Monday, 10 September 2012

Rockies 2

Our main goal in Jasper was to go to Maligne Lake, I worked one summer in their ticket office in Jasper and then spent the next summer as a boat driver and tour guide. I loved my time at Maligne Lake and leaving at the end of my final summer was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I love the lake and no matter how many times I have been there I can never spend enough time there. This time we had gorgeous weather and I was very excited to be able to share it with U.

The road up to Maligne Lake is one of the best spots in Jasper National Park to see wildlife and our drive up was no exception.  We couldn't help but see this wildlife as the mountain sheep accosted us.  

The walked right up to the car

and started licking our wheels!

Even the babies got in on the action.

They didn't stay for long, however, before they headed off and started licking the wheels of the car and camper van behind us.

We headed off too, as we had places to go... Maligne Lake!  The day was gorgeous and sunny and the sky was blue, but the mountains were a bit hazy.

As soon as we arrived I headed to the ticket office and ran into an old coworker who is still there and the head manager. Not too long after I was reunited with another old friend, John Albert, the boat we were on for our cruise! 

We spent most of the cruise on the back deck, enjoying the scenery and the weather and just soaking it all in. The cruise goes half way down Maligne Lake, and is the only way (unless you get out in a smaller boat yourself... see below!!) to see the lake as there are no roads or paths.

This is Sinking Ship Ridge named because, well, it looks like a sinking ship.  Something we always waited until the return trip to point out to passengers on the boat...  ;)

Mount Samson Beaver, named after the Indian guide who drew a map of the lake from a very old memory and gave it to Mary Schaffer, the first European to visit the lake.

The Charlton-Unwin Glacier.  The story goes that when the boat tours first started long long ago this was their destination, the boats would beach on the sandy shore of the narrows here and the driver would walk to the edge of the glacier and break off some ice for everybody's drinks. My last summer two coworkers and I hiked up to the foot of the glacier one of the days we were camping on the lake. It gave a beautiful view, but we didn't have any cocktails with the ice... it would have melted away by the time we got back to our kayaks!

Sadly we also saw the reminder of a bad wildfire that hit part of the lake a number of years ago. The area hasn't had a big wildfire in a long time and the forest actually needs it, wildfires are a natural part of the forest life cycle. They don't look very pretty, however, and are a reminder of how dangerous nature can be.

We got to the half way point of the lake far far too soon, and an ever so tempting view down to the far end of the lake.  There is a gorgeous little campsite all the way down at the end.  I've been lucky enough to go three times, and it is the most quiet and peaceful and most amazing campsite I've ever stayed in. U has said he wants to learn to paddle a kayak so we can camp down there one day...

The boat docked and we walked to the viewpoint to take the picture that is the whole point of the cruise... Spirit Island (only an island for about a week or so every year when the water rises up high enough to cut off the land spit, and despite the amazingly high water levels every where we went in Jasper, the water here wasn't quite high enough... But still gorgeous!

All too soon we had to be back on the boat and then we arrived back on shore.  After having our picnic lunch and going for a short walk on one of the paths along the shore of the lake, we put my kayak in the water and I headed off for a paddle, leaving the boys (my dad and U) to go for a hike. It has been far far far too long since I had sat in my kayak, but I can't think of another lake I'd rather paddle on!

On our way back to Jasper we stopped at Medicine Lake (named "Bad Medicine Lake" by the local Native population as the lake would drain away to nothing every fall and then fill up again in the spring/summer.  It wasn't until modern science was used and tests were done that it was discovered the lake drains through underground rivers which flow into various rivers in the area.

Then we stopped at Maligne Canyon, a series of bridges over a narrow river far below.

Our day at the lake ended far too soon, but both U and I are looking forward to and planning for our next visit.


  1. Now I finally believe ...

    1) There really is a place as beautiful as Maligne Lake. Previously I had a sneaking suspicion it was all a PR act, but here it is, real photos by a real person. Though Spirit Island still looks like a movie set: too perfect to be real.

    2) Deer really lick car wheels. WHY?!

    I enjoyed this virtual tour. Thanks! One day ... one day ...

  2. Ah - so beautiful. I'm so glad that U got to share this special place with you. Thanks for the virtual tour! hugs, C