Maligne Lake Was Maligned By Pouring Rain
T he skies opened up and poured torrential rain from the black clouds down on Trans-Canada Highway 16 out of Hinton just after I entered Jasper National Park. I still had 84 kilometers to go to get to Maligne Lake; and the extensive road construction exacerbated the drive exponentially.
Maligne Lake Was Maligned By Pouring Rain
I finally turned left onto Maligne Lake Road; the rain practically blinding my sight as the windshield wipers furiously slapped the water to the left, slapped the water to the right — and seemingly losing the battle.
Medicine Lake is approximately halfway to Maligne Lake on the 37.8 kilometers of Maligne Lake Road. I stopped and parked the car in the parking area, hoping that the rain would let up.
It did not. Onward I went towards Maligne Lake.
Miraculously, the rain stopped just as I approached the parking lot for Maligne Lake. I stepped out of the car and walked down the short paved path to the lake.
The Maligne Lake boathouse was built by Donald “Curly” Phillips in 1928 as part of his Maligne Lake Camp. This is the last remaining structure from that camp.
The boathouse is a registered historic resource of the province of Alberta.
Clouds rested their billowy heads on the mountain tops as two men fished while in their boat.
Heavier and darker, the clouds scraped themselves along the craggy tops of the snow-covered Mount Charlton and Mount Unwin — and an eerie quiet enveloped the area, thick with the scent of ozone.
Momentary brief appearances by the sun as a special guest star of today’s show were few and far between as a lone bench overlooked the placid lake.
The sky was a flat white ceiling of clouds which obscured the mountains…
…until smaller, darker low clouds suddenly floated across the sky.
I decided to venture along the trail which hugs the shoreline of the lake anyway; the most significant danger being the roots which jutted out through the compacted soil from the bottoms of mature coniferous trees, ready to grab and cling onto anything which approaches them.
The boathouse was still conducting business with visitors despite the dreary weather, as two men float on Maligne Lake in a canoe heading away from the historic boathouse.
At approximately 14 miles — or 22.5 kilometers — in length, Maligne Lake is the largest lake in Jasper National Park.
The name Maligne Lake originates from the French word maligne, which means malignant or wicked.
The clouds attempted to strangle Mount Warren at its neck as they thickened and blackened above the lake…
…as the lake remained calm and even sported an interesting shade of turquoise in the otherwise colorless scenery — almost as if in defiance.
Speaking of defiance, the two men in the red canoe continued their journey on Maligne Lake.
Despite the sporadic breaks of blue sky punching holes in the clouds, I heard a rumble of thunder and decided to cut my hike short and head back.
I backtracked on that same trail, dodging the roots along the way.
These three women in a rowboat apparently decided to ignore the thunder…
…and shortly after that, the skies opened up once again with rain prickling the surface of the lake, stabbing it like millions of needles.
I hustled to the covered outside deck of the boathouse amidst the thunder and lightning — but oh did the rain look and sound so strangely wonderful.
This is a similar view to that of the fifth photograph from the top of this article; but with a seeming violent sky threatening the mountains, their presence partially obscured by the rain.
Lonely canoes weep for company on a pier in the pouring rain.
The raindrops became larger, heavier and fell more frequently. I arrived back at my car wet, wishing that I could have spent more time at Maligne Lake to discover more of its beauty and treasures.
I was disappointed that my visit to Maligne Lake was cut short; but to look on the bright side: I saw scenery one can never see on a sunny day.
Wildlife is supposedly abundant along Maligne Lake Road — which begins at Trans-Canada Highway 16 approximately five kilometers northeast of the town of Jasper — but the rain kept most of it away.
Count on spending approximately an hour one way to travel from the town of Jasper to Maligne Lake. Once you arrive, facilities are available to you — including a visitor center and a cafeteria-style restaurant.
The trail along the edge of the lake — at least, the section on which I walked — is easy on which to hike. Just watch out for the roots.
Other than admission into Jasper National Park — which has been suspended for 2017 while Canada celebrates 150 years as a confederation — there is no admission fee to visit; and you can stay as long as you like.
All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.