Saturday, June 19, 2021

Half Moon Lake, Sherwood Park

I tried out Half Moon Lake a week or so back. This Half Moon Lake is located south and east of Sherwood Park. You can come at it a couple of different ways. If you come in off Township Road 520 on the south side, you can access the lake through the Half Moon Lake Resort. This includes a beach (see below) and boat launch. I understand there is a small day-use fee to launch from here ($10/person).

The other options require you go east from Sherwood Park on Wye Road then turn south down Range Road 220 and come at the lake from the North. There are two public access points that I have flagged in the screen cap below. Both are a little tricky to find. As you drive eastward along the north shore of the lake, there are three Canada Post super boxes. The launches are across from the second and third boxes.

The right-most launch is a grassy path down to the water. There is a bit of slope.

The water entrance is the pits. Big step down to the bottom where the lake drops off rapidly.

I think the better option is the left-hand access. This is a gravel road. In theory, you could drive down, unload and drive up. But there is no room at the bottom to turn around and the road is pretty pitted and quite steep. I just parked at the top and carried (maybe 200 feet?).

Access to the water is good with a little shelf of gravel on the bottom to stand on and launch from.

The lake is about 4km around the perimeter but the western section is marsh where pelicans and other birds nest (so best avoided until late summer).

There were a lot of lovely birds (including pelicans--I saw one group of at last 30 in the distance) flying and floating. The trees are mostly aspens and have a lovely rustling sound in the wind. I bet this would be spectacular in the autumn when the leaves turn.

A beaver lodge, a fair number of cabins, and lots of power boats on the shore. So probably a busy lake on a summer weekend. I wonder about algae in summer.

Overall, a really nice beginner paddle (maybe an hour around the edge). Not much shelter in a blow, though. Would totally go back.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

North Saskatchewan, Quesnel Bridge to Dawson Bridge

We took a three-hour trip down the North Saskatchewan River last week. We put in below the Quesnel Bridge. The water was up a tiny bit over summer levels but there doesn't appear to be much of a spring surge this year.

The Edmonton Queen is still in dry dock at Whitemud Creek.

The water was a little dirty, with the recent rain.

There were a few boats on the water that day. A few days later it was +30 and the river had 100 kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards plus people lounging on all of the available beach space. Also swimmers!

This is the new dock the city has put in below the Groat Bridge in Emily Murphy Park. I'm not sure what I think about these. They may make the river more accessible. But I wonder how much. They actually make it slightly tricker to launch a kayak by occupying the best space and creating something to get caught up against. Meh, whatever.

Overall, it was a lovely paddle through the city.

The new LRT bridge is almost dine and I'm thrilled (as a cyclist) with the new foot bridge underneath the bridge.

Accidental beach was looking a bit beat up when we floated by. It isn't clear to me if the city will be keeping the berms that created the beach.

The pull out at Dawson Park was pretty good. The park was pretty busy that day but getting out was easier than last summer when water levels were lower.

Overall, a lovely float/paddle that took about three hours. Great first river trip for the year.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Moonlight Bay, Wabamun Lake

We popped out to Moonlight Bay on Wabamun Lake a few weeks back. Mostly this was a shakedown cruise for Jessica's new inflatable paddle board.

The boat launches are still good. We were there very early (8:30 am) and there were only a few people around. By the time we pulled out (10:30), things were much more crowded. This is probably a mixture of the weekend, good weather, and COVID.

We had great paddle. Jessica managed to stay upright despite the wakes and breeze and had only one unplanned dismount. She's a trooper.

Overall, a lovely family paddle. Hopefully we can explore some new terrain in the next few weeks. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Muir Lake

 I had the chance to get out on Muir Lake last week, just north of Spruce Grove.

The lake opened for fishing on May 1 and was reasonably busy when I was there. Still good access from the boat launch.

It was an unsettled day when I was out (sun and cloud) but the lake was pretty calm.

There was lots of birds (loons, geese, ducks, grebes, coots) pairing off. 

I also saw an Osprey fishing (more successfully than the guys in the 12 boats that were on the water).

Overall, a very nice, short paddle for early in the year. I see Devil's Lake is nearby and I might try that next time I'm out this way.

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).