September 12, 2004

Hiking Near Gorgeous Maligne Lake

Up at the crack of dawn, we built a smokey fire from damp wood, ate breakfast, and headed off to Maligne Lake.

The sky cleared and the sun came out, literally brightening the prospects for some good hiking. The drive to Maligne Lake took us past Medicine Lake, an interesting body of water that appears and disappears with the seasons.

In the spring, Medicine Lake magically appears as the snow melts, and then gradually shrinks over the summer until it disappears in the autumn. The mystery was solved when underground channels were discovered that empty the lake at a pace that doesn't keep up with the spring rush, but eventually drain it as the inflow decreases.

We arrived at Maligne Lake around 9:30 a.m., ahead of the tour bus rush. It was beautiful. We walked the shore, and hiked a loop through the woods.


After having lunch sitting on some rocks near the shoreline, we headed back toward Jasper. We stopped at Maligne Canyon for another hike.

The hike down the canyon is spectacular, with amazing rock formations and thundering water. Some of the underground channels from Medicine Lake can be seen emptying into the canyon. We took the trail as far down as 5th bridge, and then considered returning to the parking lot on a different trail through the forest.


There was a cougar warning out for the area, so we were a bit uncertain about the narrow, darker, less-used forest path, however with tighter grips on our walking poles, we ventured forth.

About 50 meters into the forest Yumi suddenly stopped dead in her tracks, and pointed at a muddy area on the path. Superimposed on horse tracks was a perfect cat print, only the size indicated this was no house cat! A careful look around found more cougar tracks, and we about-faced and with tingling spines headed back to the path along the canyon where there were plenty of other hikers.

Posted by Paul at September 12, 2004 06:55 PM