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Who: Ashley, Ian, Cary, Norm (and Jeremy), Andre & Trudel

Where: Widgeon Lake, Pinecone Burke Provincial Park (see details below)

The Mission: To check on the canoe we'd hiked to the lake the year before (see Mountain Canoe Portage), and bring up a couple more lawn chairs!!

Area Map; Green Dot = our home, Red Box = Widgeon Trail
Detailed Route Map
Day 1

Another year, another trek to Widgeon Lake. Under overcast skies the six of us assembled at Grant Narrows Regional Park at the foot of Pitt Lake. We inflated the two canoes, while Ian packed his gear into his kayak.

Ian gets swallowed whole by his carnivorous kayak
Cary, Ashley, Norm and Jeremy getting ready at the dock
As always, the journey begins with a six kilometer paddle through the Widgeon Slough. And as always, Andre and I seem to always squeeze ourselves and our enormous packs into the tiniest inflateable kayak you could get!
Legs overboard, there's just enough room for our butts to squeeze in. Try paddling like this for an hour and not loose all sensation below the waist! We've each got out pack rammed between our legs, boots shoved underneath somewhere, the sleeping bags wedged under the front straps (in a waterproof boat bag, of coarse. Soaked down is not cool) and 2 lawn chairs, yes -LAWN CHAIRS, under the rear strap behind Andre.
Arrival at Widgeon Creek Campsite

The paddling leg now over, we pile ourselves out of the boats and gear up for the 9 km hike. We deflated the two inflatable, hid them in the bush and also secured Ian's kayak. Ian had to re-pack all his gear from boat bags into his backpack, and Andre and I had to each strap a lawn chair to our pack that we were intent on taking up (and leaving there) for added Kamp Komfort! (There are already two old lawn chairs on the rock-camp, but very weathered and falling apart as they'd been left exposed on the rock. We store our in a garbage bag in a protected area under the rock).

Andre and I pull ashore, Norm reclines in the boat while Ashley and Cary stand by. The Widgeon Slough is affected by the tide, which is quite low in this photo
All assembled and ready to tackle the wilderness, lawnchairs and all! L-R: Trudel, Ian, Andre, Cary, Ashley, Norm & Jeremy at his master's feet.
The Hike

The first six kilometers or so are along a gradually ascending old logging road, now quite grown in. Massive, ancient maple trees tower over the road for the first kilometer, their huge canopy giving complete shelter from the sky. Each tree seems almost its own ecosystem, covered in various ferns and mosses so that not even a trunk is visible.

The last three kilometers of the trail ascend dramatically, especially the last kilometer. The first part of the ascent is along a steep inclining skidder road through slash and second growth, then there is an abrupt transition into stands of old growth. At this abrupt transition the trail becomes near vertical, and though a great trail by our standards, some will swear this section is hardly a trail at all.

Andre, Ian and Ashley make their way over a fallen cedar. The trail leads up and over this giant, and is the marker of the "gateway" from the second growth to the steep uphill and old growth.
Arrival at Widgeon Lake

We arrived around 5:30 to find the lake shrouded in low clouds. Where the trail passes close to the shore, we hopped out along the large rocks to our usual "gathering rock" - a long, flatish rock sloping gently into the water. This spot always makes a perfect spot to inflate whatever pool dinghy has been brought along, get changed if necessary and apply lots of anti-bug lotions (except me - I won't touch any bug-stuff unless they're so bad that they're crawling in my eyes and ears).

Ian had brought along a small one-man pool dinghy, and Andre had packed along our small yellow two-person, even though we had the canoe stashed in the bush from the previous year. Andre, Ashley and Norm set out to find the canoe, while Ian, Cary and I inflated the pool dinghies.

Fourty-five minutes later and the canoe had still not been located! Considering the 45 minute paddle across the lake to our Widgeon Rock, daylight was now beginning to become an issue. Cary, Ian and I decided we would paddle ourselves and our packs over to the rock (to which neither guys had been before), then Ian would paddle back for the others towing the two-man boat.

Descending to the lake. In case you noticed and you're wondering, that's an electronic bug-zapping racquet strapped to Andre's pack.
Arrival just before dusk. The bugs have arrived too, and Ashley, Andre and Cary apply bug-lotion, while I hold out and Norm takes in the scenery.

It's always a bit nerve-wracking paddling an overloaded vinyl pool-dingy across a deep, cold mountain lake, especially when there's a bit of chop on the water. It's not easy fitting two adults and two huge packs, plus boots and other loose odds 'n ends into one of those things, and we always end up having to sit on the outer "pontoon". It took us almost an hour, but finally we made it. We unloaded the vessels, Cary and I hoisted all the stuff up to the rock while Ian went back for Andre, Ashley, Norm and Jeremy.

About 15 minutes later it was almost completely dark and out of the dusk we could hear all of the others' voices. They had finally located the canoe, loaded themselves, the packs and the dog in and were about halfway across when they met up with Ian. They transferred the packs to the tow-vessel and made it to the small bay below the rock before Ian.

Days 2 - 4

We hit a bit of a bad-weather spell for this trip, though not as bad as it could have been. We were pretty much fogged in the entire time and had the occasional bit of rain. We kept a fire going from arrival until departure, and speaking for myself I was pretty sick of smoke by the end of the four days. Everything stank of campfire smoke, even the tent had to be washed from all the ash that kept blowing onto it.

We made the best of the time we had, mainly relaxing, taking the odd paddle around the lake, snoozing by the fire, in the tent or in a boat, reading, eating and going into the water for a quick swim now and then. Brrrrrr.

Group relaxation time. Yes, that is a tall drop-off next to Cary and Norm. Thirty feet and rock below. Now this is living on the edge!
Enjoying the luxuries of our hard labour. The chairs were worth it, and the 2 pound telescope and tripod were good for passing the time as well. Though we constantly had to be careful not to knock it over. Six people, a dog, three tents and all those chairs make for crowded quarters!
Team Work

Yep, we all want a fire so's we all gots to pitch in! Cary, Ian and I saw away while Ashley brings up more wood and Norm scouts the area.

Workn' fer wood. This is what Canadians do on their holidays. And what Americans do when their Canadian cousins talk them on a Canadian holiday.
Aaaahhh, the rewards of hard work!
A backyard view of our Widgeon Rock Camp. As you can see, it is about 8 feet to climb up from the back, though a good 30 feet on the remaining three sides. Click the photo to see the full size image.
Ian grimmaces, Ashley & Cary grin. So you're thinking - there must be a story behind this. Other than I'm married to a flasher, there isn't one. The boring truth of it was, Andre was just trying to warm up his backside by the fire, without burning it, after a much too lengthy swim in the cold lake.
Enjoying the evening's campfire (and the comfy chairs!!!)
Ian and Ashley return from a highly successful salmon berry scouting mission from the far end of the lake (the area visible between the two). There were the biggest salmon berries any of us had ever seen, the average one could have fit over a large thumb!
Andre and Ashley push off in the SS Widgeon to take her back to her hiding spot.
So here ends another Widgeon Lake experience. The boat well hidden, we hiked back down and made our way across the slough, back to the cars and our real lives in the city.

To read about and see the photos of the voyage where we hiked the canoe up to the lake, click here.

My boots and pack sit next to the SS Widgeon, still with the poles lashed on from carrying her up to the lake.