canoe british columbia mabel lake
July 5, 2019

off-grid camping, canadian edition

Off-grid camping in the Canadian wilderness. It is best done in the Summer when days get longer, drinks get colder and the sun shines brighter. 

For those living in Calgary you all know that summer does not always equal warm or hot days for much of July or August. Having lived here for over three decades we have seen our fair share of snow in August and hail coupled with tornados in July. Prairie living has it’s drama too.

Mother nature can be a cruel beast at times but sometimes she gets it just right. We have been fortunate in the last couple of years to join dear friends on a weekly long off-grid camping adventure. This trip happens to take place in the woods of British Columbia away from most comforts of home.

Past vs present

As a family we have been enjoying these camping trips for years. Even when the kids were little we would pack up our truck and head out even if just for the day. Our folks used to own a lovely piece of land just west of Cochrane for over 15 years which we gladly used for many camping excursions.

When we learned that our friends also enjoy the peacefulness of off-grid camping as much as we do, we started tagging along. Not sure if most of the times we would self-invite but getting away from city life and escaping into the woods has saved out sanity over the years.

Dirt Roads

In order to reach this secluded spot we must travel through Revelstoke and head south on a forestry trunk road for roughly 90 minutes. This road takes us further away from highways and any comforts of home. No running water, toilets or electricity. It’s simply bliss.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt” ~ John Muir

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this drive is the quiet. There are hardly any other vehicles on this road. The stillness and silence of the trees and the looming lake in the distance makes you really appreciate mother nature’s beauty. In all its simplicity.

setting up camp

Upon our arrival at Mabel Lake the set up is quite simple. We park, we unload, we open the trailer, set out chairs and table and enjoy the view. Getting water sometimes into the trailer takes careful measures but most of the time we pump straight from the lake.

family camping mabel lake british columbia trailer set up

Over the years you learn what works for you and what doesn’t. We have always tried to keep things simple and minimal at best. Sometimes we splurge on the little things like our coffee frother for our morning coffee and sometimes we don’t bathe for days to avoid using water.

In fact, everything seems to balance out. Having been avid campers for years we know that it’s always better to keep is simple and minimal. Our kids know this all too well. They pack according to basic needs and only take what is needed.

For example, a week trip usually means 3 change of clothes, 2 sets of pyjamas, long johns, two sweaters, 5 pairs of socks and 2 pairs of shoes. Not to mention 2 bathing suits and a towel. 90% of the time kids spend most days in their swimsuits which saves on packing extra items of clothing!

activities galore

Hot days are meant to be spent outside. All canadians know this due to our short summer season. Life is even better by the lake with a good book in hand.

From fishing to boating, sunbathing and sitting by the campfire, this is heaven like no other.

reality check in

Perhaps the most unique thing about going to Mabel Lake is the access to amenities on the other side of the lake, some 10 km away by boat. Every couple of days we can venture towards civilization should we run short on supplies and even grab the kids some ice cream. There is probably nothing better than an ice cream after a couple days of not bathing. Refreshing to the core!

the night sky

Without a doubt THE best thing about going off-grid is the night sky. There is simply nothing more beautiful. Living in the city you cannot see skies like you do away from all lights of the city. Being in the western hemisphere also add to the ambience of this extraordinary sky.

Eventually our time out in the woods of British Columbia ends. Our drive home is always one of dread. No one ever wants to leave. Although we feel rejuvenated after our time out here, it’s always a sad ending to an always amazing week away. Next year we might even come out for longer.

“Travelling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” ~ Hilaire Belloc

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