Safe yet playful river rafting, spectacular alpine walking, wildflower meadows and waterfalls, comfortable cabins to stay in, congenial new friends: check! Destinations, dates, and companions are a mystery until the last minute, as tour companies scramble to work around an evacuation alert for Clearwater and a two-week wildfire-related closure of Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Why is there no one here at the far end of Maligne Lake, the most famous body of water in Jasper National Park? Gorgeous glacier views, interesting folded rocks. A trail that’s not-too-hard but not-too-easy, 16 km (return) on an enjoyable grade following a stream up through the forest.
Instead, thousands of visitors board tour boats to cruise mid-lake to Spirit Island, a well-marketed patch of land with about a dozen trees. Have you guessed that we prefer the lower half of Maligne Lake?
The swish of the paddle, the call of the loon, the crackle of the campfire (until the axe breaks), the snap of a moose munching beside your tent at midnight, the hush of two bears walking softly along the beach, the roar of a hard rain. Oh, the comforts, discomforts, and joys of wilderness canoe-camping! After a year of guided kayak day-tours in exotic tropical places, it was time to get back to our canoe roots. Where better than Murtle Lake, the largest canoe-only lake in North America, with over 100 kilometres of shoreline.