We wasted no time in Jasper as our time there was rather short, so I'm wasting no time in jumping right back into the thick of it.
Day two has us starting out with a run to the well-acclaimed local bakery, Bear Paw. Actually, let's back track. Our morning actually started with a combination of stumbling around for coffee and turning on the heat, which apparently was too much to handle at one time as the coffee pot we blew a fuse. Thankfully the Airbnb hosts reset it within minutes and we resumed bringing ourselves to life for the day's activities.
At this point, serious fuel was needed so it was then that we headed to previously mentioned bakery. And boy am I glad all the morning's activities had worked up such an appetite. This place was a gem, guys. An absolute gem. Everything was so divinely good, I could have easily consumed every meal in Jasper right here and would have been happy as a clam (or maybe in those parts they say happy as an elk?). We tried a little bit of everything....muffins, scones, baked goods, cheese sticks, breads....nothing disappointed. Their sausage rolls were oh-em-gee so darn good. Puh-lease get yourself one when you go there. And their rhubarb crumble bars were on a whole other level. And the cinnamon rolls.....YESSSSSSSS! They're coffee drinks (we tried a rolo-flavored one) were pretty darn delicious, too. So, basically, go there, get everything, be happy.
Once we were good and full, we hit the road for the drive to Maligne Lake. Naturally, it wasn't long before something caught our eye and we just had to stop and take pictures (and video and snapchat and Instagrams...the usual). In this case, it was Medicine Lake, or really, lack-there-of. Since the lake is filled by a melting glacier every spring, come winter, it's all but dried up. This might be strange to say, but I'm almost more glad we saw it the way it was, as the yellows from the plants surrounding were a golden yellow the likes of which I had never seen. Contrasted with the rocks and the burnt remains of a forest fire, it was a jauntily beautiful scene that I will not soon forget.
Speaking of the forest fire, apparently last year, lighting struck cause a fire that shouldered underground for 9 days before emerging and causing a massive forest fire. The damage is extensive and you see quite a bit of on the drive to the lake. While it's sad to see how much of the forest had burned, something about the charred trees against snow white mountains was another hauntingly beautiful scene that I will always remember.
It was at this stop that we also happened to see not one, but two, bald eagles chillin' in their nest. When one flew off, it may have just been one of the most majestic things I've ever seen. And against that charred tree background? Even more incredible. A couple, their dog and young son had also stopped at this spot, and after chatting for a few minutes, we found out they were from the area. Needles to say, that led to getting several recommendations as well as hearing all sorts of wildlife tails (the guy had seen just about everything you could see up there). They were so friendly and easy to talk to that our stop ended up being much longer than planned, but ultimately far better than we planned.
We continued on to Maligne Lake, which was pretty, but probably prettier from a vantage point. Our whole purpose of going there was to check out Spirit Island, but with the boats shut down for the season, we were left with two options- hike a 6 hour round trip tough hike (starting at 1pm, with sun setting around 4pm) or accept that the island just wasn't in the cards for us. As you can guess by the lack of Spirit Island pictures, I'm sure you know which route we chose. We explored close to the parking lot, still getting lots of lovely scenery, but making a mental note to research landmarks better next time before assuming you can just drive right up to them (also making a mental note to research while we have phone service).
Back in the car, we returned in the direction of the town, stopped for a small hike and photos at the Maligne Falls before heading over to see Pyramid Lake and Pine Island. We got there just in time for sunset (supposedly the mountains turn bright red from the sun) but, go figure, the sun went behind clouds just as we got there. Unfortunate, yes. Freezing, you bet. But definitely still worth it.
We headed back into town, stopping at the grocery store to pick up meat, cheese, crackers and hot chocolate and marshmallows (obvi). We relaxed at home for a bit, packing up for the next day, before heading out to try to catch the stars and northern lights. It wasn't the most successful night sky gazing trip we'd ever had, but it was still pretty spectacular. You know, minus the whole pitch black, can't see your hand in front of your face, middle of a forest, might die by a bear or axe murderer thing.
The real gem of the evening was pulling back up to our house and seeing what appeared to be lawn ornaments in the median, but were in fact elk. A good 30 of them. Real life lawn ornaments. Or a real-life reindeer-like story. Or, if you live there, I guess just real life. They were chillin' without a care in the world. Us city dwellers? We were anything but. We drove around them, slowly, in circles, with our lights turned down low. We rolled down our window and stared. We snapchatted, we snapped photos, we watched them get spooked by someone cruising by on their bike (who, it should be noted, acted as if biking riding passed a herd of elk at midnight is a totally normal thing to do). All in all, not a bad way to end day two in Jasper.