Alaska 2008

Jasper, AB
Jasper National Park

26 June 2008

Town Information

Park Information

Local Map

Photographs and Commentary
Click on pictures to enlarge

In 2005, when we stopped here on the way back from Alaska, we spent two days in Jasper. On the first day we visited the Athabasca Glacier and Athabaska Falls and the weather cooperated nicely. The second day we had planned on visiting Maligne Lake. The weather was dreary and boat tours on the lake were not running. This trip, we decided to spend an extra day in Jasper in order to go to Maligne Lake and take the boat ride that we missed last time. Mother Nature refused to cooperate. Not only did we have quick showers, but the temperature never went above 52 degrees. When we got to Maligne Lake the boat trips were running and so was a raw wind, so we decided not to go.

On the way to Lake Maligne we stopped at Medicine Lake. This is a very unusual lake. In the pictures below, you see this pretty lake nestled in the mountains. By late August, all you will see are a few springs and a little stream running down the valley. This disappearing lake was a mystery until scientists discovered that Medicine Lake was on very fractured bedrock. In the summer, meltwater from the snows and glaciers running into the upper Maligne River are blocked by a massive rockslide. The flow exceeds the capacity of the cracks to absorb them and the water fills the basin to form Medicine Lake. As the weather cools, the flow of the river is reduced and the lake drains through the cracks. Scientists believe that the drainage system for the basin forms one of the largest underground river systems in North America. They believe the waters reemerge in the Athabasca Valley, about 8 miles north of the lake.

We can tell we are getting much further north in our travels. When we left Lethbridge yesterday morning I was wearing shorts. The morning temperature was in the low 50s and I figured it would warm up. After a few hours of driving I decided that it was too cool to be wearing shorts and I changed into my jeans. This morning the temperature was in the upper 40s when we got up and the highest temperature we saw today was in the low 50s. We are hoping that this is just a cold front and we will see the weather warm up soon. The other indicator is the amount of daylight we are getting. Last night when went to bed at 10:30, it was still light out. Conversely, the sun is up very early. As we get further north, the amount of daylight will increase to the point that will be seeing about 20 hours of daylight when we are in the Denali Park area.

The preceding was written early this afternoon after we gave up on sightseeing because of the weather. After being in the campground for a couple of hours, the sky cleared a bit and we could see the sun. The temperature rose to the low 60s and it was really pleasant. We decided to go the The Fairmont Jasper Lodge to get some pictures of Lake Beauvert. Those of you who parle francais, will know that means Lake Beautiful Green (those who don't, now know). The lake has a beautiful aquamarine color. We tried to get some photographs of the lake in 2005 and managed to get one that needed some editing to bring out the color.

After leaving the Jasper Lodge we went into the town to fill up the truck for tomorrow's trip. As we exited the Yellowhead Highway (TC-16), we saw a parked car and a slowdown in traffic. Around here this usually means that there are some animals close to the road. Susie had her camera ready on her lap and managed to get a great shot of another local denizen, the coyote. Seeing coyotes this close to populated areas is not unusual, as the coyotes are opportunistic feeders and have been known to enter residential area and kill household pets.

Medicine Lake
Medicine Lake (Photo by Susie)

The Rockies
This is why they are called the Rockies

Susie at Medicine Lake

Susie at Medicine Lake

Sam at Medicine Lake

Sam at Medicine Lake

Susie at Maligne Lake

I seem to take at least one picture per trip of Susie with some kind of stuffed animal

Lake Beavert

Lake Beauvert as seen from The Fairmont Jasper Lodge (Panorama photo by Susie)

As seen on the road

Bighorn Sheep

This is the one we didn't get yesterday. This was shot on Maligne Lake road on the edge of Medicine Lake. The Bighorn sheep is still shedding his winter coat. Today, with the temperature at 48 degrees at noon when I shot this, he might want his coat back. We also saw mother bear with two cubs on the edge of the road. When we saw the bears, we stopped off the road and got our cameras (which always at the ready), but all we were able to shoot was mama bear's butt as she and the cubs went down a ditch and out of sight. I didn't feel it was prudent to follow the bears for better shot.


This Coyote was standing about 150 feet from the exit ramp to Jasper from the westbound Yellowhead Highway (TC 16). Note the winter coat that he is shedding.
(Photo by Susie)

Elk feeding Elk
This evening, after dinner, we went for a walk in the campground. Susie decided to take her camera, just in case. As we walked back to our site, we saw a group of four female elk eating grass adjacent to the dump station. You could tell that they were aware of the activity around them, but they just kept eating. The last time we stayed at this campgound, we got up in the morning and found elk nibbling on bushes within 15 feet our door.
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