Crypt Lake

In the spring of 2012 Erin and I found our way to Waterton National Park. For me this was my first trip to Waterton and I was very excited. A few weeks before our trip a friend had told me about a hiking trail called Crypt Lake. After some internet searching I became rather excited by the idea of taking a boat across the lake and climbing a mountain to a glacier, what can I say? That sort of thing just appeals to me.

The first night we spent at the only campsite we could get reservation for, I’m the play it safe kinda guy. It was right in the heart of town. It was a nice campsite but I feel that something is lost when you camp inside a town with that many other people. The second day we did a short day hike wherein I was passed by a troop of girl scouts, those little ladies hike like they came down from a higher league. Afterward we tried our luck at a campsite outside of town and sure enough they had some space. It was great it had two things the town campsite did not, a lot of trees and a fire pit… to be enjoyed separately. We bought some firewood, which to me always feels weird, and cooked up some delicious hot dogs and had a solid sleep.

The next morning the plan was to buy tickets to get across the lake and enjoy the Crypt Lake hike. Unfortunately my unruly stomach had other plans, I ended up vomiting violently in the marina parking lot. Since I felt so on top of the world we opted not to try and hike a mountain that day. We drove the truck around a little bit, driving helps settle my stomach. I then texted my friend Jonas, who grew up in southern Alberta and had originally suggested Crypt Lake, and asked if he had any ideas of where we could go for a scenic drive. He promptly suggested we drive “Going-to-the-Sun-Road” in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Without hesitation we headed for the border, luckily we had the foresight to bring our passports. Crossing into the USA was rather easy, a delightful woman asked us some simple questions and we were across. The road itself was scenic with plenty of stop offs for photos and 0.5km “hikes.”

A lot of views very similar to this, I highly recommend it
A shot of the landscape and the truck we had to borrow to get there.

We reached the end of the road, I bought a t-shirt and a soda, and made our way back toward the border. It was dark by the time we arrived at the border. Crossing back into Canada was a touch more challenging, a man, appearing around the age of 30 and in full uniform walked up looked the bright yellow truck up and down and then gazed at the two young people inside at the slow border crossing late at night… Then his questioning began, and keep in mind I am not often known for my memory. “How long have you two been dating?” he asked “4 years” I said to which Erin replied “3” with a look that told me I was an idiot… “Ok, whens her birthday?” “Ummm March 5th…?” “March 4th” she corrected. The questions continued until I was liable to be in enough trouble that letting me go was funnier to him than arresting me. We left and drove back to our campsite the whole way Erin laughing at me and my idiocy.

          The following morning we tried for Crypt Lake again. This time my stomach was feeling a little better, I still opted to bring along some soda crackers. We purchased our tickets and jumped on the boat. On our way across we were informed that there were two boats coming back in the afternoon, the first at 4 pm the second at 5 pm. Also I was told if we miss the 5 pm we would have to wait until morning when the boat comes back to drop the next group of hikers off. We landed on the shores and began our hike up the switchbacks through the trees. The mass of people began to spread out and thin as we made our way up the mountain. The first half was heavily treed with the rare break to a view of a majestic waterfall or cliff side.
Shameless selfie, at least Erin looks good

As we made our way up the trees thinned and eventually we were walking a narrow path on the edge of a cliff. At first it was not too bad but it eventually got worse… much worse.

Keep in mind how little I enjoy heights

We had to walk a narrow ledge, climb a ladder, and crawl through a tunnel.

I almost fell off a ledge taking this shot
Yea that small ledge in the top right
That’s the tunnel

The ladder and the tunnel were a lot of “fun” for a guy like me, I swear I saw hawks circling below us, or vultures above me, its hard to tell when you get that much vertigo. After I took a few deep breaths in the tunnel I passed through to the far side to see that there was a 1.5 meter drop and cliff so sharp that someone was kind enough to put in pegs and a cable. Erin naturally walked up the hill without even a thought of using the cable while I considered kicking off my shoes for more to grab it with. I slowly white knuckled my way to the top while Erin was kind enough to take some photos.

You can see the drop and the cave (Top right)
I feel this counts and facing my fear of heights
While waiting for me Erin had time for another selfie

We then had a short, comparatively gentle, hike to the top of the mountain. Once on top we were rewarded with a beautiful view of Crypt lake and the glacier that feeds it. I was surprised by two things: first somehow people had gotten dogs and children to the top, how on earth do you get a black lab past that cliff? Secondly people were fishing in the lake, I assume the lake had been stocked because there is no way fish naturally found their way into the lake, that said I don’t recall seeing anyone catch anything so maybe there are no fish in that lake. I have since searched online and can’t find a definitive answer about the state of fish in the lake. Either way, next time I’m bringing my fishing rod, either I catch something or the myth gets perpetuated so its win win for me.

We made it!
A nap is always the best way to celebrate
        After Erin’s nap we took a walk around the lake itself, while crossing the glacier we saw a rather brave group riding tubes down the glacier into the ice cold water. I settled for us throwing a couple of snowballs at each other.

The lake was larger than I expected

We circled the lake and started to make our way down. Before attempting the cliff we deviated slightly from the trail and found that the lake drained into a small creek which lead to a rather tall waterfall.

A real “edge of the world” feeling
A shot showing the height of the waterfall
        Once we started our descent down the mountain we decided to try and make it for the 4 pm boat. We upped our pace and started to overtake people on the trail, the whole way I would apologize and explain that we were trying to make the earlier boat. Nobody seemed offended but we often got a chuckle followed by “good luck!” Toward to end we were running, and the fact that Erin is in much better shape than me became very apparent. I stopped to catch my breath for a minute and Erin stopped to wait for me, this would prove to be an error. Once I caught my breath we ran to the dock just in time for me to make eye contact with the boat driver as he pulled away from the dock. We had missed the boat by seconds, and now had to wait a full hour for the next boat.

So close!
At least I had some time to recover

We hopped onto the 5 pm and headed to our campsite, had dinner, and promptly fell asleep. I hadn’t slept that well since I hiked Tongariro, but that’s another story for another day.

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