I didn't want to give that subject to this post but it sounds funny 😛
Well, this time we went to a really magnificent place: Joffre Lakes. Since the heat wave in Metro Vancouver had reached its peak during last week (27C) we decided to go to mountains this time. I was thinking how nice it will be to cool down a bit, breathing fresh air, watching mountain peaks under snow and hiking a bit. So, on Friday after work, San picked me up and we went toward Pemberton. The plan was to make a base camp on Nairn Falls camp ground and then, on Saturday to go to Joffre Lakes.
About 140km later, the temperature was about 38C :left: I was thinking to myself, am I crazy? We are surrounded by the 2000+ meters high mountains, there is still snow there, yet the temperature is like in Northern Africa. Or in southern Europe, as I hear from my friends and relatives from Serbia, they are on a big heat wave now. Then San explained that entire area is actually under the influence of the weather from Okanagan valley, a dry, almost semi-desert plateau. 40C during summer is normal thing there :left:
The weather forecast for Saturday was almost the same, meaning hot, so we decided to leave camp early in the morning and start to climb before air becomes too warm. Joffre Lakes are actually three glacial lakes that, so to say, share water from Matier glacier. The Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is located about 35km from Pemberton toward Lillooet and the lowest of all three is on 1200m above sea level and only about 200m from parking. That was the easiest part. The lake has a beautiful green colour so typical for that kind of lake.
Getting to Middle Joffre Lake was a bit tricky; trail is about 3,5km long and elevation gain is about 300 meters. In maps that we had, it was marked as medium hard but according to what we saw it could be graded a bit higher. There are at least two difficult parts and one of them is called Boulder field, the name that says all by itself. Getting over it requires attention, some of the rocks are shaky and there is a certain possibility to twist your ankle, not to mention something worse. Then, trail goes into forest, which is a relief because even at 9 in the morning air became warm and there was no wind at all. Several steep sections are here and there hard to climb but not that bad, at least for me; we read somewhere that one of the hikers wrote the entire trail is not that hard to climb but more technical than the others.
But once we reached the lake all the troubles were forgotten. Words can't describe how beautiful it is.
Someone said that Joffre lakes are the closest to Banff you can have in the western BC. We immediately forgot how hard it was to get there, thirst, hunger (of course, we forgot food in the car :P), mosquitoes of a size of an average stork…
It all gave us strength for the final effort, climbing to the Upper Joffre Lake, placed right under the Matier glacier, about 1,5km from the place we were and about 150 meters higher. Trail has only one steep section and it took us about half an hour to get there. And again, magnificent scenery.
It is about on a snow level. Even on a hottest day, there is a fresh breeze from a glacier. Surrounding mountains are all over 2000 meters: Joffre Peak (2721m), Mt. Matier (2783m), Mt. Hartzel (2615m), Mt. Petch (2579m), Slalok (2653m), Ts'zil (2377m), Taylor (2318m). Matier glacier is the biggest but there are two more: Stonecrop and Ts'zil glacier.
We didn't see any wildlife, except few very big ants; I was thinking that on this altitude we are safe but San told me there are grizzly bears in the area, black bears, cougars and goats – even though I was not quite sure how goats could be a threat to us :left: – but we didn't see tracks of any of them (read: poop) 😆
After spending some time making photographs and enjoying the scenery, we decided to go back; we were hungry and the other reason was connected with more and more people coming. We thought it will be very busy soon and we were right. On the way back we met at least 50 hikers, some of them quite unprepared for the climb. Having solid boots or climbing shoes, along with enough water is essential; some of them climbed in their tennis or basketball sport shoes… not to mention that they started to climb at noon and their water bottles were long time empty before they reached end of the Boulder field… Even though in maps there are warnings about footwear and water, the area is marked as "recreational" so I guess many people are not really aware where are they going…
What lasted for more than two and half hours to climb, took only one and half hour to go back. We were fast, going down the trail so easy, lightheadedness that almost costed me a twisted ankle, but it was too hot and we were now really hungry. A choir of wolves howling in my stomack was a probable reason we didn't see any goat. They are, after all, cautious animals :left:
Since it was still middle of the day, we decided to visit nearbu Duffy lake; San was thinking to swim there but at the end we only wet our feet in it. My personal record: 5 seconds before toes become numb 😛 It was that cold :smurf:
Saxifrage mountain from Duffy Lake
On a way back, in Pemberton was about 40C, we hurried to our base camp to get some cold water and try to get rest and cool down on a hot day. But nothing, even relief, can come without hard working…
more photos here;