Jasper National Park
Magnetic. That invisible feeling of attraction hardly begins to describe the draw I feel to this powerful place.
The backyard of my childhood home bordered national forest and hundreds of square miles of desolation wilderness. Through this gateway to the outdoors, I cultivated an eternal love for mountainous terrain at a young age. When I first set foot in Jasper National Park, a rush of explorative childhood memories flooded my mind. This protected land generated that exact magnetic appeal instilled in me from my childhood.
Jasper National Park offers recreation for the adventurous throughout the year. When visiting in the warmer months, the pristine mountain lakes are filled with rock flour from glacial runoff that give the water a captivating opaque teal color. That color meanders through the rivers and waterfalls of Athabasca River Valley, accentuating the stunning landscapes. In the colder months of winter, the lakes freeze over and become a winter wonderland. Some of them, such as Abraham Lake (just outside of the park) showcase a natural phenomenon of frozen bubbles of methane gas below your feet.
With a backpack full of camera gear and a craving for adventure, we ventured into the darkness armed with a camera and a headlamp. The sound of falling water let us know our destination was not far, and as the trail came to a bridge, I knew Athabasca Falls would soon be in view. I shut off the headlamp. My eyes began to adjust to the darkness of the new moon, yet I sensed a strange glow around me that seemed to progressively increase with time. I set up my tripod and placed my new Sony a7Rii on top of it. Being a new, unfamiliar camera, I took a few test shots to help properly expose my composition. Frustration began to overcome me. I couldn't seem to figure out why there was a green and purple haze in every image. Certain it was user error, I played with the white balance... but then it hit me. We were witnessing the faint glow from an approaching Aurora storm behind the mountains. We quickly packed our gear and rushed back to the car - there would be little sleep that night.
When it hit us that the Aurora storm was approaching, we quickly sought out a vantage point. We drove up Icefields Parkway filled with excitement, our eyes on the sky. Witnessing the Northern Lights in full effect had been a life goal of mine for many years; I had only been teased with a mild show while up in the arctic circle of Sweden and Norway years prior. Brimming with anticipation, we stopped alongside the Athabasca River, set up our cameras, and watched the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky until sunrise.