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Dan in his Pygmy kayak

At our first rest stop on day two, Dan in his home-build Pygmy Coho.  We were continually fascinated by the clarity of the water.

On our first day we did the first portage, kayaked Kibbee Lake, did the second portage, and finally camped about 2/3 of the way down Indian Head Lake.  At our campground, we were the only people, which would be the case for about half of our nights.  We were struck by the quiet and total absence of mechanical noise.  As the dark set in, we could hear the Elk bugleing for mates in the surrounding mountains.  Later, a steady rain fell, which fortunately ended by sunrise.

Filtering water

Filtering water from a fast flowing creek.  We enjoyed excellent water throughout the trip.

Cariboo Rapids, Dan

Dan running the Isaac Rapids, the only class II rapids on the trip.

Video of Dan in Cariboo Rapids   These videos will open in a new window or new tab.  Go back to this window to continue the story.
Video of Rem in Cariboo Rapids
Video of Don in Cariboo Rapids
On our second day we finished Indian Head Lake and did the third portage uphill to Isaac Lake.  We were now at the highest elevation of the trip.  From here, our lakes would be progressively lower.  Some lakes would be connected by the Isaac and Cariboo rivers, and others would be linked by short portages or grassy canals.

Isaac Lake is the longest lake in the circut, was fully 23 miles long.  From our third portage the lake took us east for three miles, directly to the base of the Rocky Mountains, and then turned south and ran along towering mountains for 20 miles.  We camped our second night just past the turn in the lake. 

On day three, we paddled 16 miles to the southern end of Isaac Lake.  This was the farthest that any of the three of us had paddled in a day, but the magnitude of the mountains made the time go by quickly.  At the end of he lake, the trail enters the Isaac River descending through a small stretch of class II rapids.  Our chosen campground was right at the rapids, so we unloaded the boats and then ran the narrow chute into the river.  It was great fun.

This campground was large and featured a coverd cook shelter with a pot bellied wood stove.  Since it was sprinkling intermitently, we enjoyed the opportunity to cook under cover and to hang up some gear to dry.  We were joined by a group of about eight canoe paddlers.  They were a group which regularly climbed the mountains of Washington and Oregon, but had decided to vary their routing by paddling the Bowron Lakes.  They were very well organized and we enjoyed their company.

Day 4 started by doing a run down the Isaac River for one half mile to a short portage which would get us around some waterfalls on the river. The portage ended at McCleary Lake.  It had rained all night and it was raining as we broke camp and went down the river.  On McCleary Lake is an old miner's cabin which is available for paddlers to use.  It was empty when we got there, and after a short debate, we decided to take the day off and dry out gear.  We lit the wood stove and turned the little cabin into a sauna.  We soon had gear hanging everywhere, and while it drizzled outside, we enjoyed the warmth insided.

3 kayaks at portage

Our boats put up for the night at the campground at Isaac rapids.

Cook shelter

Dan enjoying a bit of warmth at the cook shelter.  On days when paddlers are pinned down by bad weather, it is customary to carve momentos to hang in the several shelters and cabins on the lakes.

Looking wet

Starting the portage around the Isaac Lake waterfalls, we were feeling a lot like wet cats.

Portaging across the creek

Rejoining the Isaac River for a short paddle into McCleary Lake.

McCleary Cabin 1

Drying gear at the McCleary Lake cabin.

McCleary Cabin 2

Rem inside the McCleary cabin.

McCleary cabin 3

Leaving the McCleary cabin on day 5 under a low ceiling.

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