Joffre Lakes

Two weeks ago, a friend visited from Alberta. He was only passing through Vancouver, but it was good to see him again. His plan was to go to Whistler and see the leaves changing colours. It sounded like a lovely idea. I was tempted to join him, but I instead fell asleep. Sunday runs are draining.
I discussed the idea with a coworker. He pointed out that it might be better to not just drive but to do a hike. He
suggested Joffre Lakes as a nice place to go. Once you park you are only five minutes from a beautiful lake. If you want more, you can hike to the upper lakes too. I was intrigued. Investigation even revealed a website describing the route. The hike was supposedly four hours, but I figured I could do it much faster if I went with a runner’s mentality; I should be able to do it in three hours, maybe less. The sun sets at 6:10 pm, so I would have to try and get there promptly.
Of course I can’t skip the morning run!
Last Sunday, the morning group run was planned to be 23km. There was talk of making it 27km. The peer pressure got to me and I stayed with the group going longer. Unfortunately, they are not the best at planning routes, and it ended up being 29km. Okay, that was a half hour longer than I initially planned.
I got on the road by 12:30. Not the best, but it is what it is. I arrived at 3:30. That wasn’t great. Fortunately, I had planned for the worst, and I had packed a headlamp and whistle and other emergency supplies. So if I got caught in the dark, I should be okay.
The benefit of the late arrival was that I was able to get a parking spot. The lot was still fairly full, but there were a few openings. Smart people were not showing up at this time. I equipped myself, but there was still a lot of stuff that I left in the car, which meant I was discouraged by a sign I saw later claiming thieves were in the area. Fortunately that sign was not Chekov’s gun.
The first lake was very close. It also had a bit of sun on it. Unfortunately that was the last I saw of direct sunlight that day; I was in the mountains, and they are not conducive to seeing the sun later in the day.
I trotted along to get to the upper lakes. It wasn’t too bad initially; uphill but doable. Then came the clearing. It had a well-maintained trail across it, but due to conditions, there was an almost invisible layer of ice over all of it; I call it the Clearing of the Ice Queen. (Ice Queen is currently not in residence.) I had good running shoes that were fairly grippy on it, but I definitely slowed down because it was treacherous.
The path was crowded with people. I was never alone for long going up. They were rightly being careful on the ice. A lot of them were foreigners, as they were all speaking languages I don’t understand. (Oddly, I seem to assume any language I don’t know is Russian.) It does seem like a good place for tourists to come. Why so many of the girls had pink hair, I don’t know.
The middle lake was nice. It was shrouded in shadows, which gave it beautiful reflections of the snow-capped peaks in the distance. I am under the impression that it is gorgeous in sunlight. Too bad.
A scenic waterfall greeted me as I climbed up to the upper lake. It was more like a staircase than the traditional waterfall you may be picturing.
The upper lake was found soon after. Once again, it was in the shadows of the mountains, so I didn’t get the advertised beauty of it in sunlight. Still, it was worth the trip.
But it was not enough for me. The trail beckoned on, and I followed it to the far side of the lake. It was getting late, and I was starting to wish I had brought gloves as I was getting cold. I hadn’t seen the sun at all and, let’s be honest, it was a glacial lake. It was important to keep moving to stay warm.
But now I was not seeing anyone. I was getting nervous, but I wanted the full Joffre; I had driven three hours to see it.
At the other end, I did find a large expedition. They announced themselves by throwing rocks into a frozen pond that I was next to. They stopped after I announced myself. We exchanged taking pictures for each other.
Then I continued on to the furthest point. I met a couple who I talked to for a bit. I asked them if there were good views that were worth going for. They told me that if you climb to the top of the mountain there were great ones. But they did point out a rise that you could get a good view from. I took their advice and continued on. I climbed up the pile of rocks that led to the glacier. I didn’t go all the way up, but went to the point where the ridge ended. There were good views.
I was now totally on my own. The couple and large expedition were behind me. I probably should head back. If anything happens, they wouldn’t find me until the next day.
Going back was quicker because it was downhill and I didn’t have to take as many pictures. I felt a lot better after I had passed people again; I was no longer alone. Oddly, I passed some people going the other direction. I was a runner and I was worried about making it back in time before sunset; these people had no chance. Still, I admire their tenacity to see all the lakes. I continued my swift progress.
On the way back, an older lady had fallen and hurt her arm on some of the ice in the Clearing of the Ice Queen. Fortunately there were a large number of people to help her. I don’t think I added much when I tried to help too, but she looked like she would be okay. I realized how treacherous it is, because I slipped and fell too.
I got to the parking lot a bit after sunset. There was still enough light that I was okay. The lot was completely different though; most of the cars were gone. I sat in my car awhile, to change into better clothes and eat some hard boiled eggs. I am encouraged that some people leaving the place all checked up on me. Did I look that pathetic?
The three hour drive back was in the dark. So no views. And come to think of it, all of the trees I had seen that day were evergreens; I never actually saw the changing colours. Or the azure colour of the lakes.