Into the Wilderness day three: the songs of the Bowron boatmen

bowron lakes

Bowron Lakes

The Bowron saga continues… It’s about 4:30 in the morning [June 30,2013], I awake to a chorus of birdsong. For a moment I am transported back in time to Trinidad, my home and native land, where birdsong was the wake up call.  The birds seem to be saying: “This is the day that the Lord has  given, we are rejoicing in it. Wake up and rejoice with us!” I listen to the birds trying to outdo one another for songster of the morning.  As suddenly as it had begun the chorus is over – the birds had moved on.  Back in Trinidad the chorus would be an all day affair.

We crawl out of our tents around 6:30 am. Breakfast; break camp; load canoes.  We have traversed 54 km of the circuit.  Today promises to be another long hot day.  Our goal is to reach the cook shelter at Pat’s Point, midway along Spectacle Lake. The first leg of the journey is a portage around “The Chute” followed by a short paddle on a  section of the Isaac River.  A second portage takes us around  Isaac Falls.

Isaac Falls

Isaac Falls

We take a small detour to view the falls – a mighty cataract. On to Mcleary Lake. A short paddle brings us to the Cariboo River.

At certain water levels the Cariboo River can be a challenge to negotiate because of deadheads, sweepers and logjams. On this day higher water levels mean we have no problems as we cruise down to Lanezi Lake. At 14.8 km Lanezi is the second largest lake on the circuit.  Wind can be an issue on Lanezi but today the wind is behind us. We arrive at the Turner Creek cook shelter, midway along Lanezi, about midday.  The views of the lake and surrounding mountains are

Lanezi Lake

Lanezi Lake

spectacular.   The shelter itself is the “Ritz Carlton” of shelters on the circuit.  It’s a good place to stop for lunch.   After Turner Creek in the heat of the day we begin to feel tired muscles from the previous two days.  We begin to sing: How great thou art; 10000 reasons; Amazing Grace.. Songs encourage the heart; they distract from the task at hand [paddling]. They are a source of rhythm.  In rhythm things seem to flow more smoothly; the work is ‘lighter’.  Singing has been used down through the years and in many cultures to lighten the load of  work.

We are on Babcock Lake paddling in roughly a straight line.  Looking over the side of the canoe we are moving sideways or are?  The mesmerizing quality of the sun shimmering off the rippled surface of the water is disorienting. Solution? Our focus has to be on the landmark in the distance indicating our destination not on our immediate circumstances.

canoes at spectacle

canoes at Spectacle Lake

We come to the end of Babcock Lake.  A short portage brings us to Skoi Lake.  It’s getting late in the day.  We can hear and see loons on the lake.  A short paddle brings us to the other side of Skoi and our final portage on the circuit [400m] to Spectacle Lake.  Our goal was to paddle another 1.5 hours to Pat’s Point cook shelter but everyone is exhausted.  There is a nice sandy beach, warm water and a fine campsite at the head of Spectacle Lake.  We pitch our tents for the night. We have traveled 45 km for our longest day. Two things standout for me at the end of this day: the importance of staying focused on the goal and not the immediate circumstances and the power of song to re-invigorate and lift the spirit. It’s dinner then sleep.  I can hear an owl hooting and the mournful, haunting, crazy call of the loons as I drift off to sleep.

spectacle sunset

Sunset at Spectacle Lake

Leave a comment. Pass it on. Thanks for sharing the journey.

Cliff {AMDG}

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One Response to Into the Wilderness day three: the songs of the Bowron boatmen

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