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.

Serac city

Serac city.

Apart from the lakes themselves, the Matier Glacier is one of the more spectacular features of the Joffre Lakes hike. Some people will scramble up the rocks to the snout of the glacier, which is something I won’t do when the daily temperature changes straddle freezing. On one of our trips here we found chunks of glacial ice mixed in the snow very close to the lake, and there’s only one place that ice could have come from. So, I’ll just be content with this view for now, thank you.

I’ve rather fallen out with our SLRs lately as their focus just hasn’t been as sharp as our little RX100II (and sometimes misses altogether, which just shouldn’t happen). But I needed the long reach of the telephoto lens for this shot and I managed to get a few sharp-enough photos to really emphasize the drama of the features in the glacier. This photo was taken as the sun came out and lit up parts of the glacier for just a short time, adding lots of contrast to what had been a fairly flat view until then, and showcasing the texture and structure in the ice. N’ice, as I like to say 🙂

Leaf no trace

It’s leaf no trace Tuesday! 🙂 The rhododendron bushes added a great splash of colour to the forest at Joffre Lakes, and made the lakes look even more spectacular. I was puzzled by a few things along the trail that were packed in but not packed out: a broken Thermos flask just left on a rock, gas canister for a camping stove, the inevitable plastic water bottle (half full), and most bizarrely, a trio of hardback books propped up on a rock as if on sale. Seeing the books (which were not there on the hike in) reminded me of the time when we found a copy of Gideon’s bible perched on a rock. That rock was on the trail to – you guessed it – Joffre Lakes. I don’t get it. Is there something about this trail that compels people to leave stuff behind?

It's leaf no trace Tuesday! 🙂 The rhododendron bushes added a great splash of colour to the forest at Joffre Lakes, and made the lakes look even more spectacular. I was puzzled by a few things along the trail that were packed in but not packed out: a broken Thermos flask just left on a rock, gas canister for a camping stove, the inevitable plastic water bottle (half full), and most bizarrely, a trio of hardback books propped up on a rock as if on sale. Seeing the books (which were not there on the hike in) reminded me of the time when we found a copy of Gideon's bible perched on a rock. That rock was on the trail to – you guessed it – Joffre Lakes. I don't get it. Is there something about this trail that compels people to leave stuff behind? #leavenotracetuesday #lnt #LeaveNoTrace #joffrelakes #joffrelakesprovincialpark #hiking #explorebc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #fall #autumn #bcparks

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

A lovely cool overcast day to hike up to Joffre Lakes. Our friend Jen hadn’t seen them before and we figured that now was a good time to visit as the summer insanity had subsided. That’s not to say it was deserted – we encountered many people along the trail (a sizeable fraction of whom were committing the cardinal backcountry sin of wearing jeans) – but it was still a mostly peaceful day.

I’ve only visited the lakes in summer too, so it made a nice change to visit them in the autumn as the berry bushes changed colour. Lots of yellows, golds, and reds today which made for a wonderful contrast against the colours of the lakes. It was a good reminder of precisely why this hike is so popular.

Behind you!

Don’t forget to look around when in the parking lot for Joffre Lakes – early morning sun on Saxifrage Mountain, July 2008

Joffre Lakes is a very popular destination on account of its three beautiful lakes and a stunning glacier above the uppermost lake. A group of us decided to do a backpacking trip through Wanderung, but in order to be sure of getting spots for our tents, everyone except me went up on the Friday. I had to work… so I ended up leaving the apartment at about 3 am Saturday morning. After a brief stop at a sobriety check-point on the Lions Gate Bridge, I was on my way. I stopped again to admire the full-ish moon setting over the Tantalus Range and then pushed on through a rain shower near Whistler up to Pemberton and onto the Duffey Lake road.

The clouds cleared as I reached the parking lot and I pulled on my boots and backpack. By 6:15 am I was on the oh-so-peaceful trail. But before I got underway, I looked around and noticed the morning sunshine striking the snow fields and glaciers on Saxifrage Mountain. Of course I snapped the photo and got on my way. When the time came to put up a set of photos on Flickr, we decided against including this one and it was only looking back at the original set of photos recently that I rediscovered this one. With my Instagram cap on I realized that it would make a pretty decent square crop – not something we used to do back in 2008 – and so with a bit of tweaking to give it a little more “oomph” I added it to my Instagram feed.

Made me glad to be a digital pack-rat, at least for a moment!