Monday, August 18, 2014

A long fun weekend at Murtle Lake Provincial Park

Now for something completely different - Canoeing adventures at Murtle Lake

British Columbia is full of beautiful quiet places to enjoy nature that are not accessible by a vehicle.  Recently, I got to go on a Caledonia Ramblers hiking club trip to Murtle Lake Provincial Park.  Murtle Lake is located 100 km South of Valemont, on Highway 5.  It is the largest non-powered lake in North America!  All the campsites and trail heads are only accessible by canoe or kayak

There are many campsites scattered about the park, and they are only accessible by canoe.

After driving from Prince George to Blue River, we stayed at a hotel for the night so we could leave bright and early for the trail head to the lake.  When we arrived to the trail head parking lot, we loaded all our gear onto carts.  We would be portaging them 2.5 km to the lake.  Many people also portage in a canoe, but since we were a bigger group, we decided to rent them at the lake.

While waiting for the Park Ranger to come and hand us over the boats we had rented, trip leader Brendan gave a briefing of the upcoming day.

Murtle Lake is a busy lake, especially on a BC Day long weekend.

Then the ranger came and we got our canoes.  It was time to load them up.  I packed really light, with a backpacker frame of mind, but I could have brought a few more 'luxury' items.   I must remember that next time.

Soon, we were on our way.  We had to canoe 2 km out of the lagoon into the actual lake.  Brendan was worried that the lake would be choppy.

But as we entered the lake, we found it much calmer then the lagoon.  Of course, the lake conditions could change at any time.  But we lucked out and it was in our favour the whole way!

After canoeing for 2 hours over a distance of 10 km, we arrived at the Strait Creek Group Campsite.  There are quite a few other group campsites around the lake, but this was the closest one to our planned hike up Wave Crest Peak, that we planned for the next day.  Yes, as this is a Caledonia Ramblers HIKING club, there's got to be the mandatory hike of the trip!

Next morning we left very early to start our hike up the Wave Crest Trail, in order to beat the extreme heat.  It actually wasn't that hot going up as it was when we canoed into the campsite the day before.  But it still was very humid.  There was going to be some thunderstorms, our trip leader, who also happens to be a meteorologist predicted.  (And he was correct, we spotted some up top and in the late evening, in the distance, but we never got wet)  It was still so hot, that my bag of M&Ms was a bag of liquid chocolate and nuts.

Apparently the sign is very tasty to animals
 After 4 hours of climbing, we made it up to the Alpine.  We stopped for some lunch by a cairn.  While there, we all signed a trip log that was left there. 
Lovely Alpine!

What's Nancy up to by the snow?

Nancy wants an August Snowball Fight

After lunch, we took some photos and planned for the rest of the trip to the end of the trail.  That was, until one member saw a brown spot on the ridge below. A Grizzly bear.  We all ran back where we came from, well, except for, I did the silly tourist thing and quickly took a photo of the bear who was actually going away from us.  Even though there was 7 in our group, it was best not to stick around.
Looking closely at the photo at the campsite, we noticed a cub in the shot

Bear was in the photo before we knew it was even there.
 That was the end of the hike.  Brendan thought that it would be better if we head back where we came from.  I wouldn't let that stop you from going up into the Alpine though.  I would recommend carrying some bear spray, not hiking alone, and keeping an eye/ear out on the surroundings.  The Park Ranger did actually warn us about there being a Mother and cubs on the ridge, so seeing them wasn't a complete surprise.

We arrived back at the campsite at a good time.  Lots of time for dinner and talking about the excitign day on the trail.

Next day, we headed back to the docks to drop off our boats and carry our gear on carts to the vehicles.   Again, the water conditions were mostly good. After loading our vehicles with our gear, we drove out to Blue River and had a big celebratory lunch.  While enjoying some dinner I 'lost' a chocolate  bar that I had just bought.  It turns out that it was on top of Brendan's head!  Gosh, did I really fall for that?  I had even looked under the table suspiciously.  I might as well mention that I thought they heard me wrong when I ordered lunch.  I had ordered a burger with cheese, but then they brought a chicken with cheese, so I naturally thought that it was mine.  That was, until my burger came.  Oops!

After the jokes on me, it was time to drive home.  We all really loved this trip, and we want to go for a week next time, as it's so beautiful!   If you like to canoe and camp, Murtle Lake is a great lake to do just that!

Brendan, wrote a really good trip report with more fun stories, and you can read it now at  There is also a lot more photos to look at from me and the other hikers on the trip.

Please note:  If you are interested in canoeing or kayaking Murtle Lake, it is recommended that you have tandem loaded canoe experience, as it is not considered a beginner's lake.  The lake conditions can change suddenly.

Next Time, more biking in Jasper...

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