Kayaking Maligne Lake | Canada

German version

Well, it’s been a while since my last post – after the US I traveled to Calgary, Canada, to start my 4 weeks roadtrip through the Canadian Rockies! I’ve met so many great people along the way and to share my adventures with them I decided to switch the language to English! Sorry German readers, you have to use the google translate button now. During the last week in Canada I started an epic journey, a 2 day kayaking adventure on Lake Maligne – one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been!

I teamed up with Eeva from Finland, Branka & Matt from Australia and Luke from the US in Jasper. In the morning the weather didn’t look too promising – a low and thick cloud was hanging over the lake and soon it began to rain. We organized everything though and started the paddle to avoid the afternoon headwind – Maligne Lake is well known for how the wind is caught between the mountains and funneled down its long shorelines. With an early start, we were first upon the waters that day. It was very calm, yet we were wary as it was to be a long, full kayak day to Spirit Island. 18 km ahead, approx. 5 – 7 h of paddle but a lot of fun!

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As you paddle up the valley you go from being surrounded by low hills, to towering peaks, with amazing side valleys opening up before you end being deep inside the mountains. The lake is surrounded by glacier clad mountains that tower above you and with its 22.5 km in length it’s the biggest in Jasper National Park. We paddled half way and then took a break on the west shore at a picnic site. By the time the weather changed and the sun came out. It turned out to be a perfect day.

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After lunch and a short break we continued paddling and after a while we came to Samson Narrows. As the name suggests, it’s a narrow part of the lake. With only a hundred meter between each shoreline it’s in fact so narrow that the tour boats cannot pass through if there is a canoe or kayak in it. This part also forms kind of a wind tunnel, so that the water tends to get a bit more rough here. And for us it certainly did.

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Once we got through the Narrows the views were getting even more spectacular. Just a few kilometers away from Spirit Island we passed our campground and decided to pull over to have a rest and pitch the tens. Fisherman’s Bay is one of the designated campgrounds along the shorelines of the lake. We lighted a fire and had some to eat before we continued to paddle to Spirit Island.

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We continued to the most popular feature of Maligne Lake and also the most photographed attraction in Canada – Spirit Island. Well, not really an island at all since it’s connected to the shore by a sliver of land. It’s the perfect place. Most tourists who come here payed around $100 for a ticket and took the boat tour to the island. But the real experience you can only get by renting a canoe or kayak and paddle your way to the island. The best point of paddling there is that the last boat leaves at 6 pm, after this they shut down the services for the day until next morning 9 am. That means we had the island for the best time of the day!

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We decided to paddle back to the campground to capture sunset there and come back to Spirit Island early next morning before sunrise. While we paddled back the lake became completely calm and we stopped on the lake to enjoy the scenery. The setting sun and the reflections on the lake made the picture perfect!

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The night was pretty calm and clear, unfortunately we were not able to capture the stars as the moon was way too bright. We decided to set our alarms to 4.30 am to paddle to Spirit Island and shoot sunrise photos. The paddle there was kind of exciting as it was pitch black. We were only to navigate with a small spot from our head torch – but of course we made it to the Island without any casualties ;-)
By the time it got brighter a mixture of clouds and blue sky created a brilliant light atmosphere. Everything appeared blueish and gave the scene a kind of special look. Although we didn’t have a nice sunrise, I was really happy with my results. I’ve probably shot the most successful photo so far (the 3rd) which became viral on my Instagram account.

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After a while the light became normal and the whole scene was covered by some high clouds. We shoot some last photos and paddled back to the campground where we packed our tents and started to paddle back to the starting point.

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All in all it was a great experience and a big adventure – probably my favorite thing I’ve done in Canada – Thanks to these lovely people for making it special!

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From left to right: Luke, Eeva, Myself, Branka & Matt. Make sure you have a look at their photos as they are great photographers!
Eeva’s Instagram
Branka’s Instagram
Matt’s Instagram

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Published by

Daniel Ernst

26 year old self taught photographer. Currently travelling around the world; at the moment New Zealand.

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