Moonrise Over Maligne Lake

July 28, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Picking up from the last post, we were making our way to Jasper. It was going to be a long drive and there were places I wanted to go in Jasper National Park. What I had planned to do was to capture the moon rising over the mountains and Maligne Lake. I had been planning this event weeks prior to leaving for this trip and watching the weather ever since we had gotten in Alberta. This was the first clear day we had and I was hoping it would stay that way until moonrise. It was the day before the full moon, so moonrise would be about an hour before sunset. 


Being much further north than Raleigh, the sun was rising and setting much earlier and later, respectively, than at home. Tonight, the sunset was schedule to be around 10:00 PM. The good thing about that was there was plenty of time to see a few other things after we checked into the hotel and before moonrise, and it would give me time to scout out a good position. 


One of the places we stopped was at Maligne Canyon. It was similar to other canyons in the area, where the river carved out a twisting path through the rocks. It was more of a slot canyon than the Grand Canyon, so it only took us an hour or two to walk around. While interesting, it wasn't very photogenic. We moved on down the road toward Maligne Lake, but first there was another stop to be made.


Medicine Lake is a relatively large lake (over four miles long) in Jasper National Park, but is relatively shallow. And, the lake is not always there. The lake is actually more like a flood plain that fills with water as the temperature increases and the snow on the surrounding mountains melts and fills the lake. As the year goes on, the water drains out of the lake and it becomes a river (actually, the Maligne River) and is mostly frozen during the winter. We had read that many years ago, locals had tried to plug up the drainage hole at the bottom of the lake with phone books (didn't work) in order to keep the lake a lake. Fortunate for us, by early June, the lake was fairly full. We stopped for a while and walked down toward the lake.


Medicine Lake


Next stop for the day: Maligne (pronounced Ma-leen) Lake. Since it was just June 1 and near 5:00 PM, the parking lots were pretty empty when we got there. We drove around a bit to familiarize ourselves with the area. We finally parked and started walking around. One of the more popular excursions at Maligne Lake is to take a boat trip down to the other end of the 14-mile lake. Also popular is renting a canoe or kayak from the boat house. Neither of these options were available to us since peak season hadn't started yet and we got there too late in the day. But here's a picture of the boat house.


Maligne Lake Boat House


The spot I liked the most for a picture of the moonrise was from a bridge over the end of the lake where it drains into the Maligne River. It was the perfect spot to see the moon rising over the mountains and the lake. I figured where it should be first visible coming over the mountains and that it should be about a half hour after the official moonrise over a flat horizon. There was just one problem: some thick clouds were now behind the mountains in the distance, right in the area where I was thinking the moon would first be seen. If they stuck around, we wouldn't see the moon.


Maligne Lake


So we stood and waited. A young mule deer came by, found his way under the bridge, and kept feeding on the plants on the shore as he made he way around the lake. We also watched ducks and fish in the river. There was a good breeze blowing, so the mosquitos that were heavy along the shore by the boat house weren't bothering us too much on the bridge. Unfortunately, they were still around. I didn't notice how many there were until I got home and looked at my pictures. The one below was one of my favorites, with the guy paddling his canoe across the lake. But something bothered me about the sky. There were little dark spots all over.  When I zoomed in, I realized it was not a dirty lens, but the air was full of mosquitos. So many, it would be impossible to try to eliminate them from the picture. I really like this picture. I like the guy paddling across the lake. I like the sun shining on the mountains, adding a nice glow. I like the cloud formation above the mountain on the left, making it look like it was erupting. You may not be able to see them on your screen, but if I tried to make a print, they would definitely be noticeable. Fortunately, not all my pictures after this time had the pesky mosquitos in them. Not sure why, don't know where they went, but thankful they didn't show up.




We waited around some more hoping the clouds would move out of the way, but they didn't and we didn't see the moon rise over the lake. But the clouds did light up with the setting sun, making for a nice picture anyway.


No Moon Over Maligne Lake





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