The previous post showed a photo that I was not counting on. Today’s photo is the roughly what I had intended to be taking.
I say roughly because in previous years when visiting this exact spot the water was much, much lower and what you see now was a small tributary of Maligne River. This year for whatever reason the river seemed to be flowing higher than usual.
Medicine Lake is an interesting one because although a fair sized river flows into it there is no visible outlet. There is however at the north end of the lake, this was taken looking north, a place where on calm days water can be heard dripping into what is supposed to be a vast underground cavern. The rock here is mainly limestone which is very water soluble.
It is believed that there is a large system of yet undiscovered caverns between the lake and the Maligne Canyon, several kilometers away where the water from the lake mysteriously reappears. I am not making that up. I remember reading years ago about a test that was done with dye to see how long it would take or where the water would resurface.
I’ve been visiting this place for as long as I can remember. I recall being in a boat on Medicine Lake fishing with my family. At the time I might have been four or five years old. I do remember that I wasn’t yet in school so that might have been in the late 1950’s.
There was a fire near the lake this summer. I thought that it was only a minor one but while driving to Medicine I was overwhelmed by how far the fire had spread. Some beautiful old cottonwood trees that might have been over a hundred years old had burned down. They were one of my favorite trees to photograph come autumn in Jasper. Now most of them are gone surrounded by standing charred stumps.
In the photo above almost all of the mountain slope on the left is not live forest but what remains of a burned forest. The encouraging thing is that in a few years instead of this land being able to support only a few large ungulates it will be able to support so many more. When the tall forest canopy burns down the undergrowth that returns is lush and thick. That provides more suitable habitat for deer, moose, elk and the few caribou that frequent the region. Populations should be on the upswing there.
The burned forest isn’t pretty but it is healthy for the ecosystem.