Our program had been to fly into a chain of rugged and remote lakes in the Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park and traverse it by inflatable stand up paddleboard. On the other hand, British Columbia was facing the worst fire season it had ever observed, and the park had been closed most of the summer time due to nearby fires. When we showed up in nearby Bella Coola anyway, it was nonetheless closed.
The park is diverse in terrain and extends from the lush Bella Coola Valley up to the drier Chilcotin Plateau, resting at three,600 feet above sea level. The seven subalpine lakes of the Turner Lake chain consist of Hunlen Falls, the third highest waterfall in Canada. Obtaining there is complicated to say the least access is either by a rugged 16-mile hike or by floatplane.
Park rangers told us they didn’t see it opening anytime quickly. We stayed down in the valley for two days, watching grizzly bears feed on salmon (see sidebar under), and I kept checking the BC Parks webpage, holding on to hope. By a stroke of luck, on our third morning the park reopened. We got groceries, fuel, and caught a flight into Kidney Lake 3 hours later, just in time for sunset. Upon our arrival the pilot stated, “I feel you are in for some climate the subsequent handful of days.” And with that he took off into a storm cloud, leaving us 3 days to cross seven lakes and attain our pickup spot at the north finish of Turner Lake.
Given that the park had just opened up that morning, there have been no humans in the location at all. Everybody else had cancelled their reservations and produced other plans, leaving us in total solitude. Right after a morning hike in the location, we had a breezy paddle to the sandy shores of Widgeon Lake. On the other hand, our pilot was suitable about the climate, and my thought of a sunny, mellow paddling trip was quickly replaced with survival-mode thoughts about wind management and maintaining dry. How ironic, due to the fact we had spent the complete summer time praying for rain.
On our second morning, soon after a relatively sleepless evening due to howling winds that seemed to only get worse as the evening went on, we woke up to pouring rain. With pooling water encroaching on our tent, we hastily got our rain gear on at six a.m., packed up the tent, scarfed down a CLIF Bar, and got on the lake. The wind helped us cross Junker Lake, but the rain was persistent, and the overgrown bushy portages added to our soggy state. We continued on like that, hopping across tiny Vista and Cutthroat Lakes. That day we paddled/portaged for seven straight hours, fully saturated from the unrelenting rain.
Just as our hope of obtaining some dry shelter was diminishing, I saw some blue in the sky as we neared our subsequent campsite on the southern shores of Turner Lake. As quickly as we hit land, we stripped naked to place on dry clothing and let the sun’s rays warm our souls. We had overcome adversity, and now had one more day and a half of sunny paddling to finish off our trip.
Right after a wonderful sunset and starlit evening, we awoke to low fog on a glassy Turner Lake. With much less than four miles to paddle, we got to perform shortly soon after breakfast. The household stretch was a victory lap—a sunny, straight shot down the extended, narrow lake, with tiny detours to verify out tiny islands about the shorelines. After we reached our campground at the north finish of the lake, our paddling component of the trip was more than, but we nonetheless had a single final objective. A brief hike from our final campsite brought us to Hunlen Falls. At what seemed like the edge of the earth, water from the lake chain dropped a continuous 853 feet into the Bella Coola Valley under, and sooner or later joined the Atnarko River.
Right after a sunset viewing at the falls, we returned to our campsite to take pleasure in our remaining chocolate and whiskey. As the temperatures dropped and the stars came out, I noticed some aurora on the northern horizon, and we couldn’t resist acquiring out for a single final paddle beneath the stars. The subsequent morning, our pilot came in to retrieve us, and we would quickly be reunited with civilization. On our drive household, the smoke had cleared out about Williams Lake, exactly where just a week earlier it had covered the area in a thick haze. Rain had saved the day— and quenched our thirst for adventure.
Exploring about Bella Coola
There is no shortage of points to do in this vast, wild location of British Columbia. Right here are a handful of have to-see-and-do highlights.
- Paddle M Gurr Lake. Glacier Creek Outfitting rents paddleboards for this excursion and also gives guided paddleboard trips to the inlet and estuary. If you have a 4-wheel drive automobile, Blue Jay Lake is one more fantastic solution for a day trip.
- View grizzly bears. In September, Bella Coola is an internationally-renowned location for viewing grizzly bears feeding on salmon. The Belarko Wildlife Viewing Region has a cost-free viewing platform with employees and an electric fence. Or for a much more intimate view, take a look at the Tweedsmuir Park Lodge and go on a drift boat tour!
- Hike to Odegaard Falls. Down in the Bella Coola valley, a rugged drive can get you to a relatively brief hike to the lookout of the impressive Odegaard Falls. Note: 4 wheel drive is needed!
- Hike in the Rainbow Variety. An additional wonderful section of Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park, the Rainbow Variety gives a selection of hiking selections, from mild day hikes to moderate overnight trips.
- Pay a visit to the neighborhood of Bella Coola itself. On the coast in the Bella Coola Valley, this town is absolutely worth a take a look at! It gives lush scenery, fantastic views, and lots of tiny day hikes.
Connected: How to Pack for your Very first Overnight Paddleboard Trip
Written by Eric Poulin