Fresh Water Interlude: Paddling Pitt Lake

Wednesday May 23, 2018

An Osprey perched atop a piling

With a “long weekend” running from Wednesday to Friday, I wanted a trip that maximized paddling and camping time and minimized driving time. And it had been several years since I’d paddled nearby Pitt Lake. So less than an hour after leaving home, I was unloading the kayak and gear at Grant Narrows Regional Park. As I packed the ‘yak, I was surrounded by vast flocks of bird watchers. I recognized at least two common species: the Full-Breasted Matron and the Pale-Legged Lesser Warbler, identifiable by its Tilley head plumage and its distinctive call: “Shirley, where’s the sunscreen? Where’s the sunscreen?”

The paddler's eye view of a kayak sailMinutes after leaving the shore, I spotted an actual Osprey.

I got about half way along the deep water channel running along the dike when (as I’d hoped and planned) the afternoon inflow wind picked up enough to justify raising the Falcon Sail. The rest of the voyage was pretty much a free ride, with only the occasional brief paddle to clear a wind shadow.

Just before 5PM, I arrived at Osprey Creek. The south camping area was all tunnels beneath a dense thicket of trees, which promised to be dark and buggy. Plus, some power boaters had already set up camp there. They weren’t at home, but their spoor was plain: coolers too enormous even for canoes, bungalow-sized tents, and an inflatable pull-toy anchored just off shore.

I carried on a few hundred meters to the north camping site. No sign of other campers, but a challenge of a different sort: with the lake at exceptionally high water levels, there were no beaches. Driftwood logs piled against the shore formed a very effective barricade. Fortunately I found one slightly offshore log to act as a breakwater while I dismounted, then pulled my kayak directly up and over the other logs and onto the upland. No portage shuttles of boat or cargo – I simply unpacked things directly from the kayak as needed.

Smokie sausages on a stove top grillI had camp made and the Bavarian Smokies on my stove-top grill within a hour. The only hardship was that the warmish waters of the lake had made my beer merely vaguely cool instead of crisply cold. The horror, the horror!




A tent at night, lit up from inside

And so to bed…

Thursday, May 24, 2018

a panoramic view of Pitt Lake

A panorama of the view from my campsite

Having worked the body a bit yesterday, it was time to work the mind today. After a brunch of corned beef hash, I continued my re-reading of Daniel C Dennet’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. I’ve been a huge fan of Dennet since discovering Brainstorms in my university days. He’s a profound thinker, but able to explain his reasoning lucidly. (The skeptic in me thinks that if you can’t explain your ideas clearly, you may not have any clear ideas.)

a camper lounges in a beach chairThe only bit of physical work I did today was wading chest deep into the lake to pivot an incoming driftwood log that would otherwise have blocked my launch next morning. The dip in the water was quite refreshing.



Friday, May 25, 2018

On the water about 10AM, launching into a cool and cloudy morning. 

a petroglyph on a waterside cliffI crossed the lake to Cozen Point, finding, as I hoped to, several petroglyphs and the spectacular falls at Defrauder Creek. High water made landing to use my DSLR camera impossible at the falls, so I paddled up into the lee of a log and shot with my point and shoot. And as a bonus I discovered what I assume to be a donkey engine leftover from a logging operation.

petrogylphs or tagging?

petrogylphs or tagging?


The remains of a steam-powered Donkey engine

A waterfall cascades down the rocksNo free ride today – after over four hours of honest paddling, I landed just after 2:30PM at the take-out. And I was home on time to BBQ dinner for the family. It’s so cool that we have such a semi-wilderness trip opportunity right on Vancouver’s doorstep. 

A map of Pitt Lake, British Columbia, with kayak routes traced in red and blue

My route. Outbound in red, return in blue.

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