Wells Gray Provincial Park | Canoeing Murtle Lake: Pt. 1

Song in Headphones: Renegades

A Prologue |

It’s 5:30 am. Peeled out of my sleeping bag, I crawl out of my tent; refreshed, awake and grateful. The sun and the beautiful swainson’s thrush was my alarm this morning. It’s crisp outside, almost cold; cold enough to throw on a fleece. I look out onto the water that’s lightly coated with fog – it’s going to be a hot day. I go to my dish bin and grab my stove, gas, and tea. While crystal clean lake water boils away, I take a moment and look out at the lake. It comes across as mysterious; something I have yet to discover. This land is endless, and I’ve already accepted the fact I will only be able to see a small percentage in the next couple of days. Nonetheless, I stare; blankly. For once in the longest time I am able to think of nothing. My mind is absolutely clear. There isn’t a “To-Do” list to be found wandering inside my head. No phones, no calendars, no nothing that usually occupies my sane mind. My brain is resting, it’s at peace. My water is ready. I let it softly boil away for another minute just to be safe. While it bubbles, I grab my mug and tea. Loose leaves fall sporadically into my metal filter, and I place it into my cup. The hot water quickly heats my metal mug and I can’t hold it without burning myself. I set it aside to cool. Zoning out into the pinky haze, I remind myself why dawn is the most beautiful time of day.

I grab my mug; it’s warm now. I take a sip and swallow the delicious mix of ginger and orange peel. I tiptoe down to the sand were my chair sits, take a seat and lean back into it. My friend the Loon floats on by, cawing it’s hypnotic sound. Between that loon and the miniature waves washing up to shore, the ambience resembled a solitudes CD. I close my eyes and entangled my fingers around the mug. Again, I remember where I am in the world.

Folks, I’m on Murtle Lake.

murtle 1Looking at a map of British Columbia, if you look about half way up the Province, you’ll see Well’s Gray Provincial Park to the east. 524,990 hectares in size, this park is a gigantic place to explore. Murtle Lake is North America’s Largest paddle-only lake (which makes for it’s clear, pristine water). The lake itself is broken up into two sections: The West Wing and the North. We decided to take on the west for this trip.

Screen shot 2015-07-04 at 7.46.03 AM

This adventure started a couple of months ago when planning came into play. Three months later, all 8 of us were on the lake; finally getting to see the real beauty of this place. Googling images of Murtle Lake was something I swore to myself I wouldn’t do pre-trip – was I ever glad I didn’t. I don’t think I would have had the same reaction/experience I had seen pictures.

Day 1 | Vancouver to Blue River 

Waking up at 5 wasn’t out of the norm for me (sadly I know). But having to wake up and drive 7 hours was a whole other routine I wasn’t used to. This was also going to be the longest drive I’ve ever taken Ariel on (she’s my 1999 Rav4).

murtle 2

Anyways, after gathering everyone together and playing an extreme game of Tetris in our car trunks, we hit the number 5 and headed north. First stop was in Hope for an obligatory DQ ice cream – omnom. We continued on to Kamloops and then finally to the “oh-so-Canadian” town of Blue River where all 8 of us piled into a big teepee for the night. Tomorrow we were to get an early start to finally begin our canoeing adventure.
Day 2 | Blue River to Sandy Point Campsite (Murtle Lake) 

Today was the day. Sports bra on, sandals, and sunnies – I was ready to go. The Blue River Camp group is nicely situated about a 40-minute drive from Murtle Lake. From the campground you take a long and tedious logging road until the parking lot. We arrived to the lot around 9:30 and unloaded our beautiful pack job (we were getting better everyday).

Another nice thing about Murtle Lake is that the parking lot isn’t situated right by the water. There is a 2.5 Km portage trail you must take in order to reach the boat launch. Kindly, they provided these pull carts to load and carry all your gear (because believe me — we had a shit load of stuff). Looking around the parking lot, all we could see was 1 wagon…this wouldn’t do the job. Before we knew it, Daniel and I were sprinting the 2.5 km to the boat launch to pick up two more carts. Woo – 5 Kilometers done and the day hadn’t even started.

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It was 10:15 by the time we hit the portage, and agonizingly trudged our gear to the boat launch. Murtle Lake has a rule where you must be at the launch by 11 in the morning or you miss the rangers and are unable to set sail. As you can tell, time was of the essence. I’m not lying when I tell you we made it to the launch at 11 exactly. We were all pretty wiped by the time we got there.

Around 12, we were all loaded into our canoes and finally set sail. Since the afternoon was approaching, the winds usually get pretty uppity. We all agreed that we wouldn’t do too much paddling this first day (just to beat the wavy weather).

And hour and half went by and our first campsite was in view: Sandy Point. There is no exaggeration of this campsites name. The sand here is the kind you’d find in Hawaii – seriously. In the movie I made, I have some footage of this beautiful campsite.

PicMonkey Collage

It was the 8 of us and another couple who shared the site that night. The afternoon was filled with reading, canoeing around, building a fire and consuming the ever-so delicious “make your own” pizzas (kindly provided by Amelia and Janine). Paddling to Tropicana campsite was on the agenda for tomorrow. It was going to be one of the longer paddles we’d do on the trip (a total distance of 9 km) so you’d understand why we all hit the hay around 11:30.

Day 3 | Sandy Point to Tropicana 

During the entirety of this trip, the weather was super nice. We really lucked out on this trip. It might not sound all the bad that every morning we had to pack up everything again, pile it into the canoes and take off to another site. After a couple of early mornings, it gets pretty exhausting. Our departure-time goal every morning average to be around 8:30.

We left sandy point to beautifully calm water and minimal wind. Today we were heading to Tropicana Campsite (as you can imagine, it looked exactly the way it sounded!) In the direction we were paddling, Central Mountain sat all massive to the right, and to the left, a bushy shoreline of old coniferous trees where ospreys called home. T

here were multiple times while on Murtle I would find myself thinking about what my life was like 72 hours ago back in Vancouver. Phones would be ringing all the time, and the day would be over before I knew it. Murtle brought back the serenity and tranquility I needed in my life.

About 2 hours later and stopping for a quick lunch at Arthurs Campsite, we made it to Tropicana! As you’re paddling towards the site, you can see in the distance the beautiful sand spit. We were all too excited. The scenery here really comes from the name. It’s literally a tropical paradise…for BC.

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Again we had a beautiful, sunny afternoon of pure relaxation. I split open my perfect papaya, and constructed a 5 minute volleyball net made out of two paddles and rope (booya). A few of us played a good two hours of beach volleyball. I was pretty beat by the end. The rest of the afternoon consisted of plunging into the frigid, leech-infested lake and drying off in my hammock. Dinner was the delicious Mie Goreng prepared by Daniel. We really lucked out the fact we could build a fire every night. A week following our return home, BC announced its fire ban for the summer.

These first three days seemed the longest – but in a good way. We still had 4 more nights on the lake! I didn’t want the trip to end. For more footage of this trip, check our the little movie I put together here! You’ll get a sneak peek to what’s in the part 2 blog post I’m going to post tomorrow!

Stay adventurous, stay curious,

Charlotte xo

Have you every been to Murtle Lake? Recommend any other trips like this I should do? Let me know if the comments below!

~ All Ideas and Shenanigans are Property of hiatushunnie.com ~

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Moritz says:

    Wow, this looks like such an amazing experience. The countryside looks stunning! I’m sure you enjoyed these views to the utmost :)

    1. Charlotte says:

      It was quite a trip! Definitely enjoyed all of the views. I almost ran out of room on my camera!

      1. Moritz says:

        Fully understandable. With such great views, I would have spended hours taking pictures :)

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