Elkwater Lake, AB
Fall 2011, my Smart Women co-author, Barbara Thrasher, joined me for a weekend kayaking at Elkwater Lake, in the Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Alberta side. We chose the hump season in the fall, wanting solitude, and got it. We met up with one other woman kayaker, and two men fishing the entire two days we were on the water.
We launched from a marina on the south side, where a cement breakwater and ramp allowed for a dry, easy entry. We packed lunches and planned to be out for the day. A brisk wind, kept us to the west side of the lake. If you could saunter in a kayak, that’s the pace we chose. Surrounded by prairie hills, created by the till of a glacier pushing by, the small lake is melt water, spring fed, clear and in the early fall, cold. There is little in the ways of trees or bushes along the shore to cut off the wind, but the occasional spruce hung over the water, seduced by its moist embrace.
The second day, feeling more ambitious we paddled hard, determined to circumnavigate the lake. Again we fought wind.
Three long arms stretch out from the north and west side of the lake, making it a lot bigger than it appears at first sight. One of the arms birthed tall stands of Wild Rice and Bulrushes, causing us to weave around miniature islands of green. Cattle fed along the shoreline in several places, kept from the water by high cut-offs gouged out by wind and waves. Small pockets of sand formed miniature beaches along the way, but mostly grasslands met water and an unending view of green hills and prairie sky pleased our eyes.
We picknicked in our kayaks at the north end of the lake, found a small beach to explore and photographed gulls milling on fishy smelling peninsulas. The sun kept us company for the day, combatting the wind’s desire to chill the air.
A great experience I repeated the next spring with my husband. Well worth the 35 km drive in from #1 Highway.