Sunday, 2 September 2012

Bowron Lakes Day 1: Registration Centre to Indianpoint Lake

The Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit in northern BC is a 116 km long circuit featuring 12 lakes and numerous waterways.  I did the circuit with my Dad in September of 2011 over the course of 6 days and in my opinion, it is one of the best wilderness experiences in Canada.  When we did the circuit I had some remarkable opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitats.  I also got the chance to see a lot of spectacular natural features, such as the mountains surrounding the lakes and the powerful Cariboo Falls.  Every day on the lakes was very special.  I don't think there I had even a single moment of boredom on my trip.  I can safely say that Bowron Lakes deserves all of the hype it gets.

The drive to the provincial campsite was incredibly long and had me pretty exhausted before we even started the circuit (I can't remember the exact time, but I know it was more than 8 hours).  After we set up our tent I found the sandwich I had bought in Quesnel for supper and put it on the picnic table.  I quickly went into my backpack to get my hoodie, but in the ten seconds that my back was turned a bird had landed on the table and put a hole in the sandwich packaging.  I scared it away as soon as I noticed, but it had still managed to eat a good portion of the sandwich.  I was a little ticked off, though I blamed myself for leaving my food unattended.  After all, the bird wouldn't have tried to get the sandwich if I was eating it, right?  Actually, after I removed the portion of the sandwich that I felt was "contaminated" and started eating it, the bird passed right over my head several times, trying to get it from me.  In the end I just ate in the tent, feeling like I had been soundly defeated by a bird.

The next day we went to the morning orientation which featured a kind of outdated video (it showed people using the tactic of aggressively waving their arms up and down to scare a bear away).  We were told that we would have good weather for the duration of the trip, which was a huge relief for me.  I didn't like the idea of muddy portages or trying to paddle against the wind.  After the orientation I spent a bit of time looking at the model of the park that was in the registration centre.  It really showed the interesting shape of the lakes, which make almost a ring around the mountains in the middle.

Shortly after orientation we had our bags weighed.  You are allowed a maximum of 50 lbs in your canoe or kayak for portages.  That doesn't include the weight of paddles, pfds, water, a bailing bucket, or an axe.  It is really hard to find information about the items that aren't weighed, so we had left our axe at home.  We were a little frustrated when we found out we could have brought it, but at least we were able to rent an axe.

We didn't end up starting the circuit until after lunch, so we weren't able to make a lot of progress on the first day.  We weren't looking forward to doing the two worst portages of the trip, and they ended up being tougher than we were expecting.  The portage from the registration centre to Kibbee Lake was 2.4 km long, but it felt like way more.  It was mostly uphill, and it was a little steeper than what we were expecting.  Still, we managed to get through it, and didn't even come close to tipping our canoe over (which a lot of people were doing).  I would attribute this to the canoe cart we used.  We had a cart that was very sturdy and was designed for rough terrain.  Nearly everyone else we saw had one of the thinner and less stable rental carts.  These carts seemed pretty tippy, and looked way more sensative to loads not being perfectly centered.

By the time we got to Kibbee Lake we were exhausted.  I was very happy to have a break from portaging though.  The lake was pretty quiet, and I found it to be very relaxing.  It seemed like no time had passed before we were at the end of the lake, facing another tough portage.

At 2 km long, the portage from Kibbee Lake to Indianpoint Lake was shorter than the first portage, but it seemed harder.  There were a lot of roots and rocks for the cart to get stuck on.  There were also several really muddy sections that took a lot of effort to get through.  The worst of these was right at the end of the portage as the trail descended to Indianpoint Lake.  It was pretty long, and the mud seemed fairly deep.  There was a group of people who had just made it through who were kind enough to help us, so it didn't end up being as difficult as it could have been.

We decided to camp here (camp 3) since it was starting to get dark.  I was very drained, so I went to bed right after supper.  We hadn't made tremendous progress, but we had gotten the two toughest parts of the circuit out of the way.  I was looking forward to spending more time canoeing than portaging for the rest of the trip.

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