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Canada ’17 – Jasper Lakes and Canyons

As we were making our back into Jasper this morning, we were caught in a traffic jam, which as we moved slowly along, became clear it was actually an animal jam.

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The reason for the traffic jam

We figured we were already in the traffic jam, so we may as well pullover and grab a few photos.

Today we were all about water.

Our first stop (well technically second after the little guys above), was Medicine Lake.

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Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake is part of the Maligne Valley watershed which is mainly glacial fed.  It is a geologic anomaly in the sense that it is not actually a lake but rather an area in which the Maligne River (flowing from Maligne Lake into the Athabasca River) backs up and suddenly disappears underground. During the summer months during intensified meltwater runoff the lake (which during the winter months is a meandering frozen river) fills to levels which fluctuate over time and with the runoff events.

Much like a bathtub that is filled too fast for it to drain, it becomes laden with water until it can slowly drain as the tap flow is reduced. The underground system is extensive and during the 1970s researchers used a biodegradable dye to determine the underground river’s extent. The dye showed up in many of the lakes and rivers in the area to the point where it became clear that the underground system was one of the most extensive in the world.

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Medicine Lake
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Medicine Lake
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The imposing Colin Range flanking the side of Medicine Lake.

From Medicine Lake we headed to Maligne Lake.

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Maligne Lake

It is famed for the colour of its water, the surrounding peaks and the three glaciers visible from the lake and Spirit Island. Maligne Lake is fed and drained by the Maligne River, which enters the lake on its south side, near Mount Unwin and drains the lake to the north.

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Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake is the largest lake in Jasper National Park. The valley in which the lake lies was carved and excavated by valley glaciers, and the lake has been dammed at its northern end by an end moraine deposited by the last glacier, which flowed down the valley towards the Athabasca River. The glacial deposits and landforms forming the end moraine are excellent examples of glacial deposition.

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We walked the Moose Lake Loop.

The Moose Lake loop trail stays mainly in Jasper’s woods, and there are so many pines in the area.

and with summer in full swing there were even some pretty flowers in bloom.

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many of the dying and dead trees were covered in this.

The path is well maintained and is easy to follow and meanders through the forest and emerges at Moose Lake, unfortunately no Moose for us today.

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Moose Lake
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Moose Lake

We followed the path and veered off onto the path taking us to the shoreline of Maligne Lake.

We wandered up to the point.

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Maligne Lake

We wandered our way back along the shoreline to the car.

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Canoe’s for hire at Maligne Lake.
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Lots of walking trails and activities to choose from at the Lake.

Looking back up the lake from the bridge.

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Looking downstream from the bridge.

We left the lake behind and were hoping to find a nice little shady picnic area by the river for lunch. We found this little river bend but unfortunately there wasn’t any shade or facilities.

We eventually found a little carpark area at one of the trail heads to stop for a quick bite to eat before making our way to Maligne Canyon. The scenery on the drive was again spectacular.

Six bridges have built across Maligne Canyon allowing hikers of all abilities to explore this incredible area.

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Maligne Canyon – which bridge will you take?

We started at the top of the canyon and walked down and back to fourth bridge, but opted to drive to fifth and sixth to save a little time (and our legs!)

The canyon is constantly being eroded by the churning and swirling of the water. The effect of this has made the width 2 metres (6.6 ft) across at some points and a depth of 50 metres (160 ft).

In some sections the water gently flows over, in other areas it pounds and smashes it way over and through the rocks.

Taken in the same location, these two pics below show the ‘normal’ flow of water versus the use of a filter on the camera lens to ‘slow’ the water down and obtain that silky water effect.

The water pools, then drops, pools then drops.

After we managed to make our way back up from fourth bridge, we jumped in the car and headed for fifth bridge.

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The view from fifth bridge.

Sixth Bridge.

From Sixth bridge we decided to head out to Edith Lake.

From Edith Lake we headed further around to Lake Annette. The light was looking quite amazing by the time we arrived.

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Lake Annette
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We wandered the shoreline for a little while passing the quick sand pits – we figured we would take their word for it and avoided the area as signed posted!

The afternoon sun and light was just gorgeous so we took the opportunity to take a leisurely walk around the lake.

We had had quite a few big days back to back, and we were hitting the road again tomorrow so we opted to start to head for home before sunset.

As we were driving past the river area, that we pass on each trip in and out of Jasper, the road was lined with cars and we were trying to figure out what was happening, and then we realised, everyone was enjoying a later afternoon ice bath in the river. We (well I) couldn’t resist joining them, Tash well she was much less enthused with the idea!

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Selfie in the middle of the Athabasca River.
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Frozen feet after walking in the glacier fed Athabasca River (and the start of some serious tan lines!)

The weather was starting to turn so we left the river behind and headed off home.

The storm looked quite menacing but we managed to make it back to Hinton before the weather hit, so we decided to try and see if we could spot the local wildlife before it got too dark. Beaverlake Boardwalk was only about 2 minutes from home.

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Beaverlake Boardwalk
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Mr Beaver! he finally made an appearance almost on dark so i just managed to capture him.

With Mr Beaver spotted it was time to head home for a feed, pack a good nights sleep.

 

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Canada ’17 – River to Mountain

After our late dash to Jasper last night due to our sunset stop at Rearguard Falls, we arrived at our AirBnB accommodation in Hinton, about an hour outside of Jasper quite late (pretty close to midnight actually). With summer in full swing, the accommodation is Jasper is either booked out or out of price range, so this little AirBnB seemed like a good second option. It was a 1 bedroom, basement apartment and we were pretty happy with it when we arrived. It had plenty of space and was clean and comfortable.

After a few big days, we had a lazy start to the day with a bit of a sleep in and we headed to the Visitor Centre in Hinton for some current maps and to check out if there was anything new we should visit since our last time here in Jasper (way back in 2006).

Given it was dark on our way out, we obviously didn’t get a good look at the drive from Jasper to Hinton, so we were keen to hit the road this morning, our destination today Athabasca Falls.

We weren’t too far into our drive out of Hinton before we started to follow the Athabasca River and those glorious milky glacial waters, so when there was a pullover, we had to stop.

Oh my word, road trips take on a whole new meaning over here!

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Just you know, the view out the front window!

We stop at the Mount Hardisty, Mount Edith Cavell and Athabasca Pass lookout. The pullout gives some really good views of the mountain peaks, and there are little wooden plaques pointing to each of the mountains.

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Rodger just chillin at the lookout.
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More stunning road trip views.

We finally arrive at our intended destination – the majestic Athabasca Falls.

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Unlike many of the other falls, these start off quite unassuming.
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Stunning views of Athabasca River and Mt. Kerkeslin.

As you make your way along the path, the falls start to take shape, however, at this point first time visitors still can’t see the full falls, but can start to hear them.

… and then around a small bend in the path they start to open up

The walk is all paved and there a few bridges crossing the river giving spectacular views back to the falls and of the mighty canyons it has gauged its way through over the centuries.

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Looking downstream

You can also walk around to the other side of the falls.

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Looking back across the falls.

 

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Almost at the bottom

We walked all the way down to river level

After spending probably way too much time at the falls, we headed back towards town. We made a few stops along the way.

We were jumping back and forth about what to do next – do we go up the summit again or head out to Pyramid Lake where we hadn’t been. Even though we had done it before, with the weather and skies being so clear we decided to hit the Jasper Sky Tram.

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Who can resist bears!
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Alright! Going Up!

It’s always a little difficult in most gondala’s/trams etc to get a really shot as the glass is usually quite thick, scratched and throws serious glare and shadows, but i wasn’t going to miss this view.

Looking back down to the base station.

Looking over the township of Jasper

Looking up the valley

Boy did we make the right decision. The view was spectactular and the skies were even clearer than we thought, so much so that Mt Robson was visible, which we are told is extremely rare – score!

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Mt Robson in all her glory.

So its 6 o’clock at night, what do you do? You decided to summit the mountain! Yep we figured we were there, the weather was perfect let’s do it.

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We’re going up there, over there to the right
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and when we get over there, keep going.

Its possible we are idiots! But up we go …

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Look at that view.
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Pretty sure even this dude was throwing some shade our way for walking up here.
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Still climbing
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These chairs are synonymous with Parks Canada, so finding them up here was pretty cool.

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We took a side trail
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Looking back – you just see the top of the Sky Tram summit station to the left in front of the rocks.
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The views are certainly worth the hike.
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Whoo Hoo we made it! Whistler’s Peak conquered.

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We didn’t do too bad, making the summit in about an hour with quite a few stops along the way, but it was 7.30pm and we were getting pretty hungry so we humped back to the Sky Tram station to get us back to the bottom of the mountain.

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This little guy was keeping watch on everyone as we made our way back down.
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I love the patterns that nature makes all on its own.
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The light on the way back down the Sky Tram was stunning.

We eventually made it back to the bottom of the mountain by about 8pm, so considering i think we did alright.

We headed back into town and smashed some chinese, and i mean smashed because we were starving and watching this sunset unfold, whilst the Rocky Mountaineer prepared to leave – i mean come on! I’m supposed to be on holidays here!

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There she goes – Rocky Mountaineer leaving Jasper on sunset.

and on that note, it was time for us to head for the hills and get home for a somewhat early night.