Aug 7, 2011

Camping on the Wild Side

I want a 4x4. Finally, after 3 years in the country, I want a truck. A big truck with high suspension, 4-wheel drive, power.

No I don't want to race (though we did stumble upon an intriguing hidden 4x4 race track outside Port Alberni). I don't want to spend my days burning fossil fuels while challenging tough terrain. I just want to go camping.

After decades of Provincial Park camping throughout Canada, we've finally discovered an abundance of free camping in BC. Free in all senses of the word - no pay, no neighbours, no noise, no rules. Just us and nature and a stocked fishing lake (starting to sound like a Brad Paisely song).

Last year we followed the Backroads book to Khartoum Lake outside Powell River. This year it was a water taxi from Toffino to Flores Island, being dropped off on a rock outcropping then hiking along the "WildSide Trail" and white sand shoreline through a myriad of secluded white sand beaches. Next year we'll seek even more remote hike-in or canoe-in sites, with the one limitation being the roads to reach the launch point.

Not to diss our truly beautiful provincial parks, but there's just nothing like being alone on a mountain top or shoreline with good friends and nothing else. Well, nothing except a wolf that visited our picnic site, seals and sea otters popping up for a visit, grey whales spouting off-shore, bear prints in the morning, bald eagles and ravens watching from above. Was this worth hoisting an impossibly heavy backpack on my ol' back and on my amazingly-low-complaining boys' backs? You betchya!

Are we slowly moving into Extreme Camping? Sarah did spend 2 days dehydrating everything from beef jerky to rice & beans to chocolate pudding and granola bars. We had to boil water from a tidal river that never quite lost its salt and never quite quenched our thirst. We had to limit ourselves to one S'more per night (is that an oxymoron, "one s'more"?) Even my guitar had to stay home.

But in the end we still managed to pack in way too much delicious food, enough blankets and tents to keep warm in the wet coast mists, and enough bathing suits (none) to enjoy the surf and river fun. Toys for the kids - none. They delighted in shells and sticks and sand, games of tag and whale spotting and fire building. For all the complex planning and packing required, it was in its final expression a true gesture of simplicity.

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