Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit Day 0: False Start

A great day to start another exciting adventure together. This time it will be a 116 km canoe trip through the Bowron Lake Provincial Park - one of Canada's top canoe circuits.  Bowron Lake canoe circuit is in the Cariboo Mountains in the middle eastern part of British Columbia. 
Location of Bowron Lake Provincial Park.  Image by Google Maps.
The canoe circuit takes around 6 - 10 days to complete.  It is suppose to be quite busy in the summer, but since we're doing it in the off-season, near the end of October, I suspect it will be quiet.

So on this fine Saturday morning in mid October, I woke up with presents under my pillow - a new pair of gloves and smart-wool socks.  Thank you, Mark!  Perfect items for today's canoe trip.  We got up and finished up the last few details before we could head out.  Why do things always take so much longer than expected?  We weren't ready to head out until noon...  guess I should take a lesson from my mom and have everything ready days in advance. Finally we were ready to go and even our gnome was buckled in.

After a 5 hour drive east and south, we arrived at Bowron Lake Provincial Park. The view that greeted us was absolutely gorgeous.

If this is any inkling of what was in store for the next week or so, we were going to be very lucky people.

After taking pictures of the mountains from the boat launch, we proceeded to the park's registration centre and parking lot.  Only two other vehicles were in the parking lot.  So it will be a quiet trip.  We self-registered at the centre, leaving our emergency contact info and expected date of return.  Then we unloaded the car, removed the roof-rack, and loaded up the canoe on the cart that Mark built the previous weekend.  It was 5 pm, and sunlight was limited, but we figured we could make it to the first campsite - a 2.4 km portage and ~ 1.0 km paddle away.  As we were walking the canoe over to the start of the trail, the ranger drove by.  He told us that it had been a warm day out on the lake today ~21 C.  We were in good spirits as we started out.

Did I mention that the circuit starts with a 2.4 km portage?  And that the beginning is uphill?  It was all good...  at least for the first 200 m.  Then we heard a bang and the canoe was no longer on the cart.  The whole top of the cart had come off the wheels!  We hadn't gone very far, dark was coming within the hour, and we were packed for using a canoe cart.  It would be a long portage and then a paddle in the dark in unknown waters.  After some humming and hawing, we turned around, loaded the gear back in the car and I drove over to the drive-in camp site.  Mark carried the empty canoe the 400 m to the site since we had already removed the roof-rack.  We felt defeated.

While I boiled the water for dinner, Mark worked on fixing the cart. (It was either that or leave some of the extra comforts behind). He dug out holes in the wood for the screws so they would bite deeper into the joining pieces of wood.  He also removed some from less useful places to reinforce the places that broke.  Then we ate our Saigon Noodles and snuggled down into our new sleeping bags, down mummy bags from MEC that zip together.  A nearby barred owl whooed us to sleep at the end of our near-start day, suggesting a promise of better things to come.

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