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Pre-lunch Snack
Pretty stretch of River
Portage Above Cascades
We encountered one particularly tricky portage put-in, where a side-stream (Forbes Creek, I believe) with a very strong current flows into the Barron River, cutting across directly in front of the landing spot. Any canoe approaching the spot got rapidly pushed out into the main river, which itself had rapids a short way further downstream. We had a few tense moments when we barely are able to make landfall without getting swept into the main rapids (often with the assistance of a helping hand from the shore).
Dave and Nancy Head off
Dave and Nancy Head off
Barron River put-in
The many short portages had us continuing to lose significant (by canoeing standards) elevation as we bypassed yet more cascades, chutes, and falls. As we descended deeper, the banks of the Barron River began to rise steeply, and soon we started to see the first stretches of cliffs above that marked the approach of the Barron Canyon section. At the end of the last portage before the long canoe down the canyon, we stopped for a long lunch break.
First bit of canyon wall
Nearing Brigham Lake
Running an easy rapid
Brigham Chute
Bypassing Brigham Chute
The Barron River
After an hour-long lunch break, we paddled out onto the Barron River once again. We were now starting a long, portage-free canoe all the way to Cache Rapids, a 6+ kilometre stretch that leads through the scenic Barron Canyon. The unsettled weather continued, with short but intense snow and hail squalls pushing us eastwards through the developing canyon (fortunately, the winds continued to be at our backs). In between these bouts, it was beautiful sunshine.
Start of Barron Canyon
Wintry weather for May
Hail and Snow in Barron Canyon
The cliffs rose higher as we made our way through the Barron Canyon. The left-hand (northern bank) of the river had much more prominent cliffs than the right-hand side, often rising for what looked to be about 300 feet (100m) above us. Although not of the stature of something like the Grand Canyon, the place was still quite scenic, and it was nice to be able to paddle through placid waters directly underneath such a scenic attraction.
Canoeing down Barron Canyon
Admiring the cliffs
Stepped Cliffs
Dwarfed by Big Walls
Barron Canyon
The main section of Barron Canyon is only a few kilometres in length, and soon the high walls receded and were replaced with forested slopes.

This long paddling section combined with the rather uncomfortable seat of our rental canoe conspired to make for a rather sore butt, and I was pleased when the yellow sign of the portage point above Cache Rapids came into view. I think I finally started to get the hang of properly hanging the canoe on my shoulders, for on this final portage I no longer felt the uncomfortable cutting off of circulation in my arms that I did earlier on the trip.
Final portage
Portaging around Cache Rapids
Patiently awaiting cast-off
A final stretch of just over a kilometre of canoeing and we could see the concrete bridge spanning the Barron River ahead of us. In a few minutes more, we could see the Squirrel Rapids access point parking lot through the trees on the left. We scrunched ashore at about ten minutes before five pm, and set about packing up gear to the cars (Arn and Dave had contracted with the outfitters to have them shuttle our vehicles from Achray to this parking lot - most convenient).
Arriving Squirrel Rapids
Squirrel Rapids entry point and parking lot
The end of the trip
Packing up the cars
Barron River Access
So... a successful journey. Not ideal weather, but not all that bad either. I'd like to thank Arn and Gosia for inviting me and for including me in the camp meals. I ate much better than I usually do out in the wilderness! As a newbie canoer, I think I learned several important little lessons, and I look forward to another outing at some point in the not too distant future. Maybe next time, we can try running a few of the easier rapids. I think I might like that.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Achray to Squirrel Rapids Canoe - click map to view
Achray Access to Johnston Lake Campsite - Trip Data
(Track color: )
Start Time: 6:00p.m.
End Time: 7:09p.m.
Duration: 1h8m
Distance: 1.75 km (1.09 mi)
Average Speed: 1.5 km/hr (1.0 mph)
Start Elevation: 782ft (238m) *
Max Elevation: 782ft (238m) *
Min Elevation: 700ft (213m) *
End Elevation: 735ft (224m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 17ft (5m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 51ft (16m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Johnston Lake Campsite to High Falls Lake Campsite - Trip Data
(Track color: )
Start Time: 11:33a.m.
End Time: 2:20p.m.
Duration: 2h47m
Distance: 8.73 km (5.42 mi)
Average Speed: 3.1 km/hr (1.9 mph)
Start Elevation: 744ft (227m) *
Max Elevation: 753ft (230m) *
Min Elevation: 630ft (192m) *
End Elevation: 643ft (196m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 23ft (7m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 128ft (39m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Hike to High Falls
(Track color: )
Start Time: 4:00p.m.
End Time: 5:37p.m.
Duration: 1h37m
Distance: 1.98 km (1.23 mi)
Average Speed: 1.2 km/hr (0.8 mph)
Start Elevation: 994ft (303m) *
Max Elevation: 994ft (303m) *
Min Elevation: 657ft (200m) *
End Elevation: 658ft (201m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 4ft (1m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 318ft (97m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
High Falls Lake Campsite to Squirrel Rapids Access - Trip Data
(Track color: )
Start Time: 10:40a.m.
End Time: 4:49p.m.
Duration: 6h8m
Distance: 13.73 km (8.53 mi)
Average Speed: 2.2 km/hr (1.4 mph)
Start Elevation: 661ft (202m) *
Max Elevation: 674ft (205m) *
Min Elevation: 500ft (152m) *
End Elevation: 515ft (157m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 78ft (24m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 228ft (69m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
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