B.C. canoe trip overflows with fun after floods

Tri-City HeraldJuly 13, 2012 

— It was reminiscent of a childhood song: "The rain came down and the floods came up …"

At every turn on the highway, rivers and creeks raged, sending volumes of snow melt and runoff into Slocan Lake, B.C.

According to locals, this was the worst flooding they'd seen in decades. Our canoe group arrived shore side late afternoon to find the sandy beaches missing.

Overhead, the skies were dark as we peered through frantic windshield wipers. From what we could barely see, the plan to camp across the lake was going down the drain.

"Lucy, we're going to call you 'The Rainmaker,' " one camper teased as the chilly drops seeped in around her collar. "The year you canoed with us on the Canadian Columbia River, it overflowed its banks."

(Who would have thought my recent missteps in dance class could bring this on again?)

Now, here we were commiserating while searching for dry land to pitch our tents. The lake's generous shoreline and even the picnic tables were underwater. Trees stood nearby, their boughs buried beneath the surface. Rural roads leading to the far side of the lake were awash in mud, accompanied by crystal-clear warnings.

A grey mood gathered like a black thundercloud threatening to dampen our adventure. But then, a bright spot appeared — the lights of a rural hotel. A restful night would feel like a ray of sunshine.

In the next day's light, we found a spacious campground in the quaint town of New Denver where we pitched our six tents together. Nearby, a gazebo provided shelter to watch dramatic lightning, play table games and wait for the skies to clear.

There were three sunny out of seven. But on rainy days, we discovered a silver mining ghost town, toured an old paddle-wheel river boat on the other side of the mountain, visited a Japanese internment memorial and hiked a wooded trail as sunshine peeked through.

It wasn't the canoeing experience we had planned, but the gloomy weather lit up our lives with fun. Those dark clouds had a silver lining that kept us singing in the rain.

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