Jarvis Lake Trip Report

Posted by Robert N Pruden on Jul 25, 2007

Jarvis Lake, Alberta July 22, 2007-07-25

Today, Sunday, I opted to paddle Jarvis Lake, located just west of Hinton, Alberta. This paddling adventure was a deviation from my original plan to paddle Maligne Lake, located southeast of Jasper, Alberta, deep in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I would tackle Maligne Lake on Monday. My paddling friend, Marianne, convinced me that our late arrival at Jasper on Saturday and the fact that we couldn’t find a camping spot in Jasper National Park would cause us to have a late start for the Maligne Lake paddle. If we paddled Jarvis on Sunday, then we could arrive at Maligne early enough on Monday morning to paddle its entire length in one day.

The Jarvis put-in point that we used was at a bay called Kelly’s Bathtub. It is separated from Jarvis Lake proper by a thin slice of dirt that you see below the bridge in one of the images that I posted. Kelly’s bathtub is relatively shallow and warm. It is the swimming hole for anyone who comes to Jarvis Lake. Now that I think of it, I should have stopped for a swim after the days paddle. Next time, I guess! The weather is going to be hot for most of the summer so I do believe that I will have another chance to visit Kelly’s Bathtub.

Jarvis Lake is a spring-fed lake. The water rises up from deep underground and is filtered through sand and gravel, causing it to be clear and cold. The lake rests within the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. In some of the images shown at the link below, you will see the mountains in the background. Those are the mountains near Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada…my backyard. Ok, ok, so Edmonton is a four-hour drive from Jasper…I have a very large backyard. The lake is surrounded by fens, which support lush growth. The fens are surrounded by forest consisting of evergreens and other deciduous trees. Beneath those trees in some areas, you will find a few varieties of brush. Within fen and forest can be found a wide variety of flora and fauna. You can tell by the pictures that I took what I mean. Interestingly enough, I managed to see more wildlife that I would normally see on any given day paddling on an Alberta Lake.

Most of this day paddling trip was very uneventful as far as paddling goes. The weather was hot, skies clear and air as fresh as it gets. My only annoyance came from the powerboat and sea-doer operators who seemed to be fairly ignorant of basic courtesies when passing kayakers. Enough said about that!

The Jarvis Lake trip was my first major attempt to try underwater photography. I photographed anything that looked photographable. The most important condition was that the water must be clear enough so that the camera could focus on the subject. Today’s experiments worked fairly well, I think. Of the underwater flora and fauna that I photographed, there were weeds, lilies, sediments, fallen trees, a fish that was resting just under the VJ while the kayak was stationary and many minnows. Of the land based flora and fauna, I photographed just about every plant and flower that I saw: a deer that was resting on a hill; a wolf or coyote (not sure which it was but suspect that it was a coyote); a cow moose and two calves; a large group of blue dragon flies (I love dragon flies – they eat mosquitoes) and a variety of water bugs.

The one interesting quality of paddling Jarvis Lake today was that I didn’t think about work or divorce once. I was so happy to finally get away from the city that I inadvertently left my urban thoughts at home and thought only about water bugs, flowers, clean air, mountains and the VJ. My mind drifted from one curiosity to another. I spent my time taking pictures of anything and everything. In fact, during the Jarvis Lake trip I took over 200 pictures. Hey Ken, that is how I do it…take hundreds of pictures to get five good ones. Hee! Hee! Digital cameras…they are the bomb! That said, if I had taken a 35-mm SLR, I would have taken far fewer pictures OR I would have dropped it into the lake and lamented the drowning of yet another camera. I believe that I took full advantage of the waterproof features of the Optio WP this time around. I am certainly glad I bought it because now I am taking the kind of pictures that I have always wanted.

When we finished the Jarvis Lake paddle, I was not quite ready to quit but I knew that on Monday I would have to face the gruellingly long paddle at Maligne Lake. Maligne Lake is 22-kms long but if you do as I always do, then you can add a few more kilometres by following the shoreline. There are many interesting bays and coves along the shoreline that absolutely must be explored. Each area has a singular beauty that is not quite like the other areas on the lake. Even the water is different from one end to the other. At the north end of the lake you will find clear green water with little glacial silt in it. At the south end of the lake you will find a turquoise-blue water blanched with varying levels of glacial silt that is slowly settling after its alpine run down from the glaciers that surround Maligne Lake. Two years ago when I did this paddle with another friend, Elliot, the water in the south end of the lake was very clear and blue, like glass: there was no silt in it. This year, the water, as I said above, was carrying a heavy load of silt, looked less blue and more blue-white. Tomorrow would be an interesting day so I knew it was time to get to the campsite, set up the tent and get my rest – I would need it.

Robert N Pruden

Photos of Robs Jarvis Lake Trip


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