It’s been way too long since I’ve spent a night in a sleeping bag, so last Saturday afternoon I launched my kayak onto Alouette Lake in Golden Ears Park.
The inflowing anabatic wind was funnelled and accelerated into a strong breeze by the lakeside mountains. So I was able to sail and paddle-sail my way to the lake’s north end in about three leisurely hours. With blue skies above and the soft sighs of cats-paws on the water, it was lovely going.
Located just an hour’s drive from Vancouver, and even closer to communities in the Fraser Valley, Alouette attracts swarms of power boaters, some of whom are there to party. Sure enough, as I approached the northeast camping beach, I spied two vastly over-engined craft already pulled up, their cargo of beer, boomboxes and motley crews disgorged onto the sand. Camping options are few on the rocky shores at this end of the lake, so I landed to suss things out. Encouraged by the dearth of visible tents, I politely enquired where I could set up mine without disturbing them, and was assured they were just daytripping. They were quite friendly in their own well-lubricated way.
So I made camp to a rocking sound track of modern country music. The linking theme of the songs was redneck pride, each greeted by affirmative rebel yells from the booze cruisers. Odd, since I wasn’t convinced that any of the wannabe country boys knew which end of a horse the hay goes in.
My timing was good. Shortly after I’d finished pitching the tent, inflating the sleeping mat, and assembling my super-comfortable new Wallaby chair, Team Two-Four piled into their floating phallic symbols and shot off. Together with three canoeists who were also camping there, I drank in the restored silence.
Later, these fellow paddlers kindly shared their fire, and made room in their cooler for me to chill my own modest brace of beers.
In companionable good cheer, we watched the moon rise over the eastern mountains.
As always, the exercise and fresh air meant I slept better in my tent than I ever do at home.
Paddling back to the take-out on Sunday involved a bit more work, as I was now breasting into the inflow winds. But by hugging the shore, I was able to dodge the worst of it. And the views were spectacular. I landed a bit before five in the afternoon, vastly restored by my twenty-eight hour escape.