The Urban Oarsman rows Burnaby Lake

The Burnaby Lake Row, February 13, 2013

The Burnaby Lake row involved a lot of planning.

I went to Burnaby Lake looking for a launch site.  I first checked the Rowing Pavilion.  It seemed like a natural.  Where better to launch a rowing boat than at the Rowing Pavilion?  Sadly, the Pavilion is not set up for visiting rowboats.  It is set up for those “Racing rowers”…. And maybe canoeists too.

 The ramp to the Rowing Pavilion float.

The ramp to their float is only 53″ wide.  Gwragedd Annwn’s beam is 60″.   Only hand carried boats can be launched there.  Any boat on a trailer (or Gwragedd Annwn on her dolly) will not be able to use the Rowing Pavilon’s facilities.  I must find another launching site.

I down-load the Burnaby Lake park map from the City of Burnaby web site:

Fortunately I have read “The Vancouver Paddler”, by Glen Steadham, 1990, and he tells of a launch site by the bridge that goes over Still Creek.  He says to put in beside the bridge.  The trail goes North to the site from the parking lot behind the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex. The bridge is for the Cottonwood trail on the North side of the lake.

The Still Creek Bridge is in the North West corner of the map, next to the Question Mark.  I park in the Lot marked with a red circle with a P in it.

I check out the site on my way home from work:

 The Cottonwood trail Bridge over Still Creek.  There is twenty-eight inches of clearance under the bridge at the South end.  A very tight fit for Gwragedd Annwn to go under.

 The area is a Crow Rookery.

A plan is hatched.  I will  put Gwragedd Annwn on my boat trailer, then put her on to her launching dolly, wheel her down the trail to the bridge, slip her into the water on the Burnaby Lake side of the Bridge, and row downstream on Still Creek into Burnaby Lake.

Gwragedd Annwn at the parking lot behind the Burnaby Lakes Sports Complex.  She is backwards on her trailer, being loaded onto her launching dolly for the trip to the Bridge over Still Creek.

Gwragedd Annwn being launched into Still Creek down a beaver channel beside the Still Creek Bridge.  As with the Rowing Pavilion’s ramp, she is a little beamy for the Beaver Channel, but, the mud makes for a fine lubricant and into the creek she goes.

 Here she is tied up to a tree while I take the dolly back to the FJ and chain it to the trailer.  There is not much clearance under the Bridge.  The bow flag and the stern mirrors will not fit under.  Downstream to Burnaby Lake it is!

I was not kidding about those pesky Beavers.  There are probably twenty beaver lodges (mounds) on the lake. It is wonder that there any trees left.

I take out my second down-loaded map showing the Streams and Creeks that flow into Burnaby Lake.  Looking at the map, it should be easy to find Deer Lake Brook or Coldicutt Creek and row up them to explore.  The map shows them to be as wide entering the Lake as Still Creek is.

 This is the Burnaby Lake map showing all of the streams that enter Burnaby Lake.  Looks as if there are twenty creeks to explore as well as the shoreline of the lake.
I am going to row down to the East end of the Lake and then look for creeks/streams to explore on the way back.

 Where Still Creek enters Burnaby Lake.  It is hard to tell that you are in the middle of an urban area, as , from the water all you really see are the trees surrounding the lake.  Note the Beaver mound on the right of the picture above the oar.  This was the first of the twenty or so that I saw.

 About Three-quarters of the way to Cariboo Dam, looking South-West towards Metrotown.  All in all, the Lake still has a wilderness feeling.  You just have to pretend that the Highway noise is merely the wind whispering through the trees.  At this point, the lake begins to narrow to the Still Creek exit.

I am coming up to where Skid Creek enters the Lake.

 Looking North-East towards where Still Creek exits Burnaby Lake to Cariboo Dam.

 The Eastern end of Burnaby Lake where Still Creek flows on to Cariboo Dam and then into the Fraser.  None of the City is visible from here.  Next stop Cariboo Dam.

Cariboo Dam, as far East as you can go.

The current was not too strong at this point.  My GPS read just under a knot.

The dam itself.  I did proceed past the warning sign to take this picture.  I now turn back, rowing west up Still Creek, Looking for Buena Vista Creek.  It will be the first creek to the South.

This is the North-West View with Gwragedd Annwn backed into Buena Vista Creek.  The mouth of the creek  looks passably wide, but it narrows and shallows quickly.  The channel here is not an oarspan wide.  I pop the oars out of the locks and pole Gwragedd Annwn up  the creek.

The view looking South East up the Creek.  At this point the creek is less than 10″ deep and the channel is narrowing.  As you can see, it is over grown and there are logs fallen across it.  I am only thirty feet of so up the creek and my progress is stopped.  Perhaps a canoe or a kayak could make it a little further.  I cannot step out of Gwragedd Annwn and pull her up the channel because the bottom is too mucky – it is loose peaty mud that grounds  the boat but will not support my weight.  

 The view of the North Shore of Burnaby Lake.  The streams that enter are not visible and the lake is too shallow to find where the creeks enter.  Once you get out of the rowing channel, the lake is not much more that a foot deep.  Skirting the shoreline, every now and then I find that I am stopped, having slowly run aground on the boggy bottom.

I cannot find where Deer Lake Brook enters the Lake.  The north-West corner is too shallow to row in.  I search for but cannot find the channel.  I give up and row past the pavilion and into Still Creek.

My FJ in the parking lot, photo taken as I row up Still Creek.

 The trail bridge over Still Creek.  I have to take my bow flag down, fold down the rowing mirrors and ship oars to pass under the bridge.

 I row on, up Still Creek.  I spot a Red-eared slider turtle sunning himself/herself on the North bank.  Unfortunately, the turtle goes into the creek before I can get a photograph.

 I row under the Sperling Avenue foot  bridge and spot the first barrier.

 This is the foot bridge over Still Creek at Sperling Avenue.  The barrier is just upstream of it.

The Barrier upstream of the Sperling Avenue footbridge.  I think that it is supposed to collect all the floating garbage coming down the creek.  Note all the flotsam upstream of the Barrier.  There is just enough space on the North side to manoeuver Gwragedd Annwn past.  By tipping her on her side, I pass the barrier.

The elevated walkway on the North Side of Still Creek.  It is part of the Central Valley Greenway trails.  I have also heard it called the Winston Overpass.

 Looking back (East) at the Kensington Avenue Bridge and the Kensington Urban Trail foot Bridge.

The footbridge is in the foreground

The next bridge is the one for Douglas Road.

 The Douglas Street Bridge with the Second barrier behind it.

Just below the Bridge, a hand throw West of the bridge, there are coins on the creek bottom.  Is this a lucky spot to wish?  I have found treasure on the row, but, I have no way to retrieve the booty.

 It is very hard to get a good picture of the treasure on the creek bottom.

These two coins looked like loonies.  I will have to come back with a net or perhaps a magnet.

 Passing under Douglas Road to the Second Barrier.

 The Second Barrier.  I have run out of time on this trip, I will have to come back another time to explore further up Still Creek.  I would like to row all the way up to the McDonald’s at Willington but it is 4:00pm and it will be dark by 5:30pm.  Short exploring days in the winter.  Time to turn back so I can be packed up by sunset.  I head back to the take-out spot.

 Leaving the Douglas Street Bridge behind.

Going back under the Kensington Urban Trail bridge and the Kensington Avenue Bridge.

 Slipping Gwragedd Annwn under the Cottonwood trail bridge .  Not much clearance.  I have to balance the boat by moving my body weight first to depress the bow and then the stern to squeeze under.

 Using a block and tackle to pull Gwragedd Annwn onto her dolly .

 On her dolly, ready for the trip to the parking lot to be loaded onto the road trailer.

Gwragedd Annwn on the road trailer, ready to be strapped down for the trip home.

A Google Earth picture of the trip.  Burnaby Lake is was not as overgrown as this picture shows.

The Urban Oarsman rows at dusk

Good Rowing,


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