Saturday, June 18, 2022

East Pit Lake

In late May, we went out to East Pit Lake, which is about 1km north of the Wabamun Village exit on Highway 16. This is a man-made lake over an old quarry (the whole areas looks to have been strip mined about 25 years ago).

There is a small parking lot about 1000 feet from the lake. You can slide your boats under the gate and follow a trail leading west. The trail forks after a short distance; stay on the northern (right) footpath as it passes an outhouse and climbs about 50 vertical feet to the crest of a hill. From here, it is about 100 vertical feet down to the water.

The entrance is a small "beach" which was a touch grotty. The water, however was lovely and clear as soon as we were off the beach. Definitely suitable for paddle boarding.

The lake itself is about 1.5 km long and maybe half a km wide. We did a full circuit in about an hour taking our time.

The lake was very calm, being down in a bit of a hollow. There were a tonne of birds to be seen and lots of fish jumping

This was a very beautiful paddle. The only people on the lake were a couple of folks fishing from the shore.

There were also some beaver, an osprey, loons, mergansers, and lots of red-winged blackbirds.

Getting the boats back to the car was a bit of a chore. The pictures below give you a sense of the climb. 

There is a bench about half way up and you can detour to see one of the scrapper buckets (about the size of a small garage) used on the site.

Overall, a pretty positive trip. The carry was long than usual but not too challenging.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Pipestone Creek at Coal Lake

I dragged the kid out to Coal Lake and up Pipestone Creek before she went off to work in the mountains for the summer. It was busy at the launch with both people unloading to kayak and fish.

While we crossed over the north edge of the swamp towards the creek entrance, we saw a tonne of birds, including a dozen pelicans.

We also saw a yellow-headed black bird.

For the most part, though, we saw red-headed black birds (a hundred?).

The creek was a super interesting paddle, as you transition from swamp to forest to open glades to forest, to marsh. A super interesting paddle.

There are a huge number of swallows nesting under the bridge, flying out to get bugs and return to feed the young in their mud nests. You could hear the young as we floated under. 

It was a beautiful day to be the the water (despite the bloom of mayflies).

As we were loading up, this poor fellow paddle this boat in, having forgotten to gas up. He had a much harder paddle than we did.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

North Saskatchewan, Quesnel to Dawson

We had a three-hour run through town on the North Saskatchewan on the long weekend. Our daughter dropped us below the Quesnel Bridge.

The Edmonton Queen looks ready to sail; I imagine they are waiting on some higher water.

The river was very busy by 10 am, with canoes and rafts and crew out. We caught this coyote on the shore by the Mayfair golf course.

We also chased a beaver for awhile below the Groat bridge. I ground out just above the LRT bridge and had to bumscoot to deeper water (thought I was going to have to get out and push!).

Mill Creek outflow was chugging along.

By accidental beach we spotted some kind of eagle (golden or young bald) being harassed by a bunch of magpies and crows. It eventually flew off, scaring up all of the ducks.

The pullout at Dawson Park was grime. We ground out about 40 feet from shore and had to wade in through the silt.

All told, a lovely float down the river to start the year.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

North Saskatchewan, Emily Murphy Launch

I got out at lunch the week before last on the North Saskatchewan. No sign of spring run off so I put in at Emily Murphy. The launch here remains a bit crappy. The ice trail leads down to a dock that isn't in so you've got to scramble across some rocks to get down. The bad trail (below) is crazy steep.

The river was nice and low so it was an say grind upstream for 45 minutes or so.

I got as far upstream as the MacKenzie outflow and then floated back with the ducks.

Lots of beaver activity, including this slide.

Downtown amid partial clouds.

A new rock to play below has come available just upstream of the Groat bridge on the south side of the river. The river is also low enough that gravel bars are almost exposed.

I'm hopeful to a run through the city before the water rises.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Devil's Lake

We popped out to Devil's Lake out by Onoway last weekend. It was a gorgeous day and the lake was good. The boat launch (below) was in good shape. It was a bit busy when we arrived around lunch but there was plenty of parking. The lake was about the same level as last fall but, according to one fisherman, several feet below last spring?

We paddled along the north shore towards the outlet into the Sturgeon River.

There was lots of room to go under the bridge (not so last spring, said the fisherman). 

We floated maybe a kilometre downstream past beaver dams and such. Lots of ducks and shorebirds and red-winged blackbirds.

There was evidence of beavers but none to be seen. We did find a muskrat back in the lake.

And two pelicans, some marbled godwins (not pictured) and a lot of ducks and coots.

Overall, a super nice day with no wind.

Definitely worth the trip if the weather is good. A few more weeks until the trees are fully leafed out,

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Muir Lake

We've been paddling on the Sturgeon while we've waited (and waited) for the ice to come off the lakes. We snuck out to Muir Lake on Tuesday night after dinner.

The birds were incredibly active, pairing up and nesting on the island. We saw a huge number of loons plus what I think was an Osprey overhead carrying a fish.

There were a few folks out finishing but we mostly had the lake to ourself.

It was a bit cool as the sun started to set but very happy to be back on the water.

I'm hopeful the weather will cooperate and I can get out to Johnny's Lake next.