July 2017 – After an exhausting previous day and evening, the alarm came too early for us to get ready for Maligne Lake. The promise of one of the best places to see wildlife in Jasper National Park was motivation enough, though, to get us up and ready. We lost power while getting ready, but the sun was already up and shining long before our 7am alarm, so we had no issues.
We hit the road for about an hour drive to Maligne Lake. We arrived a little early and explored the gift shop before boarding the boat for our cruise to Spirit Island. The boat was nice, very clean with wooden paneling and large glass windows. The windows could be closed during rain and wind and opened when we stopped for pictures (which we did sev
eral times). The cruise was very beautiful, and the guides were knowledgeable. We stopped for about a half hour on Spirit Island. It was pretty, but I felt like there was a bit too much hype about it. We had plenty of time for pictures and to use the million dollar, energy efficient outhouse on the island. We reboarded the boat and continued our cruise back to the mainland.
After eating lunch at the onsite cafe, we took our packs and headed to the trail suggested by the guide. She recommended taking the Moose Lake Loop and said we had a high chance of seeing moose there. Unfortunately, we never saw any. We continued past the trail to the Upper Moose Lake Loop and a couple of other marked trails. We met up with a ranger at one point who told us these weren’t really trails and we needed to be careful because she was taking down signs to keep people off of them (the signs were there when we went by them, so how should we know they weren’t trails?).
We returned to Moose Lake and sat down to eat a snack and wait out the moose. After an hour, we gave up and returned to the car. We did come across a bald eagle’s nest on the road out and then a black bear. Since it was starting to get late, we decided to stop in Jasper to eat so that we didn’t run into the problem we had the day before (we were also running dangerously low on gasoline). Being Canada Day, parking was a bit difficult but we found an empty spot and we ended up at Fiddle River. Definitely a little higher cost than we ordinarily shoot for, but it did not have a large crowd and had very delicious food. I had fish and chips, and they were likely the best I’ve ever tasted.
After leaving Jasper, we headed back down the northern portion of the Icefields Parkway and stopped at the viewpoints we had not yet hit. We ended up at Athabasca Falls a little bit before sunset, and we were surprised at the beauty of both the falls and the canyon. We spent probably forty-five minutes here before heading south again and spotting some caribou crossing the road. A little further on, we found some elk along the roadside. We then stopped at Sunwapta Falls, since this was our last night in the northern part of the Icefields Parkway.
After our long day, we decided to extend it a bit and head down to an open area to see the stars. We didn’t realize the sky doesn’t get dark until about 1 or 2 am this time of year, so photography was a failure. It was a beautiful, peaceful sight, however, and we could still see a ton of stars in the twilight sky.
Around midnight, we started back to our room to get some sleep before our 10am glacier walk the next morning (review in another post).