The original plan was a single 4 night camping trip at
Okanagan Lake, near Summerland. After we booked the
trip, we found out that Jin and Jesse were camping at Rathtrevor
the following week. Through a little bit of online work and
unbelievable luck, we were able to book a 4 night stay in the
campsite right next to theirs.
Previous camping trips I have made
"Load Out" photos - Garibaldi
Again. This time I wanted to try something a
little different - I made a timelapse video of unloading
and setting up the tent. This year we borrowed my
Dad's truck (Thanks!) because we were having trouble
fitting so much stuff in our Subaru. I'm really glad
I haven't had to unpack and setup in the rain.
We have been to Englishman River falls
and Qualicum River falls before. I wanted to try and find
new places worth visiting. I did some research on the
internet and found Hamilton Marsh isn't very far away.
I left the campground after the gate opened and drove North on the
highway to the next exit and then found the relatively unmarked
parking lot. There was a wide trail through the forest but
again no signs. I walked for a few minutes, past a few forks
and then came out of the forest into a massive clearing.
There is a short floating dock.
I was clearly the
first person there that day (lots of spider silk to the face when
walking through the forest) and I noticed the splashing of frogs as
I walked up the boardwalk. With a bit of looking I found the
frogs - bullfrogs. The marsh was thick with them (and probably
little else). I hoped to see dragon flies resting on plants,
but saw almost nothing.
While researching, I found a new
marsh - the Parksville Wetlands. There isn't really clear
access, but I found a street in a residential neighborhood that I
assumed led to a trail. I pulled up and was quite surprised to
see a California Quail looking back at me. The trails lead to
a scrubby hills next to the housing and eventually crosses over the
now abandoned part of the Vancouver Island "Esquimalt and Nanaimo
Railway". It won't be easy to get the rail running again - the
trees are growing up between the rails and in a few more years you
won't even be able to find the rails.
I ran into a local walking the trails. He told me there is no
standing water anywhere near the Parksville Wetlands. Oh well.
In my mind, camping is a means to have
activities outside of camping - go for hike or see a new
thing. I'm uncomfortable just sitting in a camp site with
nothing to do. Thankfully our came site actually has quite a
bit of wildlife come through.
The surrounding trees were thick with
squirrels. The squirrels are pretty teritorial so they spend
much of the day yelling at us and each other for perceived
incursions into their territory.
There were roughly 6 Pileated Woodpeckers
that would fly through the campsites every day. These are a
pretty common bird in coastal BC which I have seen a number of
times before, but this is the first time I actually had time to
setup my camera and take photos. It's always fun to get
another "nemesis" bird off the list.
Just outside of the park is a small
general store. You can bike into Parksville and find a full
grocery store, but the general store is the closest place to get
an ice cream cone. It's enough work to bike there that we
didn't go every night.
End of the Day
Sometimes we head down to the beach to
watch the sunset. At this time of the year the sun hits the
water just off the coast. In another few weeks it will be
sitting in the mountains and sunset will be in shadow.
Park operators seem to be pretty entrepreneurial.
Inevitably their is a camp fire ban and kids wish they could roast
marshmallows. While you aren't allowed open fires, you are
allowed a propane powered gas fireplace. You can buy a large
heavy fireplace and use it for one week a year or you can rent it
for about 1/3rd the price. Jin and Jesse took it for the
team and rented - we came over and enjoyed their smores.
Every family is different with bedtimes and
deserts. It's camping so yes you can have a smore just
before bedtime - but you can't have three! Our kids are a
little younger and go to bed a little earlier because they get up
a little earlier.
Helen finds the dollar start glow sticks
(packs of 10 for $1.25!) and the kids can decorate the tent before
they go to bed. We don't do it every night, but it is a
Thanks Jin and Jesse for letting us crowd your summer vacation!