I have paddled Azure and Clearwater Lakes a number of times and in the summer of 2020. I decided to do a solo paddle of the lakes. On a cloudy day in August, I took the water taxi from the Clearwater Lake Campground to the Rainbow Falls Campground near the end of Azure Lake.
On Clearwater Lake near Diver’s Bluff we had a good view of Mt. Huntley (link) above Azure Lake, with Garnet Peak to the north.
On Azure Lake, Mt. Huntley rises 1720 m (5577 ft.) above the lake. The hike to Huntley Col then up Huntley Ridge is a long and difficult hike.
Both sides of Azure Lake have steep slopes right down to the lake. Numerous waterfalls fall into the lake. This one spills off the north slopes of Zodiac Peak.
At the beach at Rainbow Falls is a fine campground, suitable for a few days of exploring the area. The hike to the falls is a good one and there is an old cabin (The Hogue Trappers Cabin).
Storms were forecast for late in the afternoon so I had a choice of setting up camp at the marine campground (a lovely spot) or to pack the boat and head down the lake. Winds were calm so I took a chance, knowing full well that the next campground and the only place to land was 15 km west. Calm weather lasted for about an hour.
As I headed down the lake, the east end of Azure Lake seemed to recede in shades of grey.
Strong winds blew in with storm waves directly from the west, complete with fierce headwinds, big waves, and rain. From many experiences of paddling in stormy conditions, I knew that the best choice was to land somewhere, but the steep cliffs prohibited that strategy. When facing big breaking waves the best strategy is face the bow into the winds and paddle with concentration to avoid having the kayak turn broadside into the waves. That battle took about an hour and a half. The main storm passed through and 10 – 15 km headwinds settled in. I worked on finding leeward sections near the shoreline for another hour and a half. I crossed the lake at a narrow section and landed at Four and a Half Mile Campground.
I set up camp, trying to keep everything dry in the scattered rain showers. This is a very nice spot and I had the whole site to myself. No other boats were on the water in the storm conditions. The winds abated in the evening. By the morning winds were light as the mists rose off the lake.
With all the gear in dry bags in the high capacity storage areas, I paddled down Azure Lake and was pleased with calm conditions for about an hour. Reflections from the surrounding trees and clouds made the lagoon area seem idyllic.
At the end of Azure Lake, the channel narrows down and the current is stronger. Azure River on the west end is quite short since the Clearwater River confluence is only 0.2 km downriver. The Clearwater River runs out of Hobson Lake, 8 km northwest. Both rivers run down to Clearwater Lake, 2.5 km south.
The paddle down Clearwater Lake is another tale, to be told in an upcoming post.