Rockies Spectacular, Spirit Island – 4

The Athabasca Falls

The Athabasca Falls

The magic of Medicine Lake is astounding. It completely disappears in Summer and re-appears in winter. And this is no small lake by any standards. It is about 4.3 miles long but not too deep. At its deepest, it is about 20 feet. Due to the draining off in summer, the outflow is much more than inflow from the glacier melt. Hence the lake disappears.  The lake is lined one either side by the Rockies with quite a few Avalanche risk areas. The roadway is pretty light in traffic. I think I saw just about 15-20 cars on the roads in the two days of driving except where there was parking. The mountain troopers are pretty active. You can get stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle or a RV and you simply got to be patient. One such impatient guy happened to cross over the yellow line to overtake a small RV and immediately I saw the truck behind him start

Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake

his flashers and stopped him ahead to ticket him. I would wait for a legal opening to overtake or let one of those occasional tailgaters pass by while slowing down to a side. It can be very annoying to have someone on your back pressing the pedal when you are new to the beautiful country and wanting to just enjoy your vacation time.

The cruise on Maline Lake takes you to the Spirit Island. The island is iconic in that its picture is displayed as representative of the Canadian Rockies. The beautiful lake gets its turquoise color much like other lakes in the region, with the rock dust running off the snow melt and refraction of the sun’s light. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, it is one of the most picturesque places on Earth. When Kodak introduced color films to consumers, they sent photographers all over the world to submit entries. The photo of Spirit Island was chosen for the advertisement and it was displayed at New York’s Grand Central.

Spirit Island

The beauty of the Spirit Island is beyond words. Beauty can be lethal as this place get six meters of snow in winter

On the way back to Calgary, we also took a detour to visit a whirlpool, but instead ended up having a closer look at another glacier – the hanging Angel Glacier. This was at Mt. Edit Cavell which is the most prominent peak in the whole of Alberta. This was embedded so high in the mountains. It gave me the impression it is ready to fall off anytime. A fellow onlooker who had climbed up the very same mountain confirmed a thin streak of horizontal line across the glacier as a glacial divide. It was hard to believe he was up there given the face of the glacier was so steep, but I have no doubt about his abilities. He seemed to be the essence of a mountaineer. The cliffs are so steep that the British military trains there – as he mentioned.

Continuing on the way back, we stopped at the city of Banff. This beautiful small town is very colorful and impeccably maintained. The restaurant Nourish had caught our attention the previous night when we googled for a vegetarian restaurant. It turned out to be more than awesome with some great creative food and smoothies. The atmosphere was hip inside and the waitresses were dressed even so for the evening. They were however extremely pleasant and did a great job taking care of us. The streets were crowded even on a weekday. If you are in this town, you should take the Gondola ride up the Sulphur mountain for a majestic view of the surroundings including the famed Fairmont Lodge in Banff from way high up.

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