Project Paddle: Lower Mainland Lakes

Saturday, February 12, 12022 HE

This post is more of an idea. I have been thinking about this for a while when considering different places to paddle. So putting this down in words is perhaps a commitment to myself and anyone else who knows me and reads this post to hold me accountable to this goal. They say making a goal public is a good way to commit yourself to complete it.

Simply, I want to do a lake touring extravaganza. My problem is defining what exactly this lake tour extravaganza will be is proving to be somewhat elusive. In essence, I want to circumnavigate some of the lakes in the Vancouver/lower mainland area. Picking which lakes will make the list is where the problem lies. I was hoping for some simple criteria to either include or exclude a lake. At first, my idea was to go by size. As in, do the biggest lakes in the area. But then there are some pretty large lakes in the area. And, while I would be happy enough to embark on a challenge that would require several multi-day expeditions to safely circumnavigate these lakes, familial and occupational commitments mean that I don’t have unlimited time to go about this whimsical adventure. That’s not to balk at the challenge, but rather just to acknowledge the time commitment. Part of my goal would be to include some of the larger lakes in the area. For the culmination of this project, I have my sights set on Harrison Lake….gulp.

Another thought was to attempt to do all the lakes within a specific radius of my home, big or small. But, there are a lot of smaller lakes and I am not sure how to go about creating an inclusion/exclusion system to account for this. Like, do I have a size range? Further to this, is that some of the larger lakes in the area, e.g. Capilano and Coquitlam Lake, are restricted to watercraft as they are watershed reservoirs and supply drinking water to the surrounding areas. I considered combining the two criteria (size and distance) to develop some sort of inclusion formula. But, perhaps out of laziness I decided I would just write up a list that combined both and start from there. The list is by no means set in stone. And I may very well adjust it as the endeavour unfolds. But it is a start and now I have a more clear vision, rather than the abstraction that has been firing around synaptic clefts in my neurocranium.

So, I am comprising a haphazard list of lakes of various sizes that I will attempt to circumnavigate soon (though this project may take me into the distant future). In any case, I will make a concerted effort to circumnavigate lakes in my near vicinity in the coming months.

The following is a list of some of the key lakes that I plan to circumnavigate. I am playfully calling this project, Project Paddle, as a homage to the Netflix documentary 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a watch. The protagonist of the story, Nimsdai Purja, a Nepalese mountaineer, sets out to climb the 14 highest mountain peaks in the world with an all-Nepalese team in seven months. The previous record was over seven years. After being told that his project is impossible, he decides to call the project Project Possible. The film is an inspiration to do something that you or others didn’t think was possible. While I don’t doubt the possibility of my project I do see it as a formidable challenge. Hence the naming similarity.

Burnaby Lake

Rationale: I have paddled Burnaby Lake several times but never circumnavigated it. Plus, Still Creek figures prominently in my introduction to SUP touring.
Estimated Travel Distance: 16 km
Estimated Area: 0.24 km²
Estimated Circumference: 5.5 km

Deer Lake

Rationale: I have never paddled Deer Lake.
Estimated Travel Distance: 14 km
Estimated Area: 0.25 km²
Estimated Circumference: 2.1 km

Sasamat Lake

Rationale: I have an idea that I will paddle across Səl̓ilw̓ət (Indian Arm) and then hike to Sasamat Lake to circumnavigate it before returning home. It’s a lofty plan. The reality may be a drive and paddle.
Estimated Travel Distance:
35 km
Estimated Area:
0.43 km²
Estimated Circumference:
3.2 km

Buntzen Lake

Rationale: I have never paddled it, and it is in the local area.
Estimated Travel Distance:
42 km
Estimated Area:
1.44 km²
Estimated Circumference:
9.9 km

Browning Lake

Rationale: I grew up in Squamish swimming here, so there is some retrograde nostalgia there. A chance to reconnect to my roots.
Estimated Travel Distance: 59 km
Estimated Area: 0.02 km²
Estimated Circumference: 0.6 km

Brohm Lake

Rationale: I grew up in Squamish swimming here so again, there is that nostalgia/root vibe happening.
Estimated Travel Distance: 82 km
Estimated Area: 0.12 km²
Estimated Circumference: 3.6 km

Cat Lake

Rationale: I grew up in Squamish and went here as a kid, so there is some nostalgia there. I remember the water being crystal clear. We will see how my memory checks out.
Estimated Travel Distance: 83 km
Estimated Area: 0.06 km²
Estimated Circumference: 1.1 km

Pitt Lake

Rationale: I have canoed here in the past to get to Widgeon Lake. It is big and poses a challenge, plus there are camping sites for a multi-day excursion.
Estimated Travel Distance: 52 km
Estimated Area: 53.5 km²
Estimated Circumference: 49.9 km

Alouette Lake

Rationale: I paddled it last year, and it was gorgeous. Plus, it is large and presents a challenge.
Estimated Travel Distance: 57 km
Estimated Area: 15.9 km²
Estimated Circumference: 39.0 km

Stave Lake

Rationale: It is relatively close, and massive, and it looks like there are places to camp. Though this still requires some further sleuthing.
Estimated Travel Distance: 62 km
Estimated Area: 56.5 km²
Estimated Circumference: 103.4 km

Harrison Lake

Rationale: It is massive. The largest lake in the lower mainland. Need I say more?
Estimated Travel Distance: 131 km
Estimated Area: 222.0 km²
Estimated Circumference: 203.4 km

Jesus! Now that I have written down some of the specifics, it is looking pretty daunting… to be continued.

8 thoughts on “Project Paddle: Lower Mainland Lakes

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