|Hiking Maligne Canyon|
|Bow Lake En Route to Jasper|
|Peyto Lake View Point En Route to Jasper|
|Hiking at the Athabasca Glacier En Route to Jasper|
The incredible Maligne Canyon Ice Walk:
We spent the weekend in Jasper and went skiing, skating, and snowshoeing. What stood out to me though was the hike through Maligne Canyon. We've done cute little canyon hikes near Calgary that were fun but had never done anything like this canyon before. It was borderline sketchy with kids - I won't lie. And I honestly don't think anybody without GOOD ice cleats should even be in that canyon at all! And by good ice cleats, I mean microspikes (walking crampons) or full on climbing crampons. Yak Trax and other icers aren't really good enough for the steep ice in Maligne Canyon. Without some kind of crampons or spikes, you'll be sliding all of the steep pitches on your bum and you'd want to be wearing a helmet.
|Spikes Vs. Icers - Guess which won?|
Where does this put kids on the danger scale when doing Maligne Canyon in winter? Well, you pretty much need a one to one ratio of adults to children. And it doesn't hurt to have extra adults on hand as well. There were sections where we had to pass kids down sections with one adult at the top, and one at the bottom. The adults responsible for the kids should also be wearing spikes. I felt 100% comfortable in the canyon with our son because both my husband and I were wearing our microspikes. I could have jumped off of a waterfall if I had wanted to. We saw another family in the canyon carrying a baby and they were wearing full climbing crampons - pretty much necessary if you are carrying an infant or toddler.
|Trying to demonstrate how good my spikes were - yes, I'm jumping!|
|Passing the kids down a slot|
What else can you expect in the canyon along with ice and towering waterfalls? Lots of water! I'm not sure if it was abnormally wet this February when we hiked the canyon, but there was a LOT of water. I'd actually consider wearing rubber boots next time instead of winter boots. On the plus side, I did discover that my boots are 100% waterproof as my socks weren't the slightest bit wet at the end of our trip (and we were all ankle deep in cold water.) I can't say the rest for the others in our group though. We tried our best to lift the kids over deep water sections but it was inevitable that they'd get wet feet.
|Thank you to whoever built the bridge through this section. It was necessary!!|
|A rare moment where we had the canyon to ourselves|
Directions to the canyon
From Jasper, head east on Hwy 16 for 2km until you reach the turnoff for Maligne Lake Road. Turn right and follow the Maligne Lake Road until you reach the signed upper parking lot for Maligne Canyon, approximately 6km from Jasper. Note, you can also start from 5th bridge, but we chose to start from 1st bridge at the top of the canyon.
Follow the popular tourist trail through the canyon past the second bridge on the summer trail that goes above the canyon (You'll bypass the first bridge unless you start from the far end of the parking lot.) The trail should be signed as trail #7. Cross the second bridge and follow the trail until you find a good way to enter the canyon. Here is where I leave route finding to you. I'd rather not be held responsible for giving you inaccurate information and I honestly can't remember the exact spot we chose to get into the canyon. I do know that we snuck through a summer fence that tour companies had taken apart. We figured if they could do it, so could we.
|Playing in an ice cave in the canyon|
The photo at left shows the only challenge in going further down stream. A small slot in the canyon required a bit of light scrambling. Apparently the tour companies aren't allowed to do this section with their clients but we found it to be easy peasy - even with the kids. And certainly safer than the previous section with huge chunks of ice threatening to drop on us.
|The final waterfalls where we left the canyon|
|Beautiful Ice in the Canyon|
|Ice Cave Fun|
Disclaimer: There are risks associated with all sports in the mountains. By choosing to do this trip with your family, you take those risks on yourself and I am merely sharing a story about our family's adventures. I repeat again, that if you don't feel comfortable being in the canyon with your kids, please hire a guide. Play safe everybody!
|So cool to be IN the canyon|