Sunday, August 14, 2016

Belly Boats

At the end of July, we set off on an epic camping trip across northern British Columbia. We have a pickup truck with a camper on the back. I call it "epic" because we are going to be on the road for seven weeks, staying in the camper. Much of that time we will be in places that have no Internet service. 

I love our camper. It is a very cozy little home on wheels. Although space is limited (how much can you fit in the bed of a pickup truck?), there still seems to be room for everything we need. We have a comfortable bed, clothes, dishes, food, and a small bathroom with a shower. The camper has a furnace to take the chill off on cold nights (it is a three season camper). On this trip we have brought along with us fishing equipment, my plein air painting supplies, some books, cameras, iPads, crib board, and our mountain bikes. 

Our first destination was the ArtsWells Festival in Wells, BC. Wells is a tiny village (population 250) in the interior of BC, east of Quesnel. This area was settled in the late 1800's during the gold rush. There are still mining claims in the area that are being actively worked. Nearby Barkerville has been restored and is a popular tourist destination. Fifty years ago, Wells nearly became a ghost town. However, a number of artists moved into the community and restored many of the old buildings. They lobbied to keep the school open. 

Wells is now the home of Island Mountain Arts. As well as the four-day ArtsWells Festival on the August long weekend, which is mostly music, but also theatre, literary events, and visual arts, the community also hosts visual and performing arts workshops and courses throughout the year. Some of my favourite music events of the weekend were Ken Hamm, Aurora Jane, Carole Pope, Coco Love Alcorn,  Jenny Ritter, Kym Gouchie, Scarlett Jane, and Quique Escamilla. 

We had a great camping spot behind the Jack O' Clubs Pub, near the river. One of the days that we were there, we rode our bikes to Barkerville and had lunch and spent the afternoon there (and took in a Ken Hamm concert in the Methodist church), then rode back. Another morning, we hiked some of the trails along the Willow River and Williams Creek. As the whole area has been so extensively mined, these watercourses, Jack O' Clubs Lake, and the village of Wells itself are built upon and surrounded by old mine tailings. We also went and visited with Claire Kujundzic and Bill Horne, two of our favourite artists who run the Amazing Space art studio and gallery.

And what does all this have to do with belly boats? Well, as we were travelling over the Interlakes highway between Little Fort and 100 Mile House, we camped one night at a little fishing lake. This whole area is a world class fishing destination. We, however, are only set up for fly fishing in rivers, not for lake fishing. So we stood on the shore looking out at the pretty little lake, and watched the fish jumping and rising in every direction. We knew that later in our trip we would be travelling through another area with many fishing lakes. 

So, when we pulled into 100 Mile House, we went to a fishing store and bought ourselves early birthday presents. Belly boats. These are essentially inflated truck inner tubes for fishermen to sit in while floating out in lakes. They wear waders with flippers on their feet to propel themselves through the water.

Our belly boats at Puntzi Lake

Yesterday we got to try out our belly boats. We are at Puntzi Lake, a famous fishing lake along the route to Bella Coola. What fun! It was lovely to be out in the lake with the loons and the gulls. Apparently the rare white pelican is nesting at this lake this year, so maybe we will see one. We got a couple of bites, but didn't catch anything. 

Rob fishing

When it started to rain, we finished up and went back to our campsite and had dinner. There was a tremendous thunder and lightening storm in the evening, but we were warm and cozy in our camper. 


  1. Those belly boats are the cutest things! They sure look like fun, and we don't even fish. Hope you have a great 7-week camper trip and we're looking forward to your next update when you hit an internet hot spot.

  2. We have been having so much fun in the belly boats! They provide a way to get out into the water, and they work well for lake fishing. It has been strange but kind of nice to be offline with no access to the Internet for such a long stretch of time.

  3. You provide the perfect way to camp...vicariously! The belly boat looks like so much fun. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Barbara, the advantage of vicarious camping is no mosquitoes! That said, we have absolutely loved getting out in the wilderness.

  5. This looks like a fabulous trip! Your photos are stunning! I look forward to reading more of this adventure.

  6. I love the pictures of the belly boats! I bet they are so much fun. How exciting to be out in the water rather than just on shore - and almost at eye level too. Looking forward to reading more about you adventures. We are hoping to start West next summer and have similar adventures too (from NY).

  7. Here is a helpful belly boat tip: when wearing one on your back en route to the river/lake/slough, do not attempt to walk between two trees growing close together. You will get stuck.

  8. Donna, we are having so much fun. We are now back in populated parts of the province, and I will be posting a couple more blog posts that I wrote while offline for the last ten days.

  9. Vicki, in the past, I have always found it so frustrating to be at a lake, and to not have any way of getting out in the water. I have to say that much of the time that I am in the belly boat, I am just enjoying being out there, with fishing being a secondary aspect (although I do love fishing too!). I hope you enjoy your trip out to the west coast.

  10. Dear anonymous - thanks for the tip about carrying the belly boats. So far, we have been camped right beside the lake, so have not had to carry them any distance.