The boat on Maligne Lake

Jasper and Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake boatshed
Maligne Lake boatshed

It was yet another early start the next day. We were staying in the hostel for another night but had to change rooms and were meeting Louise, one of her work colleagues, at 8am. It was a rush to pack up, have breakfast and be ready.

Louise’s parents were visiting from England and had rented a campervan. They drove us to Lake Maligne, where it was unbelievably cold, but beautiful. The weather was being very fickle! They had booked a boat trip on the lake at lunch time so Robyn and I joined them. Before that, we hiked the Bald Hill trail which had a lookout at the top. It was a gentle ascent on a well-formed track. The steep route we took down had fantastic views of the lake and surrounding mountains and glaciers. This part of the track was popular, and we stopped many times to allow people to pass (and to take photographs!). Back at the campervan, we cobbled together some sandwiches with our combined limited supplies. We had intended to go to the cafe for lunch, but the queue was a mile long.

With perfect timing, we arrived at the jetty for our tour. There is only one company operating and their boats are the only ones with motors permitted on the lake. We travelled as far as Spirit Island, observing three glaciers en route. The company limits the number of boats landing to one, so it wasn’t crowded. The crew allowed ten minutes for our stop. It was freezing though and most people were glad to return to the relative shelter of the cabin. Two young Indian brothers provided entertainment on the return journey. The captain asked if they would like to steer the boat. The younger, shyer one had difficulty but his big, self- satisfied grin when he did it made everyone laugh.

It was mid-afternoon when Louise’s parents dropped us off in Jasper, by which time Steve had arrived. He had hired a car in Edmonton and driven to meet us. Having arrived earlier than expected, he had wandered the streets of Jasper whilst waiting and was desperate for a proper walk. Maligne Canyon beckoned. We had spotted the signs for it on our way to the lake. It didn’t disappoint. Our time was limited as we were meeting the others for dinner so we didn’t quite reach the sixth bridge. However, we followed the track as far as the fifth one, at which point the river widened and was less impressive. The canyon was deep, narrow and had a large volume of water gushing through it. Water also emerged from underground caves and the geology was fascinating.

Back in town, we met Louise and her family for dinner at Olive’s which was across the road from the hostel. It was not up to the standard of our meal the previous evening but was adequate. After we ordered, Steve told us he had read in an Alberta newspaper that their chef had jumped off an 80 foot cliff into a lake, just for fun. It didn’t end well. He was in hospital with a broken pelvis. I’m not sure who cooked our dinners that night!

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