Our family has probably spent four of the past five August long weekends in Fernie. Everyone raves about this B.C. town’s epic powder, but the truth is, most folks who come for the winter end up staying for the summer. And we’re no exception — though we love to ski Fernie, we really, really, really like hanging out in this mountain town between Canada Day and Labour Day, hitting Heritage Day in between.
The town of Fernie is great, but nearby Surveyor’s Lake is the place to beat the heat. Warm water, a sandy beach and temps that are usually five degrees hotter!
One of our favourite places to spend a lazy summer day is Surveyor’s Lake in Kikomun Creek Provincial Park. The small, natural lake is just a 25 minute drive west of town on Hwy. 3 (turn off just past Hwy. 93 when you see the sign for Kikomun Creek). I have written about Surveyor’s Lake and its population of endangered Western Painted turtles before, and we still like to spot them sunning on fallen logs that ring the lake’s perimeter.
It’s easy to spot Western Painted turtles at Surveyor’s Lake.
But as happens when a spot becomes your “special place” — Blake and I realized that we’ve visited the lake with the kids at least once every summer since 2007, when Avery was two — we’ve fallen into a bit of a routine.
We used to rent kayaks from Turtle Haven Rentals, but now that we are spending so much summer time in Fernie we have invested in a large inflatable raft. It’s a bit of a chore for
us Blake to pump up this behemoth, but it’s the first thing we he does when we arrive. Then, all aboard for a paddle around to see the turtles, lily pads and loons, and maybe some fishing off the side (catch and release). Bonus: no motorized craft allowed on the lake.
Bennett laughs when Avery lets him hold a fish she caught in neighbouring Engineer’s Lake last summer.
When we get back to the beach Bennett goes for a swim. This always includes him climbing up the ladder onto the dock, and then watching other kids jump off into the lake while he works up the courage to do the same. Meanwhile, Avery fishes off the dock, using only a hook as bait.
The dock at Surveyor’s Lake is a busy place.
Avery catches another fish off the dock at Surveyor’s Lake.
I don’t have any pictures of Bennett stuffing his face with chips, bars, bananas or sandwiches, which is weird as both children seem to be constantly starving at the lake. In fact, Bennett ends each activity by sitting down in one of the beach chairs and declaring, “I’m hungry!”
Not long after lunch, just when it’s really heating up, Bennett decides it’s time for the three-kilometre hike around the lake. For some reason I am always the responsible adult that accompanies him on this adventure. He sets a slow pace and we enjoy looking for more turtles and trying to pick out our green and white umbrella from across the lake.
Bennett pauses on the bridge between Surveyor’s Lake and Engineer’s Lake to look for turtles swimming in the water or sunning on logs on our regular hike.
At this point, all of the must-do activities have been crossed off Bennett’s check-list and good thing because it’s now about 34C and all anyone wants to do is lounge on the raft while partially submerged (me), play Frisbee (Blake), sit in water-filled sand hollows (Bennett), or build intricate sand castles (Avery).
Tada! Avery demonstrates her sand castle-building abilities.
It’s unbelievably easy to spend an entire day here, holiday weekend or otherwise. Even though we now have an established “lake routine” I can’t imagine I’ll tire of it any time soon. See you later this month, Surveyor’s Lake!