When you are cold water canoeing, there are a few things to take into consideration: no standing, no aggressive gesturing, no sneezing – basically, no tipping, whatsoever. Out here in Revelstoke, when you’re canoeing in the springtime, you’re canoeing in glacier run-off, so you definitely want to stay in the boat. But that’s the exciting part of cold water canoeing: the water temperature adds an edge to the sport that sometimes gets a bad rep from the fast-paced types.
We left Revelstoke stocked up on the kind of treats from Twisted Annie’s that you can tell yourself are good for you – when really, they are still treats (but are organic and soy/gluten/GMO-free, and so, therefore, the best of the worst). For this specific day, we chose Lake Revelstoke, as the sun was hot, the wind was quiet and the inlets on the west side of the lake were begging to be explored. The put-in at Carnes is roughly 40 kilometres (25 miles) out of town on Highway 23 North; the drive a treat in and of itself, with stunning views of the cliffs dropping away into the water and the mountains competing in a beauty contest against all the way up the valley.
Lake Revelstoke has got to have some of the most stunning lake to mountain contrasts in BC. In some spots, the mountains seem to plunge right into the lake; shorelines non-existent. Snow-capped glaciers border deep green walls of forest: Spruce and Douglas Fir speckled with bright Maples. In the shelter of the shore, the water is surprisingly calm, the wind still. It’s quiet, just us out there – until we discover the echo. Never let an echo wall go by unnoticed. They never get old.
We paddled across the lake and along the shoreline, the colour of the water lightening as the lake became less shallow. As we tucked a left hand turn into an inlet, the roar of a waterfall began to pick up. The water turned a bright blue from the churned up sediment and the cavernous walls sheltered us from the wind; just a cool air blasting off of the waterfall as we came around a bend.
Sometimes you come around a bend in an inlet and it’s like you’ve walked onto the set of a “Waterfalls of Canada” calendar photo shoot. That’s what happened on this day. The waterfall was pounding down from the glacier that we had been paddling underneath, swollen from the temperatures, swirling around and over the wet, black rocks.
We dug into the current against us, and beached the canoe on a pebble beach, where we dunked in the glacier water and lay on the hot stones to warm up. “I feel like we’re in the jungle, minus the temperature of that water,” my first mate said. It did have an “other-world” feel out there – not another soul in sight, a roaring waterfall deafening the sounds of the forest, the sun beating down on us as we laughed on our private beach.
Canoeing is always a win out here in Revelstoke. Whether out on Lake Revelstoke, on the Columbia River, or up in one of the many lakes tucked up high in the mountains (accessible by logging road), you will be blown away by the striking landscape jutted up against the bright waters.
It should be noted that for this entire trip, I didn’t paddle once. That’s not because of the current. It’s because cold water canoeing is best done with your best friends; friends that understand that you are still recovering from surgery and are best suited to be in a bleachers seat in the middle of the canoe, coconut water in one hand, the other dragging in the water – unless a treat is requested from the dry bag. That was my job. Life’s tough.