We are home after a week off the grid, and what a wonderful week it was, as we were fortunate to realize two dreams. The first dream was to come back to Buttle Lake after seeing it last year (https://islandstewarts.ca/2021/07/21/mountain-fix/) and paddle on a fresh water lake among the mountains. The second was to explore the island in Loytää and experience the all the beauty and adventures the Island has to offer. We realized both these dreams, in spades, this week.
With our Portugal trip in May, and event travel for me, along with pretty crappy weather so far this year, we have not had an opportunity to do a trip with Loytää and Bubbles. Bill worked very hard to outfit the trailer to securely hold all our gear (bikes, boats, and all associated gear, along with camping gear) and he did such a great job. We were ready to hit the road!
Together with our friends, John & Heather, and Brad & Kim, we planned a 6-night day trip Up Island: 4 nights in Strathcona Provincial Park at Ralph River campground, and 2 nights in Cumberland on Comox Lake. We were all excited to explore new territory and spend time in the mountains.
For us, there were a lot of new experiences:
- Boondocking – not being hooked up to electricity and water means we rely on our batteries and solar recharging. Not really a hardship except that Bill could not warm up his favourite banana-chocolate chip muffins in the microwave
- Non-winter camping – Having purchased Loytää in October, all our camping so far has been winter camping: heater at night, no inside toilet, no running water. This week we didn’t need a heater and could even open the back door and windows!
- Towing a trailer – When it’s full it does not bounce around nearly as much as when it’s empty. We were a bit slower up the hills, but not that much. Backing up is still a challenge, but it will get easier.
We booked a shared site with John and Heather in Strathcona. It was a little tight, but we made it work. We loved being able to store all the gear in Bubbles and not in the van, so the site was clean and tidy! Even though we really did not have rain, except a few short showers in the morning, evenings under the trees were cool, so our shelters, with sides and a fire-pit made for very cosy evenings.
Our campground was on the shores of Buttle Lake, about 2/3 the way down. We arrived in the later part of the afternoon, under some cloud (no rain!) and we loved the lakeside views!
The next day treated us to blue skies, fluffy white clouds and spectacular scenery: perfect for a paddle. It was a 500 m walk to the shore of the lake. We did need to take two trips with the boats, since we only have 1 set of wheels. That will be rectified soon!
On the water, all 6 of us revelled in the clear blue waters, snow-capped peaks all around, and sunshine, Words really do not do any justice to the joy we had paddling in these conditions.
In the late 50’s, a dam was built on neighbouring Upper Campbell Lake, raising the water level in Buttle Lake, so the forest in the low lying areas around the shore were harvested prior to the flooding. Consequently, there are lots of stumps, many of them huge, under, and sticking above, the water. This made for very interesting ‘stump gardening’ as we paddled between the stumps.
It was simply a perfect and spectacular day of paddling. One that we will all remember for a long time for the beautiful scenery and being able to share it with friends.
We also got to do some bike riding. We did an easy 11 km ride to Lower Myra Falls, at the end of the lake. The ride was lovely, with gentle ups and downs on the road, along the shore of the lake. The falls were spectacular; cascading over 3 different ledges, all the way into the lake. We had fun rock scrambling along the edge of the falls, and taking pictures! Given the late snow melt, we suspect that the volume was higher than expected for this time of year.
The ride back was even more special because some of the overcast sky was replaced by blue skies, and we could see some great mountains vistas.
We loved camping in Strathcona (Ralph River campground). We could chill on the lakeshore, with spectacular views, do some fishing, and spend time with friends in the campsite. It truly was a special time.
We moved to the campground on the shores of Comox Lake and really enjoyed this area too. While not in the middle of the mountains, it’s a great place for active people because it’s close to the mountains. Good paddling on Comox Lake, tons of bike trails in the Cumberland Forest, some hiking, and even climbing trails as well. Cumberland is a lovely, small town that is geared to the outdoors and the gateway to many adventures. The camping was a bit more cramped, but it didn’t really matter. We enjoyed it there too. We did a great bike ride on some logging roads, through the trees, and up a large hill that provided some lovely views of the mountains and even out to the ocean. It was more fun coming down than up, but on e-bikes, the ups really are not a problem.
So we loved our week ‘on the road’. It’s exactly the kind of trip we envisioned when we bought the van. Go and explore new areas and have fun doing the activities we love: hiking, biking and paddling. It was pretty darn near perfect!
One thought on “Living the Dream”
Such a great trip!!