Finally in view: Beautiful Bowron Lake!
Fresh apples at lunch might have earned the food highlight of the day, if it hadn't been for the decadent strawberry pancakes with whipped cream ordered by a few Scouts for breakfast at the Wells Hotel. Some settled for the simple continental buffet selections: cereals, toast, fruit; a few opted for omelets and (very salty) hash browns. Many restaurateurs would not be pleased to serve nine teen-aged boys together at table, but our Scouts received compliments not only from the restaurant staff, but also from random hotel guests whose rooms were adjacent to theirs. Not a bad way to begin our trip.
Zachary oversees the official weigh-in and gear-to-canoe assignments with the ranger at the canoe circuit pre-departure staging area. Each canoe is only allowed 60lbs. on wheels during the many portages; all other gear must be carried.
Just out of curiosity, Tim set his double-dry-bag backpack on the scale, it weighed 52 pounds!
Weighing the troop gear set aside for riding in the canoes on carts during portages (including the food storage buckets, two coolers, a kitchen kit, and collapsible table) was followed by careful calculations as to what would ride in each canoe. Tags provided by the ranger itemized each canoe's contents, as a "permit" of sorts identifying the only allowable portage items for that boat. For fun we also weighed our personal gear (the items loaded into our dry bags which we carried strapped to backpack frames on portages). Tim's gear tipped the scales at 52 pounds, and some of the others were as follows:
- Judah 40 lbs.
- Isaac 38 lbs.
- Joseph 36 lbs.
- Bridget 30 lbs.
- D 28 lbs.
- Peter 19 lbs.
- AJ: 16 lbs.
- Canon 11 lbs.
Tim & Peter, followed by Zachary and me: Setting out on our very first portage, from the parking/staging area to Kibbee Lake (about a 45 minute trek on mostly dry trails).
Floating at last!
After months of planning; weeks of grocery shopping; days of sorting and packing; a ten hour car ride... We're finally paddling on Kibbee Lake...
We didn't know for another three days just how terrifying the pre-departure mandatory training video was for one of our Scouts. Apparently the scene showing a grizzly bear attacking a tent pretty well freaked him out. Turns out he didn't sleep peacefully at first for fear of a similar attack on his own tent. For the most part, the training video was entertaining in an old-school sort of way; immediately after watching it we were given maps highlighting our assigned group campsites and permitted to begin our canoe circuit adventure. In a gung-ho fashion, the crew opted to take two portages on our first day, to camp mid-way through Indianpoint Lake rather than on the shores of little Kibbee Lake.
...but not for long!
After 30 minutes' paddling on Kibbee Lake, we reached the shore and prepared for our second, more difficult portage to Indianpoint Lake.
Muddy trails with deep ruts, roots, stumps, and rock obstacles; this climbing & descending portage connecting Kibbee and Indianpoint Lakes took us about an hour.
Peter and Tim navigate one final mud hazard before reaching the bug-infested shores of Indianpoint Lake.
Our first messy (muddy) portage from Kibbee to Indianpoint Lake was also steep in parts and long. The reward at the end of the trail: billions of bugs at the shore. So many bugs, we ignored the fatigue from the challenging portage, quickly passed out pre-measured baggies of afternoon snacks and launched without further adieu. Before long, we landed at our home for the night: site number 7 on the shores of Indianpoint Lake. Competitive tent site nabbing came first, with group chores and meal preparation not far behind. We enjoyed the campfire and some Scouts even managed to stay awake past 10PM.
Home sweet home!
Our first campsite on the canoe circuit: Indianpoint Lake #7, reserved for groups like ours.
Chore time: Peter and Tim fill the troop's new Platypus GravityWorks water filter (well worth its weight in gold for ease of use, speed, and capacity)!
Head cook Caleb finishes the last bit of beef taco meat before our "Leave No Trace" clean-up crew washes the cooking gear and secure everything with a scent in the bear caches for the night.
Glimpse of Day 2:
6AM: awake at Wells Hotel, last hot showers, etc.
8AM: breakfast in Wells Hotel dining room
9:30AM: depart Wells for Bowron Lake Provincial Park
10:30AM ish: arrive at Bowron Lake Lodge; skip rocks along the shore; pay for canoes & carts, lock up passports; use last flushing toilet & sink
11:15AM: arrive and unload all gear at staging/weighing area near ranger station/departure point
12 Noon: attend mandatory training session (with lunches in hand)
1PM ish: hit the portage trail, en route to Kibbee Lake
1:50PM: launch canoes in Kibbee Lake
2:20PM: reach not-so-distant shore of Kibbee Lake
2:36PM: begin challenging portage to Indianpoint Lake
3:36PM: wash muddy carts in Indianpoint Lake before loading & launching; afternoon snacks distributed
3:50PM: last canoes launch into Indianpoint Lake; abandoned Keens picked up from shoreline & tossed into our canoe
4:20PM: land at campsite #7; begin unloading and setting up camp
4:40PM: crew meeting; duty roster assignments: cooking, water purifying, wood lot/fire, clean-up
5:30-9PM: cook and enjoy tacos for dinner; clean-up; stow scents, visit around the campfire
9:20PM: some retire to tents; others hang around the fire 'til almost 11PM