The next morning we awoke to another perfect sunny day.
After a nice continental breakfast we were back on the road, headed west once again to Jasper. The mountain scenery was just as incredible the second time around and the morning light was perfect for photos.
In Jasper we stopped at the Visitor Centre, a nice old stone building in the centre of town, where a helpful guide suggested Pyramid and Medicine Lakes as nice walking areas.
We headed to Source for Sports to rent overboots (waterproof boots that go on over your shoes; $15) and snowshoes ($10), before driving about ten-minutes north down a winding, forested road, to reach Pyramid Lake.
The lake was completely frozen and glistening beautifully in the sunlight. We crossed a wooden bridge to a small island, which featured a gazebo and benches for warmer times, then strapped on our snowshoes to venture out onto the ice. While snowshoes aren't a necessity to visit Pyramid Lake, they made it possible for us to easily trek around on the frozen lake without slipping and sliding.
With renewed energy we headed out again, driving down an icy road for thirty minutes to reach Medicine Lake, on the floor of a huge valley. We finally put our snowshoeing poles to use to navigate down the steep side of the valley, to the lake bed. Unlike icy Pyramid Lake, the surface of Medicine Lake was covered with a thick layer of powdery snow. Our snowshoes made hardly a sound and when we stood still it was perfectly silent. We felt so very small in the valley, surrounded by a formidable wall of nearly vertical mountains, their grey cliffs dotted with resilient evergreens, clinging to barren ledges.
Snowshoeing in the deeper snow was interesting -- in some places our snowshoes broke through the top layer of crusty show, sinking in by about a foot; in other places, we floated easily atop the powdery snow. We trudged through the snow for a good hour, not even making it halfway down the lake, before turning around. The scenery was spectacular and varied, with glacial erratics and debris dotting the lake bed, creating small hills to snowshoe over. After a fun couple of hours we climbed back out of the valley and drove back to Jasper to return our rentals.
By 5:30 pm we were driving out of the mountains for the last time, heading back towards the city. Apart from a brief slurpee stop at 7-Eleven in Edson, the drive was uneventful and we were back in Edmonton by 9:30 pm.
It was an amazing weekend, filled with beautiful sights and wonderful company. We're so lucky to live just a few hours from one of the most naturally beautiful areas in the country!