Canoe and Camp Two Hours From Vancouver

Canoe and Camp Two Hours From Vancouver
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Can you think of a more Canadian adventure than canoeing down the great rivers and lakes of British Columbia? The great news is it's actually way easier than you think to organize a weekend trip with relatively little experience. Here’s a weekend itinerary to take the stress out of your trip with little effort, tons of fun, and only the stars at night for company.

Quick Facts Time from Vancouver: 2 hours Two Day Rental: $150 for 2 person canoe. Trip Length: 2 days Paddler Experience: Novice
The Adventure Begins You begin your trip by paddling West across the South End of Harrison lake, until after about 30 minutes you hit the river mouth. For most of us canoeing is an occasional past-time, so by this point you'll already feeling those new muscles burning. Fear not though, as you venture down the Harrison River and explore the coves and eddies, admire the wondrous secluded cabins, and debate the names of the wildlife none of you really know, this pain will soon be forgotten. Paddling the River From here the river flows South West and is gentle and slow moving which makes it ideal for any level of paddler. Wind is likely to be your only enemy, so be sure to ask the rental shop for their opinion before you start. You'll probably have the wind with you in one direction, and against you in the other. Take your time exploring the rocky sidings and wildlife and keep going for about an hour until the river opens up into a wide expanse of water, met on both sides by the mountain slopes tumbling into the river.
Fighting the Reeds After another couple of hours you'll meet a junction in the river (see the map at the bottom). Take the right hand junction, a smaller tributary which over a period of a couple of kilometers will turn you through about 150 degrees to face North East. Depending on the time of year this area can be fairly overgrown with reeds. It's very easy to begin down what looks like a tributary, distracted by your partners apparent lack of effort, or the constant circles you find yourself going in. It is possible to push your way through these reeds, though you may find it easier to go round until you find the correct path. With a little luck, you'll find the small channel which leads to Morris Lake, another 40 minutes or so through the reeds.
Morris Lake You’ll reach a small lake with a steep rugged cliff face on the far side. On old burnt out car lies at the bottom of the cliff, not important in itself but is a good marker as to where the camp site is (at the top of the cliff). To the left of the bottom of the cliff you’ll find a shallow and convenient exit point where you can hop out easily from your canoes. If you’ve got a big lock with you, you may be able to find a tree down here at the bottom to lock up your canoes for the night. If not, we chose to carry the canoe’s in pairs upto the campsite. Campground To get to the campsite, follow the path up from the exit point until you reach the gravel road (about 3 mins). Turn right and walk along the road for about a minute until you spot an opening on the right, which will lead you after about 30 seconds to scenic camp spot at the top of the cliffs. It’s likely you won’t see anyone else so make yourself at home – a hammock would work well at this spot!

A Night with Nature

A night here really does connect you with the wilderness. When we camped here we sat on the cliff top until midnight or so with a beer in hand, listening to what we think were two moose in the forests below, calling intermittently to each other as they got closer and closer throughout the night. The camp site is in the middle of nowhere, although a small dirt road does pass by so there’s a chance of visitors!

Paddling Back Up The River

The paddle back up the river is likely to take you significantly longer than on day 1, since the river is now flowing against you. Add to that wind that’s often blowing down from the lake and you’re in for a decent slog. Stay close to the banks to avoid the wind as much as possible. Once you get to the lake you may find it surprisingly windy. Again stay close to the shore and take breaks at the many little beaches along the way as you make your way back to the rental shop.

Hints and Tips for this Adventure

Overnight Canoe Rental: Unless you specifically ask, most places in BC won’t advertise an overnight canoe rental. Objections or hesitations in giving you a canoe overnight will be down to experience or group size. If you've canoed a little before, and go as a minimum of two boats you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. That way they know there’s other people around should you get into trouble. Killer's Cove Rentals at Harrison Lake rental provides you with everything you need, from the boat, safety, waterproof bags for your essentials, paddles, buoyancy aids and ropes.

Arrival Time: If you can get across to Harrison on a Friday night, you’ll be able to take it easy on the Saturday morning.

Campsites: Check out the below campsite just to the eastern side of the lake.

What to Bring: It’s surprising how much kit you can fit into a canoe, You’ll be fine with two people in a canoe, each with both a big (70L) and small (30L) hiking rucksack. But again remember everything you take with you camping, you bring back. The waterproof bags they give you are great as a precaution, though you may just want to put everything in black trash bags just in case. At the very least make sure you keep your sleeping bag and a change of clothes dry. You can sleep in a wet tent, but you can’t sleep in a wet sleeping bag.

Canoeing Basics: Here’s a useful video with the basics of tandem canoeing:

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