We headed off early Saturday morning with our neighbours Samuel and Philippe (Maite is away doing research). The destination was Strawberry Point on Lillooet Lake, which is just a little past Pemberton, BC. Now, to be fair, I did say we were heading ‘back country camping’, and this didn’t exactly count as that. It’s too accessible by far. But it was still fun, no complaints! The beach campsite is around a five minute walk from the parking lot, down a rather steep hill.
Didja notice that phrase? Steep hill? Yeah, we had not only camping and fishing gear, but a full-sized canoe too! That was a challenge. Worth it, though!
Once camp was set up – tents arranged to catch the wind, on sandy beach – we spent the afternoon just being happy.
The silty-grey water of the lake was cold, not as cold as Cheakamus Lake was, but still glacial. And we went swimming anyway. Cameron seemed impervious to the cold, and was determined to swim with me. He wanted me to play sea monster, which involves me getting my head under the water. Shockingly cold!
We loaded up the canoe with snacks, water, and a bag to collect streamwater in (don’t drink stream water unless you can treat it!), got the kids and ourselves into life jackets, and cast off. Each boy had his own paddle, just long enough to get in the water, but not big enough to really have a negative effect (much) when they decided to paddle the wrong way. “That point should only take us twenty minutes to get to,” turned out to be an hour paddle almost! The southern shore was forested slopes reaching up to peaks high above, with a glimpse of a glacier. Along the northern shore were impressive cottages (again, not back country), with large arrays of solar panels. One even seemed to have a stream-based generator. How to entertain kids on long paddles? Stories! Philippe told one, made up on the spot, to get us there. On the way back the kids demanded that I tell them the story of “Finding Nemo.” Every time I stopped, hoping to get a break, there was an immediate, “And then what happened?”
As supper finished cooking the sun started to sink below the mountains, and the moon rose. As distressing as the forest fires are, the smoke-filled atmosphere made for gorgeous skies. The west glowed golden orange, shifting subtly to pink for its last moments. In the east, the moon’s glow was similarly altered. Long after the sun set, the moon’s face was pinkish gold. The boys played after supper, then enjoyed hot chocolate before bedtime.
Bedtime was a little bit of a challenge. Cameron was nervous, uncertain about this whole sleeping so close to a forest thing, and was convinced he was going to be sick. Then hanging the bags in a tree didn’t help much – we explained that it was to keep the food safe from animals. To tell the truth, they weren’t hung high enough to deter a bear had one come around, but it was at least an effort, and they were some distance from the tents. Then it was Philippe to the rescue, with a story about a family that had to spend the night out in the woods, and a prince, princess, and king cursed to be crickets and a firefly until they could find a family that trusted them enough to spend the night with them. Finally, I got Cameron and myself into sleeping bags in our tent, and within a minute he’d drifted off. I tried to pry his head lamp out of his fingers – no go. “No Mommy, you’ll drop it in the water! It can’t get wet, Mommy,” he mumbled. Already dreaming. I turned it off, and he held it all night long. I took longer to drift off, but just enjoyed lying there, listening to the rather strong wind rush through the forest, and to the waves lapping on shore.
“LOOK at the LAKE,” was Cameron’s awed exclamation when he woke enough to look around. We’d slept with the fly pulled back to let the wind go through the tent, and so we could have that incredible view on waking. That moment made the fear of the night before worth it.
Sunday we played a bit, and the boys got their faces painted like superheroes. They alternated between playing really well together and clearly disliking each other, just as kids their age will do. There was lots of parasail gawking, and we went for a shorter canoe trip, then a bit more swimming. We fished, but with no luck. The boys quickly got bored, and preferred to throw rocks into the water, each from his own driftwood-delineated ‘throwing place’.
After lunch it was time to head back. Only just over 24 hours there, and it really seemed like longer – we did so much, and yet there was enough free play time for the boys that it didn’t seem overwhelmingly packed with activities.