Canadians Invite Some GiG Members to Check out New Area
Mary S and Katie headed out to Canada, passports in hand, after work on a Friday night. It was stressful getting out of town with the hurrying to get on the road so we would finish our trip in the daylight, but we fought a lot of Friday-night traffic. To add to our hurry, we wanted to make it to the border at least a half hour earlier than the closing time in case we drew an inspection (or else they will turn you around if no time to complete the inspection before closing)
So we made it in what we thought would be plenty of time--by 6:30 with the closing at 8 p.m., or at least that is what Katie read on the website. However, the first posted hours were summer hours, not winter and summer didn't start for another month. So, we arrived at the border a half hour late instead of early! The border patrol talked to us but didn't have authority to let us through. It takes a customs employee, and they had already left. The officer suggested we head to Sweet Grass, which is open 24/7. This would add two hours to our trip, but we started out returning first to Cutbank and then on to Shelby.
We didn't have much for service along the road leading to the Del Bonita crossing, but Katie got two bars in one place and was able to message the Canadians that we would be two hours late, with an arrival time around 10. They suggested going through Carway instead, which Katie had read closed at 8; However, Laura said she was sure it was open until 11 p.m. So, we diverted to Browning instead of Shelby as soon as we hit Cutbank. Going this direction saved us about 40 minutes, for which we were very grateful.
Even though we had to drive the extra miles and time, we were treated to the most beautiful sunset we had ever seen. it was orange and pink with radiating rays spreading across the mountains of Glacier and the town of Browning; it even held the entire way on Duck Lake road, showcasing chief mountain and then fading as we hit Babb We felt the Lord wanted us to go this way just so we could see this wonderful sight.
We arrived at Barry and Laura's house around 8:30, where they had kept our dinner for us, and what a wonderful dinner: homemade cornbread, spinach and berry salad and nachos. Then it was time for bed so we could get up in the morning for a snowshoe with the rest of the gals, plus one gal's husband.
The next morning, we met up at 8:15 at church in Mountain View and then with the Lethbridge group in the town of Pincher Creek. Then another 45 minute drive took us to the parking lot of Syncline ski area along the West Castle River with Castle mountain for a backdrop.
This area reminded us a lot of Silver Crest, with groomed trails. The one difference is that they allow snowshoes on all of the trails, as long as they stay off the ski tracks and go single file. The Canadians had nice signs pointing out trail etiquette.
We took a five-mile, mostly flat loop, that took us by a small lake. The snow was a bit spare in spots, icy in others and slushy at the end of the day as it was sunny and around 45 degrees under a blue sky. We saw a moose on just off the trail and two moose on the way in, so Katie was very happy to see her spirit animal.
Loch, Paula's husband, who works for Parks Canada in Waterton, gave us an interpretive tour of the animal tracks and flora along the way. We saw wolf tracks, vole, deer, moose, pine martin, squirrel and rabbit. After we finished, Laura brought out some homemade Ginger snap cookies--yummy!
Then Laura took ua a few more miles up the road to see the small alpine ski resort, which reminded us of Showdown, except with only two lifts and very steep runs. The area has some cabins and condos as well as an RV park. No one knew if we could rent cabins there or if we would have to stay in Pincher Creek, the 45-minutes away.
We finished by 2 p.m. and returned home by 7:30 p.m. after a a very pretty drive along the Rocky Mountain Friont. We hoped to see snowgeese, but Freezeout Lake was still frozen over, so not too much bird migration was going on.
All in all, we had a great time and learned about a new area in case we want to take a winter road trip.