One good thing about winter time in the mountains is that sunrise is not until 08:00. That means getting out of bed at a reasonable hour instead of the 04:00 starts in the summertime. Love it. First stop will be Patricia/Pyramid lakes. If I had brought my skates I could have played a little game of shinny as the Pyramid Lake Resort had cleared off a portion of the lake and supplied 2 hockey nets. I am sure I could have crushed those 5 yrs olds playing out there.
Onward to Maligne Canyon where I wanted to take a few pictures of the frozen waterfalls. I only got to the first bridge when I decided that trying to descend the sheer ice path without crampons was not a safe choice given I was the only person in the canyon. Did I mention to buy crampons? Skip the falls this time.
Forward to another favorite drive to Maligne Lake where I was going to do some snowshoeing where supposedly the best snow is. The road had a small dusting of snow not present in town and the temperatures dropped about 7 degrees C as I ascended to Maligne Lake. Here are a few pictures of Medicine Lake, Maligne Lake and various places in between.Click to open
I drove into the first public parking lot at Maligne lake and there was only 1 other vehicle present. There was a couple gearing up their snowshoes. Did a quick reconnaissance of the lake and was surprised at the number of cross country ski paths on the surface. Drove to the parking lot after the bridge where there was only 1 other vehicle. Geared up my snowshoes and did the 6 km Big Moose Loop. There obviously had been quite a few other people do the first 3 km of this trail as the path was well packed. After that it was a little more powdery as the out of shape tourists must have turned back. It was about -13c for the trip and snow conditions were fair. Did not see another soul on the trail. I forgot to bring my bear spray but I think I was pretty safe 🙂
Upon return to the parking lot, another couple was gearing up for cross country skiing. I saw them later heading towards spirit island. You probably could ski all the way there.Click to open
Returned to Jasper for a late lunch and decided to check out Mount Robson, queen of the Rockies. It was relatively clear and I thought I might be able to actually see the top of the mountain that is always in clouds. Almost could see the top.
The clear sky forecast was excellent for tonight and I was looking forward to actually getting my first astronomy photos. Every other time I have tried the conditions have been cloudy. Drove to Patricia lake viewpoint and jumped out of the car to see the night conditions. They were fantastic. About 90% clear sky, dark and more stars than I have seen in years. Unfortunately the Milky Way Center is not visible in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year, but still plenty of stars to see. Took a couple of test shots which I screwed up. Should have reviewed my night sky checklist before I headed out.
Continued on to Pyramid Lake island parking lot where 1 other vehicle and one person were already there. I thought this was another photographer as who else would be out here in the middle of the night (OK it was only 21:00). As I was organizing myself in the car, the individual walked over and tapped on my window. Pretty friendly people here in Jasper. Opened the door and he asked whether I was his taxi ride 🙂 We had a little laugh and I found out he was a trying to photograph the night sky using his GoPro camera. He explained his settings and I wished him good luck as I cannot see how that camera would work. His taxi cab showed up and away he went.
Off to the island. Damn I needed crampons again as it was icy and DARK. Yes, I had a flashlight but it was still dark. I thought I saw another flashlight on the island but never did see anyone. It actually was a bit creepy sitting in the dark hearing all sorts of strange noises. Do cougars hunt at night? I kept looking over my shoulder 🙂 Never could shake the feeling that someone or something was watching me.Click to open