Day 15: Pepper had a GREAT day!

Remember when I was complaining about being cold? Uh… It was 85 in Jasper today. Perfect lake day.

First though… Pepper is 13, which is pretty old for a black lab. She has arthritis and is on a bunch of medication. She has good days and bad days. Yesterday was a bad day. She couldn’t stand very well and could barely walk. It was really tough to see her like that. BUT, today was a great day! She had a spring in her step that I hadn’t seen in a long time. We had a great day exploring glacial lakes and she even got to go for a swim! More on that in a bit.

The day started like every day. I think its safe to assume that every morning I get up (when she wakes me up) and I feed her, I make coffee, and we go for a walk. Just copy paste that last sentence into every post because I feel like I’m repeating myself, so from now on the day’s blog post will start AFTER breakfast. Unless something earth-shattering happens. Like I wake up to Justin Trudeau knocking on the bus door. That would be worth mentioning.

So.. we headed out around 9. Remember that my campground is about 30 minutes from Jasper? Well it’s also about 20 minutes from the turn off to our first destination, and then another 30 minutes up a steep winding road. Maligne lake (pronounced Ma-lean) is the largest natural lake in the Rockies. Its huge. The only way to see the whole thing is by boat tour, which sells out days in advance. I’m not big on organized tours with a bunch of Farkles anyway, so I decided I’d just head up and walk around or paddleboard. They also rent canoes if you are so inclined. Well, it turned out that it wasn’t great for paddleboarding, but the views were AMAZING. I walked a trail to Moose Lake (a smaller lake nearby) and the trail skirts the shore of Maligne lake for a bit. Not as long as I hoped, but still very pretty.

After wandering around Maligne lake and Moose lake for a bit I decided to head back to the bus for some lunch. And of course I get to the bus and some idiot has parked inches infront of the bus so I don’t think I can get out. There’s also another bus parked right behind me, so I can’t back up. Crap. Luckily the bus behind me had a driver in it and he had about a foot to back up and make just enough room for me to get out (and helped direct me).

Quick side rant: DO NOT PARK YOUR SMALL VEHICLE IN RV PARKING. There is a special place in hell for you if you do. There was plenty of parking, but so many a-holes parked their F-ing miniovans in RV parking, there was no RV parking for the RVs!

OK, rant over.

If you go: Maligne lake is really pretty. I think I would have gotten more out of it with a boat tour, but I didn’t plan ahead and I’m on a paddleboard budget. If you plan to drive yourself in an RV, go early. And slash tires of anyone improperly parked in RV parking. Kidding. Maybe. Maligne lake is pretty, but it’s also really crowded.

After squeezing my bus out of the tiny parking lot I headed back down the hill to my next lake. On the way down the hill I saw deer and a black bear! That was pretty exciting.

At the start of the Maligne Lake road is a turnoff for Lake Annette. This is the lake that the Info Center staff told me would be awesome for paddleboarding. One look and I knew they were right. I pulled into the parking lot, found a defensible spot to park the bus (no RV parking spaces here unfortunately), and decided I’d start by taking Pepper for a walk. This is when I realized she was having a great day. She was walking fast. She made a beeline for the lake and I knew she wanted to swim. I also knew that I couldn’t say no and I’d have to deal with wet dog in the bus. Oh well. This is her bucketlist trip too.

We found a spot on the beach and I took off my shoes and she pulled us both into the water. I adopted her at age 3 and I think one of her previous owners had done something bad to her around water because she’s the only Lab I’ve ever known that doesn’t swim. She LOVES the water, but she won’t go in past her shoulders. But she loved it. She splashed and shook and generally acted like a dog much younger than she really is. The only sad part is that I had to keep her on a leash. Something she doesn’t understand and isn’t used to. But she still had a blast.

After Pepper’s turn in the water it was mine. So I loaded her back up in the bus (don’t worry its temperature controlled and parked in the shade) and inflated the paddleboard. One of the modifications I’d made to the bus was to tap into the airbrake system with a quick connect so that if I got a flat tire I could use the airbrake compressor to inflate the tires. Turns out its also pretty great at inflating paddleboards. I have to finish the job with the hand pump, but the bus gets me 90% of the way there.

I grab my life vest and paddle and head to the lake. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Not a huge lake by any means, but the water is a clear blue like you’d see in the Caribbean. Awesome. And the views with Canadian Rockies all around. I paddled around the lake and even saw a bald eagle. That was spectacular. I wish I’d had my digital SLR with telephoto lens. Maybe it will be in the same tree tomorrow.

After the paddle I put my board on shore and jumped in for a swim. Ahhhhh. The water is chilly, but not uncomfortable on a really warm day. Awesome. Back to the bus for a little relaxation, beer, and catch up on some emails while I have cell service.

And then it was like 5:30… The sun was still shining and I was hot again. Time for another swim for Pepper and then another paddle for me. There is another lake on the other side of the parking lot called Lake Edith. It’s a little bigger, more green than blue, and fairly shallow. But it still made for an awesome evening paddle.

After that it was time to head back to the campsite for some dinner. On the way back the light was playing off the mountains and looked incredible so I kept stopping to take photos. The roof hatches on the bus make AWESOME photo perches!

Now it’s 9:30pm right now and still completely light out. The late amount of daylight is already throwing off my internal clock. It doesn’t feel like it should be dinnertime yet and it’s 9:30!

Time to eat and head to bed. I know I said that this was a GREAT day for Pepper (and it was) but honestly spending the day on two glacial lakes was pretty stupendous for me as well. Pepper is absolutely exhausted, sound asleep at my feet as I write this.

One other note: Remember how I stopped for weather stripping for the windows? Well I put it on last night and the mosquitos stayed out! The screens are also working great at keeping the bugs out. But I did also break down and buy bug spray for when I’m walking around camp and other areas in the morning and evenings. I think the weather stripping will help keep out the cold wind when/if it does get cold again.

Tomorrow I’m headed back to the lakes for more fun. And in the evening I have to head to Hinton and leave this amazing place. The only upside is that Sunday I head out for the Alaska Highway.