Tag Archives: Western painted turtles near Fernie

Lazy lake days in Fernie

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.

Surveyor's Beach as seen from the trail across the lake.

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.

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.

Boat

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 last summer after Avery catches a fishing in neighbouring Engineer's Lake.

Bennett laughs when Avery lets him hold a fish she caught in neighbouring Engineer’s Lake last summer.

Dock

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.

The dock at Surveyor’s Lake is a busy place.

Avery catches another fish off the dock at Surveyor's Lake.

Avery catches another fish off the dock at Surveyor’s Lake.

Food

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!”

Hike

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.

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.

Swim/Sand

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.

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!

 

 

Day on the water

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 and fetch floating sticks.

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.

Let’s hit the lake!

It’s holiday Monday and it’s hot, so let’s go to a lake! Our favourite mountain spot for cooling off is Surveyor’s Lake in Kikomun Creek Provincial Park near Fernie, BC. It has a sandy beach, warm water and the added bonus of “wildlife” for the kids to watch (crayfish, singing loons and my favourite, western painted turtles).

A kid-approved summer pastime.

When not building sand castles, we like to rent a two-person kayak from Turtle Haven Rentals ($20 for one hour) and turn it into a four-person conveyance by squeezing both Avery and Bennett on. We then paddle around Surveyor’s Lake and adjacent Engineer’s Lake looking for sunning turtles, trying to spot trout swimming in the unbelievably clear water and touching silky lily pads as our kayak skims over them.

The two busy beaches scare the turtles away at Surveyor’s Lake. Paddle under the bridge and see them at neighbouring Engineer’s Lake.

We kayaked up to this little dude sunning himself.

If we’re feeling energetic we’ll walk the three-kilometre Surveyor’s Lake Trail that winds around the lake, and breathe in the lovely scent of sun-baked pine needles that carpet the path.

When we get back to the beach we simply can’t resist jumping off the dock into the cool water. Heaven!

Bennett musters his gumption and jumps off the dock!