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Joffre LakesGo to Slide Show

A weekend Camping trip


The BC Coast mountains can be every bit as spectacular as the Banff Jasper area and without the busloads of tourists or the 10 hour commute.  Sometimes you do have to work at to see it though.  Joffre Lakes are on the Top 5 of local attractions and surprisingly, this is my first time visiting.
  First Lake Pano
Helen At First LakeJohn At First Lake

Helen had the good idea of going for a camping trip on the August long weekend.  The August Long weekend is like mid life crisis for outdoor people in Vancouver - it's a long, often beautiful weekend but everything is super crowded - do you brave the crowds where ever you go or do you stay in town and wish you were in outside?  Helen's even better idea was to leave a day early (Friday) and come back a day early (Sunday) so we would have time to recover.  Brilliant.


Dumping Gravel
The trail to the first lake is as good a trail gets without being paved.  The park had a program I've never seen before - there was a pile of gravel and a number of buckets to form a "bucket brigade" to bring gravel down the trail.  It doesn't take much gravel to make an impossibly heavy bucket, but amazingly people did bring gravel down the trail.  I carried my own bucket to the end and was sad to see the end of the gravel.

Douglas Squirrel


Walking Through Rocky Section
After the gravel thins away you see the true nature of busy wet coast hiking - the trail is rooty in some places and there are periods of climbing over boulder fields.   The four kilometers to the second lake are long but view is spectacular.  For many people this is two hours and the turn around point for their day.

Second Lake Pano


Helen On Log Bridge
The next kilometer up is some of the most vertical of the trip.  As you come up to the third lake level, you see the trees thin out and the slopes become bare.  by the time you make it to the lake, you are treated to a 360° view and a well deserved rest.

Helen On Bridge With Glaciers


Life In Camp

Breakfast Oatmeal And Peaches
This is my first time backpack camping in about 3 years.   I needed to go to MEC to update my backpack (I actually got at a competitor) and I needed a smaller, lighter sleeping bag.  Helen was traveling on lots of new gear as well - a new Thermarest as well as the sleeping bag from our camping earlier in the year.  Food is often one of the places you can cut weight cheaply - dehydrated is lighter but it may not taste as good.  For this trip, I brought more fresh (water still in the food) food than dried and it turns out you don't eat as much as you would think.

Northern Goldenrod
Camp is high up - pretty much alpine.  Most of ground is stones but where there is water or perhaps a bit of soil exposed there is generally plants and in many cases those plants are blooming. 
Stonecrop In RocksMonkey Flowers
Broad-Leaved WillowherbBog OrchidMountain Sorrel FloweringMountain Sorrel Flowers

Many of the plants are small but have wonderful details.  Early on in my flower photography I would take photos of the flowers but I wouldn't take pictures of the leaves or the whole plant.  Turns out if you want any chance of identifying the plant, you really need the big picture.

Flowers Of Spotted SaxifrageLeavesof Spotted SaxifrageWhole Spotted Saxifrage
 
Plants were fun, but there were also a few species of birds up here.   The common Golden Eye (duck) was on the lake for a few days and he spent most of his days diving under the water.  The Dark Eyed Junco lived pretty much at the beach eating flies.  One morning a few Whiskey Jacks came to visit but they didn't stand long.  Other than that, not much.

Common Golden EyeDark Eyed Junco Catching FliesDark Eyed Junco On Rock
 
On Saturday we did a bit of a day walk.  Our first walk was up to the top of the lake (under the glaciers) to get a look around.
 
  Third Lake Pano
 
At the stream side there were fields of Broad-Leaved Willowherb.  Where it was particularly wet, you could find Monkey Flowers. 

Helen In Field Of FlowersHelen And IAt The Lake
 
After that hike, we decided to try a longer day hike up toward the Tszil Glacier.  This hike looked to be about 8km long and started quite well - a little bit of rock hopping, but otherwise nice trails through alpine.  As we got higher (into the "moon" zone) the trail got dicier.  The trail became the ridge of a moraine - steep falls on both sides and a pretty thin trail.
 
View Back To Third LakeWalking Up Moraine
 
As the trail got higher and thinner we decided this was getting stupid.  We decided to turn around and go back to camp.

Helen Next To Tszil Glacier

When we got back to camp, we found it was full.  Being Saturday night on a long weekend, many more people had come up and every flat spot had been taken.   The party next to us (less than 20 feet away) had beer so I was a little worried but it turns out they only had one beer each - I guess the walk up was worth something.

Full Camp Panorama

We had dinner (we had instant noodles - it was fun!)  and we decided to stay up to watch the sunset and the stars.

Sunset On Stonecrop Glacier Pano


Lakeside Tents At Night
The hike down the next day took more than two hours and we saw a fair number of people coming up in sandals with a beach towel but no water.   I really wonder what people are thinking when they visit a place like this.  That said, we had a great weekend - thanks BC parks!



 


Mountain Sorrel Flowering
Species: Oxyria digyna (mountain sorrel)
Tags: flower, mountain
Broad-Leaved Willowherb
Species: Chamerion latifolium (dwarf fireweed)
Tags: flower
Lakeside Tents At Night
Location: Go To...
Tags: camping, long exposure, stars, tent
Stonecrop In Rocks
Species: Sedum divergens (Spreading Stonecrop, Pacific stonecrop)
Tags: alpine, plant
Helen On Bridge With Glaciers
Person: Helen
Tags: bridge, glacier, hiking, mountain
Full Camp Panorama
Tags: camping, tent
Douglas Squirrel
Species: Tamiasciurus douglasii (Douglas's squirrel)
Tags: BC fauna
Dark Eyed Junco Catching Flies
Species: Junco hyemalis (Dark-eyed Junco)
Tags: BC fauna, bird
Whole Spotted Saxifrage
Species: Saxifraga bronchialis (spotted saxifrage)
Tags: alpine, flower
John At First Lake
Person: John
Tags: glacial flour, lake
Dumping Gravel
Person: John
Tags: hiking
Second Lake Pano
Altitude: 1511m (4957 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: lake, mountain
Walking Through Rocky Section
Person: Helen
Tags: hiking, mountain
Helen Next To Tszil Glacier
Person: Helen
Altitude: 1883m (6177 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: panorama
Walking Up Moraine
Tags: trail
View Back To Third Lake
Tags: lake, trail, vista
Flowers Of Spotted Saxifrage
Species: Saxifraga bronchialis (spotted saxifrage)
Tags: flower
Helen And IAt The Lake
Person: Helen, John
Dark Eyed Junco On Rock
Species: Junco hyemalis (Dark-eyed Junco)
Tags: BC fauna, bird
Helen At First Lake
Person: Helen
Tags: glacial flour, lake
Bog Orchid
Species: Platanthera dilatata (white bogorchid)
Tags: flowers
First Lake Pano
Altitude: 1212m (3976 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: panorama
Monkey Flowers
Species: Mimulus guttatus (common monkey-flower, yellow monkey-flower)
Tags: alpine, flower
Sunset On Stonecrop Glacier Pano
Tags: glacier, panorama, sunset
Helen On Log Bridge
Person: Helen
Tags: bridge, hiking
Common Golden Eye
Species: Bucephala clangula (Common Goldeneye)
Tags: bird
Leavesof Spotted Saxifrage
Species: Saxifraga bronchialis (spotted saxifrage)
Tags: plant
Northern Goldenrod
Species: Solidago multiradiata ()
Tags: flower
Helen In Field Of Flowers
Person: Helen
Species: Chamerion latifolium (dwarf fireweed)
Third Lake Pano
Tags: panorama
Breakfast Oatmeal And Peaches
Tags: breakfast, camping, cooking
Mountain Sorrel Flowers
Species: Oxyria digyna (mountain sorrel)
Tags: flower, shallow depth of field
Tags: flower(7), hiking(4), panorama(4), lake(4), mountain(4), camping(3)
People: Helen(7), John(3)
From: John Harvey Photo > John Harvey Photo - Camping > Joffre Lakes
From: John Harvey Photo > John Harvey Photo - Hiking > Joffre Lakes
From: John Harvey Photo > Joffre Lakes

Wow! I enjoyed your photos. Some friends and I are going up this weekend, July 2010 (my first time), and I can't wait. The more photos I see, the more I want to leave NOW! :D I always struggle with the extra weight of my camera gear and often opt to just bring my point and shoot. I figure since I am carrying everything else up, might as well add the extra few pounds. Thanks again for sharing your photos!
EIleen Whitmore
Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 at 17:46:09

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Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:14:03 Edit
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