Ice Ice Baby (Canoeing)

ice out

In the haste to get trails cleared in time for one outfitter’s season opening trip, we pushed the limits of ice out in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park.

Landing on Olive Lake

no ice on this side of the peninsula

It was the day after we received word that the park staff were calling it ice out for the spring 2014 season. Martin and I landed via float plane on Olive Lake in the northeast corner of the park.

We unloaded our canoe and gear from the plane onto the brushy shore of a long peninsula that jutted out into the center of the lake. We opened up the map and had a look at where we wanted to camp that night. It looked to be a short paddle, rounding the peninsula to the north and continuing on through a stream that would connect us to the next lake west of Olive.


Ice Floes

We loaded up the canoe and shoved off shore. As we rounded the corner, we noticed we were chipping through thin sheets of black ice in order to make forward progress. By the time we made it into the other half of Olive Lake, all we could see were ice floes ahead of us.

We worked our way slowly towards a small island that looked like our only option to wait for true ice out. We found ourselves surrounded by ice for a nerve-wracking five minutes: Martin chipping away at the ice with his double-blade from the bow; me working on getting forward momentum from the stern.

When we reached the island and beached the canoe, we debated how long we might have to wait for the breeze to free our route to the next lake. After a couple of hours of Martin taking video¬†of the ice candling and me exploring the tiny island we decided the breeze wasn’t working in our favor and set up camp.

I fell asleep in my tent listening to the sound of candling, like wooden wind chimes.

ice candling at shore

waiting for true ice out


When we awoke the next morning, the wind had broken up the ice masses. We ate a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and set out to make up time and distance.


What’s the earliest you’ve been out on a canoe trip? Did you get stuck anywhere?

Published by Kate Monahan

Travel happy. Outdoors professional. Writer. Photographer. Educator.

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