Stave Lake Trip -- May 13-14, 2023
by Theresa Davies
Saturday morning around 9 am Iveta, Colleen, Quirine, and I, met Nick, our trip leader, at the intersection of Dewdney Trunk Rd and Florence Lake Forest Service Road, also known as Burma Road. This intersection is at the west end of the Stave Falls Dam.
The 10.8 km road to our launch area, Rocky Point Recreation Site, is paved for a short distance, followed by a well worn gravel surface that kicks up thick clouds of dust, rendering visibility very poor at times. The road is fairly smooth until you get near the Recreation Site, where it’s mostly large shallow potholes. Snail’s pace was okay.
At the Recreation Site, we expected to pay the overnight fee of $10 per car/night. A better deal was offered whereby we could leave our 3 cars at campsite #5, for a total of $18 (seniors rate). We had reasonable access from this site to the sandy launching area, so we took it.
After some discussion of where an interesting camp creation called Cruiser Beach Yacht Club is located, somewhere on the other side of the lake, we decided to cross over to take a look, then circumnavigate a small island nearby, before heading north along the west side of Stave Lake to our destination of either Glacier Bay or Clearwater Bay. There indeed was a well developed and occupied camp, established with kitchen- complete with a stainless steel sink, a bar, various decorative and handy items, carvings, and a pole with names of people and their country or city of origin. I particularly remember the mosquito pic with 100 Mile House, Tokyo, Brazil, Fort Mac, and Nova Scotia. We looked around briefly, then thanked and apologized to the host, who built the structures, and continued on to the mostly forested island, with a lovely sandy beach on the south side, occupied by a couple of campers.
We continued north on idyllic calm water, with blue sky, and gorgeous views of Mt. Judge Howay and Mt. Robie Reid, contrasting hellish loud music blasting from all sorts of motorboats, and a floatplane noisily practicing take offs and landings! Further along, we were entertained briefly by boats and sea-doos revving up to the base of a powerful dam outflow coming from Alouette Lake via a tunnel. Alongside the outflow is a small power house (similar to the Granite Falls one on Indian Arm).
We stopped for lunch at Foam Creek and continued on to Glacier Bay where we decided to set up camp on the sandy, typically log riddled, beach. No one else came to camp, but a large group in several power boats showed up for a visit on their way home.
This beautiful bay with a split glacier water creek running through it, is at the foot of majestic Mt. Robie Reid- which we learned was hiked by Nick a few years ago. Very impressive! There were at least a dozen huge waterfalls visible and still a fair amount of snow. A stunning backdrop to our campsite. We were left in peace for the evening as the boaters went home for the night. Some members took advantage of the lack of light pollution and got up to see the stunning display of stars in the night sky.
Sunday morning we left camp at 9:15 am to head a bit further up the lake and explore the next, much larger, Clearwater Bay. We kayaked part way in but it’s a very long bay and we thought it was too far. Within the bay we saw thousands of dead tree trunks sticking out of the water, a widespread feature of Stave Lake due to it having been dammed, and the water level raised many years ago.
The night before, we noticed a camp fire across the lake, so we crossed over to see what was there. When we arrived, a couple of campers were preparing to leave. The site is called Welcome Point Recreation Reserve and includes a service dock, a forestry road, some equipment, and a large cleared sandy area that could be camped on. As we continued along the shaded east side, we really appreciated the cooler air, as it was another very hot day.
A bit further along, we stopped at Cypress Point Recreation Site for lunch, where there is nice sandy beach, lots of logs, and some man made camp structures. As we were leaving, the wind picked up and we were hit with a few very short but strong blasts of wind coming from the north, not the southerly inflows we were fearing more, that would have greatly slowed our paddling speed. After some discussion, we decided to cross over. We followed Nick’s suggestion that we take a diagonal line to cross the lake in the safest manner, the sight line would be to head towards “momma bear” (the middle of three humps, small medium, and large) on the other side, isn’t that fun? Once across we had a short paddle around the point to the right and into the launching area.
For the naturalists in the club, we saw mergansers, geese, a bald eagle, osprey, dippers, swallows, loons, a flowering dogwood, water buttercups, a flutter of azure blues, and a mourning cloak butterfly.
In a nutshell, Stave Lake offers spectacular mountain views, secluded camping, lots of fresh water, noisy motorized “party” boats, and is conveniently located within about an hour and a half drive of Vancouver.
We were very thankful to have AC on the way home as it was HOT. A record setting heat wave was recorded in the Mission area last weekend. We were so hot after the first day of kayaking, the girls dunked in the cold glacier water at camp for relief- felt so good!!
We had a great time exploring the area, thanks to Nick, our exemplary trip leader (who checked the launching place out twice before the trip started), and we look forward to the next kayak adventure!