“Is that the lake they called the ‘disappearing lake’ and threw mattresses in to stop draining?”
I glanced at my friend from the passenger seat of his cozy Dodge truck. “I’m not sure.” I’ve been there so many times, to this lake in Jasper National Park, you think I would know!
It’s one of my favourite places after all-summer, spring, winter, fall-all seasons. I’d witnessed the low waters, and places where the water seemed to have disappeared. Yet I’ve never asked why.
My friend? He’d never been to Medicine Lake. But we later learn he is right. It is known as the ‘disappearing lake.’ The indigenous named the lake due to its’ “magic” or “big medicine.”
The anomaly is explained on the information board at Medicine Lake. The lake lies about about half way up Maligne Lake Road but many tourists, I’ve noticed, miss Medicine Lake. Instead, they continue up the road to the popular areas of Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake.
If ever in the area, I’d encourage you to stop.
My friend silently reads the explanation of the disappearing waters. I just scan the words, the images. I’m restless in the wind. I pull my knit hat over my ears and start to descend the steep stairs to the rocky bank that precludes the lake. Soon I hear my friend’s steps too.
When in this place I’m distracted. Or am I? Maybe I’m just caught up in the magic of the place.
I navigate the craggy rocks until I reach the lake’s shore. The transparent waters barely cover the pebbles and sentiment. I peer through my camera lens at the seven kilometre lake expanding then narrowing in the distance. The surrounding Rocky Mountains scrape the sky then progressively descend in the distance.
It’s medicine for my soul, this place.
When I finally look up, I see my friend has wandered north along the shore. I join him and he tells me the resolution of the mystery. In the 70’s, dye was used to determine the waters flow into an underground cave system. In the spring and summer the glacier melt water fill the cave system to overflowing causing Medicine Lake to rise. In the fall and winter, the water drains back into the cave system to eventually empty into the near by waters of Athabasca River and the Maligne Canyon.
Later as my friend drives us up Maligne Road, I follow the sight of Medicine Lake from my window. I notice areas where the lake has disappeared and the land is rippling clay. My friend and I ponder about where these unseen cave entries may be.
And I’m grateful. Grateful for a friend to teach me how to go deeper, beyond what I chose only to see, and underground to the truth.
And the mattresses ended up being just an unproven tale after all.
Linking up at #TellHisStory