Saturday 20th June
Luckily we bought a half litre of milk from the small local supermarket yesterday evening. We have carried some Sultana Bran with us and had packed the milk in ice overnight. That was breakfast.
After checking out of Bear Mountain Motel we drove out of town to Cameron Lake.
This is another delightful lake surrounded by snow and ice covered mountain. Oh, yes, notices are plastered all over the ranger station warning of bear and cougar activity. We walked along a path which followed the lake for about a half Klm but once the path started to lead up away from the lake we decided we had no time to continue the hike.
From the lake we drove back to Waterton Lake to visit Prince of Wales Hotel The beautiful carved beams adorning the exterior and interior indicates just how much care and attention went into building the hotel.
The huge floor to ceiling windows gives a view of the town and lake.
Fabulous. In the main foyer and waiting room is a giant chandelier hanging from three stories above the floor.
The hotel has a printed information sheet which contains two hotel ghost stories.
We then retraced our steps on the road to Pincher Creek but stopped at a Bison enclosure between Waterton and Pincher Creek.
This enclosure encompasses around 40 acres and is supposedly Bison proof. You can only access the park in a car and are warned Bisons can be dangerous and to stay in your car. We saw a dozen or so Bison doing what Bison do when in a happy mood. Several cars ahead and a couple of motorhomes following were all parked on the tiny road verge taking photos by the score.
Once again I can find scant material on this amazing location in a Google search. There are few signs at the site to explain how when where why and who put the enclosure there.
At Pincher Creek we took the Crows Nest Pass to whatever our next destination would be.
We stopped at the site of an old colliery, the Leitch at what was once Passburg.
This once thriving mine and coking ovens was built in 1907 and was built to be a model of up to date equipment and practises. Basically the mine was undercapitalised, had too much infrastructure and too little good relations with its business partners. By 1915 and World War 1 it ceased production. The ruins have been opened to the public with photos, stories and interpretive signs. During summer guides are available. The ruins have been cleaned out and some new timber beams installed where the original have rotted. From an outsiders point of view the site is once more over burdened with infrastructure.
Not far from the site, still on the Crows Nest Pass we encountered the Frank Slide.
Early on the morning of 29th April 1903 nearby Turtle Mountain sent an 82 million ton of mostly limestone rock avalanche crashing onto the town of Frank. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Slide Most of the town was buried under huge boulders, rubble and debris. Over 90 people perished and they and their homes are still buried under the rubble. Amazingly 17 miners trapped underground were able to dig themselves out of the buried mine only to find some or all of the families and or homes were gone. I was deeply moved by this location.
The railway and highway still pass through the area but now sit high upon the rubble instead of the original valley floor. An Interpretive Centre and Museum has been built on the hill above the rubble where the last house size rock landed.
Nearby was a cemetery where a mass grave of 189 miners are buried. The Hillcrest Mine collapsed on June 19th 1914. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillcrest_mine_disaster We were at the cemetery when a large group of people arrived with what we believe to be a single red rose for each of the buried miners. Again I was deeply moved by the site and the ceremony in the shadow of the Frank Slide. The Crows Nest Pass area is littered with history and old buildings and buried towns.
It was time to move on from this sad location.
We stopped in the picturesque town of Fernie on the Elk River within the Rocky Mountains.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernie,_British_Columbia We booked into a Super 8 Motel. I must digress here. Super 8 has a chain of motels throughout Canada and the USA. This particular motel advertised a hot tub and free breakfast. The rooms were clean, the bed was comfortable the TV had all stations and they gave me a discount with my RACQ membership card. This is the best motel we have stayed in and Super 8 is on our list should we ever travel here again. In the motel lobby I saw a painting titled The Ghost Rider. The clerk mentioned the painting was of a natural mountain feature seen from the town and is part of a legend. The legend goes that William Fernie noticed black stones on a necklace worn by the daughter of a local Indian chief. He recognised the stones as coal so asked the chief to guide him to where the stones could be found. The chief agreed on condition Fernie marry his daughter. Fernie agreed. Once the coal was located, Fernie reneged on the agreement. The chief was naturally annoyed. He placed a curse on Fernie, his descendants and the fledgling town. The curse was to include fire, flood and famine. Further, the chief and daughter would forever visit the town on summer evenings to remind everybody of the curse. Fires and floods have devastated the town and many residents believed the curse to be true. In 1964 town councillors and members of a local Indian tribe smoked the peace pipe to remove the curse. The chief and his daughter still appear on Mount Hosmer on summer evenings.
The day was overcast but when I thought I would never see the ghost rider, the clouds parted and the suns rays fell on Mt Hosmer and I saw the chief and his daughter on the cliff face.