OUT ON A LIMB: Mountain national parks and comical border crossings

It’s hard not to be an environmentalist travelling through the mountain parks of B.C., Alberta and Montana.

What I did on my summer vacation…Wow, it’s hard not to be an environmentalist travelling through the mountain parks of B.C., Alberta and Montana.

The scenery is spectacular; which is no revelation, of course. It’s like saying Usain Bolt runs fast.

I’m just back from a two week loop through Glacier National Park, B.C., Banff National Park, Alberta and Glacier (yes, there’s two) National Park, Montana. I called it my Glacier to Glacier Trip and man, if you want to see the crown jewels of this continent, you want to visit that cluster of protected areas in the mountains of B.C., Alberta and Montana. Go from Jasper National Park in the north and down to Glacier National Park, Montana in the south. Why not continue on a little further south to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in Montana/Wyoming?

The more well-known parks come  easily to mind – Banff and Jasper, mainly. But on this trip, I decided to include one of the less-famous neighbours to Banff and Jasper. Having been to Glacier National Park (GNP) in Montana once before – and loving it – the intention on this trip was to go back. Having to drive out there anyway, we decided to go through Banff but we discovered there’s a Glacier National Park in B.C. too. Feeling a little unpatriotic having been to GNP Montana but never to GNP BC, we included three night’s camping there. We were not disappointed, it’s a beautiful mountain park in Rogers Pass and it’s less crowded than Banff.  Great hiking.

Border interrogation…I have to relate my encounter with a U.S. Customs officer at Port of Piegan border crossing at Carway, Alberta. We rolled up to the booth to face a stern-looking officer who asked us the usual standard questions after we handed over our passports: where we from, do we have any citrus fruits, etc.

Then he asked me what I do for a living in Campbell River. I told him I was a newspaper editor. And then he asked me if I had ever been arrested and I told him no. Then he hit me with: “I find that hard to believe! You’re a newspaper editor and you’ve never been arrested!?”

I burst out laughing, the comment was so unexpected (it was delivered gruffly but definitely tongue in cheek). My wife piped up with “It’s just a small town newspaper.”

All I could do was shrug helplessly. I almost felt like adding, “I’m sorry. I’ll try harder.” So, to be believable to US Customs, I’ll have to be jailed for something. I’m sure the Mounties could help me out with that.

Our entertaining officer then had me grinning again when he asked “What’re you doin’ way out here!?”

I told him we were on holiday on the way to Glacier National Park.