Day Camping

You’ve probably heard of day tripping, and everybody knows about camping, but did you know, that if you put these two things together into “day camping” you have what amounts to a really great time?

Winter isn’t the best season for camping in Canada. It’s not impossible, we’ve done it, but it’s definitely not the carefree, outdoor-living experience of spring/summer/fall camping. Our trailer keeps us nice and warm, but Nollind worries about condensation damaging the trailer, and T isn’t crazy about the winterized and unusable water system.

Me? Well, as much as I like an adventure and I have a decent bed in the trailer, it can be a bit cool on the floor next to the wall, and my trailer bed just doesn’t compare to a futon couch by the fireplace on a cold, winter night. I know. I’m spoiled.

My bed in Simon under the table. Not bad, right?

Last Fur-iday I reported from the Trans Canada highway eastbound with friends G, S, and R riding drag. Well, turns out we were off on our first day camping adventure of the winter. Day camping has many of the elements of regular camping—hiking, cooking over an open flame, eating great food, and camp chairs around the fire as the sun goes down—you just don’t stay overnight.

Dinosaur Provincial Park was Fur-iday’s destination, a place you might remember from past blog posts of a camping trip and a day trip. We arrived at the park around noon and the weather was perfect when we stopped at the viewpoint—calm, warm, sunny. It just doesn’t get better in December around these parts.

Badlands viewpoint.

The only problem with the warm day, and the warm days that preceded it, was the melting and freezing along the Badlands Trail. Yowza, just about needed skates! There was some slipping, some sliding, one backside landing, a little luging, and a fair amount of scrambling, but we all completed the loop without injury and had a fun time along the way.

Rocking a non-icy part of the trail.

After the hike that took a little longer than expected due to the conditions, we were off to set up “camp”. Fire roaring, chairs circled, it was time for one of my very favourite parts of camping, whether the day or overnight variety, FOOD. Tea and snacks around the fire, followed by sausage and marshmallow roasting, and some dog food thrown in for good measure.

Sharesies?

From the time we arrived in camp until about four o’clock it was so warm we hardly needed a fire … but then the sun went behind the hills, and then down altogether. Brrr… I don’t really like wood fires, too much popping, but I ooched as close as I dared, which wasn’t close enough to stay warm. Fortunately, when T noticed I was shivering she put on my jacket and burrito’d me between my two quilted pads. Aaaahhh…camping is the life, isn’t it?

Just call me Chico Burrito.

After supper, T, S, and we two dogs went for a short walk around the campground, followed by a little more campfire, and then it was time to pack up and go home. The downside of day camping is the long drive home instead of tucking into bed in the trailer. Ha! I say long drive like I experienced it. After a full day in the great outdoors, I don’t remember much after Nollind put the truck in gear.

As the sun goes down…

We were hoping to go day camping again with our friends in the near future, had even started talking about destinations, but it looks like that’s on hold until the new year. The latest pandemic restrictions for the humans don’t allow them to visit with each other, even outdoors, for the next four weeks.

I’ll be taking a week off next Fur-iday while Storm reports in. He’s got some good news from the field. :o)

Snow in June!

You’re probably thinking that “Snow in June” isn’t a very promising title for a camping blog, but the snow was only in one place and made for a terrific roll. The rest of our recent journey was summery weather—warm, sunny, and buggy. The bugs don’t actually bother me too much, but they sure drive the humans to distraction.

The original camping plan was for a few days at one of many local campgrounds that recently reopened after the pandemic shutdown. Then T decided there was no reason not to add a couple of days and turn it into a bit more of a vacation. It was a long winter of postponed and then cancelled plans followed by a spring of isolation on the farm so I think she was ready for more miles than the short journey to Kananaskis or Severn Dam.

So off we went on the morning of her birthday, bound for Crimson Lake Provincial Park near Rocky Mountain House. She and I stopped there last spring on our way home from visiting T’s mom, I believe it was number eight of twenty-six in my 2019 season of lakes.

Aaahh…lake time.

Wikipedia says that Crimson Lake “received its name from the striking colours of the setting sun reflecting on the surface of its waters seen by an earlier trapper” but T and Nollind are pretty sure it has more to do with the voracious mosquitoes and subsequent bloodletting. Either way, it’s a beautiful spot with a nice campground, great walking trails, and we stayed there two nights.

Sunset walk at Crimson Lake.

Wednesday we were on our way west to another provincial park, Goldeye Lake. What should have been a happy arrival at this pretty lake in the foothills was disrupted by a flood in Simon the travel trailer. The campground road had some mega bumps and one of them managed to turn the tap on, which overflowed the sink down into the cupboards and onto the floor. T and Nollind normally turn the pump off when we travel but, oops, they forgot. I don’t think they will again. Our campsite looked like laundry day with everything hanging on lines.

What’s camping without at least one small disaster?

A hike around the lake, combined with a drying breeze and a lack of mosquitoes, put everything to right and the peeps were laughing and playing dominoes at the picnic table by evening (there may have been a drink or two involved).

Happier campers.

Thursday we drove to nearby Crescent Falls. It’s a bit of a bumpy ride from the highway to the falls but we left Simon behind at Goldeye so there were no concerns about further trailer disasters. The peeps loved the falls, took photos of them from many angles, oohed and aahed, but me, I was more interested in the other people, and their dogs. After all, it’s just a river that met a cliff, right?

Cooling my feet at the top of the falls.

While they watched three kayakers tackle the lower falls, I rested in the shade, watching the other visitors wander by. A few stopped to say hello and give me a scratch. But the best part? The picnic. Is there anything better than a picnic? I say, not likely.

Upper and lower Crescent Falls.

After another evening of campfire time and bluegrass jamming, we were on our way west on Friday morning to yet another provincial park, Thompson Creek. This park sits right on the edge of Banff National Park near Saskatchewan River Crossing. We were all a little concerned at first by the bright yellow signs posted all over the park, but we carried our bear spray just in case and never did see the resident bear.

They called this guy a “problem bear” but the people who fed him are the real problem.
Thompson Creek Campground.

I’m far more interested in what I smell than what I see, but I have to admit that our day trip to Athabasca Glacier was pretty cool, in more ways than one. That breeze that blows down off the glacier is refreshing, to say the least. We have some packed snow and ice that likes to linger in the spring around here, but did you know the Athabasca Glacier has been melting for over a hundred years and it’s still huge? How impressive it must have been when it flowed right down to the bottom of the valley.

The glacier used to go all the way to that building at the base of the mountain.

On the way back to camp, we stopped at Parker Ridge where there was still snow at the trailhead parking lot. Yup, quite a lot of it for June 12. The peeps weren’t interested in a snowy hike but stopped just for me because they know how much I love to roll in snow.

Going in for the roll!

Saturday morning was absolutely the best morning of the whole trip. Not because it was time to go home, although that was good too, but because I got pancakes and bacon for my breakfast. So, so, so delicious. The cute tablecloth and tableside fire were nice touches added by T, but, for me, it’s all about the food.

After one last walk around the campground, we started the journey home around noon, making a quick stop at Mistaya Canyon on our way south. I normally drink from every creek or river we come across, especially in the mountains where the water is cold and clean, but I passed on this one. T joked they could lower me down into the canyon on my harness for a sip. Ha ha. Very funny.

Mistaya Canyon

So, the first camping trip of the summer season is in the book (there is actually a little book that lives in Simon) and I’m sure hoping it won’t be the last. We came home to an injured horse—Nevada rolled onto an old stump and it punctured his hip—but I’m sure he’ll heal in time for us to venture out again soon.

If you talked to me on day one I might have said I don’t like camping, but it just takes me a little time to adjust to a new routine and a different bed. By day two or three of new places to walk and explore and sniff, I’m one happy camper.

And the bed doesn’t suck either.

Shhh…It’s a Secret

We went camping this week, but I can’t tell you where. I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Usually I like to tell you where we’ve been, even provide links so that you can read about the places and maybe visit them yourselves. But, this time, if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you, and I’m a snuggler, not a killer.

Snuggling with the Earth.

The location of this latest camping adventure was discovered by G & S on a day outing back in July and they thought it was the perfect destination for our August rendezvous. And perfect it was. In fact, I think I saw tears pooling in Nollind’s eyes when we drove in, and I don’t think they were just tears of relief that we’d arrived safely with T driving. (She’s pretty new to this trailer hauling thing and I see his jaw tighten every now and then. He tries to hide it but we dogs have highly developed senses.)

Just two dogs hangin’ out in camp.

Anyway…this place. O. M. G. It’s in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, filled with spruce and aspen forest, has a beautiful river running through it, and quiet, oh so quiet. Heaven. And, since this describes many places on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, I think our secret is safe.

Did I mention yet that there were bones?

G & S and my buddy Ria arrived before us and picked, I kid you not, the best spot in the whole campground, right on the river, with a little dog beach for swimming and lots of trees for shade. Heaven. Wait, I think I said that already … but it bears repeating.

A walk in the woods.

There were twice daily walks on the quiet country road and along the south side of the river, turns around the campground in the morning and before bed, and as much swimming/wading as a dog wanted to do. Me, I’m more of a wade in when it’s hot kind of guy, Ria on the other hand is a very enthusiastic water gymnast. We were there two days and I’m not sure she was ever entirely dry.

Ria had far too much fun.

And therein lies the only down side of the outing … two days. It was only two days. (Sad dog-face emoji.)

And, after all that water fun.

You might be wondering why all the secrecy? Well, the camp attendant came around and chatted awhile, told us how you used to be able to get a spot in the campground any day, but now weekends were mostly full all season long. Turns out there was just too much of that telling two friends who tell two friends stuff going on. So, the six of us made a pact, then and there, that it would be our secret, special campground.

Apparently Nollind had fun too.

If any of you reading this blog has been to our secret campground and recognize it from the photos, maybe we’ll see you there sometime but, in the meanwhile … shhh….

Shhh…