Seton Lake

Good day for a road trip! Warm and sunny in Lillooet, if a tad breezy. Good wildlife day too – two bears, a marmot, eagles, ospreys, an otter, and as close a deer encounter as I ever want on a highway.

About 9 years ago, we did a one-day road trip with my sister, driving north to Whistler, then on to Pemberton, Lillooet, and back home via the Fraser Canyon and Highway 1. That was a long day, and a lot of time sitting on our bums, so I decided to make it into a 2-day road trip and tried it out last year with a friend of ours (on which I took this photo and this photo).

I couldn’t resist repeating it with my brother and his fiancรฉe to show them a bit of our scenic backyard. This time we did it in reverse, heading east and then north, following the Fraser River to its confluence with the Thompson in Lytton. The conditions were perfect as we pulled into the viewpoint overlooking a lovely green Seton Lake, complete with picturesque cloud shadows.

After checking out the Instagram-famous view of the hairpin bend on the Duffey Lake road, we continued on to Pemberton, pausing for a couple of roadside bear encounters, and a stop at lower Joffre Lake to admire the scenery. The day was finished off perfectly with dinner at Mile One ๐Ÿ™‚

The deer encounter was a little scary. I spotted the deer at the roadside, and naturally slowed down a little, at which point it got spooked and darted across the road in front of us. I braked as hard as I could, and thankfully we all got away unscathed, if a little shaken. Perhaps the most shaken was the driver behind us who’d been tailgating a bit too close for my liking for the past few kilometres. Needless to say, they backed off a bit after that…

Still winter

In the winter, it’s the mountains that take centre stage at Joffre Lakes. Slalok looks mighty impressive here, as did the enormous pile of avalanche debris that had travelled part way across the lake.

So peaceful, so still. That was how we felt when we broke through the trees onto the snow-covered Upper Joffre Lake. We found a spot to sit and enjoyed lunch with this view before wandering across the lake towards the campground. I love how the snow smooths out all the terrain features, covering all the boulders and rocks. I’ve viewed many photos of such scenes from backcountry skiers but I have to admit it was something else to see it with my own eyes, and that had me contemplating ways to get out in the winter backcountry some more. It all looked so inviting, especially the route up towards Tszil and Taylor. Deceptively benign-looking on a warm spring day, though the massive chunks of avalanche debris told a different story.

Now I must digress onto a rant. Please, please, please, PLEASE stop feeding the whisky jacks (or any other cute critter that comes looking for food). They have become a real nuisance and will take food from your hand whether you want them to or not. Within seconds of us getting out our lunch yesterday, we were dive-bombed by two birds that snatched a portion of what we were holding from our grasp. Birds carry some really unpleasant diseases (bird flu anyone?), so I really don’t want to eat anything that they’ve touched. Any food they did come into contact with, goes into my garbage so it’s a lose-lose and both of us go hungry.

It’s a hard life

It’s a tough life at 2000 m – yellowing needles on a tiny lodgepole pine on the way to Vantage Peak.

Picking our way back down through the rocks and shrubs after summiting Vantage Peak, I was struck by this little pine tree eking out its existence between some rocks. I particularly liked how it made a nice little counterpoint to the enormous glaciated mountain in the background. Normally these trees have deep green needles but I’m guessing that up here at 2000 m, the soil has less water and fewer nutrients to keep those needles green. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate just how tough these plants have to be to survive in these high mountain environments, and that we as hikers/scramblers/mountaineers can only ever be transient guests.

Reflection perfection

Ooh, pretty… The Joffre Group reflected in a flat calm Duffey Lake. This the same view I posted a few weeks ago, but now on a gorgeous sunny morning instead of a dull cloudy one ๐Ÿ™‚

We were on our way up to Downton Creek for the weekend, but when we stopped here to admire the reflection we felt we could have spent the weekend here instead, just lounging around by the lake. But if ever there was a spot for a cheesy stand-up paddleboard shot, it’s here. I hope no one reads this…

Mountain mirror

The Joffre Group reflected in a mirror-calm Duffey Lake

I’ve had this spot in mind for a nice shot of the Joffre Group for a few years now. It’s only when you get a bit of distance between you and that cluster of mountains that you realize how big and imposing they are compared with their neighbours. The hike in to Joffre Lakes doesn’t actually give a good perspective on the encompassing mountains but thankfully there are plenty of other places to get that. One is the peak of Mt Rohr, across the valley (which we summitted last year), and another is the eastern end of Duffey Lake. This morning the lake was absolutely mirror-calm. The light wasn’t the best, which is why this photo is black-and-white, and the mountain tops were in the clouds, but the reflection was irresistible.