August 14 ~ Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Today our outing was to explore Jasper National Park. Up and out at a reasonable time, we headed north in Jethro, leaving Ellie Mae resting at our campground near Lake Louise.
There are several places to stop along the Icefield Parkway which is the main highway between Lake Louise and the town of Jasper. But we decided to zip on by, planning on making our stops on the return portion of our trip. After our lunch stop in Jasper, we took the turnoff onto Maligne Valley Road.
The map says, “(60 km/hr max) – Allow plenty of time to take pictures on this scenic drive. Maligne Lake is an hour’s leisurely drive from Jasper. Watch for wildlife along the way.”
Our primary destination was scheduled to be Maligne Lake. But we did relent and make a short stopover at Medicine Lake on the way.
Our visibility was once again on the poor side, but seeing the crystal clear water was lovely. There had been a recent burn here, which left the landscape scarred and otherworldly looking.
Thankfully, Mother Nature is already starting to make a comeback.
As we got close to the lake, a small crowd was gathered on the side of the road with cameras and binoculars pressed to their faces. Tim stayed with the car while I hopped out to find out what had been spotted.
I was told that A MOOSE WITH HER CALF was somewhere hidden in the trees and bushes down below the road!!!!
I have been on the hunt to find a moose ever since our trip to Yellowstone a dozen or so years earlier. Several times we have “just missed” seeing one.
This time I was determined to just stay put until she/they became visible or I got run over by a car. I was hoping that the former would happen first 🙂
A few minutes later Tim had navigated a U-turn and found a place he could pull off of the road, had grabbed his long-lens camera and joined me in the waiting game. A ranger slowed down, ask what had been spotted, then pulled over and started with traffic and crowd control.
And then it happened…
Tim stationed himself where he could zoom in a little closer and snapped away.
I was in heaven, and after allowing us to watch for a good five minutes or more, they slowly meandered behind the shrubbery once again. It was like Christmas, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July all rolled into one big holiday for me. All the rest of the way on our drive toward Maligne Lake I know I had a silly grin plastered on my face.
Arriving at the lake, we were preparing to start the anticipated “parking spot hunt” when both Tim and I at the same time asked, “What is that? Is it a horse or a moose?”. Looking down a side service road that went toward the park rangers or administration housing, we had spotted the hind end of a large brown creature.
Well of course we had to investigate. Throwing caution to the wind, we slowly drove down a road that we probably had no business being on, and YES, lightning did strike twice in the same day!
Another mother and calf were having their lunch along the side of the road. Junior scampered off, by momma paid no attention to us. Tim again grabbed his long lens and started snapping away.
She was dreadfully thin, with her ribs showing. I don’t know if that is normal for a mom, perhaps still nursing or not, but I was concerned for her.
And then this guy showed up.
I could not believe our luck. After so many close calls and near misses, I was feasting at the buffet of seeing the elusive moose.
Returning to the parking lot, we parked and decided to take a walk along the side of the lake. And then I had to laugh. Here is the name of the trail we were headed for:
The lake itself was lovely but the sky was still suffering from the nearby fires and everything was muted.
Oh my heavens – could this happen again???
Sure enough as we walked down the path we came to the backside of the administration complex and spotted a ranger out taking photos of (yep you guessed it) the same momma moose. This time her calf was right beside her.
Well, seldom shy, Tim and I walked past the barricade and joined several rangers and had a fantastic conversation with them as we watched to our hearts content.
We found out that this momma is a bit of a celebrity and was very chill for a moose. She had actually starred in a PBS documentary called “Moose: Life of a Twig Eater”. I have not had a chance to watch it yet, but I did find it on YouTube and plan to get to it, hopefully this evening. You can find the link by clicking here.
Baby finally got tired of the show and became a little skittish.
Our moose sightings may have ended, but our day was far from complete as we had several scenic stopovers to take in on our way back to our campsite.
Our thrills were not over, as this waterfall deserves to be admired, not for the height, but for the thundering magnitude of water that gushes over and through the narrow corridor that has been created over time through the rocky gorge.
There are several well-placed viewing platforms and side trails that allow you to safely get some decent looks from multiple angles.
The other waterfall we wanted to see was Sunwapta Falls. By the time we arrived, it was late in the day and we had it almost to ourselves. Not nearly as violent as Athabasca, nor in my humble opinion, as magnificent, but still wonderful to behold.
“Sunwapta is a Stoney language word that means “turbulent water” ~ Wikipedia
There is both an upper and lower falls, but due to the late hour we just saw the closest one, the upper falls.
By now we were tired, and heading to the barn (so to speak), but several roadside pull-outs where we could absorb the view pulled us off the road.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Well, I’m guessing anyone who has followed our journey for any length of time will not have any trouble figuring out what I am grateful for today. After YEARS of trying to find/see/spot the elusive and normally shy moose, it finally happened today. I would have been thrilled with seeing one, but seeing two mothers with their calves, on separate occasions, especially up so close, was a dream come true. I am truly a “Happy Camper” tonight!
Up Next: Our tour on the Icefields. We invite you to join us!