Kootenai Brown's Grave is isolated in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada.
Leaving Waterton Lakes National Park and driving north on Hwy 5, there is a roadside pullout above an outstanding view over Lower Waterton Lake. A short, solo hike will provide the opportunity to visit a unique historical feature.
John George 'Kootenai' Brown was among the first settlers arriving at the lakes in the 1870's. He, and his Métis wife, Olive, made a meager living from the land. Olive died in 1884 and she was buried above the shore of Lower Waterton Lake.
'Kootenai' Brown became a legendary personality when the Canadian Government allocated 140 square kilometers (54 square miles) to create Canada's fourth National Park in 1895.
Brown knew the territory better than anyone else and was appointed as the new park's first official. Eventually he became Waterton Lakes National Park's first Manager and had a significant influence in development of the area. There is a monument dedicated to his contribution at the east end of Waterton Marina in the Town of Waterton.
John George 'Kootenai' Brown and his second wife, Isabella, were buried alongside Olive. The short, easy downhill hike from the roadside plaque will lead to their grave site.
The casual walk descends a gentle slope down the trail through prairie grass. Soon the trail enters a beautiful tree-lined tunnel bordered by wild flowers. The trail swings right and narrows on the approach to the lake,
The gravestones are surrounded by a white picket fence in an open grassy area above the shoreline of Lower Waterton Lake and a few minutes are taken to reflect and observe.
After capturing photos, the hike begins back to the lookout on a very nice walk beside wildflowers and through the tree-lined tunnel.
At the straight section, with visibility to the top of the hill, from considerable distance my son is walking towards me and making large sweeping gestures with his arms. Periodically his hands go to his mouth like he is yelling but I can hear nothing with less than perfect hearing and a gentle breeze rustling leaves on the adjacent trees.
When I arrive at the top of the hill an excited group of people explain my close proximity to a large black bear who had crossed the road and descended the grass hill at 90 degrees to my position. From my son's perspective, the bear and I were on a collision course.
This is what he is photographing.
The bear, with superior hearing and a much better sense of smell, is likely aware of my presence and hunkers down in the shrubbery to wait for me to get out of the way.
When I arrive back at the top of the hill, I am told about my bear non-encounter and we watch the trail below. Within a short time the bear pops out of the trees and walks down the trail for a short distance, before looking back at us and crossing into forest.
I am able to get one zoom picture of the bear during his brief time on the trail. It is a highlight of the day.
Another exhibit nearby provides a history of how glacial activity created the depression in the valley which now hosts Lower Waterton Lake. The drive continues on the return trip to Calgary our animal friends remain behind.