Saturday, August 6, 2022

Mayatan Lake

At the end of June, we ventured out to Mayatan Lake for a quick paddle. The entry point can be a bit tricky to find so I have put details instructions in this post.

The lake looked up a bit this year over last (it has been raining a lot) and the boat launch was deserted when we got there. It got busier later in the day, but there is a fair amount of parking. Entry was clean and easy.

We paddled the perimeter of both halves of the lake and bird watched. A bald eagle soared above us for about 10 minutes. Then three pelicans cruised over the lake.

There were lots of loons with chicks, terns were diving, and we watched a raven get chased by dozens of red-winged black birds.

In the eastern half of the lake, we went under the power lines and paddled the shallow south bay (where I haven't been before).

It was very calm and very hot by the time we pulled out at about 11 am.

The reedy passage between the two halves was in good shape--lots of clearance and we watched a pontoon boat negotiate it.

As usual, a very nice, clean paddle with lots to look at. We had lunch at Star Lake (which was crazy busy) because that is where the nearest public washrooms are (which my wife described as "grim").

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Cardiff Pond

On a sunny afternoon in June, I ducked out before a storm to the Cardiff Pond just east of Legal. There were a lot of people fishing from the edge but I was the only boat.

The entry was pretty good. They upped the level of difficulty this year by adding a snake to the dock. I thought it was rope until it slithered.

I think the water level was up over past years (maybe 8-12 inches). There was also a new fishing platform on the SW corner.

Had beautiful blue skies and calm waters despite the weather forecast.

There was quite  a lot of wildlife, including a pair of herons (grey, I think) and a deer tat I startled in the NE corner.

Nobody nesting on the island that I could see.

There were two tons with a youngster. One of them got pretty aggressive with me.

Overall, a lovely paddle close to the city. Only about 45 minutes to paddle the whole perimeter at a very leisurely pace. But a good place for a first paddle or young kids.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Thunder Lake

We drove 90 minutes up past Barrhead to Thunder Lake in late June. We put in at the day use area in the provincial park (no charge). Maybe a 25-foot carry to the edge of the lake and a small step down to the water (12 inches?). There was lots of parking, pit toilets and picnic tables. There was also a small store and the camping looked nice.

There is  a fairly large public beach with a playground, toilets, sand and swim area right beside where we put in. It was surprisingly nice and also deserted.

An alternative entry is the municipal boat launch just to the south of the provincial park. Apologies the shot below is so distant--we had some waves on the way back and I didn't want to take the time to paddle over.

The wind was coming up when we got there at about 10;30 so we cut across to the west side of the lake and then went into the southern basin.

There were lots of bays and swampy areas i the south so we had a nice calm paddle among the lily pads and the nesting birds (lots of grebes).

We then crossed back to the east side and ground our way north into the waves and wind and back to the beach. The wind kept going so we decided to try the northern end of the lake another day (lots of islands and pelicans from what we could see). A lady we met suggested evening were calmer so we'll try that again. Overall, a pretty lake.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

North Lake and Little Mere Lake

I went out to Little Mere Lake and North Lake by the Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area in late June.Nearest washrooms are likely at Chickakoo Lake or Muir Lake.

The best access is on the east end of North Lake (on the right) where Township Road 540 and Range Road 12A intersect. Parking is on the shoulder and there are two possible entry points (yellow circles below). 

The lefthand circle is down the bank and enters at a culvert. You then paddle through some trees to get to the lake. This was the best spot last year when the water was low but we had to wind through the trees some. With the water a foot higher this year, no winding was required but the entry was sightly more challenging (off the slope).

The righthand circle was not possible last year with lower water but is now (see below) and is an easy entry and exit. It is beside the "80kmh sign".

The lake was clean and smelled good. There were a tonne of waterfowl raising babies and nesting.

I went west along the top of the lake, passed through the narrows, looped around the western reach and came back on the south shore.

There were a tonne of red-necked grebes nesting in the reeds.

I ended up very close to a nest by accident (eggs obscured by mud).

The parents were extremely unhappy and puffed up and were very vocal and aggressive!

There is a small inlet on the south side where the lake used to connect to Kettle Lake. 

The beavers have dammed this up and the water is several feet higher than the meadow beyond.

It was also the only part of the lake that was full of algae (which was super pretty).

Overall, a lovely morning paddle. The entry was a bit more challenging than most lakes (bit of slope, a bit muddy) but nothing to complain too much about. I've never seen anyone else out here which is nice.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Half-Moon Lake, Sherwood Park

In June, I drove out to Half-Moon Lake just SE of Sherwood Park for a paddle. There are two access points. I came south off Wye Road (turn at the Esso) onto Range Road 220, then south until the road turned east to parallel the northern edge of the lake. The public access is across from the second Canada Post superbox.

There is parking at the top and then you can carry down You could also drive down but the road is steep and you'd be reversing back up. You are only seeking about half the vertical drop in the picture above. The put-in is nice gravel.

The other option is on the south side of the lake at the resort (see below). There is a fee but a proper boat launch, beach, and such.

I had a beautiful sunny day and the reflections were amazing. The lake is quiet during the week but busier on the weekends and is pretty narrow.

A full circuit took me about an hour paddling very slowly as I watched the birds and enjoyed the sun.

I startled a red-necked grebe off a next in the reeds in the western end of the lake (you can see eggs in the middle of the image below). Lots of birds, although no pelicans this year.

Overall, a nice easy paddle in clean water.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Johnny's Lake

Back in June, I ventured out to Johnny's Lake. The entry point is a bit tough but you can follow the directions here. The entry was pretty good. A bit of algae at the edge but a sandy/gravely bottom beyond that. The bank was muddy and slippery.

I went to the right and paddled around the two big islands on the northern part of the lake.

Lots of birds that were very skittish.

Maybe because of this giant eagles nest on the northern island?

Then I cut south and looped around the long island on the southern edge of the lake. Lots of train action  on the south shore (main line runs here) plus a tonne of birds.

Then over to the eastern edge past the main set of cabins, and back to the public access.

Overall, great paddle. The water was calm, no boats, not too smelly or green (yet...), and lots to see.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Astotin Lake

In late May, we ventured out to Elk Island.The family wanted to hike and see the frog chorus going on. I brought a boat to try my luck at Astotin Lake. As is often the case, there was a stiff breeze. Not quite white caps but the waves were 12- to 18-inches off the main beach (not go picture because I was busy paddling).

It looks like the canoe rentals are again a go and there is also a permanent snack shack and other improvements over my last trip out. While I launched off the main beach, the boat launch (below) has been redone since my last visit (the annoying wooden walls have been removed and the lunch is much more functional).

I tacked to the south to try to get over into the lee of the islands along the south shore.

Things were much calmer here and there were a lot of gulls and ducks and such.

I puttered around for awhile, hopping from island to island and avoiding most of the waves.

After an hour or so, there was no sign of the wind abating so I tacked back to the main beach. It was a fairly wet trip with spray. Not the roughest I've been out on Astotin, but getting there. 

Several other folks pulled up with boats but only one couple decided to try their luck. A lovely visit otherwise with a huge herd of bison visible on the way back.