Friday, May 31, 2013

Camping in B.C. Part Two

Picking up where I left of in Camping in B.C. Part One,  the next stop is:

5. Otter Lake Provincial Park. 
From looking at this photo of myself in the long-departed red camping pants that never fit me after having babies, we must have camped here pre-children. It's about 45 minutes outside of Princeton, just past the little town of Tulameen. The things I remember most about this park were falling asleep to the magical but slightly eerie call of the loons on the lake every night, and the "creature". In the wee hours of the morning, we heard a creature of some sort galavanting through the campground. We heard the hooves on the pavement first, and then a very unsettling wild noise coming from the animal. I still don't know what it was, but I was imagining a dinosaur head on a moose's body from the sound of it. 


This is the public beach in the town of Tulameen.


And this is the rocky beach at the campground.


It was a lovely little spot, but we didn't feel any great inclination to return again in the near future.

6. Lac le Jeune.
Situated close to Kamloops, Lac le Jeune was a lush, beautiful park the first time we visited in 2004. By our next visit in 2006, the park was vastly changed from the mountain pine beetle infestation. The dense forestation was reduced to a sparse collection of surviving trees. All of the pine beetle damaged trees in the park were removed because they became falling hazards, and many healthy trees of other varieties were taken down too as well because they weren't strong enough to withstand strong winds without the pine trees standing around them. I would be curious to see if the forest has revitalized at all in the last seven years.


Here you can see all the brownish-red dead and dying pine trees.
Moonlight on Lac Le Jeune

7. Cultus Lake
Ironically, the two campsites that were closest to our home for the five years before our last move are the only ones that I have no photographs of. Cultus Lake is always a popular place for camping and day use in the summer. Be prepared for noise: power boats and large groups of happy people abound! The water is a bit dirty for my limited lake-swimming inclinations, both with bird excrement and feathers, and boat fuel. Also, you can see the copious volume of washed-off sunscreen floating around people in the water.

8. Chilliwack Lake
Chilliwack Lake, while colder and a bit more remote than Cultus Lake, is surrounded by much more scenic views and is generally less noisy than Cultus.

9. Rest in Peace, Nicolum River Provincial Park
One of our favourite all-time camping spots was Nicolum River Provincial Park. It is a great misfortune to camping enthusiasts that this campground has been "closed indefinitely" for the past several years. Located just outside of Hope, it is far enough away to feel as though you are really "away from it all" and close enough to drive there on the spur of the moment (which of course is a foreign concept once you have kids). There were only nine spaces in the park, all of which were non-reservable, so even if you aren't one to plan ahead three months in advance, you could still go camping.

Nicolum River Provincial Park

Nicolum River Provincial Park
We spent hours by the Nicolum River, just steps away from our tent, reading and talking. 
Finding balance
I used to read poetry on camping trips. Camping with kids is wonderful, but oh so different!
I can't find any reliable information as to why the park is closed, but I sure hope that the whisperings of selling this jewel to private developers isn't true. In any case, while the campground is closed, there are some very worthwhile places to visit in and around Hope.

The Othello Tunnels are one of the best kept secrets in B.C. I'm not particularly interested in trains, unless you count the obligatory interest in Thomas the Tank Engine of every mother of boys, but these former train tunnels are stunning. The tunnels cut through mountains of granite, and then the former tracks cross over 300ft gorges cut by the river below. The series of tunnels were built in 1914 by a Shakespeare aficionado, so all the junctions and stations were named after Shakespearean characters. On a bright, hot sunny days, the tunnels are so dark in the middle that you can scarcely see your hand in front of your face, and it's cool enough to wish for a sweater.

Othello Tunnels
Although my boys would probably love to see train tunnels, the combination of boys who like to climb and 300+ foot drops into a raging river make me morph into anxiety girl, the superhero who can jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound. We haven't been back since having kids.

If you time your summer visit just right, you can look down on the river and see fish fighting the current and wildly jumping out of the water. Again, I'm not terribly interested in fish per se, but I could have watched them for hours.




See the fish?


If you are looking for a perfect swimming hole on a drive through Hope, check out the Lake of the Woods, also a well-kept secret. The water is clear and relatively warm, and enjoyable even for those who normally don't enjoy swimming, especially in lakes (that would be me). There isn't a really nice beach area there, but there are some picnic benches.


Another stop worth making is the rest stop at the Hope Slide on the Crowsnest Highway. It is the site of the largest ever recorded landslide in Canada, which happened in 1965 after a couple of earthquakes in the area. The massive slide buried a lake and killed four people. Some of the boulders from the slide are the size of delivery trucks. The scope of this disaster is truly sobering when you see it in person.


Finally, in Hope, there are several places to explore the shores of the Fraser River. You might even find some gold that the prospectors left behind.


Another couple of points of interest:
If you drive to Osoyoos, be sure to take a peek at the Spotted Lake, just northwest of the city.

image from Wikipedia
And, if you are in the Whistler area, definitely take a rest stop at Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, located between Garibaldi and Whistler.

Brandywine Falls
So...what is your favourite campground in B.C.? Anything to add, positive or negative to the sites I've mentioned here? Recommendations? Favourite sights to see along the way?


Happy Camping!






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