Canoe the Bowron Lakes

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    This tour starts in Wells, BC where we pick up our canoes at Bear River Mercantile - a restaurant and general store run by Dick & Sandy Phillips. (They also have some cabins. Fax: 250 994-2355). Then on to the Park Registration Centre where canoeists register. There is also a park campground for RV's and a parking lot for canoeists arriving by car.
  • Our trip starts with a portage to Kibbee Lake, named after Frank Kibbee who guided hunting parties and became the first long-term game warden in the early 1900's. He was also instrumental in having the interior of the lake chain set aside as a game reserve in 1925. We pass pretty Thompson Lake, on our way to our first night at the start of the portage to Indian Point Lake.
    We canoe Indianpoint Lake, the site of the ruins of Thomas and Eleanor McCabe's log home. From this lake, there is a portage to Isaac Lake. Our second night campsite is at Nigoo Creek in Wolverine Bay, a good place to fish.
    The whole day is spent paddling on to Isaac Lake,the largest lake on the circuit (38 km) named after George Isaac, a logger and sawyer. Our third night is at a nice, sandy beach directly opposite Betty Wendle Creek, named for wife of Joe Wendle. Together, they spent 20 years as guides in the area and were instrumental in having the interior of the lake chain set aside as a game reserve in 1925.
    We paddle the rest of Isaac Lake and spend our fourth night at The Chute, where Isaac Lake empties into the Isaac River.
    Isaac River and the chute: Here there is a stretch of white water (about 8km) which can be canoed or portaged. For those who choose to run it, we go over all the strokes you will need and teach you how to read moving water, followed by some practise runs. From the chute to McLeary Lake there are two short portages and two short stretches of river. Just before McLeary Lake, there is a side trail leading to Isaac Falls. McLeary Lake is a beautiful, small lake with a great view of the mountains and the Cariboo glacier. It is also the site of Freddie Becker's first cabin, built in 1935. We pass the swift-moving Cariboo River, whose source is the Cariboo glacier and which leads us to Lanezi Lake, the second largest on the circuit with spectacular mountain peaks towering over it. Here we may encounter a number of log jams but we know all the right channels and will see you through with no problem. We spend our fifth night at the Turner Creek camp site on Lanezi Lake.
    Today we pass along Sandy Lake, fringed with aspen trees and beautiful beaches all along one shore. Our sixth night camp site is at Rum Lake which has the warmest water - and best for swimming - on the circuit. It is connected to Unna Lake by a channel. From Unna Lake here there is a lovely, 1.2 km. hiking trail leading to the impressive 24-metre-high Cariboo Falls.
    Next, via a portage, is Babcock Lake, named for J.P.Babcock, a B.C. Fish Commissioner, who was instrumental in having the interior of the lake chain set aside as a game reserve in 1925. Then a short portage to Skoi Lake, the smallest on the circuit, and another equally short portage to Spectacle Lake. We have left the mountains now and are into more open, marsh type country where, if you're watchful, you may see a mooose. Our seventh night camp site is on the Bowron River, by the oldest cabin on the lakes, built by Joe Wendle in 1926 right above his favorite fishing hole. The camp site offers a great view of the mountains in the middle of the lake chain.
    We enter the Bowron Marsh, teeming with bird- and wildlife and where you are likely to see moose, beaver, muskrat and marten. Wolves can be heard and salmon spawn in the river. Finally we are on Bowron Lake, formerly known as Bear Lake. It was named for John Bowron, one of Barkerville's residents in the 1860's. He held positions such as postmaster, fire warden, government agent and gold commissioner. Our trip ends on the morning of the eighth day, enjoying a breakfast, compliments of Bear River Mercantile.

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