Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bowron Lakes
The First Time It's a Vacation
Everytime Thereafter - It's Home

It was great to be home again... even if for a short while
Bowron Lakes 2007 Trip Report Summary

Day 1 – Tuesday, May 29 ”Andy O’Keefe”
Checked into the Ranger station and paid our circuit fee. It was supposed to be $60 per boat but the ranger gave us a break and let Yukon Johann in for FREE!

The usual portage to Kibbee lake seemed to be easier this year. We easily made the 60 lb per boat limit, so perhaps that was the reason. We made a rest stop for a nap at Frank Kibbee cabin (always wanted to go there). Took a side trip into Thompson Lake to look for Moose. Not seeing any, we went onto portage to Indian Point Lake. Along the way we ran into our first person (the first of about 12 people we met around the circuit). This guy was a real character. He does the circuit 2 times a year. Once in the spring and again in the fall. The most facinating part was he is a fireman in Kirkland and lives in Langley on Whidbey island. He knows some friends of ours, Rob and Sherrie Brown. His name was Andy O’Keefe. I will have to look him up when we get back.

Spent the night at the trapper’s cabin at the end on Indian Point Lake. Nearly full moon and WARM!!

Day 2 – Wednesday, May 30 ”Johann’s First Fish!”
Awoke to a warm sunny day. Made a lazy portage to Issac Lake. We pulled out the fishing gear to give Yukon Johann his first lesson in fishing. Within 30 seconds of putting the lure in the water he caught a nice Char, well over a foot long, and talk about TEETH! He was a bear to take the hook out. We had a lazy paddle to a nice group site in Wolverine bay. No sign of rain. We had no wood so, Yukon Johann paddled down to the wood pile we sighted just before camp and loaded his Umiak with a load. It was a site to see. He looked a like a logging truck on the lake.

That night it was warm and I slept with my sleeping bag as a blanket.

Day 3 – Thursday, May 31 ”Moxley Creek Moose Massacre”
Awoke to a warm sunny day. Paddle over to Harold Falls to hike up there. But first we had to have a peek at the moose and her calf just a short paddle a way. They left before we could get pictures. We paddled back and took the short hike up to the falls. On our way back to the boats it seemed the cow moose and her calf had crossed the river by our boats and wouldn’t let us pass. She charged us and we made a mad dash up towards the falls. Waiting 10 minutes, we went back down… only to be chased back even further. We waited yet again and then made another attempt, she came charging across the river even faster. My heart was racing as she chased us up even further towards the falls and there were no branches to grab onto to climb. Again we waited a bit longer. We tried yet again to get to the boats, this time she chased us up to the falls and we had no place to go except across the river just below the falls on a precarious log. It was very slippery and dangerous to cross. We crossed part way and hid behind the root ball of another tree with our feet in the icy river. The moose cow came close and stopped short. She couldn’t see us. Our adrenaline was making our hearts pump feverishly and our feet were freezing and our footing was not so good. We waited again for another 10-15 minutes and cautiously made our way back to the boats. So far so good… we made it to the boats without being seen… or so we thought. The moose cow was coming for us, no time to put the life jackets on and we grabbed our paddles preparing to make a last stand. I told Johann to take off in his boat and I was going to jump in the lake. At the last second the cow moose turned and went back across the river away from us. Needless to say we got the HELL OUT OF THERE ASAP!!! We paddled across to the Moxley creek cabin and took a breather. We began calling the incident the ”Moxley Creek Moose Massacre”. Although not, entirely correct, we were still high on adrenaline.

Oh yes, the cabin is doing fine. The river appears to not have made any movement closer to the cabin. We paddled on to Lynx Creek and then onto campsite 22.

Day 4 – Friday, June 1
”Sunsets R Us”
Awoke to a warm sunny day (Geez there is a pattern developing here). We witnessed another incredible sunset the night before. As we took off that morning, we saw another canoe coming in fast behind us. It was a German couple who were trying to distance themselves from two other parties. We shared a rest stop at campsite 24 and the weather got even warmer. We were roasting in our kayaks. We paddled towards the west shore of Issac Lake to paddle in the shade and catch the numerous waterfalls on that side. Along the way we came across a Loon and her nest. The loon put on quite display to lure us away from the eggs. I was surprised to see that the nest was made so close to the water (it was no more than 5 inches higher than the waterline). It seemed to me that a good storm would wipe the nest clean.

After that we lingered around some more falls and made our way to the end of Issac Lake and witnessed yet another spectacular sunset. Oh yes, we caught another 14” Char while trolling the river entrance in out Kayaks. Fishing was too easy.

Day 5 – Saturday, June 2 ”Goldie locks and the three Bears”
Awoke to a warm sunny day. We portaged around the falls on the Issac River. The water was running a bit high because of the unusually warm weather. We ran into 3 couples traveling together from Redding, Ca. They were retirees and had been here 3 years ago in July and told tales of rain and hail for the entire trip. They had only a half day of sunshine (I heard the same thing last year from another fellow we met. The rangers confirmed to us that 3 years ago in July they had 55 straight days of heavy rain).

We paddled the Caribou River without incident and arrived at Lanezi lake. We made a quick stop into campsite 32 for lunch. The shore was horrible as the pollen build-up smelled awful and stained out boats. Throughout the entire trip we could see clouds of pollen coming off the trees. I had a few sneezing fits; fortunately, no itchy eyes or congestion.

We stayed at campsite 33 next to Turner creek. We had great views of the glaciers and the Cariboo mountains. We went to bed around 10:00 that night with a view out of our tent that featured the last glowing embers of our campfire. At 10:30 I got up to get some Ibuprofun to relieve the shoulder pain I had developed from long days of paddling. As I closed the bear bin and made my way back to the tent, I saw three sets of glowing eyes just behind the tent. I thought they were raccoons. As I got closer, I could see that it was a bear with 2 cubs. I made a load noise to scare them and they took off. The Bear spray was in the tent with Johann. Our adrenaline was pumping again as we got up and made a big fire. We went back to the tent sometime later happy that the bears would probably not return. I never got a close enough look at them to tell if they were black or grizzly bears.

Day 6 – Sunday, June 3 ”KILL ALL MOSQUITOES”
Awoke to a warm sunny day; AGAIN! UNBELIEVABLE! We paddled to Sandy Lake. We stopped and had lunch with the retirees from Redding, Ca. We joked that the circuit seemed less challenging without the typical harsh weather. They stated that they were going to stay at Sandy Lake. I gave them a dire warning about the mosquitoes. I must admit that my warning seemed like a joke as we arrived at Sandy Lake with incredible heat and very few bugs. Yukon Johann and I had a nice swim in the lake and took a nice bath. However, as evening rolled around, the headnets came out and most everyone went to bed early. The bugs were as bad as ever. Every year we vow never to stay at Sandy Lake and yet we are lured by her warm waters and inviting campsites.

Day 7 – Monday, June 4 ”Clouds and more mosquitoes”
Awoke to a humid cloudy morning. The mosquitoes were ferocious. We broke camp and paddled to Unna Lake and popped into Rum Lake. We stopped for a snack and visited with the retirees from Redding. The water was high on the Cariboo river, but we had no problem paddling upstream . We portaged to Babcock Lake and then onto Skoi Lake where we saw a young Moose cow. We took a break at the end of the last portage and it began to drizzle. At last we were witnessing the typical Bowron weather. Up to this point, it had seemed “too easy”. We paddled to Pat’s Point and enjoyed the comforts of the shelter and the cabin there. The cabin was so full of mosquitoes we set up the tent and slept there for the night.
Day 8 – Tuesday, June 5 ”Moose and more moose”
Awoke to a pouring rain. We waited it out in the cabin. Fortunately everything was dry and we could pack up without getting wet. The rain stopped and we decided to make a run for it. We quickly loaded the boats and headed up Swan Lake. We had a few light drizzles on the way up to the Bowron river. We stopped at the last campsite and had a quick snack. We would’ve stayed longer, but the mosquitoes were a real problem there. As we got back into the river we came across a cow moose and her calf. Unlike days earlier, she was more tolerant of our presence. A bit further we came upon a young moose napping in the willows along the river. We paddled the river out to the Bowron Lake for the final push to the end. On the way some river ducks were making a nest on the water in some reeds. They were very humorously angry when I paddled up close to look at the nest they were building.

All-in-all, this was the best weather we have ever had at Bowron. We had not used even half of our clothes and only pulled out the rain gear on the last day.