While we had been in Prince George earlier in the month, we had purchased a book from an outdoor outfitters called a “BC Backroads” book, it is one of several in the provincial series that outlines a chunk of the province, right down to the backroads, trails, fishing streams, public boat launches, and subsequently, what are called Recreational Sites. As well as detailed information on such things as ATV trails, horseback trails, back-country fishing holes, snowmobile treks, private and provincial campgrounds, the map book has a whole section about these “Rec sites”. These are established, user-maintained, non-serviced, campsites throughout the province that are free for use on a first come-first served basis. They are rated in the book as to how rugged they are, how RV friendly they are and what kind of activities are popular in the area, i.e.:hunting, fishing, swimming, bird watching, hiking and so on…..
We did a little research in our book and decided we would try out one of these rugged sites, about 20 minutes west of the village of Little Fort, BC. It stated that there were 6 rugged, reasonably RV-friendly sites at this lake that was known for its trails and fishing. What also helped us decide, is that is was just off of a paved provincial highway. We got to “Goose Lake Rec Site”, and with a little hesitance, pulled off the highway into the site. We put the truck in park and went for a little walk deeper into the site. There were indeed 6 large sites stretched over an area of 10 acres or so with decent gravel roads through it, so we decided on a site just up above the lake so we could see the lake as we walked out of the camper. There was one other gentleman there with a small snail trailer in the back of his pick-up truck and his dog, but they would head out in the morning, leaving us there, in the middle of the BC interior all by our little selves.
Each site has a huge, sturdy picnic table and a big stone fire-pit ring. We had noticed lots of forestry roads as we were driving out to the site, and all kinds of piles of wood at the sides of the roads that were left-overs from forestry harvesting, so out Paul and I went to search for firewood…….we would not have to go far, in fact, the forestry industry is so prevalent in the area, surely one could heat their home for the winter easily on just the smallest fraction of the off-cut waste that is left over once the desirable parts of the trees are harvested. The wood we found that first day was already bucked up into reasonable pieces, so we just had to toss it into the back of the truck, and chop it with an axe once we got back. We took a drive for wood everyday, and everyday we filled the back of the truck in minutes and had ripping fires for the four days we were there. The sky is so dark out here, that it makes star gazing at night fantastic!! We saw all kinds of shooting stars, we saw the northern lights twice while we were out here, dancing crazy routines in the dark night sky and as much as we were in the middle of nowhere, in some way, it was obvious that on a cosmic level, we were nowhere close to alone out here.
It was rather eerie being so deep in the BC wilderness, we had not seen anyone close by for a few days, and the only other signs of life were the occasional forestry truck that can be heard rumbling down the highway……we kept the music on reasonably loud and our lantern faced to the woods for fear of a bear creeping up on us out here. With the help of our B.C. backroads book, we took a hike that would bring us through the woods behind our site and out to the forestry road, relatively close to another rec site down the road called Deer Lake Rec site. It was a long hike, uphill all the way there….about 20km in total once we returned home…….We really earned our fire-cooked dinner that evening! The other rec site was beautiful also, but would have been far more challenging to get our camper into a site there…the trees were close to each other in this site, compared to the site we were in, which was a bit more of an open meadow. That site had about 10-12 sites and there was nobody there either…..It was however, early September, and all the kids have since gone back to school and the camping season is in the very tail end of its popularity for the season…..never mind at these particular sites that offer no amenities….well except for rugged beauty, and peaceful serenity!
After a four day stay at Goose Lake, we scoped out another few potential rec sites to check out in the Kamloops area, and off we headed with a site in mind. The first site that we came to was just off of a major highway, and we needed only to pull into the site and right through to see that all of the sites were taken at this particular site. we had somewhat expected this, as it so close to the city. We had a plan B, just in case this exact thing were to happen. This next particular rec site was described as “large, 50 sites, RV friendly etc…”, sounded right up our alley!! We would have to take some forestry roads to get to the site, but in our limited experience, these were wide, hard packed gravel roads sturdy enough to get a transport up and down the rugged mountainsides, so we were confident that we too, could manoeuvre these roads. So, as good as a forestry road can be, they are still very much platforms cut into the sheer face of a mountain face for the sheer purpose of dragging out lumber…..there are no guardrails, and the drop off the side of the cliff is not a sloped grade, but very much a sheer, 1000’ cliff face that plummets into yet more vast, deep, thick green forest…….If one was to go off the road, there would be absolutely no hope of survival, in fact, there would be little chance that anyone would ever find you or even know that you went over the side……It is very much between you and the universe at that moment, and although peril faces us each each time we step behind the wheel, never have either of us been more aware of our mortality in that moment……At one point, the road, which is quite literally, winding along the side of a twisty mountain, becomes so narrow, that when an approaching pickup truck nears us, the truck has to go into the other side of the road, against the wall of the mountain, so that we might crawl past, on the outside lane…..no guardrail, no shoulder, no second chances…….it’s almost comical…..it really, honestly feels like a Looney Tunes cartoon with the roadrunner and Wyle coyote on the mountainside!!….slightly white-knuckled, but Paul Payne handled it like the boss he is captaining our rig!! So once we had driven about 30 kms down this road, which had taken us close to an hour, given the terrain and the crazy road, we came across what was supposed to be our ‘RV friendly’ rec site………
There was no chance that we were going to bring our rig into this site…….the site itself was about 200 feet below the road, and the road down into the site, was all but washed away from mudslides……we walked down the steep washed-out hill into the site, with the truck and rig on the road with the 4-way flashers on, while we explored what surely, could not be the site we had read about……..How utterly disappointing……Two rec sites in, still no place to stay, in was now cold and raining, and the road, remember, was challenging at best, so we actually had to go about another 15kms down the road until there was a driveway large enough for Paul to back the rig into and turn around. We told ourselves, we would drive to the other side of Kamloops where we would check out one more place, and if this place didn’t work out, we would head to the town limits and book into a private place. The last place we attempted was on the west side of Kamloops and it turned out to be just perfect! It was called Pass Lake Rec site, and it was a pretty large spot, with about 30 sites. There was one other camper there for the few days that we were there, and there were plenty of fishermen who came in daily to launch their small vessels and go fishing. The lake was small enough, that only trolling motors were allowed. It was quiet, and serene…… Thanks in part to the fact that it rained for nearly the entire time that we were there!!
On one of the rainy days, we headed into Kamloops to explore the town and do some chores. One of what would become one of our handiest acquisitions, we got at Princess Auto in Kamloops. I had never been to a Princess Auto, and Paul was excited to take me there, he thought that I would get a kick out of how much junk they sell in there, and was I ever!! But we got a small submersible pump that would allow us to pump clean lake water into our camper to use for dishes and showering when we were at just such a rec site that didn’t provide water hook-ups. The fresh water capacity in our camper runs out long before either the grey or black tanks can fill up, so we needed a way to be able to get water into our rig ourselves, and this was just the ticket!!
Kamloops has really interesting landscape around it…….the town sits in a valley and the town is built into the hillsides surrounding the valley. The valley itself is surrounded by vast areas of rolling grasslands. The grasslands, in large part are a protected ecological habitat, but there is just as much space that is public crown land available to anyone to hike, bike, snowmobile, ATV, dirtbike……whatever you can imagine….All we could keep thinking was how much my brother would love it out here, the dirt biking possibilities out here are endless, and there are visible trails everywhere through the rolling grasslands…….it is a veritable wonderland for the off-road crew, and it seems to be a very popular thing around the area…..while driving through Kamloops, almost every house has some kind of a toy or two….a camper, a dirtbike, an ATV…….recreation seems to have a certain priority out here in the more laid back west already!!
After exploring the Kamloops area for a few days, the cool, rainy weather had us antsy to get on the road again and exploring new ground. We decided on a rec site on the west side of Lake Okanogan, about 25 minutes north of Kelowna, and hit the road on the way to new adventure!