The next morning the rain came and I packed up fast to get outta dodge. Unfortunately the side channel was too shallow to raft and I had to pull it over some silty ground which sucked up my feet and pulled my sandals off. When we finally got to the main channel my feet were very cold, and wet. We were jam-packed into the packraft and I had poor blood flow to my cold feet because of that, but at least we were on the river! Finally!!! Years of dreaming of this moment had finally come to fruition!!!
The current was swift and we made really good progress. I learned how to pick the right lines in the meandering river. Too close to the slip-off slope and you get stuck on shallow gravel. Too close to the cut bank and you risk getting stuck in underwater sweepers and overhanging vegetation and trees.
It was actually a lot of fun heading down the river. I could see the bad weather following us down the valley. We made a quick stop to re-organise. Looking upriver:
I was going to message my mom with my Delorme GPS when I knew we would be ready for a float plane pickup which I had previously arranged with Tyax Air. Then she would call them to confirm. I wondered how far we should go today. The weather was spitting a bit but not too bad. I didn’t want to get stuck in rain the next day.
We got to that noisy part of the valley where there are two large waterfalls thundering down, on opposite sides of the valley. We stopped to investigate the one on the east side which is quite impressive. We walked as far as we could easily get to but I didn’t want to leave my packraft unattended so we ventured no further. I wondered if that waterfall has a name.
We continued down the valley and I marvelled at the magnitude and beauty of this place. I couldn’t believe that a place like this still exists so close to a major city like Vancouver. It is spectacular, with absolutely zero signs of humanity other than the jets flying overhead.
Full cockpit view:
The river is mostly meandering and braided over its length and I tried to always compare our location with my printed off Google Earth images so I would pick the best channel and not get stuck. This worked pretty well and we only got stuck on gravel bars a few times. A couple times we took swift little channels through the willow bushes, which were a lot of fun. But I had to be on my toes watching for hazards there. I got a lot of video with my Gopro and I'll try to organise that and upload some in the future.
We eventually came to the first Taseko Lake. The river enters on its east side through a big glacial silt delta. I quickly discovered how shallow this delta is… the visibility through the water is basically zero so you have no way of knowing if you are approaching a shallow area; you just have to judge it based on an estimate of water flow and what the surrounding banks look like. I was hitting silt pretty often as we entered the lake and I hugged the very eastern shore where I reasoned the water might channel and leave a few inches for our boat.
Eventually we had to go out into the lake proper and I prayed we wouldn’t get stuck. I don’t know what you’d do if you hit shallow silt. You can’t get out and push because your feet will just sink two feet under. And you can’t push with the paddle because it gets sucked in as well and the boat just bogs down.
After a few hundred meters out into the middle of the lake “paddling” in a couple inches of water we finally got to some decent depth where I could actually put the paddle down deep without hitting ground.
My low-tech weather report: rain.
Sunshine down-river. Let’s go there
Scenic mountains flanking the upper Taseko Lake:
The light rain continued but we had a really nice tailwind. I decided to take advantage of it and make some progress down the middle of the lake. It’s a very beautiful lake which few people visit since it is separated by the main Taseko Lake by a section of river which makes motorised boat travel difficult, and travel up by canoe very difficult. So I felt like I had the whole place to myself, which I actually did.
The vegetation was changing as we made our way down the valley, becoming more indicative of a drier warmer climate.
The north end of this lake hooks around a bit to the east before again turning into a sluggish river.
Transitioning to the second Taseko Lake:
I laid back and had a rest as the slow current gradually fed us into the next Taseko Lake. To the right is a creek which empties from Crystal Lake which itself is just a little further east of this lake. That's where we went the previous year via Duane Creek (see trip report linked at top), which also happens to empty into the Lord River at almost that exact same spot. We paddled the kilometer to the next little peninsula of land sticking out where I thought we could find some nice waterfront property to camp on. We actually found a little camp with teepee logs that I presumed was used by wintertime travellers.
I thought about staying. It would work but it wasn’t the nicest spot and I reasoned that we still had lots of time to get to the main Taseko Lake beach and rather than risk getting stuck under bad weather, we made the final run. And I’m not going to lie, I’d had enough grizzly bears.
So we made the final push across the second Taseko Lake, with the wind and weather at our backs. Reina had a snooze in the sun and it was very relaxing.
We then entered the final section of the Lord River which is lively and fun. As soon as the lake turned into river I saw an oil drum washed up on a log jam – the first signs of humanity other than the camp earlier.
I took in the scenery and the fun because I knew this would soon be the end of the river travel. We poked our way out into the big Taseko Lake and the views opened up.
Across the lake was a cabin, so I headed for that, with Taseko beach on the right at the very southern end of the lake:
The cabin was locked up but we pitched the tent on the covered porch.
There were two other guys over at the beach, each with a Toyota Landcruiser. They were actually heading back down, having been up Taseko and the Battlement Ridge area exploring. They were a bit surprised to see me, wondering how the hell I got there.
We beat the showers.
I was pretty beat too and glad to be finished with the physical activity. I called for a plane the next day at 1 pm.