Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 9 - Morning in Maligne Canyon and Lake and Jasper

We woke up to a very cold and overcast day with the threat of snow hanging around still from last night
The Elk
It wasn’t looking good again for a nice clear day on the lake.  So I rugged up heavy – well what I thought was rugged up until we got down to the Lake.  As we headed out of town we saw a nice decent size herd of elk with another tour group with their door open – Idiots and thanks to Tania for getting the front seat of the bus. Haha As we headed towards the Lake we went past the watch dog on the Bridge… the flamingo. Frank is a nut for pointing that one out to us.  As we rounded the corner there was a herd of elk on either side of the road.  Also in the paddock was a heavily camouflaged photographer and another photographer in a car a little bit further. Salena waited a little bit back so we could get a closer view.  Then it happened – one of the females broke away from the group and the bull elk chased the female … It was so cool watching it.  Mr Bull elk was scary and not impressed that the female had decided to go out on its own. 
Sorry for the Blurry ness but the Elk chasing his female 
We made our way along the canyon road which was amazing. The road was shrouded in clouds and mist and the beautiful fall yellow colours coming through along the rocky roads.  It was so pretty and magical as we climbed in altitude which would have been better if we actually saw some real bona fide wildlife. There was one particular part of the road which was so beautiful with the fall colours and the clouds over the mountains it was so pretty. 

The Road along to the Maligne Canyon
Our first stop was at Medicine Lake which is like a big bathtub.  You are probably sitting there going … what the!!!!  The lake literally drains like a big bathtub.  Because it is an essentially a part of the Maligne River which feeds the lake which then feeds into the Athabasca River  so the lake is the basin where this happens which is why it drains. It is fed by the melt water from the glaciers. The first nation people so named it because of the special qualities with the drainage. The lake is well stocked with fish given the drainage qualities and also the surrounding forest has a large abundance of grizzly bear, black bear and we were entering the caribou area so there is a apparently a large population there. Not that we got to see any of it…  ggrrrrr
Medicine Lake
It was quite a beautiful lake which also has one of the most extensive underground water systems in the world but I have to say it was very very cold…  okay it was bloody freezing… so glad I rugged up well I thought I had rugged up.  No one knows where the water actually goes but it is believed there is a massive series of underground tunnels in the Maligne Valley which feeds the canyon and rivers. 
the Amazing view from the Bus
We made our way through the mountains and saw more and more of the Maligne River with the big boulders. With the beautiful melt water colour which is similar to the rock flower. 
The Historic Curly Phillips Boathouse 
 We arrived at Maligne lake about 45 mins later and it was cold and threatening to rain which has been pretty usual during the whole trip.  I think it was about 1 degrees and we were going out on the lake!!!!  Brrrrrr  But in the restaurant and gift shop it was so warm and toasty.  
Maligne Lake
Also with the requisite Mountie bear on site…  so of course the perfect photo op for all of us.  I just wish I had brought some gloves the night before.  We got on the little boats and took off to Spirit Island which was about a 45 mins away. It is one of the most photographed spots in the Canadian rockies.  It is also only a island for a few weeks a year because of the melt water actually cuts it off from the spit that joins it to the mainland.
The site of the Rock Slide
The reason why it is called is surrounded by mystery.  It was photographed by a amutuer photographer back in the 30’s or something and it hung in Grand Central and the attraction to the island began. Also there is a myth by the first nations which is about 2 rival families and love of course. 
Our first view of Spirit Island
Along the way we saw a massive rock slide which is the 2nd largest in the world, it had literally taken down a whole rock face but it was hard to photograph because of the mist that on the mountains but here is a small portion of it. 
The peninsula at Spirit Island
When we arrived on the island which seemed like the fastest 45mins ever it started to rain..  which was so annoying because it was hard to photograph and not get the camera wet which I managed pretty well.  
Spirit Island - with the Mountains covered in Cloud :( 
Also the Spirit Island we saw in the photos was definitely not the spirit island we got to see – surrounded in cloud, mist and rain.  Also the amazing blue blue water was so pretty and never seen anything like it.  
Spirit Island
I mean we have amazing blue oceans here but this water was so densely blue.  But the beauty of the location and the rain just made it even more beautiful. Although I don’t think I had ever used the overcast setting on the camera white balance as much. 
Overlooking Spirit Island
We headed back across the lake and I chatted with Angela and Dean which it was nice to get to know the newly married couple.  We also got told a story about the staff antics to make the crossing go faster since the weather wasn’t playing ball and we couldn’t really go back outside. 
The beautiful blue lake water at Spirit Island
We got back up to the world famous chalet and had lunch which I enjoyed with Nerina and got to know her.  It was nice to warm up after freezing out butts off.  It was raining and we headed back along the maligne canyon road to the canyon.  When we heard the cry from the back of the bus – BEAR!!!!  We tried to back up but I think it was too late which was a shame although we still dispute that they saw anything. But while we there we got to see some deer which were pretty dam cute. 
Maligne Canyon
As we approached Maligne Canyon it started to snow… very tiny little sleet like flurries started to come down.  It was freezing and I was so rugged up and it was so cold.  I was sooo stopping in at jasper on the way to not only take photos but buy a pair of GLOVES!!!! 
Maligne Canyon Falls
We got to Maligne Canyon and it was so amazing with the deep limestone crevices where the water freezes in winter.  But the crevice is so deep and it forms part of the underground network that feeds Medicine Lake.  It started to give little flurries from the sky.  Now I have seen snow but never been snowed on it was so cool. I was so excited and doing the happy dance.  Karin had to capture the happiness it was soooo cool.  I loved it …  it was so amazing to feel it fall on you.  I tried to capture the water falls and the canyon but it was hard without the tripod.  But I got one or 2 great shots. 
Me enjoying the Snow...  I hate this photo but this is for Karin
I went  into the gift shop which was so nice and warm which also had some very expensive JADE… Almost $1million for one piece but it needed to be dusted but you know it was amazing. Too bad the camera wouldn’t work in that dark area. We headed back into Jasper and we got dropped off in town. 
the Signs in the Park at Jasper
The mountaineer was getting ready to leave it was pretty cool to see such an iconic train.  Too bad you couldn’t get down to take photos because it was almost ready for departure and of course had to clear security.  So I wandered around town and saw Jasper the bear.  I started to feel my cold coming back which I was not too impressed about. But just enjoyed the afternoon and wandered through the quaint shops including the Christmas shop which was so cute and took photos. 
Jasper Fire Station 
But I found my gloves and cute baseball cap after much searching. Most of the shops sold mittens as opposed to real gloves or they were $40 + more.  So I found my bargain pair of gloves for $7 and kept my hands very warm thank you very muchly.  My feet were killing me by this stage because it was so cold and had done a lot walking that day at the canyon and the lake.  So I was very very lazy and caught a cab back to the hotel. So instead of freezing my arse the 20-30mins back to the hotel I was very lazy. I got back to the hotel and got changed and layered up… rested for about 20mins before we had to be at the bus to head up to Mount Edith Cavell.

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