The Summer Fun Trip!
We had such a good time camping at Manning last
year, we decided to do it again this summer! I was originally
hoping to go to the Okanagan, but reservations are really hard,
Shuswap was open and I had never been. Perfect
combination! We left Vancouver Monday morning (Helen worked
the weekend) just after 11am and started driving inland. We
stopped at Bridal Veil falls for lunch.
Laurie Guichon Memorial Grasslands Interpretive Site
Every time I drive though Merritt I take
in the grasslands covering the surrounding hills and wonder what
is up there. I did a bit a research and it turns out there
are actually quite a few places you can get off the highway and
explore the grasslands a little. On this trip we decided to
visit the Laurie Guichon Memorial Grasslands Interpretive
Site. It's a bit tricky to find - you turn off the
Coquihalla and start driving toward Kelowna. There is no
sign at the turn off, but shortly after you get off the highway
(there is a left turn bay) and onto the gravel road there is a
welcoming sign and a map.
What I noticed first getting off the
highway was the large Osprey Nest on an artifical platform on top
of an old snag next to small lake. It was a busy nest -
three almost full sized juviniles with two parents coming and
going with fish. Helen noticed something a lot more subtle -
a sapsucker (think woodpecker) excavating in a nearby tree.
I knew this was going to be a good stop.
We drove a little further down the road to
Marquart Lake. It's been a cool/wet summer so there was
still lots of green left in the grasslands. I was surprised
just how many flowers and insects were around. I was keen to
see the dragonflies and butterflies because the dry interior has
different species than the wet west coast.
When I started researching what was actually in the photos I was
quite dismayed to find that much of what I saw was actually
invasive/introduced species. Merritt is not a great example
of pristine grasslands and nature being what it is, you can't
remediate the land to back to an earlier state.
Learn to Fish
The campground has a lot going for it -
large beach access, paved roads between camp sites and a nice
staff running the facilities. Sadly, it didn't have much for
amphitheater programs. The only program was the Tuesday
night "Learn to Fish" program put on by the Freshwater Fisheries
Society of BC. The brought a truck full of pre-setup rods
and gave a nice presentation about stocking lakes, invasive fish
and fish we need to protect (like Sturgeon and Steelhead).
They taught the kids how to cast their rods and then set the crowd
on the beach to "go fishing".
The rods the kids were given had just a
bare, barbless hook - no lure of any sort. The kids
basically didn't stand a chance of catching a fish. It
didn't help that they were fishing in the swimming area at the
beach which I find it hard to imagine a fish would want to live
in. The kids didn't know any of this and had a great time
casting into the lake. Some kids were standing in the water
and of course all kids wanted to copy - ours only got ankle deep.
Wharf in Salmon Arm
I'm now willing to call myself a "birder"
- there is no way I could argue any other way. When I did
the research on where to go, the Wharf in Salmon arm showed up as
a good place to Grebe's that I hadn't seen before. Combined
with lunch in town, it made for a nice morning trip.
Right off the wharf is a family of Osprey
raising three chicks. The birds all look good and must be
pretty naturalized to people. Boats come and go (there is a
fuel station at the docks) and the birds didn't seem
bothered. I setup my camera as a telescope and the kids got
to see the eye colours of the big birds.
More subtle was the Western Grebe's. These birds aren't
common in the lower mainland, but they were easy to see from the
wharf. With the boat traffic, the boats weren't close to
shore, but their white necks really stand out so you can see them
a long way away.
Lac Du Bois Grasslands Protected Area
enjoyed the walk around the grasslands in Merritt so I decided to do
a little more! Just North of Kamloops is a the Lac Du Bois
Grasslands Protected Area - an area of rolling hills where grass and
sagebrush dominate the landscape rather than trees. I may have
gone once as a child (I used to live in Kamloops) but I don't
remember the area so today was mostly a scouting trip.
One of my favorite plant
books has a "Southern Interior" edition, highlighting the plants
found away from the coast. Grasses dominate the book.
Walking around the grasslands protected area, you see different
specialization - valley bottom grasses are different from grasses on
slopes which area different again from grasses in shade.
Now that I have some idea what is out here, I can plan a better trip
in the future.
I was a kids, I went to Sunnybrae Bible camp for a week each
summer. My sister generally went a week earlier or
later. Just down the road is Margaret Falls so I'm sure I
visited at least once. Sadly, I have very little memory of
The falls are quite
dramatic. There is a cave under the waterfall and we watched a
barefoot guy walk in a walk out. Of course the rock is covered
in slimy algae so walking on it is taking your life in your own
Life in Camp
It's amazing to me how durable kids are to
swimming in cold water. Last year we went camping at Manning
park and the kids went swimming every day in a lake that is
covered in ice every winter. The Shuswap doesn't freeze over
any more (apparently the last time was in the 70's or 80's) but I
wouldn't describe the lake as warm. The kids would swim
until their lips went blue, come to shore to warm up in the sun,
and go swimming again.
to see what kinds of animals can live in a provincial camp
site. There were two deer that wandered around campsite to
campsite eating the under story plants. We saw a few squirrels
wander through. I saw a pileated woodpecker once. My
favorite sighting was a Merlin, high in the tree tops across from
our site. I was out on the road with my camera taking photos
when a family with young kids walked by. The youngest said I
had a telescope. The parents said yup and just kept on
I've said before, I'm not a big fan of
campfires. They are smokey, smelly and have a risk of
burns. My kids love campfires. On the second night we
bought a bag of firewood (about twice the wood you get from from a
gas station for the same price) and made a campfire. We
brought a hatchet which allowed us to break the large pieces into
pieces a good size for starting a fire.
Helen purchased a bunch
of glow sticks at the dollar store a few years back. Sadly,
they do have a shelf life and some of them don't make much light at
all. After a few bad sticks, we decided to open all of them
and decorate the tent. The combination of flashlights,
glowsticks and campfire smoke was a great combination for the kids.
I was hoping to take photos of the stars or even the milky way, but
the moon and clouds really didn't help out. When I woke up
early for my Lac Du Bois trip, I was surprised to find that I didn't
need a flashlight - the full moon was so bright it was almost like
daylight. The moon rose early in the evening and stayed up all
night so there was never a good time to try and photograph stars.
And then it was time to
go home! We took down the tarps, packed up the tent
(amazingly, everything fit back in it's bag) and repacked the
car. Our little Subaru was packed tight - the kids couldn't
see each other in the back seat and the space beneath their feet was
full. And we were off home! Lunch at White Spot in
Kamloops (first free internet in days!) and after wait through an
accident on the Coquihalla, home again.
People: Claira(12), Nara(10), Helen(4), John(2)
From: John Harvey Photo > Blogs for 2016 to 2005 > Shuswap Camping
Last Modified Monday, September 5th, 2016 at 13:01:30 Edit
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