Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Strange Medicine in Jasper – Lucas Habib

Rating: ***

Strange Medicine in Jasper is a fairly short, easy read about a lake in Jasper, Alberta called Medicine Lake.  The lake is unique because it fills up every spring and empties every fall. 

            Medicine Lake is located in Maligne Valley in Jasper National Park in Alberta.  The lake is considered a mystery that many people have tried to solve for many years.  It is unique because it fills up every spring, primarily from the melting snow, and then empties in the fall in a strange way.  There is no visible outlet to the lake but instead, it drains through cracks and sink-holes into a large set of karst.  Karst is a system that forms when water dissolves soluble bedrock, like limestone that the Medicine Valley is built on.  It is said that this karst system is one of the most complex in the world.  When the banks of the lake overflow, it brings back the legendary Excalibur (a class V+/VI rapid that appears right at the lake’s outflow).    The power behind the Excalibur can be strong and the last time it ran at a paddleable level for white water paddlers was in 1992.   There usually isn’t as much activity except in the summer of 2012 when the water spilled out of the lake, pushed through the nearby forest and filled the dry riverbed to bursting for about five weeks.  Zac Ruttiman and Ethan Begley, both 17 years of age, were amazed when they first saw Excalibur.  They say that Excalibur is going to run a lot more often in the future because of climate change increasing Jasper’s snowpack.  Many other kayakers come to try to experience this adventure.

            I was able to connect with the article because I travelled to Alberta and British Columbia this year during March break with a friend. I saw that there are a lot of beautiful lakes and rivers, mountains and trees.  By reading this article, I learned about the karst system and how it works.  The article has made me think about maybe going back out west in the summer and trying some of the summer activities.

Habib, Lucas.  “Strange Medicine in Jasper”.  Explore, (British Columbia) Spring 2013.  Print.

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