Visiting my Dad in southern Alberta was a perfect excuse to sneak in a quick backpacking trip. Our plan was to scramble to the top of Bertha Peak inside Waterton Park. My Dad had done the climb in 2014 and was excited to share the spectacular views from the summit.
We left in the early afternoon from the trailhead on the edge of Waterton. The trail is only a day hike up to Bertha Lake where we planned on camping before heading up the rest of the mountain in the early morning.
There was a light rain that came along with bursts of sunshine, making all the vegetation and wildflowers burst with all the colorful vengeance of spring. The vitality of the alpine forest keep our energy high as we began to tackle the long upward hike to the lake.
The trail is well developed and there were lots of day hikers, but all on their return journeys. By the time we reached the lake and the snow spotted wall of rock that circled it we had the entire place to ourselves.
We had a quick dinner by the lake before the sky became infested with thick dark blue clouds and rain fell in cold heavy sheets. We retreated to the shelter of several small trees and set up bivy bags for the night, contemplating turning in early for the night.
However the weather changed its mind once again and the skies cleared up allowing us to walk around Bertha Lake and scout a starting point for the climb the next day.
Seeing fresh bear scat on the trail we proceeded with caution around the lake making sure to make our presence known.
By the time the light of the day was being squeezed out by the dusk into a murky flat existence we arrived back at our bivy sacks.
The night only brought short moments of rain, and heavens filled with stars unadulterated by light pollution.
Things looked promising for the first hour of the morning, being greeted by a spectacular sunrise and even a rainbow. But it was followed almost immediately by thick wet clouds that hung stubbornly to the mountains.
After some discussion we decided that the best course of action was to hike out. Climbing higher into the mountains would be a futile, only yielding miserable views, over slick wet rock in miserable conditions. The hike out was quick and we arrived back at the trail head just in time for lunch in Waterton.
Justin McCormick grew up in the Yukon Territories in a cabin on Nisutlin Bay. Being surrounded by the majestic and harsh wilderness of the north, he developed a passion for canoeing, hiking, mountain climbing and skiing. He currently resides in Texas and is trying to impart his passion for the outdoors to his four children.