Spirit Island is an iconic Canadian Rockies location (and, yes, I hate using the word "iconic" unless it’s accurate). Peter Gales’ image of Spirit Island hung in Kodak’s Colorama showcase in NYC’s Grand Central Station throughout the 1940s; it's featured in Travel Alberta’s "Remember to Breathe" video; and it’s used to market the Canadian Rockies internationally.
It takes patience and good fortune to create a unique image in a place considered Canada’s second most photographed landscape. The "Through the Lens" Cruise gives amateur and professional photographers such an opportunity. While in the boat, photography instructors talk technique and composition with aspiring photographers and challenge seasoned pros to try new perspectives. Once the group arrives at Spirit Island, everyone spends an hour framing the perfect image of Spirit Island.
The cruise experience hasn’t changed much since Jasper National Park pioneers Curly Philips and Fred Brewster set up shop at Maligne Lake in the 1920s. It's little wonder why.
From $62. 1-780-852-3370.
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Alpine Meadow Dreaming
This was my much-deserved reward after quite a steep hike up from Maligne Lake in Jasper National Forest to the renowned summer wildflower displays of the alpine meadows of Opal Hills Loop. The hike is probably 1 1/2 hours one-way from the lake below, and it starts off with foreboding signs warning you of grizzly bears in the area and advising to hike in groups of four. Unfortunately, I had no group, so I elected to proceed solo hoping that the probability of encountering those beautiful vistas above was substantially higher than a meeting with a bear.
The beauty of those meadows and the wildflower display was a religious experience I'm profoundly grateful to have partaken in. Having the good fortune of being the sole patron of this sacred floral amphitheater for at least an hour before encountering another hiker elicited a profound sense of communion with the natural world that resonates with me to this day.