Maligne Lake

Aug. 31, 2012

Our first full day at Jasper we headed out to Maligne Lake to do some hiking. On the way we encountered a herd of elk wandering about the highway. Its rutting season which means the males are in quite an ornery mood and very protective of their chosen females.

These are some of the females.

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One of the females decided to come through the trees toward the road and the big male was close behind.

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They walked right up the side of the road next to the parked cars. It’s a good thing we stayed in the car because the male was not in a good mood and actually charged at a car a ways behind us.

During rutting season the males bugle, where they make loud, you guessed it, bugling noises. We heard this last year in Rocky Mountain National Park, but this time we got to see it up close.

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If you don’t think these guys are dangerous, imagine being a few feet in front of this!

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After making through the elk traffic jam, we made one more stop along the way at Medicine Lake. The interesting thing about this lake is that it mysteriously empties on a regular basis. Turns out there are underground fissures which allow the lake to drain into other parts of the park. So when the melt water coming in stops, down goes the lake. They had to do dye studies to determine exactly where the water ends up. In the past, there were a few dubious attempts to stop the lake from draining by essentially stuffing garbage in the fissures. Good plan.

Medicine Lake, still full.

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We decided to do the Opal Hill Loop trail at Maligne Lake, which rises up the mountainside to a large alpine meadow. The hike is a little steeper than expected but the Alpine meadow proves worth the effort.

This is the lake.

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We weren’t the only ones on the trail.

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The vistas from the meadow were breathtaking. It was definitely one of the most beautiful places of the trip.

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Me, Brian, and Will doing our best “rugged outdoorsman” impersonation.

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After completing the hike, we once again fell under Brian’s bad influence and headed to the café on the lake for some baked goods, a s’mores bar and a piece of banana bread.

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