Thursday, September 17, 2015

Impromptu Alice Lake Car Camping

A short walk up the path to our site

Toddler proofing rope "wall"
Our camping trip to Galiano was so much fun that we decided we wanted to go camping again as soon as possible. The weather turned nasty around here not long after we came back so we waited it out. I spent quite a while looking around the provincial park camping reservation website. A lot of campgrounds don't allow reservations after Labour Day & become first-come-first-served. Alice Lake is one of those. When the weather forecast looked really promising for the weekend after Labour Day, we planned a last-minute car camping trip to Squamish.

Linnaeus likes hiking
After just a day to pack & buy the last few things (it was harder than I expected to find fuel for our Coleman stove) we set off after Linny finished his half day of school Friday. Traffic was unsurprisingly busy through downtown & I was wishing we'd biked as I saw riders coasting past us as we crawled along Dunsmuir & then the Stanley Park Causeway.

Eventually the congestion eased & we made it past Squamish to Alice Lake, only to be greeted by a "Campground Full" sign. Incredibly disappointed, we continued driving into the park, thinking we'd ask about overflow sites or other nearby campgrounds. We were thrilled when the staff at the gate said that the walk-in sites were empty! YES! Walk-in sites were what we were hoping for.

Several huge RVs ahead of us in the line at the Alice Lake gatehouse turned around & left after hearing that there were zero drive-in sites available, while we drove right in, parked & hauled our gear less than a hundred metres to our campsite. Lovely as it was, I have to say, Montague Harbour Provincial Marine Park Campground has spoiled us for campsites. Alice Lake's walk-in sites have far fewer toilets, less privacy & no beautifully level, dry wooden tent platforms. However, we were still away from the roads with a decent size campsite & the children could roam a bit safely.

The kids' first campfire!
& roam they did. When we were at Montague both kids tended to stay close to our site, playing with the other two kids who came with us, James & Lucy. But at Alice Lake, we spent a lot of time chasing them around. Bronte kept heading off down the trail, or out into the trees, or into other people's campsites to yell, "Hi!" & tell them about her dolly. Linnaeus also ranged around a bit, leading some sort of imaginary game for a few minutes with some of the other kids in the playground & making a log teeter-totter with the kids at the site across from ours.

Linnaeus was fascinated by the campfire--his first ever as there was a fire ban on our last camping trip--& roasting weiners & marshmallows. Bronte, on the other hand, has no natural fear of fire, so we were constantly yelling at her to get back away from the Coleman stove & stop touching the metal fire surround. She got several items of clothing covered in soot, but didn't manage to burn herself, anyway, so we'll call that a success.

Cooking oatmeal AND boiling water for tea at the same time!

Moments befor Bronte decided to hate her new PFD
I have to admit, I really enjoyed the luxury of car camping after our Galiano bike trip. Not having to worry about weight or fitting all our gear into panniers & bike trailer, being able to bring things like chairs, a two-burner stove, a cast-iron griddle, an inflatable boat, as much fresh fruit & veggies as we wanted was fun. However, it was a little exhausting trying to keep Bronte out of trouble. I'm hoping next summer she'll be less inclined to take off or stand too close to burning things.

Another thing that was awesome was that the weekend was full of firsts for the kids: first camp fire complete with roasted hot dogs & marshmallows, first time we brought along my old inflatable boat for the kids to ride in, one of the first times they've been hiking.

Linnaeus loved the boat. Bronte, not so much.

Playing with his breakfast
If you're looking for a fun place to camp close to Vancouver, Alice Lake is a great campground for families--the lake is quite a short walk from the campsites, they have a playground as well as a bike track, & there are lots of short hikes in the area. We all walked around the lake, which is under two kilometres, & Oli took Linny for a hike on the Stump Lake loop while Bronte was napping the second day. I'd definitely go back there again--particularly in September, as there were nearly no bugs at all.

What's your favourite place to go camping? I'd love to here where you like to go in the comments below!

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1 comment:

  1. We often do an Alice Lake camping weekend in September. Love it for all the reasons you have noted. For those who like to camp with a trailer, there is also power.


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