Human beings are most alive when living in the unknown, for it’s in this place where anything and everything is possible.
We got on the road at 5:30 pm Wednesday after work; the truck packed for 5 days of wilderness camping. We boarded the ferry at Horseshoe Bay due North toward Langdale and made the 1 hour and 15 minute drive up the Sunshine Coast Highway to the tiny town of Egmont where we’d spend the night.
Nanton Lake is 5 hours, 2 ferry rides and a 30 minutes drive along a logging service road from home. It is one of the smaller lakes along the Powell Forest Canoe Route; A 57 km, 8 lake, 5 portage journey that takes roughly 5 days. We’d be camping at Nanton the entire time. The only way in is via the Goat Lake Mainline Forest Road and it’s best to drive it early in the day to avoid logging trucks who have the right of way (and who do not stop for traffic). For this reason the Strongwater cabins would be our home for the night then we’d continue on our journey early the next morning.
Strongwater Cabins – Egmont BC https://strongwater.squarespace.com/
Info. for Nanton Lake: http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/search/search-result.aspx?site=REC0136&districtCode=RDSI&type=Site
We boarded the ferry in Earls Cove early the following morning toward Saltery Bay for the second leg of our trip. A one hour sailing along Jervis Inlet, the ferry winds through islands, some with only one home on them. As we passed I day dreamed of what life might be like living on a remote island on the coast. What are the winter storms like? Would it ever feel lonely? With the view of the never ending forests and pacific ocean, I think I’d be just fine.
BC Ferries Website: https://www.bcferries.com/
We would need a few extra provisions: fishing bait, kindling for our campfire and lunch. Once off the ferry we made a quick pit stop in the town of Powell River, the last bit of civilization before heading into the wild.
Powell River Website: https://powellriver.ca/
It was raining hard as we pulled in at the Powell River Outdoors store. Seth got some insider tips on what he’d need to fish at Nanton so with leaches and worms in our cooler we were off again.
Powell River Outdoors Shop: http://www.proutdoors.com/
The rain had stopped by the time we got to the head of Goat Lake Mainline and in a way was in our favour as the unpaved road would usually be quite a dusty drive but the rain kept the dust on the ground. The road is in good condition. A few large potholes here and there but nothing the truck couldn’t handle. A large hawk swooped overhead as we drove further into the forest. Not a car or person in sight.
Arriving at Nanton Lake
There are 16 camp spots along the lake. We were pleasantly surprised to see all by 1 empty. Middle of July and no one around? What a treat!. We chose the furthest site; quiet, lake front with 4 towering hemlocks, big picnic table and a fire pit. Time to unload the truck and set up our home for the weekend.
We bought a truck last year so that we could explore more of our province. With 4 wheel drive we can get in and out of the more remote places. The bed we set up in the back wasn’t bad either. Actually, it was quite comfy.
I’m all for roughing it in the woods but a messy kitchen won’t do. I quickly set up stations: one for cooking, one for our morning coffee, our drinking water and a wash bin for dishes; filled with lake water and a little dish soap. Who said you can’t camp without the comforts of home.
With our camp set up we headed out to explore the lake. July isn’t the best season for fishing because the water is too warm so the fish go deep where the water is cool at the bottom. We still managed to catch a trout. Floating on the lake, cold beer in hand under the warm sun was just the relaxation we needed after all our hard work.
That evening I put together some foil packets with potatoes, string beans, chorizo and mushrooms. Seasoned with hickory salt and white pepper and a chunk of soft butter, they steamed over the campfire to perfection and made a great side for the marinated chicken Seth had prepared back at home.
The fire crackled and popped as the sun set and we played a few rounds of Monopoly Deal in bed before dozing off. Good night Nanton.
We awoke at 3:20 am to a huge rain storm. Boy were we happy to be dry and warm in the truck. Bring it on Mother Nature! I love the sound of rain so as it calmed to a drizzle I cozied under the duvet and went back to my dream lulled by the light tapping of raindrops on the sunroof. By morning the sun had warmed the camp and breakfast was bacon and egg burrito wraps with fresh coffee. I wore my p.j’s and rain boots for most of the morning.
Getting up close and personal with Nature
They say you should never trust the weather on the Pacific Northwest Coast. The majority of our stay was sunny and comfortably warm but the rain came again on the afternoon of our 2nd day. A quick summer rain that passed quickly. With the large tarp we’d tied off the side of the car we had a dry shelter to sit under and read and play cards. We took the time to pull out our map book and look at the other lakes in the area. Lois Lake and Dodd were the closest to us. Maybe next time we’ll camp at each one for a night.
I was prepping dinner that evening and our camp neighbour walked by, waved and said “smells good!”. We told him we were making risotto and wagyu steaks, he laughed because he thought we were joking haha! I guess my camp cooking is pretty fancy compared to other peoples.
I found a four leaf clover in the grass.
Most of the wildlife we saw were of the amphibian and reptilian kind I christened the path to the lake “Snake Village” because as you walked down you could hear the gardener snakes slithering back into the shady shelter of the blackberry bushes. They’re harmless. We saw 2 momma deer with their babies as well, so sweet. I’ve never had a fear of snakes so I sat patiently and waiting for one to come out again so I could take this photo.
Chicken and beef fajitas Saturday night using the leftovers from last night’s dinner.
There’s something about sitting around a fire. The sound, the smell, the hypnotic dance of the flames. Time moves at a slower pace in nature and yet before we knew it 5 days had passed and we’d be leaving in the morning. We shared stories from the past and plans for the future and talked well into the darkness. Back to the city tomorrow.
We would be doing the trek back home in one day so after a quick coffee, blueberries and a slice of my homemade chocolate chip banana bread, we packed up camp and were on the road by 9am Sunday morning.
The ferry docked at Earls Cove at 12:45pm. I always make it a point to check out the BC Books section in the ferry’s Passages Gift Shop. I picked up a book called The Bulldog and the Helix, a true crime story based in Port Alberni BC and the first case in Canada to ever be solved with the use of DNA.
To Buy The Book: https://urlzs.com/hJqpA
Being in the forest feeds my soul but I was ready to be home again. Any time I’m out there however I can’t help but look up real estate afterward and plan for retirement in one of the small towns that dot our coast.
An excerpt from one of Shane Koyczans writing about British Columbia says: “It’s just a tree… until you need shade from the sun or reprieve from the rain. Until the night steals the warmth in your blood and a cedar sacrifices its own flesh to give you fire”
Until next time.