This past week, on my day off, I had the pleasure of going
canoeing on Cameron Lake for the first time with my partner in crime, Geoff. We
were a bit disappointed to find out that the fishing there is done for the
season, as we had both brought our rods and tackle box with us. We still had a
great time, although there was some bickering about the importance of the
direction we were steering the boat versus the amount of manpower we were
putting into our strokes.
As we were paddling around, we were both thinking in amazement that we were
sitting in a canoe on top of this lake, since it was around the long weekend of
May that the entire thing had been frozen solid when we had cross-country skied
out here. Mount Custer still has a bit of snow on it, but not anything like
what we had seen before. I wish I had brought my camera to take photos, but
after tipping a canoe on the Bow River in Banff a few years ago, and having a
much beloved camera ruined, I tend to be a bit more cautious, and left it
behind. The attendant who helped us get into our boat had warned us not to get
too close to any of the snow drifts, since there were tiny avalanches falling
into the lake off of Custer.
We did not quite paddle that far, but went out to a small inlet close by,
following a strange noise we heard. There were a lot of people walking the
trail around the lake and we thought one of the tourists was making a goofy
moose call. It was pretty loud and we were laughing about it, but as we got
closer Geoff pointed at two dark coloured dots moving and splashing in the
water, while a kayak and a canoe with other people paddled in close to watch.
Real moose we thought, wow! what luck?! We had been looking at photos of moose
swimming in the lake, posted on the wall where we had signed out our canoes and
were saying how amazing would it be to see our first moose. As we paddled
furiously to get closer, we stopped in sudden shock. They were not moose at
all! It was two adolescent grizzly bears swimming around in the water. We kept
some distance, after disputing whether or not to get closer. "Bears can
swim, and look how shallow this water is...it wouldn't take long for them to
chase after us" was my argument. "But those people are closer than we
are. We don't have to be faster than the bears, we only have to be faster than
those people!" was Geoff's argument. We compromised and went a little bit
closer, but let the other people fill the gap between us the the bears. It was
like watching young kids play. This was another point I kicked myself for not
having the camera. One bear would climb up onto the rocky edge above the water
and jump in, with a big splash, almost in a cannonball. Then his friend would
follow. This was repeated over and over, one after the other, like a fun little
game. After a few minutes, we think they realized they had an audience, and
they ran up the rocks, scurrying into the woods. We saw them shimmying up the
treeline until eventually they disappeared and all you could see was trees
bending and shaking back and forth.
After getting over the awe of what we had seen, we realized our time was almost
up and the canoe was just about due back. We went around the opposite edge of
the lake, as we had been told that to go straight through the middle it would
be very windy and overpower us. It looked like to go that way would be much
faster, but the wind, although it would push you some, was also making the
water quite a bit choppier. Playing it safe, we pushed past that and followed
around the shoreline.
Geoff in May on Cameron Lake, with Mount Custer at the end of the lake.
Marie, striking at pose at Cameron Lake. All of this snow is gone now- hard to believe that this was at the end of May in Waterton. I have friends back home that jokingly ask us if we moved to the Arctic, when they look at pictures like this in their shorts and summer wear.