Driving out of Lethbridge is one thing, but driving out of Alberta when you know you will not be back again for at least six months is a strange thing. Goodbye blue skies, open prairies, but also goodbye hick attitudes in the country, dick trucks and fake cowboy culture. BC beckoned beyond the mountains rising before me – time to explore and try out my first camping for real this time.
Crossing westbound this time I was driving highway 3. Windmills are everywhere along here now; the highway seems to skirt around some of them. They are so close sometimes the spinning blades distract from the driving.
|Windmills, Power and Rail|
But the mountains rise before you, like teeth if you are foreboding bad tidings. But I cross the divide into BC, also known as “Bring Cash”. But cash comes with some perks, like free camping to be found. Alberta, abbreviated AB is All Bucks, as in everything costs bucks. Who needs tourism when you have oil?
|Driving to the mountains|
|Tourism neglected in Alberta in favor of oil, and wind|
My first stop in BC is the tourist centre in Fernie, buying a current BC highway map for the day the googles won’t connect to the internet – googles is very stupid without the internet. I take a little hike on one of the trails at the centre to stretch my legs a bit. The larches are all yellow right now and the drive through green and yellow with blue skies is breathtaking. A bit of walking and a few pictures later, and I am back in my RV to drive the last hour to Edwards lake.
|Fall colors in Fernie|
I turn south on the 93 heading to the US border. But my goal is not to cross to the USA, I intend to turn off at Grasmere, to head to the Edwards Lake Recreation area. The googles doesn’t even know it exists – I drop down a pin where the BC rec map says it is and hope for the best. I turn down some increasingly narrow gravel roads, crossing a cattle gate onto what looks like private land. I have yet to see a single sign indicating that Edwards Lake is on my route. But the pin is not far ahead, I’ll keep going and see if I can find the lake at least.
As I spot the lake, I see the sign for the rec area. There is no direction to this at all from the highway; you have to know it exists from previous visit or research in my case. I pull over and assess the campground. There are two spots here, one by the creek flowing into the lake, and one bigger more level spot at the lake proper. I select the bigger spot, as no one is here at all – empty no people bliss camping! The site is pretty level, but I need two rows of levelers for one wheel to get me pretty much dead level – pretty good for my first park job! A second small rig could fit here, or one big RV could level where I am.
|Welcome to Edwards Lake|
I’m pretty stoked at this point – camping, by the lake, no neighbors, and water 25 feet from my door. The creek entering the lake burbles as background noise from where I came in. I get out and explore around a bit. There is an outhouse up the way, perfectly usable if a bit chilly first thing in the morning. The site has a picnic table and a fire ring. There is even an informal boat launch at my site, for the boat I still have in Calgary. Can’t have it all the first time out!
|The one big level camping spot, second site in.|
I walk down the road to see if there are any more sites I could have taken. There are two more further down, but they are not as good – very sloped in comparison to my flat spot. The sign on the road says “No camping sites beyond this point”. So that is the end, it is a pretty small campground! Beyond that, you get onto private land and the Tobacco Plains reserve. I note the second set of camp sites also has its own outhouse nearby – great ratio of one outhouse per two sites! To be fair, the second set of sites is a bit of a walk to the first outhouse, but if this was Alberta, they’d stick one outhouse in the middle, and make you walk, plus $25 to dry camp please!
I cook up some left over ham and veg, with some cheese buns for starch. Crack open my bottle of Lindeman’s Kriek – best cherry lambic beer treat, if pricy! 20 degrees outside no wind and sunny. Nothing to complain about whatsoever for my first camping spot in BC! Oh, there is one thing to complain about – almost no cell service. I can get something if I go climb a nearby hill. At camp I get what I call” annoying cell phone service” – you don’t get anything most of the time, but as you move about occasionally you will connect enough to get sms, or notices you allow your phone to blog for. Of course, you don’t have enough service to actually respond back to anything, unless you go climb a hill. Nothing is perfect.
|Creek by first campsite running into lake|
Once camp is setup, I head out for a little hike, back to the first campsite to see what that looks like. The first campsite I passed was by the creek that empties into Edwards lake. It is not as big or as level as my spot, but has more burbling creek noise than I can hear from my spot, just at the beginning of the lake. I could have just fit in there with my rig, anything bigger would have a hard time getting level. There is a bridge crossing the creek just upstream of the campsite. On the other side, I can see what could be a “walk in” site, treed with a level spot you could put a tent on. It doesn’t look to get much use, not even a fire ring. There is toilet paper though. Really, the outhouse is a three minute walk away people!
My walk now climbs the steep bank up away from the creek going south, following a trail up a steep ridge to see if any cell signal was available. It turns out as you climb, you reach cell signal again too. On top, you are on a mesa flat that has a line of sight back to the highway and Grasmere. I see the beginnings of a road leading away, but it is getting dark quickly. I use my cell signal to send a couple of quick mms pics to show my great first camp, then head back down for an evening at the water.
I sleep in the silence only broken by squabbling birds in the dark. The darkening skies revealed that there is civilization in the form of a cabin light at the end of the lake, about a kilometer away from me. In the early morning light as I brew my coffee, I see smoke drifting from the building, so someone is warming things up down there. Speaking of cold, the clear skies most of the night did eventually drop things down to freezing. My furnace kicks in at 5C at the very first dawn light.
|Sunrise colors for five minutes only to start the day|
But it is going to be a beautiful day, look at that sunrise!