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Backpacking Canada

Joffree Lakes & Pemberton

By on July 30, 2016

We had completely forgotten about Joffre Lakes after hearing about it so many times by the locals in Whistler. After 2 fantastic weeks in Whistler, we were finally leaving, heading to Berg Lake, up north near Jasper. We had just 2 days to travel 500 miles before we were to begin our toughest backpack yet, so were in quite a hurry, but seeing the sign for Joffre Lakes, we decided to pull over a just ‘check it out really quick, maybe take some pictures.’ Yeah right! The lower lake was so beautiful and we could see the glacier hanging over the lake basin, so we rushed to the car, through on some packs and started down the trail towards upper lake. What an incredible place to camp. It was unbelievably beautiful.

Day 71: Whistler, BC > Joffre Lakes, BC

Woke up hung over in Whistler, and I drove us straight to Alta Lake for some fresh air. We found a lively park filled with families and spend a few hours laying on the grass, gazing up at Whistler Mountain, and dreaming about what life would be like living in this phenomenal town. With hesitation, it was time to move on & head North into uncharted territory. We drove about 100km before we realized we had gone 50km in the wrong direction. It was 3pm before we really got anywhere at all. Then at 4pm, we took a stop at Gates Lake to bathe. The sunshine was sparkling and the water was warm. We took a half hour to enjoy the peace, meditate & relax. Then, it was on the road again. It must not have been more than 45 minutes of driving before we saw signs for Joffre Lakes (the hike we had meant to do that day). At 10km return, it was a little too long to do before dark, but John felt inspired, so we decided to sleep at the top of Upper Joffre Lakes. The hike up was “very steepy” (an Asian lady warned us as we set out), but the lakes were a brilliant aqua blue. Given how late in the day it was, we had the trail almost entirely to ourselves. We got to camp in time to watch the sunset. Our perch had the sounds of the nearby glacier waterfal, and I slept like the rocks we laid on.

Day 72: Joffre Lakes, BC > Valemont, BC

Woke up to a beautiful view of Upper Joffre Lake and were determined to scramble up to the glacier above us. The start of our ascent was line with many different wild flowers of purple, yellow and pink. We picke a line close to the waterfall and started to climb. I summoned all of my bravery and focus to scramble up those rocks. We didnt quite make it to the top, but we did find some ice and great view of Upper and Middle Joffre Lakes. We descended, proud of our efforts, but with vengeance to get all the way to the glacier one day. As soon as we got back to the lakes basin around 11:30, it was clear something had changed…the trail was overrun with “turds”. Hundreds of people followed us down the trai. So strange to find so many tourists at our furthest point North thus far – just when we had thought we made it to “the real wilderness”. Down at the parking lot, we prepared for battle. The time we spent lounging at the lakes the past few days had caught up to us. It was now 1:00pm, and we had 7 hours of driving ahead of us in order to make it to our permitted trailhead the next morning at Mt. Robson. We are slow drivers, and didn’t make it until 11:00pm, despite our most valiant efforts to be speedy. We pulled into a Best Western parking lot and fell asleep almost as soon as our heads hit the pillow.