The Urban Oarsman, and three paddlers leave the rain of Vancouver and paddle & row into the sunshine of Pitt Lake
Heather and I arrive at the Grant Narrows boat launch. It is $15 for me to launch Gwragedd Annwn and free for car-topped kayaks. Paddlers get all the breaks. I also pay $20 for parking until Monday. The rain is just easing up.
We will paddle on the East side of the lake for the trip up, West side for the trip down.
I am packed and ready to go. After stepping the mast, I row Gwragedd Annwn up river to Pitt Lake. Heather is still packing her Coop Kayak.
The rain has stopped. The clouds are getting lighter to the South. Maciej and Sharron arrive as Heather departs Grant Narrows.
Raven Creek campground is about 10km uplake from Grant Narrows.
The South shore of the lake has a number of old log boom pilings. Three of them have been put to good use by Ospreys. Several of the pilings have nesting platforms on top of them.
The South end of Pitt Lake has the largest negatively accreting delta in the world, and Pitt Lake is the second largest fresh water tidal lake in the world. We will have to make sure to bring the kayaks above the high tide line. There is a dredged channel leading along the South shore and then up into the lake. With the high water and our shallow draft, we can Row & Paddle anywhere.
The rain has stopped completely. There is no wind. Ideal conditions for paddling.
Whenever you begin a paddle, things always get better….
Good weather is on the way!
Heather and I make it to the Raven Creek campground…Meanwhile…
Heather and I do not see Maciej and Sharron. The Raven Creek delta blocks our view of the South shore of the lake.
Maciej and Sharron arrive at Raven Creek. We are happy to see them.
We are all secure for the night. The kayaks pulled up and Gwragedd Annwn moored securely.
We make camp and make supper. The sun has dried everything out.
We have a modest campfire on the beach below the high tide line.
The tide does rise quite high. The evening tide is the “low” high and the morning tide is the “high” high. We have about 12″ or so to go before our camp floods.
The full moon tomorrow night will be the “Blue” moon and the tide will be at its highest then.
The tide is higher in the morning than it was last night.
The plan for Saturday is to paddle to Vickers Creek Campground, another 17km or so uplake (27km from the Grant Narrows launch).
For a moment, I think that I see a clue to the Giant Salamander mystery.
Perhaps another clue to the Giant Black Salamanders of Pitt Lake mystery…a miss-identified seal sighting.
As afternoon arrives, a slight breeze picks up. I decide to try sailing.
This is the idea…too windy to row, Sail. Not enough wind to sail, Row.
I put my rudder on, drop the leeboards and hoist my 104 square foot balanced lug sail for a downwind run.
We meet mid-lake. Heather, Maciej and Sharron are much faster in the kayaks and have checked out the Vickers Creek campsite. They say the beach is too jammed with drift logs for a landing.
They have also checked out Ashby Creek and have come to the same conclusion. We decide to check out the north end of Pitt Lake for a campsite.
The kayakers are so quick that they can check out the sites and have a break and meet me before I arrive at the North end of the lake.
Even under sail, the kayaks are still faster than Gwragedd Annwn. They will paddle up and scout for a campsite. If they do not find anything, they will return and we will try Vickers or Ashby…..
In his book “The Vancouver Paddler”, Glen Stedham says that there are sandy beaches near the mouth of Red Slough, on the Eastern shore suitable for camping. With Pitt Lake water level so high, will the beaches are under water?
Maciej decides to explore the Pitt River delta area for a campsite.
The camp is sandy, with willows sprouting. The tops of the willows have been eaten by Moose…In the sand, we see their hoof prints and their scat.
We hope that we do not get stepped on by browsing moose in the night.
I am using my wife’s Trangia stove, still going strong after all these years. This methyl alcohol stove burns silently, boils AND simmers well. Great stove. Lightweight…quiet as the wilderness itself.
We have solved the Giant Black Salamanders of Pitt Lake mystery. There are not giant salamanders, but giant toads!
This one seems to be eyeing up Maciej.
Tonight is the night of the Blue Moon. Heather wakes up to see it.
The moon is scenic through the clouds. Sadly, no photos turned out.
We have discussed where to spend our last night. With both Vickers and Ashby Creek campsites being log-jammed, we decide to return to Raven Creek.
The kayakers paddle down river too.
The kayakers will go to Ashby Creek and try to intercept our one night campers. We do not have any cell phone or internet service here to communicate with them.
Kayakers having a rest stop.
For Gwragedd Annwn and I, the wind picks up and I try sailing again. With inflow wind speeds of up to and sometimes over 8 kts, I get over 5.5 kts, most of the time in the right direction. I hope the wind holds!!!
I sail right past Ashby Creek and do not see any kayakers.
I furl the sail and begin to row. Perfect rowing (or paddling) conditions. However, with no air movement whatsoever, brilliant sunshine, I am cooking. I have about an 8km row to Raven Creek beach. 3+hrs at the thwart?
In this heat, I row for about ten minutes, stop, wipe my forehead and neck with a wet bandanna, have a drink of water and row on…then repeat…and row on…repeat…and row on…and repeat and row on.
After three and a quarter hours of rowing and three litres of water later, I am at Raven Creek.
Maciej receives an email sent to him this morning that the two Sunday kayakers have left the Grant Narrows launch…We have missed them. We hope that they will have a good paddle and a good night.
In the photo above, you can see the high tide line behind Sharron and Maciej, at the bow of Maciej’s kayak.
Sunday evening sunset. It will be warmer tonight with the cloud cover.
We are all prepared for a rainy Monday morning….
At 5:30 in the morning there is no rain and no wind. Because Gwragedd Annwn is so slow, I decide to leave earlier than planned. Do not want to row in the rain.
Expecting a wet morning, I prepacked and I am almost ready. I pack up my swag tent and remaining gear and leave. (I do, however, make enough noise, like a boy scout troop apparently, to wake everyone else up!)
Being a true leader without knowing it, I have inspired the kayakers to leave too.
Hummmm…Seems as if we are paddling back to the rain we left on Friday!
The rain eases up and hopefully we will be on the hard, packed up and away before it begins to rain hard.
We all arrive at Grant Narrows and load up the kayaks and I put Gwragedd Annwn on her trailer. We pack-up all of our gear.
We go for breakfast.
Distances, with a little sightseeing:
Day one, to Raven Creek campground 9.12km.
Day two, Raven Creek to Pitt River delta, 22.34km.
Day three, Pitt River delta to Raven Creek 21.17km
Day four, Raven Creek campground to Grant Narrows 10.14km.
There is no water level gauge on Pitt Lake that I know of. The nearest one is the Fenton Gauge.
May 17th, 5am. 1.0568m Low Low
May 18th, 8pm. 1.4628m Low High
May 18th, 3am. 1.36m High Low
May 18th, 8am. 1.75m High High
May 18th, 5pm. 0.94m Low Low
May 18th, 11pm. 1.66m Low High
May 19th, 3am. 1.59m High Low
May 19th, 9am. 1.79m High High
May 19th, 5pm. 0.96m Low Low
May 20th, Midnight. 1.69m Low High
May 20th, 5am. 1.68m High Low
May 20th, 8am. 1.7874m High High
The gauge is located on the river near Sheridan Hill, South of Addington Point.
We sighted Ospreys, Canada Geese, Eagles, Mergansers, Humming Birds, Ducks, Seals, Beavers, Western Spotted Toads, Loons, Ravens, Downy Woodpeckers, Crows and saw Moose sign.
Sharron has forgotten her keens at the Pitt River willow camp.
I found a great (well after it is cleaned) camping spoon.
Pitt Lake is a great row…Enjoy!
Good Rowing to you,