• Jaime Lee Lightle

Crossing Canada Day #7: The Healing Lake

Updated: Feb 9

We continue our Chronicles of Crossing Canada. Welcome back!


Photo credit: Jaime Lee Lightle


Jaime Lee writing ~

We woke up from our slumber in the truck-house parked at the end of Jim’s cousins’ laneway hearing the neighbours leaving for work. We used the toilet, had some hot, fresh coffee and we rolled off – destination: Jasper National Park.


The drive got interesting in Edson Alberta because at this point, we started to see the Rocky Mountains ahead of us.


We got to Jasper National Park at around 1:30 PM (central). We didn’t drive far before seeing our first Elk. She was eating grass near the highway at an interpretive sign. Cars and trucks were stopped to take pictures.


Photo credit: Jaime Lee Lightle


As we continued to drive, we started seeing the blue-turquoise glacier fed rivers along our route. They were flowing north. Jim pulled over so I could capture this magical setting with truck-house in the frame.


The Pyramid Mountain and Sirdar Mountain at 2,763 m and 2,804 m respectively hugged our route to camp. Our site was booked at Whistler Campground. While checking in at the office, the face mask wearing Park employee reminded us that no fires were allowed. When we arrived at our site, there was not a soul around and we were disappointed to see that our site was beside the bear-proof garbage receptacle.


The bathroom station was brand new looking and immaculate. Grey, clean and institutional is what I call the aesthetic.


Photo credit: Jaime Lee Lightle


We stopped only to stretch, then we headed into Jasper proper.

Some history about Jasper:

The present-day Municipality of Jasper is located on Treaty 6 and 8 Territories. Since time immemorial, a diversity of Indigenous Peoples utilized this land as a meeting ground, gathering place, travelling route and home. Over 26 Indigenous Partners remain connected to this area presently. When Jasper Park Forest Reserve was created in 1907, Indigenous Peoples were forcibly removed and excluded from this part of their Traditional Territories. Through the colonial worldview, the landscape was understood as a backdrop for European settler recreation and a promise of economic prosperity through tourism. Following the removal of Indigenous Peoples, mountains, rivers, and other parts of the landscape were renamed with settler colonial names. (source: https://www.jasper-alberta.com/2144/History-of-Jasper_)


We parked the truck-house on Connaught Drive which ran parallel to the train line. We walked up long the main thoroughfare, then we turned up a block and then down a secondary road. We grabbed some Subway and sat outside at the picnic table to eat our dinner. On our way back to the truck we passed many souvenir shops, but one caught my eye. Maybe it was the big, funny, bear mascot that was standing outside the front door. I remarked to Jim: “I think I’ve seen this place before”. As it turns out, I was hit with a childhood memory. My mom took me to this souvenir store over 35 years ago. She bought me a hide and fur purse that I coveted for many years.


Photo credit: Jaime Lee Lightle


On our way to the truck, we took a quick detour to see the Jasper Train Station. The Jasper station was built to an unusual design that adapted the Arts and Crafts style and the related national parks "style" to the specific functional requirements of a first-class facility for rail travel (source: http://jaspernationalpark.com/railway.html)


As we approached this unique stone structure my eye caught the sight of the bright sunflowers that stood tall and straight in their window planters happily soaking up the September afternoon sun.


Jasper Train Station (2022) Jaime Lee Lightle

We got back to the truck, turned around at a gas station and headed for the Icefields Parkway to get a dose of nature. (We souls really needed to engage).


The Valley of Five Lakes is where we found ourselves. It was under 10 Km from the Town of Jasper. The parking lot had quite a few cars and it appeared that a lot of people were using the trails.


We were a little grumpy by the time we got to the trail. We were tired. We rarely see so many people in one place since the Pandemic – it was weird feeling.


There were several trail loops to choose from so we decided to take the shortest loop, knowing that we had to save our bodies for another drive the next day.


There were lots of people on the trial – there was no escaping the fact that this beautiful place attracts visitors from all over the world. It felt crowded at first. After taking some inclines and declines over tree rooted trails, surrounded by pines, over a foot bridge over glacier streams we reached the First Lake (1 of 5) – and all the grumpiness evaporated. We were reminded of why we were taking this journey – to see this country. Yes, it gets a little crowded – even though we are one of the most sparsely populated land mass in the world.


We reached the First lake. The water was clear, turquoise, the bottom was visible even in the deep area. A waterfowl was diving for fish at a distance. We were surrounded by treed mountains. We sat at the end of the dock of the ice-blue lake and dipped our feet in the glacier cool water and were healed of all our pain, fears, and sadness…nothing mattered but where we were – and that we were there together. We made it!


Back at camp a couple hours later, we quickly realized the benefit to our camp site while sitting at our picnic table planning our next day’s journey. We looked up and saw an Elk watching us from the road, not 20’ away from us. She started following the lane, turned the corner to greet us from the other side of our site, seeking lichen from the trees and grasses surrounding our site. Elk measure up to 5 ft tall and can weigh up to 700 – 1,00 lbs! A few moments later, 2 males with big racks made their way into the campsite. We were the only campers in our area of the site, so they outnumbered us, and they were unbothered by our presence.


After supper hour, we could hear the caws of the Crows – it’s supper time! Before we knew it, a whole family of Crows arrived at the campsite, walking, and rummaging around the vacant sites. We noticed the watchers keeping guard in the high pines and the forgers, making efforts to find bugs, grubs, and leftover human food around the paths. We were outnumbered by these creatures.


As the sun sank behind the western-most mountain range, the eastern range started to glow a golden hue (Mt. Sirdar). It was getting cold in the shadow of the great Rockies, so we decided to bring out the art supplies and try to do some art en-plein-air (outdoors) before it got too dark or before our fingers seized by cold.


Party election sign tracking: Mostly Blue, and some Maverick


Jim writing…


Before we left my cousin’s house in Gibbons Alberta, I had to get a photo with my cousin Rob, and I also had to give him a big hug. He had grown so much since the last time I saw him. I am proud of the boy. He is the only member of our family out west. It was good to see him smile as we drove off to Jasper. The road was beautiful and smooth sailing. He told us about places to see along our journey to Jasper.


Coming into Jasper was a weird feeling. The little tourist town of Jasper was busier than Edmonton. People from all over the world were enjoying the sights. It was a weird to hear German, Dutch, and Mandarin being spoken knowing that these international visitors were able to come into our country during a pandemic and move more freely than many people of this country. For context: in September 2021, Manitoba and PEI required “vaccines” for out-province visitors (or 14-day quarantine regardless of presenting symptoms); and in Quebec, vaccines were required to sit and enjoy a coffee at a café (or sit in any restaurant for that matter).


The Town of Jasper was beautiful but like I said earlier, it was a tourist trap. Even though, we just left our community which is heavily depended on tourism, I realized that we will likely never see high the numbers of tourists that Jasper does.


Photo credit: Jaime Lee Lightle


Getting away from the town of Jasper and seeing what the park had to offer was more up my alley. My ankle was still tender from driving so we decided on the shortest of the hikes. Halfway along the hike my ankle started to throb more and more. I saw a younger couple walking on the trail heading back to the parking lot. I asked them one question: “Was the hike worth it?”. They both smiled at us and with excitement said: “YES!” That gave me the motivation to keep going.


At about the 20-minute mark of our hike, we made it past one little lake with an emerald, green hue. The next lake we came across was a beautiful glacial blue and it had a dock. My ankle was near done so we decided to stop, and I sat at the edge of the dock and dipped my bad ankle into the water. The water was so cold it began to numb my ankle. It was almost like a gift from God. The pain faded away and all the troubles of the day seemed to float away as I stared out at the blue lake. Jaime and I had a great time talking and relaxing with our feet in the water.


Left to right: Espanola Ontario (2022) Jaime Lee Lightle; Rouleau Saskatchewan (2022) Jaime Lee Lightle


With a fresh invigorated ankle, we decided to walk back. As we walked both of our energies were positive in thanks to the healing of the beautiful blue glacial Lake. As we headed down the trail, we came across people that were watching us. They were really not watching us but they were watching female deer following us down the trail. Nature seemed to be on our side today. When we made it to camp, the nature seemed to know we were touched by the glacial Lake. Elk and more elk and oh did I mention the elk. No fire at our site was a little discouraging but Nature’s guests seem to keep my mind off it.


Photo credit: Jaime Lee Lightle


This is the place that restores the tanks of every Canadian. If you take the time to hear and see the spectacles of nature. Today My tank is full.

Photo credit: Jaime Lee Lightle


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