After a proper alpine start to the journey, leaving home at 3am got us on the waters of Kibbee Lake by early afternoon to start the famous Bowron Lakes canoe circuit. With our trusty Clipper loaded to the brim with essentials for the next week or so, we ventured into the storm that would more or less set the schedule for the entire trip. The first day passed in a haze of caffeine and awe, while we dragged our canoe through the circuit's most grueling portages into Indian Point Lake where we'd rest our heads for night one.
After knocking off the rest of Indian Point Lake we portaged a relatively easy pass to the largest body of water on the circuit, Isaac Lake. Reputations of this lake's scenic beauty proceeded our arrival, and the mountains only got bigger and closer as we pressed through the valley over the coming days.
A long day on the water brought us through the entire west arm and a good stretch into the lake's main arm, where we were happy to find another empty campsite complete with an extensive beach and massive mountain views.
Setting out to tackle the main arm of Isaac Lake on day three after a late start of drying out gear, and multiple underwhelming instant coffees on a remote sunny beach at the foot of the Caribou Mountains.
No foothills here. Travelling directly under giant peaks plummeting sharply into the deep abyss beneath our paddles left us speechless, the backdrop changing with each stroke and revealing new vantages of wild slabs of rock, reaching for the sky in all directions.
Armed with a grim looking weather report for the trip's remaining days we soaked up the day's sunshine and sampled many beckoning beaches along the way, pulling into our third and final secluded site just as the horizon's colours started firing.
We headed the warnings of the darkening sky and got shelter dialed before dipping into some of California's finest boxed wine under the sunset.
The southern end of Isaac Lake features the Caribou Mountains at the their finest and waterfalls abound to either side, still being fed in early September by melting snow and ice from some of the park's higher pitches.
Roughly 38 kilometres down the lake we met our next portage, traversing alongside the Isaac River through a magical forest of rich vegetation and only a single ribbon of trail, snaking through the vibrant moss covering absolutely everything in sight.
Out of the woods and back on the water, Isaac River drains into McLeary Lake before reaching the Caribou River, where a quick current provided a fun ride that kept us on the edges of our seats and our cameras securely packed away. The river spat us into the western shore of Lanezi Lake, which has the reputation of high winds and rowdy weather. Jesus rays poking through the clouds seemed to promise safe passage so we pressed on into the belly of the beast, a decision we'd revisit often in the coming hours.
The wind rolled in hard and fast without warning and the mountains roared thunders of disapproval, lightning piercing the blackening skies and whitecaps breaking over the gunwales on every second or third stroke. Finally the forest broke and presented us with a nasty shoreline of jagged rocks, devouring the sides of our boat as we used every bit of strength and balance we had left to hauled our vessel out of harm's way. Huddled under a tiny tarp converted to driftwood a-frame we waited out the storm, which broke in the early evening with an hour of daylight left to find somewhere dry to camp.
Waking up to torrential rain over calm waters at Lanezi Lake's virtuously placed Turner Creek shelter, we packed up our mostly saturated belongings and battened down the hatches on the boat to finish off Lanezi and find calmer waters to the west.
Arriving at Sandy Lake as the clouds parted and blue skies lit up the surface of the vibrant water, we turned to shore and set up early; complete with giant tarp and clotheslines to dry out our gear alongside our spirits.
After a couple days of setbacks we were a little behind schedule and day six was looking like a monster, we were in the water bright and early to finish Sandy Lake and the next stretch of the Caribou River, into scenic Una Lake.
On Una Lake we beached the boat and cached our food before heading into the woods towards the top of the 24 metre Caribou Falls. Warnings of both bears and a habituated moose in the area had us looking over our shoulders as we traversed through terrain which we both agreed would make prime territory for either, or both giant mammals.
Standing atop these thunderous falls we bid the Caribou River farewell, before retracing our steps back up the trail, out of Una Lake and back up the river, and into Babcock Creek towards the final couple portages.
At Skoi Lake the clouds closed in and darkened as we travelled into the rain that would be our constant companion until we reached the comfort of home a day later.
Rowing into one of the last sites on the circuit on night six, the park now comparatively teeming with weekend traffic, we were greeted with a raging fire on the northern tip of Swan Lake. Camped just shy of where the Bowron River takes control, day seven took us through this waterway and into the eponymous Bowron Lake, where cottages and powerboats began to fill the horizon for the first time since pushing off into the wilderness a week previous. And waiting at the end of that final waterway, literally a beacon from the storm; dry clothes and seat heaters.