Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

From pedaling to paddling: a canoe trip on the Bowron Lakes

by Bicycle Junkies

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.

Bowron Lakes Canoe Trip

Paul and Jan paddling on Isaac Lake

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. 😉

Bowron Lakes Canoe trip

What a view!

Bowron Lakes Canoe trip

Holger and Joanna paddling on a calm Isaac Lake

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. 🙂

Bowron Lakes Canoe trip

An unknown guy taking a skinny dip in Isaac Lake

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:

Bowron Lakes Canoe trip

Are we dreaming?

Bowron Lakes Canoe trip

Downstream on the Cariboo river

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.

Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Paddling turquois colored Lanezi Lake

Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Sunset at Lanezi Lake

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!

Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Unna Lake

Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Spectacle Lake

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Jan September 30, 2015 - 03:35

Lovely photos! So nice to enjoy the time with you two! Thanks for the paddle and enjoy your next pedal!

Pa September 30, 2015 - 04:33

Wat een vreselijk mooie foto’s van een schitterend gebied. Je zou nooit meer weg willen. O ja, Elmar wel goed tussen de billetjes wassen en goed afdrogen, anders gaat het irriteren. En er is niks zo erg als irritatie op de fiets.

jos September 30, 2015 - 15:27

Hoi Elllen en Elmar ,wat een schitterende foto,s hebben jullie gemaakt want inderdaad de omgeving daar is echt uniek ,Het meer met jullie erop in kano,s en die prachtige achtergrond van besneeuwde bergen en daarvoor de bijzondere mooie kleuren van de bomen ,het is echt overweldigend lijkt me om dit te zien en mee te maken en achja als je toch na een vermoeiende dag je zweetdruppels wilt afspoelen dan geeft het niks dat je in je blootje daar lekker ongestoord het meer in gaat ,ik zou het ook doen dan het opperste gevoel van vrij te zijn ,echt bedankt Elmar en Ellen van dit verslag en jullie foto,s het is ook hier genieten ervan .Groetjes Jos

Wim Verhoef September 30, 2015 - 16:18

Hoi Ellen en Elmar, Jullie zijn niet alleen fietsers, nee, ook wandelaars, kano-fanaten en vooral levensgenieters. Leuk verhaal. En de foto’s zijn werkelijk super. De kleurschakeringen zijn zo mooi. Dit is weer genieten voor mij als lezer/ kijker. Veel plezier. Groetje’s Wim

Bicycle Junkies October 2, 2015 - 01:10

Thanks Jan! See you in Vancouver. 😉

Bicycle Junkies October 2, 2015 - 01:11

Zoland ‘ie tussen de billetjes wast, ben ik happy! 🙂

Bicycle Junkies October 2, 2015 - 01:13

Dankjewel Jos en graag gedaan natuurlijk!

Bicycle Junkies October 2, 2015 - 01:14

Wim, bedankt voor je reactie weer en leuk dat je ons zo blijft volgen!

Pa en Ma October 9, 2015 - 09:07

Hi Elmar and Ellen
Wath a very nice pictures at the lake,s paddle between the Mountens the nature is very nice .We can understand
you love it.
Have a nice time together.
Love Mum and Dad xxxxxxx

Bicycle Junkies October 10, 2015 - 04:49

Thanks mum and dad! 🙂 It was very beautiful at the Bowron Lakes! X

Jan Cees Wouters October 10, 2015 - 07:54

Hoi Elmar & Ellen.
Schitterende foto’s van jullie trip over de Bowron Lakes. En herkenbaar! Wij deden deze tocht in juni met onze dochter Mirjam (cyclingdutchgirl) maar dat wisten jullie natuurlijk al… :).
Veel mooie fietskilometers toegewenst!

Bicycle Junkies October 12, 2015 - 21:13

Hallo Jan Cees, wat leuk dat je reageert op ons blog! Jullie zullen wel trots zijn op Mirjam, wat een geweldige reis maakt ze toch. Hartelijke groet vanuit Canada!

jan van pelt October 20, 2015 - 19:04

hoi Ellen en Elmar wat heb je weer een mooi verhaal in elkaar gedraaid en hele mooie foto,s gemaakt toppy hoor


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