Back to Home Page
The Mission: To carry a small canoe up to our favorite local mountain lake - Widgeon Lake.

The Undertaking:

  1. Assembling a willing (or just naïve) crew
  2. Driving from North Van. to Grant Narrows at Pitt Lake
  3. Paddling 6 km's through the Widgeon Slough to the water-access-only trail-head
  4. Hiking with multi-day packs and the canoe 9 km's along a gradually ascending road
  5. Hiking about 600 meters vertical in less than 3 km's over difficult terrain, through dense bush and near-vertical sections
  6. Using the less-than stable canoe to shuttle 5 people, one dog and 5 packs 1 km across the lake to our "Widgeon Rock Camp".

Who: Ashley, Norm and Martin from Penticton, Andre, myself and Norm's pooch Jeremy

Where: Pinecone / Burke Provincial Park; Widgeon Lake. See details below.

Area Map; Green Dot = our home, Red Box = Widgeon Trail
Detailed Route Map
August 26

The five of us and pooch left North Van in the wee hours of the morning to give ourselves as much time to complete the mission. At Grant Narrows we inflated the two large Metzler inflatables -the tiny "Jumbo" (ours) and the large "Indio" (Andre & Ashley's dad's), piled in our gear and ourselves and began the first leg of the journey: the 6 km paddle through the scenic Widgeon Slough.

The Crew just before departure from Grant Narrows. L-R: Martin, Norm, Trudel, Andre, Ashley & Jeremy in front
And so the paddle across the slough begins!
Martin paddles the "SS Widgeon" -the famed canoe (or KA-noo as our Quebecois friends say).
Norm, Jeremy and Ashley take the "Indio"
Andre, myself and our two packs somehow always manage to squeeze into the not-so-jumbo "Jumbo". And there's Martin in behind Andre's head.
The Second Leg of the Journey: The Grand Mountain Canoe Portage

Andre had fashioned a carrying system for the canoe whereby two poles were attached at front and rear of the craft. To enable carrying through the narrow and densly bushed section of the climb, the poles would be able to swivel.

Of course there were "issues" with the attachment hardware and the poles ended up being almost-permanently lashed to the vessel with vast quantities of rope.

Just before departure at the Widgeon Creek campsite. Hey - Andre - where's your uniform??
After our lunch break at the bridge over the wildly rushing waters over Widgeon Creek we posed with the canoe. L-R: Norm, Jeremy, Martin, Trudel, Ashley, Andre
The Ascent

The last 3 km's were tough to say the least. The trail narrow and twisting, often Norm's head would become pinned between the carry-pole and a tree trunk while navigating tight turns! Too cumbersome for all four men to carry her, Martin took the rear, while Ashley and I ventured quickly ahead to the ridge above the lake. Once at the top, we set down our packs and descended back to meet the others (only 20 min. down) and relieve Andre and Norm of their packs.

And Jeremy? He would keep ahead by about 20 yards, sit down on the trail and watch the progress with great bewilderment and amusement.

Hoisting the SS Widgeon through the dense bush, over logs and up vertical ladders of roots.
Arrival! Mission Complete!
The Lake Shuttle

Now that we'd arrived, the next task was to get the five of us, our packs and the pooch 1 km down the lake to our unique camp (see "Widgeon Rock" below). As you can tell from the pictures, this is not the worlds largest canoe. And definitely not the most stable! In fact, it probably would rank as one of the least stable water crafts around, period. You practically had to hold your breath and not bat an eye while paddling and saying silent prayers!

I can't recall the order of who went first or second, I can just tell you that Andre paddled Norm & Jeremy across, then came back for me and two of the largest packs, then made another trip for Ashley and the two smallest packs, then back a fourth time along the shore to pick up Martin who had considerately picked his way along the rough shore to where tall cliffs prevented him from going further. This saved Andre about half the time on the 45 minute one-way paddle.

The Widgeon Rock

Andre and I first "discovered" this rock in 1995 on our first trip to the lake. We'd paddled the shoreline looking for a unique campsite and came upon a sloping, grassy meadow at the base of a granite wall the height of the mountain it is a part of. I hopped out of the canoe we'd packed up (the 30 lb "Indio" in fact) but found the grass was only covering large boulders. To gain a better view of the area, I climbed the short 8-foot high back wall of an enormous rock 3-stories tall on 3 sides. I found the top of it to be completely flat, and a good 200 sq. feet large. And to top it off, 2 weathered lawn chairs leaned against a smaller boulder (what would serve as a table for our numerous visits to come over the years)! These were no doubt left behind by someone having arrived by float plane some years before.

A close-up of the Rock from the small swimming bay. The "table rock" is visible as a small bump on top.
Can you spot the Widgeon Rock at the base of the cliffs at the far left?
August 27 & 28

Our second day was taken up by sleeping in, then spending the day exploring the area. Andre, Ashley and I paddled to the far end of the lake with the hopes of climbing to the top of the far ridge. The undergrowth was exceedingly dense with salmon berry bushes, and we eventually made it to a spectacular waterfall (see photo below). It had become too late in the day to venture up the vertical, bushy slopes to the ridge, so we slowly picked our way back along the creek and through the forest to the waiting canoe.

Meanwhile, Norm and Martin undertook a slightly more ambitious venture of climbing the near vertical, smooth granite face of rock and cliffs behind our "Widgeon Rock".

Trudel and Ashley next to pool at base of tall waterfall
View of the head of the lake where the trail ends
A bright morning at camp
Norm, Trudel and Martin and smoky haze from the fire
Martin and Ashley atop the rock give an idea of its height!
A dicey departure the last morning!
The Airplane Attack at Departure

We had no desire to make as many trips back across the lake to the trail head as we had upon our arrival, so we squeezed ourselves into the boat three at a time with our much smaller packs. Still, it was not the most enjoyable experience. Mouse over the last picture and you can see how Jeremy, Norm, Andre and I are just crammed into the tiny SS Widgeon. Norm had to hold Jeremy very still, while Andre and I paddled the shortest, fastest strokes we could.

After Andre dropped us off, he paddled back for Ashley and Martin. As the three were about halfway back on the middle of the lake, all of us were suddenly alarmed to hear the loud roar of a plane's engine overhead. A seaplane swooped over the tips of the trees at the edge of the hanging lake and prepared to land on the lake. Andre and Ashley paddled frantically, and Martin, sitting in the middle, lunged his hands overboard and began paddling like mad! I grabbed the binoculars and watched as the plane descended upon the lake but landed a safe distance away. That's one time you don't want to be in a camouflage boat!