We find ourselves in the wilderness of Bowron Lake Provincial Park to paddle the famous 116 kilometer Canoe Circuit. Encompassing ten lakes, numerous waterways and nine portages it sounds like a perfect adventure for us. No services for the next seven days, just nature, primitive campsites and a few shelters. Let the fun begin!
And so it does… after the obligatory safety video, registration and weighing of our stuff (you are only allowed to have 27 kilos inside your canoe during the portages) we are good to go! It’s raining cats and dogs as we leave civilization and it keeps doing so the rest of the day; a tough start! But, we (our Canadian friends Paul & Jan, Joanne and German-Egypt friend Holger) are in a good mood and no way we let the weather influence that!
With seven days worth of food packed in our canoes and carrying a heavy backpack the first day is the toughest with two long portages to start with. After 2.4 kilometers of huffing and puffing during the portage we get to paddle our first few kilometers on Kibbee Lake. Not that we get to see a lot due to the heavy rainfall.., even our Gore-tex clothing relinquishes to the amount of rain! But it’s too early to stop and we decide to hit the next 2 kilometer portage to make it to the cabin at Indianpoint Lake. Here we set up the tents and cook ourselves a nice dinner inside the comfort of an old cabin.
As we have dinner we are treated to a moose show! A bull, cow and calf are chasing each other in Indianpoint Lake, getting closer and closer… eventually getting chased away by the noise of two other paddlers passing our campsite. Even though still far away, it was a pretty neat sight! That night we fall asleep with the familiar sound of ticking rain on our tent.
Waking up to silence in the early fresh and reasonably clear morning, we start the day with another portage to Isaac Lake; the largest lake on the circuit. And a very windy lake as we soon find out! So, after lunch we only continue a couple of kilometers before we give up due to heavy winds. But, lucky for us, we end the day at another cabin where we are able to make a fire to warm ourselves. No other paddlers in the area, it looks like we have the whole place to ourselves! Well, maybe there’s a sneaky bear just around the corner and just in case we put all our food and toiletries inside the bearboxes provided.
Isaac Lake is the longest lake on the circuit and we paddle 38 kilometers without portages towards another challenge; the chutes on Isaac River. We are excited and a bit nervous at the same time. The chutes look so simple, but branches of dead wood or hidden rocks can flip you over in no time. Paul and Jan hit the chutes first, at the end making a sharp turn to the right before hitting the shores. Joanne and Holger are next and quickly after we follow them; it’s over in no time! What was all the fuss about? 😉 Even though we are such experienced paddlers now, we believe it’s better to skip the class 5 waterfalls ahead of us. A difficult decision, but probably a wise one. 😉
After three sweaty days plus the cycling days to the lakes, it’s time for a skinny dip! Elmar first! 😉 We don’t mean to give you nightmares, so my white butt stays private. 🙂
I peak outside the tent, but visibility is zero! A thick layer of fog is covering the lake and we see tiny blue spots trying to clear the view. During breakfast with a hot cup of coffee the fog lifts and we are treated to this:
The fall colors are blooming and along the Cariboo River we pick a nice spot for lunch. The turquois Cariboo flowing in front of us and white peaks behind gold leafed Aspen trees on the other side. The sun is shining, it’s hard to pick a side! We keep paddling down the Cariboo river to Lanezi Lake where we find a shelter to cook dinner. We camp nearby as the sun sets, lighting one of the peaks on the other side.
After Sandy Lake and another part of the river we detour a couple of hunderd meters to Unna Lake. An almost completely enclosed small lake with breathtaking views on the rough white peaks in the distance. Well, we should see them once the weather clears! Luckily it does so as we wake up the next morning. We plan to paddle a short distance today and that gives us time to do a short hike to the Cariboo Falls. We paddle back to the portage to Babcock Lake, followed by two more short portages to Spectacle Lake. The last portages on the circuit! We give it a minute to remember the moment… nah.. let’s quickly forget those tough portages! At Spectacle Lake we are able to camp again next to a cabin where we can make a fire inside to enjoy yet another warm evening. We bring out the booze to celebrate our last evening on the Lakes, lucky for us there is no proof of this party event, but we can tell you we had a lot of fun! Bye, bye Bowron Lakes! This week of paddling has been amazing!