This past July, Simon and I had the pleasure of hiking Rowe Lakes in Waterton Lakes National Park. This 12 km hike was spectacular.
It had a mix of challenge, beauty, and a very lovely tour guide that showed us the way back down to the trail head.
This special guide was a mule deer.
We found the doe parked on the narrow trail, selecting delicious leaves to munch on. She noticed us heading down the trail and gave us a nice long look, then went back to eating.
Simon and I waited around for about 10 minutes hoping that she would get her fill of greens and head on down the hill, off of the trail.
No such luck. So Simon and I decided to bushwhack up the side of the steep incline and travel a wide-berth around this hungry doe.
But then about two minutes later, I glanced behind and noticed this:
Uh. What to do, what to do… I was having flashbacks to when I was hiking in Morocco in the Atlas Mountains and had to basically jump off the side of an almost sheer cliff to let a family of goats by me. Okay, maybe I didn’t jump, but I did have to step down onto a precarious ledge of a very steep cliff.
We jumped off the trail to let this girl-on-a-mission by, but after she travelled no more than three feet past us, she stopped and chose another shrub to dine on.
What?! Come on.
Simon and I had just hiked for several hours, and were ready to eat anything. Perhaps even those same bushes she was enjoying. We had visions of Peace Park Pizza (a Waterton must try) dancing in our heads.
So we did the wide-arc diversion again, scrambling up the side of the hill and around the doe.
But no. Not that easy. She came back down the trail behind us and did the exact same thing again.
Try again. By now, Simon and I have cuts and scrapes from all of this vertical bushwhacking. Come on, girl. Give us a break.
Finally, after two final evasive manoeuvres, she decided she wanted to stay close and show us the way back down to our car for the last thirty minutes of our hike.
Here’s a video of our lovely escort.
Take home message: Visit Rowe Lakes for the view, but hike the trail for the excellent deer guiding service. Waterton gives a whole new meaning to “ranger” led hikes.