Medicine Lake

Jasper National Park

Our stay in Jasper didn’t get off to the best of starts.

3am on our first morning, and we are woken up by a dripping noise. Turns out that the room above was having a shower (who showers at 3am in the morning!?) and it was leaking into our room and bathroom!

We spent our first day in the town by going on a walk to the nearby Patricia and Pyramid Lakes. We chose not to walk back the way we came, deciding on a longer route back, foolishly thinking that we had plenty of time on our hands. In the end, it became something of mad dash as we rushed to collect our hire car before they closed for the day. However, on the way we got some good views over the valley that Jasper sits in, and spotted some mountain sheep (as well as yet more chipmunks).

Pyramid Mountain
Our walk to Patricia Lake and Pyramid Lake gave us views of Pyramid Mountain
Bighorn mountain sheep
We caught a glimpse of a herd of bighorn mountain sheep
Valley view
Our walk back from the lakes gave us good views over the valley below and surrounding mountains

With our legs aching after a 10 mile plus walk, we happily made use of the hotel’s sauna and jacuzzi in the evening.

The following day we visited the awesome Maligne Canyon. You can park up at various points (denoted by bridges 1 – 6) along the canyon, and we decided to park at the one furthest away so to get a good walk. On the way we spotted an animal lurking in the distance. “What’s that!?” exclaimed Emma. My first impression was that it was just a dog, a Westie perhaps. After a closer inspection, and with Emma using her super-duper glasses because her own eyesight is so bad, assured me that it was actually a coyote.

Westie or Coyote...
Westie or Coyote…

Our walk along Maligne Canyon started out next to a relatively wide, yet fast flowing river. The further upstream we got, the narrower the canyon got, and the water got faster as it passed over a steeper river bed. Along the way we were treated to waterfalls and plenty of other features that you learn about in GCSE Geography! The bridges along the way allow you to get good views of the canyon below.

Blue waters of Maligne CanyonBlue waters of Maligne Canyon
The waters of Maligne Canyon were beautifully clear and blue
Maligne Canyon waterfall
At the top of Maligne Canyon an impressive waterfall crashes down far below the bridge you stand on
Maligne Canyon
Clockwise: Maligne Canyon is deep after years of erosion; our walk offered us views of the wider area; we saw this spider web like waterfall; the canyon has plenty of features that you learn about in geography at school!

Next stop was Medicine Lake (via some bears). Medicine Lake puzzled people for thousands of years – it would fill up with water, only for it to drain away, but via no obvious source. It is now known that the water actually drains out of the bottom of the lake, into a massive underground cave system.

At our first glimpse of the lake it was obviously low with its banks exposed, but the further we drove around the more the water thinned out, until it looked like just a river flowing across sand.

Medicine Lake
Medicine Lake – the levels of which fluctuate naturally due to a massive underground cave system

We followed up on Medicine Lake by going to Maligne Lake. The lake is very narrow, but also very long, making it the largest lake in the Rockies. It is famed for its scenery – with snow capped mountains surrounding it and the colour of its waters.

In truth, we got there a little late as the sun was beginning to go down, and so the colour of the lake was not what it could be. We could have gone on a boat trip, and despite the fact that we missed the last boat at 3:30, at $59 each we weren’t sure on the price anyway. However, we still went on a short walk along the lake shore, that gave us some good views.

Maligne Lake
The weather had turned a bit grey by the time we reached Maligne Lake. Fortunately, subsequent trips would provide us with turquoise lakes that Maligne Lake had promised

Thinking that was our day was over, we got yet another glimpse of the bears that we’d seen earlier in the day!

We liked Jasper National Park, and felt that we were probably there one day too few, as there were a couple of other things that we could have seen or done. The town of Jasper is laid back and quiet – apart from when a massive freight train rumbles past – with a few shops and restaurants, although we suspect that things get much busier in the peak seasons.

Huge freight trains roll on past Jasper and its totem pole.  The top of the totem pole is genuine, and not a traffic cone left behind by a drunken yob.


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