Medicine Lake is a geologic anomaly in the sense that it is not actually a lake but rather an area in which the Maligne River (flowing from Maligne Lake into the Athabasca River) backs up and suddenly disappears underground as a losing stream. During the summer months during intensified meltwater runoff, the lake (which during the winter months is a meandering frozen river) fills to levels which fluctuate over time and with the runoff events. Much like a bathtub that is filled too fast for it to drain, it becomes laden with water until it can slowly drain as the tap flow is reduced.
The scene was captured in the depths of winter, the riverbed had completely drained out, and all that was left was the bare ground that was completely covered in a thick layer of snow. As the winter sun rose behind Annunciation Peak the thick rays of sunlight filled the valley providing a tremendous sense of warmth in what had been a cold, desolate wasteland only moments prior. Photo © copyright by Alexander Jones.