Cameron Lake spans the Canada - USA border in Waterton Lakes National Park.
This mission requires three essential components. The first is an incredibly beautiful lake.
The second is a seaworthy vessel.
And finally: The third is an awesome force for propulsion of the vessel.
On Akamina Parkway, the 16 KM (10 mile) drive west from Waterton Village occurs in overcast conditions following a brief tour of the Prince of Wales Hotel. Cameron Lake, at the end of the Akamina Parkway, is deserted with the exception of Visitor Center and Boat Launch staff.
There is time to wander around the north end of Cameron Lake while patiently waiting for better weather. Cameron Lake is about 2.5 KM (1⅝ miles) long, with 2,708 m (8,883 ft) Mount Custer consuming the view at the south end.
Mount Custer resides in Glacier National Park, Montana and hosts the Herbst Glacier on the north flank. Forum Peak, which hides Forum Lake on the other side of the ridge, looming above Cameron Lake's southwest corner creates a spectacular image, even when bathed in low-level cloud.
Time is spent taking a few photos and chatting with Parks staff while waiting for weather to improve. The combination Parks Office and Snack Bar is near the path which leads to the trail-head for the amazing Carthew-Alderson hike.
Within a half hour, weather is showing signs of improvement. A kayak is bailed out and ready to go. Donning a life jacket over rain gear begins the aquatic adventure to the far, south end of Cameron Lake where giant waterfalls tumble down the headwall from the Herbst Glacier. The west shore provides the safest route which will significantly reduce the influence of churning winds on the lake's surface. On this day, in this place, which is normally very busy, the entire lake belongs to me.
The summit of Mount Custer at photo center below and Forum Peak on photo right, begin to peek out from cloud as the sky clears and ceilings lift in a fascinating, slow motion dance while the kayak moves within a horizontal plain against clouds moving in a vertical plain, and forward motion progresses towards an expanding image within this three dimensional collage.
Pass the end of the wooden, viewing platform at the end of the shore-adjacent and picturesque, 1.5 KM (⅞ mile) Cameron Lakeshore Trail, progress in the kayak swings around a rocky point into a small, quiet and shallow bay beneath Forum Peak.
On the continuing paddle towards the south end of Cameron Lake, the voyage soon crosses the invisible demarcation line into the United States of America.
Blue sky has disappeared and ceilings have dropped again. A breeze is picking up but there is no surprise because this is simply the fickle nature of mountain weather.
Images at the end of Cameron Lake become increasingly profound and dramatic when combined with the increasing roar of falling water creating a sensory mix which increases exponentially. The surface of Cameron Lake is beginning to get choppy on the transition from very shallow, crystal-clear and sheltered water into deep blue, almost black water, where the shoreline hosts large, floating chunks of ice which have calved from the glacial field above. Lingering fields of snow occupy areas protected from the sun.
On the approach to the waterfalls, the increasingly stiff breeze is becoming more brisk and chop on the water is making directional navigation more challenging. A successful photograph is measured as one where both the camera and the photographer remain above water.
Several attempts are often required to capture a level, still photograph as the kayak gets tossed and twisted around. Common sense trumps valor for the decision to turn around and head back in the possible event the situation may turn ugly. Even though risk is low, staying close to the west shoreline will allow an easy and convenient beaching of the kayak into grizzly bear territory, if required.
The reverse in direction shows the nature of the storm pulsing above the region. Although the kayak and personal presence are alone on the lake surface, hardy souls in rain gear are beginning to hike the Cameron Lakeshore Trail.
Although the view along the lake appears a bit ominous, there are clear views at lake shore and in one very shallow spot, time is taken to slalom around rocks breaking the surface near the brilliant green slopes beneath Forum Peak.
The kayak is kept very close to shoreline to take advantage of calmer water, and the Cameron Lakeshore Trail is often within a few feet of the kayak location. People begin to take pictures of the kayak, and on a couple of occasions, strike up a pleasant and polite conversation. Whatever everyone else thinks, this short aquatic journey is a wonderful, relaxing and joyful. The potential for inclement weather helps to create a better experience without distraction from the forces and beauty of nature.
The exercise from paddling is generating warmth. The rain gear keeps everything dry. The upper body workout is a refreshing change from hiking and a welcome opportunity to rest the feet. Cameron Lake is a good-sized lake and the entire surface is personal property during this lucky and unique opportunity.
On the approach to the dock, the boat launch staff are busy preparing boats for others. The water is much calmer here and weather is beginning to shift back to a clearing trend.
This has been an outstanding and private excursion. The reasonable fee is paid for the two hours spent on Cameron Lake before the short drive east on the Akamina Parkway to the Lineham trail-head for the next adventure of the day which is the short, easy and scenic hike into Lineham Falls.