The Final Days, Waterton.
Up early, once again, we loaded up and hit the road to Waterton, stopping in Coleman to meet up with Eric at a little café for breakfast. He’d been such a key contact and valuable source of knowledge, advice and trail intel for me. It was great that he could meet Peter, Tina and Peter in person and be the first to hear tales from the trail.
We continued on to Waterton, and Alpine Stables, where we got the horses set up. Then we found a great little motel for us at Bear Mountain Motel and stayed up there for two nights while we waited out the rain, taking care of things like showers and laundry.
Saturday morning, we headed out to Alpine Stables, saddled the horses and tagged along on a 4-hour ride. Our guide, Savannah, took the group into an area not accessible to the public. Only Alpine was licensed to take people there. There were elk all across the far side of this huge meadow and the constant bugling of the bulls was impressive. We didn’t approach the herd, so didn't get close enough to take pictures.
From there we continued up the shoulder of this mountain, then tied the horses and climbed a little further for lunch. We’d thought this was only a two-hour ride, so we hadn’t brought a lunch. Instead, we just scouted around. Tina and I climbed up to the top of this rocky point to see what was over the other side. There was kind of a saddle and then the incline continued further up the mountain. On the far side of the saddle, a grizzly was feeding. While everyone else ate their lunch, we watched the grizzly eat his. It was a really great thrill!
Then, we went back down to the horses, mounted and rode back to Alpine Stables. It was great watching Savannah, a young girl in High School and a great guide, riding up and down the line, engaging everyone in conversation, telling great stories, pointing out features and points of interest. She’d either been trained really well by the folk at Alpine or just had a natural aptitude for the job. Maybe both. We can’t say enough great things about Alpine Stables. Top-notch, friendly, helpful, classy operation all the way; every person, every interaction, every time.
When we got back to our motel, we found Peter G sitting out front with all our gear. We’d been kicked out! We’d arrived mid-week and there had been all sorts of vacancies and booking was super-easy. We were planning to stay a couple more days, but had forgotten it was the weekend and a beautiful, sunny forecast. They were booked solid, so we got punted and poor Peter G was left scrambling packing up all our stuff and getting out. Oops!
We headed down to the local campground, got booked in there, set up our tarp shelter just like we would’ve done way out in the bush somewhere and voila, accommodations solved.
The next day, we went back out to Alpine; this time for a nice, relaxing, self-guided ride. No mountain passes to climb, bog to cross or old burn deadfall to navigate. When we got back to the campground, Peter G, social butterfly that he is, had met some interesting folk including a German now living in Coleman and a young German couple who’d shipped their van over from Germany and we’re now travelling the America’s and blogging about it. We all got together at our campsite for a beer and enjoyed the afternoon hearing everyone’s stories. Very interesting people!
Other than that, we did the usual touristy stuff over the weekend, checking out various stores, the spectacular Prince of Wales hotel, the buffalo paddock and ate at a different local restaurant each night. We could tell Waterton was shutting down for the season. Restaurant menus were limited as they were running out of various items as they wound down inventories. Never really thought about it, but makes sense, Waterton isn’t much of a winter destination.
Monday morning, we loaded up, said our goodbyes and headed home. This unbelievable opportunity and adventure that I’d spent months preparing for and eagerly anticipating, was now in the history books.
Peter & Tina, I consider myself the most ridiculously lucky person in all of Canada to have been able to join you on your GDT Adventure. Thank you!