Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hiking Trip # 3 Lake Louise

It was such a gorgeous day although we spent much of it in Helva travelling from here to there searching for a place to hike. We got up late and got out of the house at noon. We filled up Helva and joined the major traffic jam in Calgary getting to the mountains. It took us ages just to get out of Calgary.
We had planned to do the hike near Canmore -Johnson Lake but the parks folks told us that the lake was closed. They said there was some disease there and I was curious -so looked on the Internet:
Plan to remove all fish from Banff lake to stop deadly whirling disease reaches environmental assessment phase
Officials hoping to stop disease from spreading to Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka
By Dave Dormer, CBC News Posted: Feb 20, 2017 5:20 PM MT Last Updated: Feb 21, 2017 8:52 AM MT
Officials are looking at removing fish from Johnson Lake this spring in an effort to stop whirling disease from spreading to the nearby Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake.
Officials are looking at removing fish from Johnson Lake this spring in an effort to stop whirling disease from spreading to the nearby Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. (Dave Gilson/CBC)
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A plan to try to stop the spread of a deadly fish disease by removing all the fish from a lake has reached the environmental assessment stage in Banff National Park.
Whirling disease affects trout and salmon and can cause infected fish to swim in a whirling pattern and die prematurely.
It was first detected in Canada when it was found in Johnson Lake in Banff in August 2016, but has since been detected in the entire Bow River watershed.
Now, officials are considering removing fish from Johnson Lake in an effort to stop whirling disease from spreading to the nearby Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka.
Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake are part of the Upper Cascade area and testing has shown the disease has not spread to those waters.
Entire Bow River watershed infected with whirling disease, CFIA says
Deadly fish disease found outside Banff park for 1st time, including trout farm
"The Minnewanka system is connected, it's fed by the Upper Cascade, and that's one of the areas in Banff that has two or three of our critical habitat areas for westslope cutthroat trout," said Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager for Banff National Park.
"We're very concerned about preventing whirling disease from getting into Minnewanka and the Upper Cascade. We have Sawback Lake, Sawback Creek, Cuthead Creek — are all critical habitat for westslope cutthroat trout."
Bull Hunt
Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager for Banff National Park, says this will be the first time officials have tried to remove fish from a lake in a single season. (Dave Gilson/CBC)
Hunt said officials are working on a plan to remove the fish from Johnson Lake, which is currently in the environmental assessment stage.
The plan will see the lake closed in the spring and nets used to remove as many fish as possible.
"We would then open the lake for recreation from the July long weekend to the September long weekend and allow people to swim and enjoy the lake," he said.
"There will be no fishing or boating to reduce the likelihood of moving fish or mud out of the lake, and then in the fall, after the Labour Day long weekend, we would close the lake again and proceed with netting and perhaps even look at lowering the water levels a bit."
The strategy is a slightly novel one, said Hunt, as this will be the first time it is attempted in Canada.
"We have eradicated fish from lakes before, at Devon Lakes and at Rainbow Lake, using netting and electrofishing techniques we're proposing," he said.
"We've never done it on this timeline, it's usually taken two or three years ... But because we can adjust the water levels in Johnson hoping we can do it in a single season."
The disease is caused by the microscopic parasite Myxobolus cerebralis.
In order of potential risk, from highest to lowest, the movement of fish, mud or sediment and water can spread whirling disease.
It can be transmitted through equipment used for swimming, paddling, boating, water pumping and fishing, or through infected fish and fish parts.
The province is therefore urging anglers, boaters and recreational water users to thoroughly clean all of their equipment and remove any water, mud, or plant material from their property before and after each use.
***
We were told the lake won't open for hikers until after June. So I guess we will try to hike the lake in July.
Since we could not do the Johnson Lake hike we went to Lake Minnewanka. Much to our horror the entire area around Lake Minnewanka was filled to the brim. We gave up by 2:30 pm and got on the highway for Lake Louise. It felt a bit weird that we had been travelling for almost three hours and still no hiking.
Thankfully, although Lake Louise was packed we got a parking space in the overflow parking area. We got to Lake Louise by 2:52 pm and began our hike.
It was the first year we had hiked so early in Lake Louise as we usually take our family vacations as a week off in August. We found there was ice in the lake and snow in the path. We had to stop at the end of the 2 km lake trail as there was a snow route to the top. Hubby and younger boy went up the snow path to the upper path but it was too dangerous to go further and they came back.
We got some photographs of the snow and ice; the weather was beautiful but the path was mucky.
On the way back there was again a slow travel period because everyone was on the road. We had our sandwiches and left Lake Louise by 5:36 pm. We were home by 7:45 pm.
After an omelette and salad I feel a bit more lively. Tomorrow will be a puttering around day and the drive home. I imagine ten million citizens will flood the highway back to Edmonton.
It's the beginning of the summer travels. Hike #3 around Lake Louise was another easy hike but I think the next hikes we do will be a bit more demanding.

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