Okanagan Lake Camping 3
The camping didn't quite go as planned.
This is my third trip Okanagan Lake
Campground (North). It's a hard camp site to book (books up
within seconds of becoming available) so I felt quite fortunate to
get a spot anywhere in the campsite. Our plan was to visit
the Okanagan for a few days of sun, swimming and interesting
activities! Our previous trips (2007
) were at the end
of August (Labour Day Long Weekend) at the temperature was
great. Today we arrived, unpacked into the campsite and
immediately realized it was too hot to cook diner after a long day
of driving. We went into Summerland and grabbed dinner in an
air conditioned restaurant. We checked the weather - we were
in for a week of hot weather - highs around 37°C, 10°C warmer than
we were used to for summer.
Walk Near White Lake
My kids are 6 and 8. Not every
activity is kid friendly. Waking up at 4:30 in the morning
and driving to a park for a walk before breakfast is a good
example. I've seen White Lake on previous trips - it's a
large (usually dry) lake about 45 minutes from our campsite.
My plan was to get up and visit around sunrise.
This is an arid area so the lake acts as a
magnet for wildlife. I hoped that visiting early would let
me see animals before they hid from the heat of day and I was
immediately rewarded with brightly colored birds in the sage
I spotted a deer eating in the grass - it didn't seem to mind me
walking by. When the Coyotes started calling, the deer
definitely took notice. To me, they sounded like three
distinct groups, but I'm sure the big ears on a deer are hearing
things I'm not.
I walked down to the lake to see how the shoreline looks, but the
lake was actually really full so there was little to see.
Learn to Fish Morning
When we stayed at the Shuswap campground, we
stumbled into a "Learn to Fish" event put on by Freshwater
Fisheries Society of BC. The kids really enjoyed it last
time and after a little digging, I found there was a "Learn to
Fish" event in the camp site next to ours! We tried to bike
over, but the trails were blocked by recently fallen trees.
We had to drive over.
They gave a good presentation identifying fish and discussing how
to hold a fish to not hurt it. We practiced tying knots and
then each family were given a rod and we went to the boat launch
to try and catch fish.
The kids had about an hour of casting and
reeling in without much luck, but apparently one kid did catch a
Biking Mira Canyon
I am the first to admit this was a
mistake. I have wanted to bike parts of the Kettle Valley
Railway for a while and almost did a number of years ago until a
forest fire burned much of the improvements made to make it
passable. Amazing volunteers got the trestles and tunnels
back into safe form and we drive up on a hot afternoon to go for a
The problem is the kids. This route
is on the side of a canyon and it's quite possible to just ride
off the edge of the trail and fall dozens of meters to your
death. There are no guard rails anywhere and a 6 year old on
a bike is a whole lot of random behaviour. It probably
didn't help that I overheard people at the bike rental place talk
about a mom going over the side because she was watching her kids
instead of where she was biking. We biked a few km down the
trail with the kids stopping frequently for water breaks a
rests. My nerves were shot.
The old rail bed is amazing.
Trestles follow blasting as the route slowly winds it's way around
the canyon. You can see clear across the canyon to trestles
on the other side where the route continues. Building this
route originally must have been phenomenally expensive. Even
keeping the bridges maintained now must be quite pricey.
After we biked down for a while, it was time to come back. I
joined Claira's bike to mine and I towed her back on the slighting
rising grade to the parking lot. Nara had drunk all of her
water and complained almost continuously for the last 10 minutes
until we got back to the car where we had more water. It
wasn't the beautiful day I had hoped for, but it was still pretty
Learning to be an Amateur Miner
When I was a kid, we visited a family that had a rock tumbler and
a large supply of polished stones. It seemed like magic to
me - somehow finding stones and then making them so pretty.
My kids really like "Crystals" so I wanted to give them some idea
where real people get them. With a bit of digging, I found
someone to guide us on a day of rock hounding.
Our first stop was an outcropping of rock was found durring a
survey for a gravel pit and people have been banging on the rock
for a while trying to harvest decent sized crystals. The
kids got hammers and started trying to extract their own
crystals. Further down seam (where you hung on with your toe
nails) were larger crystals well secured in a bed of
granite. We had hammers and chisels and we banged for an
hour or two to find some crystals.
We then moved to a second site. The site was a long drive up
a gravel road where we found a rock face that had several deep
fissures where people had previously mined common opal.
There were wet seeps covering some of the rock and we immediately
found frogs had taken up homes in the small pools where the water
accumulated. When we stated banging, they left for
smaller hiding places.
The Opal is much softer than the surrounding matrix so it was easy
to make lots of small (and sharp) pieces of opal. Removing a
larger piece was quite difficult - you had to have a strategy and
have patience. Our guide Tony was able to remove a fist
sized piece by strategically hitting around, but I took much
longer to remove smaller pieces.
We had a great day! Thanks Tony for
the help - we learned a lot in one day.
It turned into a long day. We drove back to West Bank,
grabbed some dinner and then started driving to our camp
site. We heard there were some road restrictions due to
forest fires, but the forest fires got more serious as we got
closer. After we had stop and go crawled our way through
peach land, I got out my tripod and started taking photos from the
window of the car while we waited for the next time we would move
the car up.
After watching 3 movies in the back seat of the truck, the kids
figured something was up. We got to the front of the queue
and it was our turn to drive in a convoy down the highway past the
The Mount Enas forest fire had stated to burn down the mountain
and it was getting close to the highway. Traffic was
restricted to a single convoy at a time with police escorts and
the front and end of the column. No stopping obviously.
Our campsite was at the end of the restricted area and the
entrance was a parking lot for a few police cars. Our
campsite was under a mandatory evacuation order and we were given
five minutes to collect our things before they kicked us out.
We drove past campsites full of tents and
RV's but no other people were left. We parked and loaded
things as quickly as we could - sleeping bags and pajamas for the
kids. Their stuffed animals. Bathing
suits. We didn't have enough time to get bikes or stoves or
much of our stuff and it was time to go.
Thankfully my parents were staying with friends about 45 minutes
away and we were invited over. At midnight, with some still
excited kids, we rolled in and got the kids ready for bed.
What do you do with tired kids and most of your stuff
missing? We went to the beach! We drove down to
Okanagan falls and lets the kids play in the lake while we
messaged the campground operator and read every piece of
information we could find on the internet. The highway was
open then closed then open again but the camp site was no
entry. It seemed unlikely it would open so we enjoyed our
day in the sun.
We found Tickleberries Ice Cream and enjoyed their air
conditioning. They have a great business model - large
portions of ice cream served in a very warm climate and an air
conditioned store full of knick-knacks and other vacation
trinkets. My wife bought a purse.
We came up with a plan - my parents took the kids home and Helen
and I would wait until the camp site opened again. The next
morning the kids left and the Park operator told us the camp site
might be open from 12 until 3pm to remove items, but was still
under an evacuation alert (you couldn't stay). When we
arrived at noon, the police required ID enter and your name had to
be on the reserved campsite list.
It took us roughly an hour to pack. Some things had been
blown around and our tent had collapsed in the wind but we were
otherwise fine. Nothing was missing, but the camp site was
eerie quiet. There was a thin layer of ash on things and
everything smelled of smoke but otherwise no damage.
We had a long drive back to Vancouver and with the highway closed
we had to go the southern route. We stopped in Keremeos to
pick up fruit and then drove though to Vancouver. We wound
up having dinner at Rangoli at 11pm.
It was a shorter camping trip than we were planning but we still
had a great time. Thanks to Maria for hosting us on very
Tags: forest(7), fire(6), biking(4), time lapse(3), lake(3), ice cream(3)
People: Nara(4), Claira(4), Lloyd(2)
From: John Harvey Photo > John Harvey Photo - Camping > Okanagan Camping 3
Last Modified Saturday, August 25th, 2018 at 21:57:18 Edit
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