The Chute campsite is a terrific place to spend a couple of nights. Everyone on the circuit must pass through the Chute, or through the campsite if they're portaging, making it a very interesting and exciting place to be.
As people pass through the Chute in their boats, others at the campsite line themselves along the shore to watch and cheer. It's great fun. Everyone who paddled through the Chute while we were there, did so without any problems.
On the evening before we would leave the campsite at the Chute, the kids decided that they wanted to run the Chute in the morning. The next morning at breakfast, I noticed that the kids were both very quiet -- if you know my kids, this is far from normal and I figured that the prospect of running the Chute was giving them pause. I suggested to the kids that perhaps we should portage around the Chute. They seemed to be relieved by this decision and immediately were no longer quiet.
We had breakfast and as we were finishing up the dishes, a family group from the US arrived at the Chute, ready to go through. We anxiously watched them as they all made their way through the fast current -- including the kids in their group. Having seen this, John and Maddie changed their minds and decided that they too would like to brave the fast waters. I sat down with them and explained what they would have to do to as they went through the Chute. We ran through it a few times and they appeared to be ready.
I was quite proud as I watched the two of them as they made their way through the Chute, doing everything that we talked about perfectly -- at the end of it all, there were lots of hoots of excitement and joy as adrenaline continued to linger as they made their way down the Isaac River.
The Chute is also a fantastic place to play around in the water -- you can float through the Chute wearing your PFD -- it's exciting and a whole lot of fun as the current carries you through the flume and then into a large backeddy. We had brought wetsuits with us which greatly extended the amount of time that we could spend in the water -- we ended up spending about 2 1/2 hours swimming, playing, and laughing in the Chute. Even if you don't camp at the Chute, we highly recommend taking a couple of hours to play around there -- you'll have a blast.
While swimming at the Chute, John used the snorkelling gear to see items that people had lost while passing through the Chute -- a fishing rod, tie-down straps, a hatchet were all items that were retrieved. Apparently, there are a few people who have capsized while running the Chute.
So be careful, if you have any doubts of your ability to paddle through running water -- don't. It's only a short portage around the Chute and there's certainly no shame in taking that route. As always, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Also note that when swimming in the Chute, as well as any other place where you're in fast moving water, to keep your feet up. This is to ensure that you don't get your foot or leg caught between rocks or other obstacles -- a pinned foot in fast moving water could create a dangerous scenario where a person could be incapacitated, or worse.
The swimming squirrel
While not exclusively a story about the Chute, we learned of a strange occurance while we spoke with people at the Chute campsite. We think it's worth sharing here.
The paddlers from Saskatchewan who we shared a campsite at Wolverine Creek a couple of nights earlier, saw us at the Chute and told us they had encountered a squirrel that was swimming in the middle of Isaac Lake. They pulled their canoe alongside it and extended a paddle. The squirrel immediately clambered on board and dove into the gear in the middle of their canoe. They paddled to shore and when they got close the squirrel jumped out of the boat and swam to shore.
That same day, a group of people from Australia came through our camp and told us about a squirrel that they saw swimming in the middle of Isaac Lake -- they had been paddling along when one of the fellows in a kayak noticed a squirrel in the middle of the lake and paddled towards it. The squirrel grabbed onto his rudder and climbed on to the back deck! He also paddled to shore where the squirrel jumped off the boat and swam the last few feet.
A couple of days later, I met three fellows in a canoe on Unna Lake and after telling them the story of the two squirrel encounters, they too said that they had one as well! But in their case, the woman in the front of the boat would have nothing to do with the idea of having a squirrel in her canoe so they left the squirrel to swim the distance.
After returning from the Bowrons, I was reading some online Bowron Lakes trip reports, and came across two more stories of paddlers having a swimming squirrel encounter on Isaac Lake!
I don't know much about squirrels but I'd never heard anything like this before. I just can't imagine why a squirrel would make repeated trips across a very wide body of water (although some amusing ideas certainly come to mind).
So as you're paddling down Isaac Lake, keep an eye open for swimming squirrels looking for a ride to shore.