Saturday, May 8, 2021

North Saskatchewan, Emily Murphy to Hawrelak

I had a chance to get down on the North Saskatchewan this week, putting in at Emily Murphy Park. This is the most convenient access point for me ad has been closed the past two years to to bridge rehabilitation. 

They are still working on cleaning up the site. The have poured the mooring for the dock that is supposed to go in here but the rest of the site is still under construction (switch back trail down the slope). It was a mild scramble to get down but otherwise great access.

The river was at late summer levels and clearer than usual at the time of year (no run off from fields).

I paddled up to the Hawrelak park boat launch (also clear) and then floated back.

Lots of interesting ice left over in the shady shore spots.

Overall, a great paddle and thrilled this access point is open again.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Telford Lake

Cold weather and low water on the Sturgeon has meant not much paddling so far this year. I went out to Telford Lake in Leduc this week. It has been about 10 years since I was last there. 

The best access remains the paddling club on the SW corner of the lake. There is a paved parking lot, a concrete boat ramp, and a pier. Access is off 47th Avenue and then north on 44th Street.

The lake runs east-west and can be pretty windy. Usually the north shore gives some shelter, so head east on the south shore and come back on the north.

The west end of the lake abuts downtown Leduc and has a cool boardwalk. As you go east, it rapidly becomes a prairie lake, with bullrushes, scrub trees, and no ready access to the shore. There is a pathway around the lake--some of it paved.

Overall, a nice paddle (maybe 90 minutes around?) close to the city. There is nothing spectacular about it, but there were lots of water fowl and the occasional jet (it is on the approach to the airport).

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Low water on the Sturgeon

We were back on the Sturgeon last Thursday night for an early paddle. The river level is very low (like end of summer low) because of the absence of any real snow pack and probably four feet below where it was last spring.

The Mission boat launch was entirely exposed and we decided to try out luck up at the Riel Park launch. Even with rubber mats being laid, it was a mucky entry.

Once we were out, it was fine. A few low spots. Then the wind came up (40kph maybe) and make for a very interesting paddle up to Big Lake.

The water doesn't look rough because the wind was blowing across the river, which was about 50 feet wide at most. But it was hella windy and the boats were constant being blown against the south bank.

We got out to the lake where there was some open water. But most of the lake was still iced over.

After some dithering, we decided to turn back because it just wasn't a fun paddle. We bought Jess a paddle board for Christmas (she's outgrown the beige kayak) and I'm happy we didn't try it out in this trip!

Getting the boats back on the truck was, frankly, a misery in the wind. And I was covered in gooey bank mud and had to drive home with the windows open because of the stink. I'm keen to get back on the water but not until the Sturgeon rises or the North Saskatchewan breaks up (water is also low there).

Saturday, November 21, 2020

End of the season

With colder temperatures and snow, the paddling season ended for me on November 3. Not the latest that I've paddled in Edmonton, but pretty close and a very good run. Below is a shot of Whitemud Creek on November 1--too frozen for me to bust through from the river.

I paddled a lot this year (I think 43 times--my goal was 30). We started April 20th out in St. Albert on the Sturgeon (also with ice!). High water on the North Saskatchewan into August meant we spent a lot of time on the Sturgeon this spring.

Highlights of the summer included a trip to Meadow Lake Provincial Park in Saskatchewan (Kimball Lake being particularly nice) and Horseshoe Lake in Jasper. I also had a very nice paddle at Island Lake up by Athabasca and a fun run through Edmonton with my wife.

Next year, I'd like to try Baptiste Lake up by Athabasca as well as maybe Slave Lake. Buck Lake is also on my list. Catch you in the spring!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Muir Lake

I popped out to Muir Lake, just north of Spruce Grove one day in October. This is mostly a fishing lake (stocked with rainbow trout) but offers a sheltered paddle. The lake is busy on the weekends and quit on week-days. 

A circuit of the lake takes about 45 minutes if you stop to watch the wildlife. Access is off Range Road 274 (which is Century Park Road when it crosses Highway 16). There is ample parking, a great boat launch and dock and washrooms on the NE corner of the lake.

The lake is peanut shaped and runs roughly north-south, wth one island in the middle. The water level was way up this year (based on all of the bushes that were in the water).

The southwest corner of the lake has a private beach with gazebo and fire pit.

It was very windy the day I was there (>35kph) but the lake is both sheltered and shallow, so there were no real waves, even running down the long sweep from north to south.

There was the usual prairie wildlife (ducks, beaver, muskrats) on display despite the late fall day. 

The proximity to Edmonton, good facilities, and wind protection mean I'd totally go back (maybe in the spring to see the birds).

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Island Lake, Athabasca

Work took me to Athabasca in September and, after the day was over, I nipped out Island Lake for a paddle. I put in on the NW corner, coming off Highway 2 to Township Road 680.5 and then off Township road 680A.

A pretty basic but very functional launch. No bathrooms, one bench, lots of parking. The wind was coming up so I stayed don the north end of the lake to get some shelter and passed in to the bay on the NE corner of the lake.

The lake of beautiful. Clear, clean, and no other boats. The leaves and larches were turning.

At the entrance to the NE bay, there was a beaver dam and a very unhappy beaver!

The north shore of the lake was about and hour and 20 minutes to paddle (return).

I'd love to go back next year on a calmer day and check out the islands in the middle of the lake as well as the south end. It looks like there is a public boat launch of Shank Road on the south end. Nearby Baptiste is also on my list (it was way rougher the way I went to Island Lake).

Saturday, October 31, 2020

North Saskatchewan, Quesnel Bridge to Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge

A few weeks back, I put in below Whitemud Drive and paddled up to the Fort Edmonton foot bridge. It had been a few years since I'd been on the stretch (coming in from Devon) and I have never paddled up and floated back.

Access is below the Quesnel Bridge near Fort Edmonton on the south side of the river. This is a small amount of parking right below the bridge. Otherwise, you'll have to park in the Fort Edmonton lot and hump it a couple of hundred feet.

The current was pretty mellow on the south side of the river, with lots of shallows. It was early evening but, with the days shortening, it was into the sun most of the way upstream.

Lots of gulls and few ducks in the shallows.

The current picks up a bit as you sight the foot bridge. I used it to ferry across right below the bridge (some rocks to hide behind if you need a break). The north bank parallels a path until the Wolf Willow stairs.

I was starting to lose the light so I didn't explore down the north bank much. Some interesting seams and foot paths.

A pretty nice late-season paddle on very clear water with a sunset finish.

This would be a good first time run given how gentle the current was for most of the paddle.