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Outsiders Entries: Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

Outsiders Entries: Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit
24 May 2020

We recently put out a call for submissions, sure that some of you out there would have great stories to tell. We’d like to thank all those that sent something in for taking the time, and very happily share with you another great entry - Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit.

Words and photographs by Ben Gardiner.

I came to the event at your Coal Drops Yard store with Adam Weymouth and while my trip was nowhere near as ambitious as his, I felt I could relate to a few of the stories and thought I'd give the lowdown on my experience. 

A friend of mine moved out to Vancouver about 8 years ago and every summer has encouraged me to come to visit but I’ve always had other plans, however last year he emailed saying he and his mates were planning a canoe trip around the Bowron Lakes circuit up in British Columbia. This sounded like the perfect trip for a city weary adventure seeker; all the logistics were sorted in advance of my arrival, transport, canoe hire, national park permits, food and bear spray, all I had to do was turn up!

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

My flight got in late and the next morning after a few coffee stops in Vancouver we set off on the long drive north (some of us more jet lagged than others). After stopping at some quirky roadside dinners for lunch we arrived at the rangers office to sign ourselves into the national park. Setting off with our canoes on dollys (two wheeled carrying trolleys) as the lake circuit is connected by trails they require portaging the boats along.

I wasn’t ready for the beauty that hit me on day one; bright sunshine, crystal clear water and a quiet I hadn’t experienced in a long time. We followed the map each day to various campsites, starting off after breakfast around 8, stopping for lunch around 12:30 and aiming to be in camp with a beer by 5 in order to relax and recharge - paddling for more than 6 hours a day will take its toll - in the evenings and explore the forest that lined the lakes.

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

Even after the first few days a rhythm is established, a simple purpose to get to the next campsite but with nothing to rush there for. Soon becoming accustomed to camp life, dropping off the bags then heading out, in a now much lighter boat to catch fish, collect firewood, cook on the fire. Everyone automatically knowing their role in camp. 

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

It was magical to experience nature in its raw form, even more so by the proximity to wildlife; porcupines shuffling into camp, bear tracks making you double check your bear spray is clipped to your belt and moose, a mother and a calf wandering around our camp gentling quickening our departure. And on the final day spotting the huge paddles of a bull moose through the mist, we dared to glide closer to get a sense of its immense stature. He turned to look at us but elegantly, given his size slunk into the trees and was gone.

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit