Archive for April, 2011

Day 12 – Swan Lake to Whitehorse

We woke up after a chilly night by the lake. I was happy to find that because of the constant breeze and the fly being partially up from the ground, there was no condensation on the fly or the tent. We were thus able to pack the tent up immediately instead of letting it air out in the back of the car. We had a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese, seasoned with garam masala on bread. Tea and coffee helped to warm us up.


We continued on to Whitehorse, with more cars on the road as we went. It is now 2pm and we’re accessing the internet from a Starbucks in the city.

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After updating the blog we toured around Whitehorse for a bit. There was a big, fancy looking tourist information place but it was closed on Saturdays after 2pm or so. I say better to spend less on the building to be able to afford the labour to actually be able to give tourists information.

We then headed in the direction of Skagway and camped by a lake (Tutshi Lake perhaps?). It was a huge lake and was very windy. We made sure to bundle up, get the tent up and get dinner cooking as quickly as possible. We guyed out the corners and sides of the tent until taught, giving us a bombproof setup.

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Day 11 – Spatsizi to Watson Lake

We had another scenic day of driving today up highway 37 and the Alaska highway. We started the day with a fantastic idea – adding chocolate chips to our oatmeal. It made for a very nice change. Later in the day we saw something that looked like a baby moose, but we later found out was a cariboo.


Sometime after Dease Lake, we realized that we would need gas within the next few hundred km. Unfortunately, all of the gas stations in the tiny towns we passed were closed for the season. We made it up into the Yukon and to the junction with the Alaska highway with the gas gauge down to empty.


Seeing a gas station, we drove to it, but found that it was closed. We tried to leave, following the tracks through the snow of another vehicle. Buy just as we got halfway over the little mound of snow, the car got stuck. We tried to reverse, but the car was being propped up by the centre on snow, so the tires weren’t getting any traction. After 30 minutes or so of digging and with the help of a climbing rope dog leash and a pull from some friendly Utah’ers, we were out.We made it the 25km to Watson Lake to a gas station to fill up. We were also pleasantly surprised to find some showers.


We made camp halfway to Whitehorse at a picnic site called Swan Lake. There was a snowbank in the way between us and our desired tent spot by the lake, so we got to work shovelling, and worked up a hearty appetite in the process. It was a beautiful tent site, with a stream (though frozen the next morning), and a brilliant view over the lake and the mountains. Dinner was sprouted green lentils with tomato sauce and a glass of wine.

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Day 10 – Vanderhoof to Spatsizi Provincial Park

We had our latest night yet last night as it took a while to go through all our photos and update the blog. We finally pulled over at around 11:30pm and had our first night sleeping in the car. The seats recline to near horizontal and we have about six pillows or so, which made the car somewhat bedlike. Even with the late night, we were both awake by 6:30am with the sun.

We stopped at a rest area a few minutes away and Katie had the pleasure of throwing out her old boots. They had been soaking through every day at Bowron Lakes, so she swore to get new boots at the next big city. Finding an Atmosphere in Prince George, she got some new waterproof hiking boots. We also had coffee for the first time with the Bialetti stovetop espresso maker, which was a nice luxury.


We had lunch just before Smithers, at a rather scenic viewpoint. It’s amazing how it can be warm in the sun in the day when it gets so cold at night. We had soup and sandwiches. We then stopped at the Safeway in Smithers to get some new coffee (the coffee we had in the morning was remanents from last year’s Mexico trip)


Just past Smithers was the turnoff north to highway 37. It was a very nice change. There were hardly any cars nor cities for the whole ~500km up to Dease Lake. We drove up and down mountain passes, past frozen lake after frozen lake, and the road was very well maintained and clear of potholes and snow. Katie did the navigating. We stopped at a turnoff near Spatsizi Provincial Park and made camp on a forest road to a trailhead.

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Day 9 – Bowron Lakes to Prince George

We decided to head as quickly as possible to the car and not spend long getting ready in the morning. Though we still had time for breakfast (soup, as we had finished all the oatmeal) and time to get the fire going. We wanted enough time to restock on food in Prince George and get Katie new hiking boots, as hers had been soaking through every day. It hadn’t been very nice for her, having soaking wet boots every day. I also wanted time to go through and edit all the photos and upload them to the internet.

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We ran our errands in Prince George and celebrated Easter with a Kinder Egg each. Katie got a horned-pig and I got a racecar. It’s now 9:30pm and we’re headed back on the road.


Day 8 – Fifth Day at Bowron Lakes

We woke up to a gentle patter of snow on the cabin roof. The snow subsided as we ate breakfast, and the weather began to clear.

It was a fairly short day heading back to the Kibbie Lake cabin. We could have made it back to the car, but decided that it would be nice to have one last cabin day.


Today was Katie’s turn for a shower, and she got rather chilly. I heated up the cabin, and after warming up in her sleeping bag and a bowl of hot quinoa, she was feeling better.

It was a pleasant last night in the cabins. With enough wood for the stove, the cabin was warm and we had a candle-lit dinner (despite the fact that it was 7pm and there was still plenty of daylight coming in through the single window)



Day 7 – Fourth Day at Bowron Lakes

With another 6am wake-up, we had a roaring fire going to warm up the cabin. It’s convenient with a routine of going to bed early and waking up early, since it’s much nicer snowshoeing on the more solid, frozen ground early in the day than the mushy ice/snow later in the day. Outside temperatures would swing from below freezing at night to 20 degrees on the lakes in the day (we learned this from a thermometer at the ranger station). We breakfasted in style with 4 eggs we had brought in a hard case. Scrambled with garam masala they were very nice, not that oatmeal with brown sugar and nuts is getting boring


The weather also turned last night, with the first precipitation we had seen since being on the lakes. It was beautiful blue sunny skies until now, but today is snowy, with low-lying fog hiding the mountains from view. It was actually a nice change from the nice whether, since the scenery looks very different this way. We also didn’t need to worry about overheating or sunburn!


Arriving back at the Indianpoint Lake cabin, I decided that it was time for a shower. I heated some water over the wood-burning stove and had another rather cold shower just outside the cabin. I left my boots and gaiters on since it was muddy outside.


Day 6 – Third Day at Bowron Lakes

Today we headed to our next destination, and the furthest we would go along the circuit. This was the cabin halfway around Isaac Lake. This was the longest lake we would encounter, and we had just one portage and then hours hiking along the seemingly never-ending Isaac Lake.


We arrived at the ranger station about an hour before the visitor’s cabin. We were advised that they would likely be unlocked, so we were disappointed to see the windows bordered up and the door locked. We had a lunch on the porch none-the-less and enjoyed the spectacular scenery.


After another hour, we made it to Isaac Lake cabin. It was similar to the previous two and stocked with less wood, but enough. Another quinoa dinner, with soup to start and a cup of hot chocolate after and we were ready to call it a night


Day 5 – Second Day at Bowron Lakes

We learned from a map (or more accurately, a picture of the map that I had taken with my camera) that there were more cabins placed around the ~150km or so Bowron Lakes circuit. Since we had such an amazing first night, we decided to head back to the cars, stock up with food for 4 days, and continue on to the other cabins. We packed fast and light – I chose my 35L pack over the 70L.

Stashing our packs in the bear cash, it was 45 minutes back to the cars. We stocked up with food and fuel and headed back to the first cabin. Since there were still many hours of daylight, we pushed on to the second cabin of the circuit, at the end of Indianpoint Lake.


After 6 hours or so of snowshoeing across the lakes and portages, the Indianpoint Lake cabin came as a welcome relief. It was again stocked with wood, so we made a fire and set in for the evening. It was great having the fire, since we could boil water over the stove without needing to use up the scant 350mL of white gas I had brought for the trip.

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By this time, we were growing very attached to Quinoa. We had had it every night except for one so far and it had been great. It is protein rich, dense (convenient for carrying), and easy to cook. I had fashioned a pot-cozy to simulate simmering. Thus, after water was boiled, the quinoa simply needs to sit in the pot for 25 minutes to be fully cooked. We had another excellent nights sleep.

Day 4 – Hike to Mt Murray then Bowron Lakes

We slept rather poorly last night since it was so cold. A man we later met on the trail told us that it had been -12 degrees C – brrrr! We made a pot of hot chocolate and oatmeal with brown sugar and nuts to warm up.

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We then set off for Mt Murray – rated at 3.5 and 5.5 hours round-trip by two different signs. It didn’t take us long, breaking trail snowshoeing for us to warm up. Soon I was down to a base layer and shell with pit zips open. After 1.5h we arrived at a surprise cabin at the col between Mt Murray and it’s neighbour. Some back-country skiers arrived just as we got there and told us it was owned by the Cariboo Ski Touring Club (?).  Since we didn’t have much time, we posed for a photo and set off for Mt Murray. It was too bad, since the cabin seemed very cozy, even kitted out with a guitar!


We arrived at the summit of Mt Murray 2 hours after we had left the car. We were really happy with how fast we did it, especially considering we were trail breaking. We posed for a photo, had a bite to eat, and headed back down since we wanted to make it back to the service station while it was open


Luckily we made it to the service station around 12:30pm and filled up – phew, nothing more to worry about! It was then 28km along the Bowron Lakes access road. It was rather deserted, considering that everything was snow covered and the lake frozen. We learned that the Bowron Lakes Circuit is a world renowned destination for paddling, with tourists able to go from campsite to campsite along the lakes.

I tried to convince Katie that we should try to wash in a small hole that was made close to the shore through the lake-ice. We ended up compromising on a “shower” of lake water warmed up on my camp-stove. It was still very cold, since the air temperature was likely less than 10 degrees C. We warmed up to a lunch of hot tea and hard-boiled eggs


Since the day was getting on, we started thinking about where to sleep. We continued the last kilometer to the trailhead of the first portage of the Bowron Lakes circuit, where visitors would carry their boats the 2 hour trail to the first lake. As we arrived, an old couple came out from the trail and told us that there was a cabin we could go to on the first lake – Kibbie Lake. We were ready to just camp at the trailhead, but decided that a stay at a cabin would be very nice.

Hiking quickly, we arrived at the cabin in about an hour. It was very cozy – stocked with firewood, some candles, and sleeping platforms. We also brought our own candles and a bottle of wine. I made a fire, we supped, enjoyed the bottle of wine, and went to bed in the heated cabin – much nicer than the night before!


Day 3 – On to the Bowron Lakes Access Road

Today was our second big driving day. We drove through many small towns, some with massive timber piles as far as the eye could see.


After many hours of driving we got to Quesnel, restocked with a bottle of wine, got some tourist information, and decided to head to Bowron Lakes and the historical town of Bakerville 100km away. It turned out that Bakerville was completely covered in snow, unplowed, and empty, but it was only a small detour from Bowron Lakes. We realized that we had very little gas and would likely not make the 100km back to Quesnel. We went to the service station in a tiny “town” called Well’s, displaying a message that ownership was changing and that the station would only be open M-F 12pm-2pm. We would have to make it back here tomorrow if we were going to make it the 28km into Bowron Lakes and back.

We then set up camp 1km along the snow-dusted Bowron Lakes access road at a turnoff for the Yellowhawk Trail. We set up camp and I was happy with myself for guying out the tent with snow-bollards. This tent wasn’t going anywhere! With a dinner of rotini, tomato pasta sauce, sausage, cheese and a bottle of wine, we went to bed. Little did we know it would be a frigid night indeed!