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Post Outpost Lake, Alberta Report
(Police Outpost Provincial Park)


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Report By:  quincypair    Date: 7/9/2012 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 30 photos     Map & Directions: View


Police Outpost Lake in park, park on US/Canada Border leeward of the Waterton-Glacier International Park.

My Report:

Police Outpost Provincial Park lies on the US/Canada border close to the Carway border crossing. We chanced upon it years ago when, in a haste to get to Montana early, we arrived at the border an hour before the station opened. Not wanting to wait there, we decided to explore the location of a signage we saw on our way there: Police Outpost Provincial Park. The name intrigued us. Can you imagine a park named Florida Highway Patrol Park?


There lay a story: in 1891 it was established as an RCMP outpost (Royal Canadian Mountain Police, previously Royal Northwest Canadian Mountain Police -- the boys in red). US rum runners were smuggling liquor to First Nations tribes and the post was established, with at most 3 mounties posted there, to patrol the whole border area, on horseback. It was a desolate posting and harsh, but, yes, as the hype goes, the mounties get their man. But really, 2 or 3 to guard the whole border? With no ATVs?

The park itself has been developed since then into a great recreation venue. While the lake itself is not as rich in wildlife as Beauvais Provincial Park (and lake), there is an Outpost Wetlands Natural Area (which we have yet to visit) where one can apparently find wild tern, sandhill crane, American bittern, common snipe (and we thought it was a fictitious bird to fool new campers and grandchildren, ah...but ours is a totally uncommon snipe) and marsh wren.

The park is a rich archaelogical site of First Nations people, but there doesn't seem much mention of this at the park.

The lake itself provides a good, easy paddle. Like all lakes on the lee of the Rockies, the afternoons tend to be windy and the usually calm morning waters turn choppy or into waves depending on wind speed. The paddling around the lake was a little over 3.5 miles, the water this time much higher than last September when we last paddled the lake. During the summer the lake may be drawn down for irrigation.

Only one other boat was in the water, a couple camping and fishing (maximum boat speed 12 km/h). The fly fishing one in our pair tried a few casts, using nymphs. It's basically a catch and release lake. No live bait is allowed and one is allowed to keep only one fish --it has to be at least 50 cm long (20 inches). At mid-day, as expected, the rainbow trout were disinterested.

We didn't find the osprey nest we saw last year, but the eagle's nest is still being used. An adult eagle was perched on a branch near the nest which held two large fledglings. As the photographer's kayak approached the adult flew away, but the young, as large as they were, stayed put. Not so with a family of newly born ducks. The adults frantically tried to attract us away from the downy ducklings. As the photographer approached, the adults gave warning for the young to walk on water and, as a unified group, run on water they did. As the kayak approached further, a new signal was given the ducklings: disperse and find cover wherever you can. This was successful -- they went every whichaway; no photographs were taken. An adult rusty necked grebe in the rushes with two young, used the dive and swim away undercover to get away. We all find different ways to protect our young.

Damsel flies were mating. Despite being coupled, they skillfully flew away from the photographer. The reeds showed evidence of an earlier mayfly hatch, a favorite trout food. Last year they were hatching at this time.

On the shore the usual summer wildflowers were in show, the Saskatoon berries heavy on the branches. Choke cherry, shrub type, not the trees we find in Florida, were in green fruit, but less abundant. Choke cherry makes a good desert wine, preserves and the best pancake syrup, but it is definitely a labor consuming task to pick and prepare the concoctions. We rely on the kindness of friends to provide us with chokecherry goodies.

As we we were taking out, a pickup arrived with two fishing pontoons. One of the fishermen noted our Florida tags and asked us if we've been in Lake View, near Ocala. He and his wife spent their honeymoon there and this year returned to celebrate their 10th anniversary. They love the place. Anyone know where Lake View is? What's the attractant for couples?

There are 46 camp sites here. They are small, but each is secluded from the others. Many large RV's would find it difficult to maneuver into these sites, but they are fine for medium-sized trailer and, of course, tent camping. Six of the 46 sites were occupied on a Monday. Flies were biting fiercely; one of us has welts to show for it.

This provincial park is about 20 minutes from Waterton Lakes park, where campgrounds are congested and hard to come by in the summer. We think that the seclusion, the lake, the backdrop of the southern Canadian Rockies (which one also gets in Waterton -- though not not the whole range because you're in the Rockies there) may make this a more relaxing camping venue.

We are thinking of camping at Outpost park one night to paddle early in the morning, to explore the wildlife refuge, to check out Boundary Creek which is adjacent to the wetland refuge for paddling possibilities, and to do a paddle at dusk, by which time the winds usually die down.

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Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: Lake
Boat Type: Kayak
Distance (miles): n/a
Fees/Costs $: 0


Photos from Police Outpost Provincial Park:    (Click image to view full size)

Canola Field Forever No Comm
Canola Field Forever

Enroute to Police Outpost Lake, Canola Fields, windmills, more of which grow up every year, against the Rocky Mountains, looking west.

Signage No Comm
Signage

Noxious weeds -- constant reminders at rest stops, parks, etc.

Waterton lookout No Comm
Waterton lookout

Waterton-Glacier International Park "Where the mountains meet the prairies" signage.

Waterton lookout No Comm
Waterton lookout

Waterton-Glacier International Park "Where the mountains meet the prairies" signage.

Chief Mountain No Comm
Chief Mountain

Chief Mountain, MT from road to Police Outpost Lake

Police Outpost Lake No Comm
Police Outpost Lake

Police Outpost, established 1891, with only 2-3 RCMP to guard border against US rum runners.

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Police Outpost Lake

Mornings are calm.

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Police Outpost Lake

Bear warnings, common in the mountains and foothills -- for good reason.

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Police Outpost Lake

The lake from entry look out.

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Police Outpost Lake

Native wild geraniums.

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Police Outpost Lake

Native potetilla.

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Police Outpost Lake

Native Gaillardier

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Police Outpost Lake

Native orchid

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Police Outpost Lake

Not identified, first time we've seen this flower.

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Police Outpost Lake

Sage. First nations made bundles of this for ritual use.

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Police Outpost Lake

Unidentified, possibly anemone family?

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Police Outpost Lake

Native aster

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Police Outpost Lake

Boat launch parking area

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Police Outpost Lake

Put-in, take-out

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Police Outpost Lake

Reminder

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Police Outpost Lake

Beauty everywhere -- underwater

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Police Outpost Lake

Beauty everywhere -- underwater

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Police Outpost Lake

and on bleached dry stumps and fallen trees

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Police Outpost Lake

Cotton wood shedding -- not for those with allergies.

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Police Outpost Lake

Weird creatures in the water

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Police Outpost Lake

Chief Mountain, Montana

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Police Outpost Lake

Fledgling eagles, not yet ready to fly

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Police Outpost Lake

It's noon, but what the heck! -- I'll throw a few in.

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Police Outpost Lake

Dream on! That's a 20 inch rainbow trout, big enough to drag the kayak around the lake.

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Police Outpost Lake

Lunch break!

 


Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsWithin driving distance of Many Glaciers, northern part of Glacier National Park, and Waterton park.



Post Date: 7/10/2012

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