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               Day 5 September 19, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014
Patricia Lake, Jasper, CAN

    The last day. I get up in the early morning hours to look at the stars and Igreeted by a very fine drizzle and cloudy, dark sky when I open the door. One of my regrets of this trip is that I didn't get up in the middle of the night and walk down to the lake to look at the stars.
   We drive in light rain to Pyramid Lake, scanning the shorelines of both lakes for elk and bears. The elk herd around the cabins seems to have moved on. They follow their food. We thought cooler, cloudier weather would bring the wildlife, but it appears to have done the opposite. We cruise Maligne Lake Drive from Jasper Lodge and Annette Lake to Medicine Lake and see only a young bull elk with short velvet covered antlers. The larger herd was hazed across the highway yesterday evening by two Canada Parks employees waiving sticks with what looked like large red windsocks attached.
   It rains and stops, rains and stops along Maligne Lake Road. There is hardly a vehicle driving; just us and a few others, a few fishermen out to enjoy the rushing river. One wades across Medicine Lake. The lake is shallow, muddy. From above, the streams of water look like a roadmap across a barren land.
   Along the road and on the mountain slopes the golden color of aspen mixes with deep green of conifers, forming a beautiful mosaic. The mountainsides of Jasper are covered with green and gold, and red. While Tim takes photos of the river I examine the aspen and other trees and bushes with yellow leaves. Some leaves are turning red; some of the aspen trunks are faded black and white.
   As we drive back to the cabin, we spot a black bear being hazed downtown. Three Park vehicles are crisscrossed at the road intersection when one park ranger yells"Stay in the house, stay in the house!" Then a little black bear lopes across the street, herded by a Parks employee with a red flag.
   We pack up and say our goodbyes to the lake as the loon dives for breakfast. I feel like I could stay here forever.
   On the way to Lake Louise we stop to hike Valley of the Five Lakes. Marked as "easy," it is only 1.4 miles one way, but there is considerable up and down on the trail. The trail climbs through forest and passes between two lakes then winds around on a level path that is high above the lakes. Settled in grassy meadows are the five small lakes, surrounded by flowers and trees - an inviting habitat for wildlife.
   The drive from Jasper to Lake Louise is a long one, but the mountains are breathtaking coming in from the west. By the time we reach Lake Louise it is downright chilly. Only a few visitors stroll the path surrounding the lake. As the sun sets and evening shadows descend, only the twinkling lights of Chateau Lake Louise shine in the darkness.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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