Outside Magazine - July 2008

outside_july08

BIG COUNTRY

Traveling to Canada no longer comes with a discount, but our neighbor still has eight times as much wilderness as we do.

By KATIE ARNOLD

Lake-Lodge Idyll

CHILKO LAKE, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Surrounded by 12,000-foot glaciated peaks, 55-mile-long Chilko Lake is British Columbia’s version of Tahoe. The one difference: There’s not a single condo spoiling Chilko’s shores. Last fall, the Tsilhquot’in First Nations group won title to 1,200 miles of surrounding wilderness, all but ensuring that development will be held a bay. Have the place to yourself at the Lodge at Chilko Lake, a remote fly-in retreat that opened last summer. The timber-frame complex has an airy, earthy feel, with vaulted ceilings, plate glass windows facing the lake, and a sprawling front deck for lounging. It’s the perfect place to unwind after catching 25-inch rainbows on the Chilko River, just out the back door; heli-hiking the high peaks of the Coast Mountains, three miles away; or rafting the Chilko’s 20-mile-long Lava Canyon. The gorge contains the longest stretch of commercially navigable Class IV whitewater in North America. The easiest way to reach the lodge is via an hourlong bush-plane flight from Vancouver; the lodge coordinates flights every Thursday and Sunday. In September, Nelson-based outfitter ROAM offers an eight-day rafting and kayaking adventure based at the lodge to coincide with the annual salmon run, which draws some two million sockeye to the headwaters of the Chilko River—not to mention dozens of grizzlies and bald eagles by the hundreds.