Chilko Lake

18 September: on the way to Belcher campsite

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Well, it was time for the next interesting trip: to a place called Chilko Lake in the west central region of British Columbia. The lake runs approximately north to south and is about 65 kilometres long and 5 or 6 kilometres at its widest part. It is surrounded by mountains (the highest are over 3000 meters) of the Liberated and Capital ranges and drains to the North into the Chilko river. The water comes from glaciers in the mountain ranges and is therefore coloured by the deposits in the glacier. The colour is one of the amazing features of the lake and was quite milky in places – like a minty green/blue colour today. The lake is part of the Ts’il?os Provincial Park (the apostrophe marks the stress and the question mark (?) is pronounced like the back-of-the-throat noise in ‘uh-oh’).

Chilko lake is over 700 km from Pitt Meadows, our start point at Chris and Barbara’s house. Chris’s Toyota Tundra was powerful enough to tow the 300 lb canoe and comfortable enough to carry five people over a long distance with plenty of room for five people and the large quantities of trail mix that we would consume on the way.

As usual I dozed on and off for much of the drive and missed some of the scenery, but I can say that the transition was interesting as we moved from a landscape that had mostly green as the predominant colour to one which was desert brown – and hot!  We were passing through Cariboo district with its huge ranches and arid climate. The fields here had huge irrigation machines that go round in arcs or complete circles to water the crops.

The brown gave way to greener pastures as we got nearer to our first campsite just outside Hanceville. After two canoe expeditions (well, the last trip was basically sight-seeing from the water at Union Bay on Vancouver Island) the routine was second nature: arrive, unpack, set up tent, build fire, cook, eat, then enjoy view, chat and write journal. I’d made a fire from local deadwood from the forest and used Cat’s Tails as tinder (you can break the head of the plant into a downy mass of seeds that will catch fire very easily). I placed a couple of rocks next to the fire to heat them up so I could use them as hot ‘water’ bottles – they are great wrapped in a fleece or a towel and will stay hot all night.

Bulrushes at sunset

Bulrushes at sunset. The fleshy part of the Bulrush can be used to start fires.

There were five of us this time: me, Chris, Marylin, Alice, and Reg. I’d met all of them before on the Prince Rupert to Bella Bella apart from Reg who had picked us up from the airport when we first arrived in Vancouver.

After a good hearty meal with a full stomach and a hot rock – I went to sleep dreaming of grizzly bears claws and flimsy tent material.


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