Paddle: Ghost Lake, up Ghost river. Alberta

Quick Summary

Summary: Lazy 2 hour paddle on part of ghost Lake to the where ghost river enters the lake
Distance of trip: est 5 km
How to get to the set in point: West from Calgary on Hwy 1A (Crowchild trail) Through Cochrane. Turn left after crossing the bridge over ghost lake
Paddleiing partners: Murry C.
Level of experince of group: Novice-Intermediate
Level of experince of the trip author: Novice-Intermediate
Camp sites used: NA
Weather Conditions: Clear sunny, no wind Low 20s
Trip rating, and some justification of the rating: Nice after work paddle, power boats and Jet skis a bit anoying, but the paddle itself was surprisingly good
Boat style used: Sea kayaks. (Murry in a cedar strip Endevor)
Ghost lake map

"click" for detail.

"Map is Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Department of Natural Resources. All rights reserved."
map from the website http://toporama.cits.rncan.gc.ca/toporama_en.html

Ramble on about the paddle

The days just before this paddle I'd been asked to go for a canoe trip Thursday down the Bow. I was very keen. Later I was asked on Monday if I'd like to go out Tuesday for a kayak paddle on Ghost Lake. In my mind a lesser paddle However The forcast was sunny. I was in a position where I'd not expect to get a kitchen pass for both days. Tuesday Morning I loaded the kayak on the car an headed to work.

Glad I did, checking the forcast Tusday at work, things look to be deteriating later in the week. So with a call to my wife, it was set, and I'm off after work.

This is my first time out with Murray. He is a co-worker, that also build his kayak. We've been saying for around two years we should get out. Finally we do. Murray is also a diver, and knows Ghost lake well. He has dove and paddled the up ghost lake, to the inlet where the Bow river flows in. Today we opt to head up the Ghost river inlet Running North on the East side of the lake.

The paddle starts off with the ever risky entry into the kayak, this time from the peer. I always think it is swim time, Murray is honest enough to admit he went in once. I'm still waiting for the first time, and every time I get in, there is at least a split second where I think this is it. Once save inside the cockpit we are off.

There are the small sail boats and power boats moored around the peer. They look nice, but seem somewhat diminished after the recent trip on the ocean. (see Desolation Sound ). We head off under the Hwy 1A bridge, now (almost) abandoned mud nests of the swallows line the underside of the steel gerders. There is a loud screech and a impressive splash, as one of the loacal kids Jump off the bridge into the lake. This is a real Hwy Bridge, quite the drop...

There are more boats on the Left bank, including a couple of small house boat type things. No body is home though. We pass this and the other boats moored on the docs on this side of the bridge, continuing out from shore. There is a couple wake boarders out today, and and a couple jet skiers, enjoying the calm water in this sheltered bay. The buzz of the engines some what anoying, but it's fun to watch them play.

I broke my sunglasses when putting them on today. Broke right in half, Hmm I knew I had a fat head, but shesh. We are not paddeling directly into the sun, but close enough, that the glare is borderline on painful. Murray suggest heading closer to shore, and agree. The shore consists of a tree covered small cliff, as soon as we enter the shadow, everyting comes into focus. I can see again, and somthing else, something a bit more spiritual starts to come out of the mirky, rush filled day.

We continue along the cliffs, I'm wondering about the layers of rocks. The rock is not the granite of the mountains 50km down the road, but looks to be much more statified, almost like very dense dirt, with bands of some kind of white rock in it. The trees grow from the top, with root out over the abyss above the water. Ahhh, always so much more interesting paddeling near shore.

As we come to a small point, one of the wake board towing boats goes crusing buy, about 30ft away. Hmm... I comment to Murray, on the apperant obliviousness of the driver, as I turn into the wake waves. That's okay with me, the waves that is, I'm sure he saw us, but I'm sure Suzane from the last paddle I was on would have had words for them.

Accorss from teh cliffs, are the grass covered foot hills, someone is building a big new house here. It is one of 2 or 3 we can see on the far bank. I think it would be nice to live here, but the power boats would be anoying. Like most grass covered hills around here, there are cattle, but just a few. I wonder how the rancher did with the US BSE issue... there are only a few cattle there, maybe 5 or 6.

The Cliffs slowly decrease in height, and we come to a low point. I comment that it woudl make avery nice campsite. In fact there seems to be a fire pit up there. As we round the point we come upon another kayaker out. He is on shore, and comfirms someone seems to be mainaining the site, and it looks like a great place. It appears the 'ancient' Private property sign is ignored fairly often.

The kayaker, tells us the river current starts just around the bend. We head out to find the river. After the point the cliffs are back, this time higher. Some one has build a play raft out here, complete with slide, a canopy and what looks like two lazy boy chairs. It does not apear to be tied in place, just sitting in the lee shore, maybe in a bit of an eddie. There are lots of empty beer cans on the raft, I'm happy to see that they are all in a couple of boxes. Looks like who ever comes out here to play has some respect for the environment. Looks like it could be pretty fun.

Sure enough there is a noticable current flowing into the lake now. Small fish are jumping. there are thousands of flying ants, not flying now, rather stuck on the water surface. There won't be any hungry fish for the next few days.

Around the corner a small white house comes into view... Now this would be a nice house to live in. Very picturesque. we stay to the right and go up a quite channel, turns out it is not a channel and we have to come back. That leaves the Left. here the current is flowing fast. Fast enough that paddling against it is not trivial.

I deliberatly take my time, I'm ahead of Murry, I slowly move against the current. Not really in any danger of getting tired. Until I notice I'm not moving anymore. The flow has constricted a bit, and I have to turn on the juice to get past. Only 10 or so meters. Then I'm in calmer water, but still moving fast.

There is a small gravel bar in the middle of the stream, I ferry over into the eddie behind it. Spin my kayak around so I can watch Murray. He is just in the constricted part, and is pullin hard. Only 20m or so behind me he enters the smoother section of the current. He eases up a bit, and lets out somthing like 'crap, can't slow down here'. He speeds up, but suddenly he turn his kayak around.

now he is about 40m away, out of the fast curren. I holler askign what he is doing. Turns out he saw me turned around, and assumed I'd be comming back. No.. so he has to make the grunt back up. I do not wait this time, I spin around in the eddie, and start to head up on the right side of the island. This looks to be the easier of the two paths. Again I try to paddle forward, but not push it... not workign so well this time, I have to go fairly hard. AFter moving 15m or so I look back. Murray has abandoned is second attempt... sigh.. guess this is as far as we are going.

I start the float back, going backwards. The channel is not really all that wide between the gravel barr and the shore. not enough to spin in. I float past the eddie, thinking to put the stern into the eddie and do a reverse eddie turn. I'm moving to fast, and miss the eddie. so now I'm making a slow turn in fairly fast moving shallow. Hoping I don't hit bottom, as the stern is out of the channel an in very shallow water.

surprisingly fun coming down, both backwards, sideways, and after I got turned around. Then it was over. once in the slower current we head down. Murray tells me he just ran out of steam. I guess he was going hard into the current, trying to catch up.

On the trip back we head for the campsite and check it out. definatly might be worth coming out for a night. Looks like a reasonable fishing spot. Maybe... We planned on a 2 hour paddle, we've been going very slow, and are now only about 1 hr in. We head across the inlet, and cruse down the other side. Again the sun is a bit much, and we head back for the shade.

I'm watching the West shore, we are now past the cliff, and getting close to the bridge. I see somthing big coming down the bank, the adrenalin spikes for a second. A quick flash back to the Grizzlies I met earlier this summer. Nope, is it an Elk, nope... A cow, although it had somewhat impressive horns on it. I'm surprised how easily it came down the steep bank for some water.

Murray and I paddle closer to check it out, two more younger cows are comming down, a yearling, and a calf. Murray comments that he did not know a cow would be able to negotiate that. Hmm learn something new every day.

we keep going, admiring some boats, sail boats, motor boats, on a fan drivin boat, some which get Murray excited. They are some kind of pontoon boats, with canopies, and a wide platform. Perfect for diving he says. Eventually we come to the two house boats closest to the bridge. One is very small, looks very new, neet and well kept. Large windows on both sides, It has a bunk bed, a sink and maybe a couch. that is it. All in a structure maybe 8ft by 12ft. Looking through the window, it is clear who ever build this did a fantastic job, looks both solid, and nicely done up. the second one, looks to me more of the standard fare from a few decades ago.

As we go under the bridge again, I look up. There is a bat sticking out of one of the nests... infact a few have them, neet. After the Bridge is the dock and the end of the trip. Turned out to be much nicer than expected, a very nice after work paddle.

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