Wet feet, cold hands and the creator’s magesty at Bowron Lakes

I just returned home from an eventful 6 day paddle at BC’s world famous Bowron Lakes Park. My annual adventure friends started this year’s journey with a 5:30am departure from Kelowna to Barkerville, BC.  We setup camp and then spent a wonderful afternoon tour of Barkerville Historical Park.  We naturally followed up our tour with dinner and beer in Wells.

The following morning we set out to Bowron Lakes Park for check-in and the required orientation. Weighing gear, to protect the portage trails, was required so I had to toss a few items into the truck.  Recently paddlers use 2 wheel carts to carry their canoes or kayaks rather than the old over the back method and duplicate hiking but I’m not sure it is really that much savings? We loaded our gear into the canoes and hoisted our packs onto our backs and set off down the trail.

Our initial concern over forest fire smoke was warranted as we could smell the soot in the air. Our intial paddle on Kibbee Lake illustrated the haze in the vistas.  After another portage and a paddle down Indianpoint Lake we set up our first camp at #5. We proceeded down the 116km chain by paddling down the huge and wild Isaac Lake. Winds can get very challenging here but we had a gentle breeze at our backs. After a smoky night we set off to tackle Isaac and the chute at the end of the lake.  What a delightful body of water it is but we chose the safe and dry portage option. The white water and falls are rocky and powerful. As we continued another long day we camped at the falls of McLeary Lake #21a and a rainy evening.  The elements can be daunting here exaggerated by the influence of surprisingly huge alpine shadowing the lake drainages. Another day brightened up as we headed down the beautiful Lanezi Lakes. This gem offers simply amazing vistas of huge hanging valleys, Cariboo peaks and glaciers. I was surprised by the scale and vertical of this range. It is as good as any alpine region I’ve previously explored.  As Henry and I paddled down the picturesque Sandy Lake toward our destination Unna lake camp, a massive thunderstorm approached.  After the cautious decision to proceed across the bay headed toward the narrow river channel we were struck by torrential rain and a horrible headwind. After 40 minutes of the hardest paddling I’ve experienced we ducked into the muddy shores of the semi-protected channel to wait out the storm. Besides our cold exhausted bodies the crossing cost us our pride and Henry’s new Tilly hat.  Our slow journey down the channel toward Unna was rewarded with our first close siting of a cow moose and her calf undaunted by the rain. Unna Lake is a calm shallow backwater camp just before the Cariboo River  falls.  The day spent paddling Spectacle Lakes was a dreamy route through morning mist and warm sunshine.  Our last day out was a delightful paddle through rich marshlands teaming with life. Salmon, beavers, moose and many wildfowl were everywhere. nb. Our Bowron Campsites: 5, 21a  30,  40,  50

A bonus to this Bowron trip is the people you meet en route. Paddlers from all points of the globe journey to this destination waterway. Whether it was scouts from Chilliwack, visitors from Oregan and Germany or an Ontario family testing their canoe skills, the Bowron circuit is a real treat.  We should be proud to have such a classic recreational gem in our backyard.

Despite the smoke and periodic rain the paddling and area is stunning.  With all the lakes, streams, waterfalls, mountains and alpine backdrops and the backwater marshlands this park is world-class.  Bowron Lake Park paddle circuit is justly one of the top 10 paddles in the world! I am so glad my mates persevered to arrange this memorable adventure. Thanks guys!

My Bowron Lakes Gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/okflyfisher/sets/72157624698402721/

Bowron Lake Park is a large wilderness area situated on the western slopes of the Cariboo Mountain Range. The world-renowned Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit encompasses a 116 km chain of lakes, waterways and connecting portages. This wilderness canoe trip takes from 6 to 10 days to complete, depending on your time frame and skill level. For those looking for a shorter trip, the west side of the circuit can be paddled in 2 to 4 days. It is recommended that those who attempt the circuit have some wilderness canoeing experience.

The park has tremendous diversity in topography and vegetation. The rounded hilltops of the Quesnel Highlands on the west side of the circuit have a unique character quite different from the imposing Cariboo Mountains on the eastern and southern sections of the circuit. The park is a place of many moods, from bright sunshine and placid blue lakes to angry gray waters and torrential rains.(BCParks)

“Bowron is considered to be a quintessentially Canadian canoe trip. Azure lakes surrounded by the majestic glaciated peaks of the Cariboo mountains impart serenity deep into ones soul with every dip of the paddle.” …
“The park’s world-renowned 116 km (73 mil) canoe circuit, through tranquil lakes and waterways, is ranked by Outside Magazine as ‘one of the top 10 canoe trips in the world’.”
(Spacesfornature)

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