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Kelowna/Jasper/Banff/Glacier Trip

Day 6 of 17

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Wednesday, July 22nd
Mona Lake hike

The time zone change still affected us, and we got up late, around 9am. Two of the camp sites in our little circle which had been occupied the night before were already cleared out. Despite the turnover, the campground would fill up later that day. In fact, the campground we stayed at was completely full on every single one of the eleven nights of camping we did. So if you're planning on camping in Banff, Jasper, or Glacier in July or August, be sure to make reservations.

I spent a bit of time in the morning trying to decide what hike to do. I thought about doing the Five Lakes hike nearby, but the fact that it sounded too close and might be crowded turned me off a bit. I eventually decided on a hike to Mona Lake.

To get to Mona Lake, we first had to drive up Maligne Canyon Road. We left the Wapiti campground, headed up toward the Jasper townsite, then turned right onto the main highway before shortly turning right to Maligne Canyon Road. The road heads south, passing beautiful Medicine Lake along the way. The speed limit is a leisurely 60 km/h out of respect for the local wildlife. But when a moose or deer or a grizzly is visible by the side of the road, traffic grinds to a standstill as drivers stop in the middle of the road to photograph them. Parks Canada recommends against doing this, as this causes animals to become habituated to humans. For me, personally, I just prefer to see animals more in their natural habitat, not next to a road. In any case, this made the already long drive up Maligne Canyon Road even longer. Eventually we made it to the end of the road, where we started off on our hike to Mona Lake.

After the hike, I made a brief stop at Maligne Lake. There's a large parking lot here. Boats are rented here. I noticed ice cream for sale in the boat shop, but it was past 6pm and it was already closed. I took a few pictures of the beautiful lake and continued on the road.

Maligne Lake

The drive back was beautiful, perhaps even better than on the way to the trailhead. My eyes were fixated on a series of sharp peaks to the north -- possibly Mt. Allen, Mt. Merlin, and Emir Mountain, although I'm not sure. They disappeared from view as I made it further up the road. I had made previous note of how beautiful Medicine Lake was, and made sure to stop there on the way back. As soon as I got out of the car, a man came up to me and asked me if I wanted a close-up of a deer. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I see deer all the time and wasn't really interested in taking a picture, but I went through the motions and snapped off 2 or 3 pictures of the deer standing next to the picnic area.

Medicine Lake

We went into the Jasper townsite to get ice and ice cream. Then we went back to our camp. The camp site to our right did not look right at all. When we left in the morning, they had two tents sitting underneath a big tarp. Now, there was only one tent, and the tarp lay haphazardly on the remaining tent. Our neighbor came over and told us that a moose had come by during the day and trampled their tarp and tent, crushing the poles. She hadn't been there when it had happened, but apparently someone else in the area had taken a picture of it. The rest of her party was in town, trying to find some replacement poles.

Indeed, the moose were quite at home in the campground. As we had driven in we had seen many people milling about, taking pictures of 3 or 4 moose in the area. As we prepared our dinner, one of them took up residence next to the camp site to our left, not 10 feet from their tent. The moose just lay down on the grass, resting. It didn't budge when the site's human occupants returned in their car. Eventually, several minutes later, it got up and eventually left without causing a fuss.

Meanwhile, our neighbor was explaining to a ranger what happened, noting that there wasn't any food in the tent. The ranger interviewed the people who had witnessed the moose incident. It sounded like the ranger was just documenting the incident, but that nothing would come of it. Our neighbors couldn't fix their tent so they decided to just cram into the one tent on that night.

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