Powell Lakes Canoe Circuit: Adventuring on a whim

We were supposed to go to the Yukon… but ended up doing the Powell lake canoe circuit.

When 4 young males plan an expedition, several things go right, several things go wrong. This is a story of what went right.

Back in spring, the group decided we wanted to go do something bigger this summer together, not just another weekend backcountry trip, or casual car camping. The original plan was to sea kayak the Broken Island Group for 4 days, then paddle Tofino for another 4 days.

A month before the trip, with little to nothing planned the group made a decision on a whim. The Liard River in the Yukon – it would have been spectacular, but instead, our spontaneity brought us to the Powell Lake canoe circuit.

It took us 5 days (1 day of full rest and reflection).

The highlights – food, friendship, and jamming on a floating home.

Let me explain. My wonderful, happy, fun-loving brother decided to spark up a conversation with a local, George, at the boat launch – for of you who know my brother, this was just another day. George invited us for a beer at his place, I have no idea how that conversation went down, but 2 hours later we were jamming, making music on a dock. It was pretty damn special. No words can describe the euphoria experienced in those moments. 

Beyond that, this expedition was a foodies dream – and a portage nightmare. Trail Mix for days, oatmeal you could sell to silicon valley executives, elk steaks (just for kicks), and more fresh vegetables than we knew what do with. Some would say ‘rookie mistake’, but we ran with it… literally over 300m of elevation gain on our first portage.

But here’s the catch – the only way we made it through any of this was friendship. Sounds cheesy, and edging on sappy – but it’s true. Friends will push you, support you, listen, laugh, and live beside you. With little to no planning, our whimsical adventure to Powell Lakes had us enjoying every morning, grinding every afternoon, and speechless every evening as we reflected on the days.

Amidst all this adventuring. my thoughts consistently drifted – struggling to stay present as we viewed a landscape scarred by forestry clear cuts. I’m still torn – is it good or bad? Is it okay to designated areas of our country to clear cutting? How renewable is the lumber industry? Is this just the ‘way it is’?

The whole circuit is maintained by Western Forest Products. To a certain degree, it felt like I was in a HUGE adult playground… so close to remote wilderness, yet so far from its principles and beauty. It’s these thoughts that keep me up at night, wondering where to fight the good fight. Does it matter? Should we care? Or just paddle along to stop and stare?

Let’s not forget the province was burning, adding to these bigger questions that continued to spin through my head, and won’t stop until I’m dead. It’s all a signal for change, don’t forget it is the only constant.

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