The first time we hiked up to Silver Spring Lakes near Elko, B.C., I thought I wasn’t going to make it. The sun beat down relentlessly; the children (then ages six and three) complained and the youngest needed to be carried; and to top it off we took a wrong turn and had to backtrack up loose shale to get to the “cliff” side of the lake. We were rewarded with a pristine alpine swimming hole with a rocky escarpment on the east side that’s perfect for launching off into the clear, cold water.
A teen jumps fearlessly off the highest cliff, plunging some 25 feet into the clear water below. Pristine Canadiana!
Two years later, on Day 3 of our B.C. road trip, we knew the trail and the hike seemed to take no more than 15 minutes (the kids now have longer legs). We staked out a spot on the rocks and then took turns jumping into the ever-so-beautiful lake. I even dove head first (though it should be noted I flung myself from a height of maybe five feet).
Diving into the lake. My reaction upon surfacing? “Brrrr!”
High: Avery jumped in this year without a life jacket — twice! And Bennett jumped too, holding Blake’s hand.
Low: Why, oh why, didn’t we bring Crocs? The shale in the shallows and lining the shore is sharp, and it’s loose as you climb back up. Without sport sandals your options are slicing a toe going barefoot, or taking your hiking boots off and then making another in your party ferry them down so you can put them back on before scrambling up again. I also worried Bennett would at any moment loose his balance and tumble onto the sharp rocks everywhere.
Outcome: Mamas, forget about your squeamishness over heights and slippery surfaces and simply enjoy this beautiful place. Your kids have better balance than you think, and will never forget jumping from a cliff into a postcard-perfect piece of wilderness.
Avery lets loose with a holler before making a big splash.
Fernie, B.C. is the kind of place that people come to for the powderful winters but end up staying long-term for the amazing summers. Even though Day 2 of our B.C. road trip was cooler and rainier than our first day, we had just the kind of July adventure that you’d expect in this outdoorsy mountain town.
Blake helps Bennett with some rock hopping on part of the the Coal Creek Heritage Trail in Fernie, B.C.
We hiked part of the Coal Creek Heritage Trail, stopping to pick plump Saskatoon berries, ripe raspberries and tart thimble berries. Blake and the kids did some rock hopping, then we got down to the serious business of ascending through a pine forest to walk along the trail toward town. An approaching thunderstorm sent me jogging ahead to get our car from the trailhead and pick up the family just before the rain hit.
High: Dangling feet into a freezing mountain stream beneath a small waterfall.
Low: Realizing we’d gone hiking without dog poop bags (faux pas!), which meant I had to skewer Piper’s poop on a stick and toss it into the bushes. Ewww! (And also, bad pet owner!)
Outcome: We only hiked maybe four kilometres of the 9.3 km trail (and I never did see any of the 12 interpretive signs, or the old ghost town or even the old coal mine, though we were walking sloooowly), but we enjoyed taking the time to eat berries, look under rocks for salamanders and dip hot heads into a mountain waterfall.
Day 1 of our B.C. road trip summer holiday was all about water. We started the morning teaching Piper how to swim in the Elk River (with many opportunities for the kids to wade), and then carried on with the water theme at Surveyor’s Lake in Kikomun Creek Provincial Park, home of the western painted turtle. There we swam, kayaked and looked for crayfish under logs near the shore.
Bennett and Avery get wet while teaching Piper how to swim in Fernie, B.C.
High: Avery finds and captures the first of many crayfish.
Low: Bennett refuses to go kayaking to look for turtles, but makes up for it by jumping off the dock and swimming until his lips turn blue.
Outcome: Fun! We love Surveyor’s Lake. With no motorized watercraft allowed, it’s perfect for families. It’s also usually five degrees warmer than Fernie.