertha Falls or Bertha Lake, I hiked down to Bertha Bay. This spot was so beautiful and peaceful. The trail was lined with flowers and once again this forest was hit with the fire. I met a couple here who canoed from Boundary Bay and were sitting on the shore having their lunch so I joined them. Bertha Bay has a small backcountry campground. After snacks here it was time to climb back up and then hit the Bertha trail for the descent back to town.
I checked out the townsite campground area which is only partially open then headed to the shore of Waterton Lake. It was time for another rest for me and my feet. With boots and socks off and pant legs rolled up, I stepped into the water to ankle deep. It was mind-numbingly frigid! I did not need to stand there long to soothe my feet. Then sitting on the shore I let the wind and the sun do the drying.
I now only needed to stroll through town to get back to my home away from home. 17 Kms and about 700 metres of gain later, I felt fulfilled and somewhat pleasantly depleted.