A Travellerspoint blog

Vancouver to Calgary


semi-overcast 45 °F

We got to sleep in about 30 minutes more this morning before we had breakfast and headed out on our Jasper Tour to the Jasper National Park.


Our first stop was Medicine Lake: Medicine Lake 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 as a losing stream. 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 (lake) until it can slowly drain as the tap flow (runoff) is reduced (river).


We then traveled to Maligne Lake for a spectacular boat tour to Spirit Island for some great photo opportunities. The lake is famed for the color of its azure water, the surrounding peaks, the three glaciers visible from the lake, and Spirit Island, a frequently and very famously photographed islet. 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. Maligne Lake, as well as Maligne River, Maligne Mountain, and Maligne Pass, takes its name from the French word for malignant or wicked. The name was used by Father Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801–1873) to describe the turbulent river that flows from the lake (in the spring), and soon spread to the lake, canyon, pass, mountain and range. It is also possible that early French traders applied the name to the river for its treacherous confluence with the Athabasca River.


Our final stop was the Maligne Canyon where we had a short walk to view the canyon and a wonderful buffet lunch. Eroded out of the Palliser Formation, the canyon measures over 50 metres (160 ft) deep.Also at this point numerous large underground streams join and greatly amplify the flow. 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). Limestone is one of the most dominant minerals within the canyon. It was deposited in a shallow tropical sea by plankton which secrete limestone.


Posted by rpickett 00:24 Archived in Canada Tagged alberta jasper

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Wow Rusty. What a beautiful place. I feel blessed to see it with your comments, it is almost like being there. Your travels remind me of my own and my Viking blood. I believe you will understand what I mean when I say I still enjoy my opportunities to go viking.

by Bruce Sandelin

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