First Camp of the Season: Sasquatch Provincial Park
At six months pregnant it dawned on me: this is our last summer as a three-person family. High time to go tenting, before I get too huge! With this in mind, back in March I used Discover Camping and snagged us a site at Sasquatch Provincial Park. Sasquatch is located six kilometers north of Harrison Hot Springs (about 2 hours from Vancouver), and features 3 campgrounds: Lakeside, Bench, and Hicks Lake. Lakeside and Bench are adjacent to Deer Lake, and both lakes are great for fishing, boating, and swimming (note: it’s too cold to swim in May).
Adjacent to both Deer and Hicks Lake are day-use areas with green grass and picnic benches (watch for geese and their babies, as well as goose poop, in spring). Both lakes are also rimmed with walking trails that take about an hour to complete (although the Deer Lake trail seems to dead-end partway through).
All three sites feature clean running water, nice treed sites, and pit toilets. We did not have cell phone reception, and there is no hot water. Firewood is provided by park staff, who make regular patrols to make sure the sites are in order.
As with any ‘first camp of the season’, this was a great time to learn new lessons, test gear, and get closer as a family. Here are the things we learned on our trip:
1. Make a reservation!
Unless you plan to arrive before 7am on opening day, make a reservation and make it early. We booked our site for the whole weekend, and pre-paid. With the reservation costs and camping fees it was less than $80 for three nights so still very affordable. You have until 11am the morning AFTER your first night to claim your site, which is exactly what we did. Note: when reviewing available sites, the acronym FCFS stands for “First Come, First Served” (those are the 7am families) – a park like Sasquatch will have about half of their sites set aside for this.
2. Take the forecast with a grain of salt.
A few families bailed this weekend because the forecast called for rain. While this prediction was helpful (we packed extra tarps and rain gear) we only saw a 2-minute sprinkle in the woods. Remember that the forecast can be wrong (either way) and campgrounds are often shadier (cooler on hot days, protected on rainy ones) than surrounding areas.
3. What looks good on paper (or a map) isn’t always so.
The best way to know, is to go. (Or to read this blog).
Initially I was worried because our site looked like one of the worst campsites in the park. Located in Bench, it was farthest from Deer Lake, and next to a washroom. On arrival we discovered that Lakeside (closer to the lake) is more of a social campground (i.e. louder). Our site, at the far end of Bench, was quiet, private, and the toilet was close enough for a pregnant lady and young child, but we were the only ones who used it (so it was super clean). We also found out the “playing field” in Bench campground is a group site, which we dubbed “The Field of Teens” (about 20 tents of teenagers, who were quite well-behaved). You just really never know until you visit a campground for yourself!
4. Pregnant? Take a night off of your usual stay.
I’m in pretty good shape for a preggo, and did lots of hiking and exploring before and during our trip, so when my husband said we should cut it short by a night, I got defensive. That said sleeping in a tent (noise, discomfort), breathing fresh air, and doing lots of extra walking (for water, to use the bathroom) really took a toll. By the time we packed up, got home, cleaned and stored our gear, I was spent. Happy, relaxed, but exhausted.
5. Keep a camping journal, even if it’s just notes in your phone.
Every trip brings new discoveries. We learned that Starbucks Hot Chocolate (ethical cocoa, not too much junk) can be made with boiling water and topped up with coffee cream (so you don’t have to heat milk). We perfected our ‘camping pasta sauce’ (half a package of pre-made frozen meatballs in a freezer bag, a jar of pasta sauce, freezes flat). These hashbrown patties are perfect for camp cooking, just the right size and they don’t stick. We’re going to ditch our flimsy frying pan in favour of another cast iron one. And it’s high time we invested in a camping toaster.
We took a walk around the site to ‘window shop’ for gear and saw canopies, which seem to be the perfect picnic table cover. We couldn’t believe how high some of the tarps were, and as a result learned about a product called SkyHooks. We also ran into families scoping out the best site to book for next year.
All these schemes and plans have been noted so that our next trip is that much more comfortable.
At the end of the day, our first trip out was fantastic. We didn’t spot the Sasquatch, but now we’re more ready than ever for one last camp before the baby comes.
See you out there!
Published: June 5th, 2014
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