2015 Trip 4: tough to beat a water site...

Bonnechere Provincial Park - June 2015

Trip 4 already, and it is almost the middle of June...where does time go? Big storm front rolling in this afternoon, calling for extended periods of rain, however, it is supposed to be nice after this passes us by, and this is backed up by the radar imagery, so we are heading out regardless.

 We are heading west, so we should drive out of it.
Rained somewhat heavy for most of the drive, but by Cobden, it was brightening up and the rain had turned into a drizzle. By the time we reached the park, we were at the edge of the system and the sun was actually poking out. Sweet.

Arrived around 7:30, and found the park office already closed for the evening. This was a little surprising, as I can't recall one being closed this early, but perhaps they have not started summer hours yet. We normally pull into the dumping station where there is a fresh water outlet to fill our tank, but as we drove by, there were already two 5th wheelers sitting there, one of them gobbling up water, the other just waiting for its turn. We sat in the road for a few minutes, but it seemed like the behemoth was insatiable, so I made the call to just fill the tank manually. A little more work, but probably saved us a bunch of waiting. Sure enough, we were backed in, unhitched and all set up well before we saw the first of the 5th wheels roll into the area. Good call. Bugs are out in full force, as there is little wind now that the rain has passed.

A site on the river this time out, no services, but being right on the water more than makes up for that. The solar and battery give us all the necessities, which makes having an electrical hookup really just an extra bonus. Nice big site, right at a crook in the river, so we have a view in two directions. Backed the Alto in and angled it to face the door side towards the water, an ideal setup for a river view.

view of the site from the river

very idyllic
Once again, this confirms just how nice it is to be on water, be it a lake or a river, it brings a whole different feeling to a site. We have a little beach, and will be able to launch the kayaks right from here...awesome.

Temperature is dropping, so it will be cool overnight, but at least the rain is over and the clouds have all but disappeared. Our camp area is pretty quiet, some neighbours around, perhaps more will roll in later. The sky was now clear, and through our windows we could see several stars. One is particularly bright, and we think it was the north star, but it was really low in the sky, perhaps it is actually a planet?  Another big benefit of the Alto, the panoramic views out the windows are just as nice at night as they are during the day.

Coolish over night and into the morning, with the temps dropping into the mid 50's. A few minutes of the furnace easily took the chill off. Having a source of heat when off grid is right up there with having the solar panels. Both these options help extend the use and comfort of the Alto. It's going to be a perfect day for paddling, we are so looking forward to being back out on the water.

As we were out taking the kayaks off the car, two parks maintenance people were making the rounds in their 4 wheeler. The young guy driving stops and calls out to us from the road, "You're back, I've been waiting a whole year for you guys to come back to the park!" Turns out we gave him a tour of the Alto last year, but he had lost the information we gave him, and had a hard time finding the Alto on the web. He was super excited to get another look through. He and his wife have been saving toward a trailer purchase, and the Alto is the one he really likes. Really nice guy, he totally enjoys working for the Park, they are lucky to have him.  We talked again for a while, gave him another brochure, and told him of the wait time when ordering now. He remembered that it was long last year, but it seemed the wait time would suit him well.

the sun beams in...
and Barley takes full advantage.
Got the kayaks loaded up and headed up the river to paddle upstream.  There is a noticeable current against us but not enough to make it a laboured paddle. What it does tell us though is that the paddle home will be a little bit easier. Our goal is to reach Jack's Chute, a set of rapids that is marked on the map, at what looks to be a nice distance away.

Jack's Chutes, our goal.
The river is very pleasant, not too wide, and with lots of twists and turns so there is something new to look at all the time. Up to the bridge, we are still in the park, then after that, I suspect the river is flowing through private land. There are 4 cabins for rent on the river, and one of them has a nice sand beach and swimming area. A family was on the beach, clearly enjoying the fabulous weather.

We continued our paddle, spotting lots of birds, turtles and even a muskrat, or least that is what it looked like when most of it was submerged. It is interesting how the current accelerates as it flows around a bend, noticeably faster moving along the inside edges. I will keep that in mind for the return trip. There are a number of trees that have fallen into the river, one was totally across to the other side, save for a chunk lopped off the top to allow paddlers to get through. I imagine either the Ministry or locals do most of this clearing. One large pine tree gave us a bit of trouble. It had recently fallen, and was still quite green. It was also producing the cutest little baby pine cones, which had to be photographed. As I manouvred into position, Dale had paddled a bit upstream, and before she knew it, the current had caught her and pinned her broadside against the fallen tree. Nothing crazy like t-boning a canoe in a Class 4 set of rapids, but enough to make it a fair amount of work to get going again. I paddled over to help her, and naturally the same thing happened. I pushed myself to the end and out the top, Dale just pushed off the tree and powered her way upstream again. A bit of excitement on the water.

these little cones were very cute.
and if they are lucky, they may grow to be this big
the chutes...not much water action, but nice to see and hear
Not many people on the river, but further along we ran into a couple out in their kayaks. Turns out they own the point of land that we were now paddling around. We had a nice chat, and they told us we were only about 10 minutes from the chutes. This was a good thing to hear, as we had been paddling upstream for almost an hour and a half now, so knowing we were close was an incentive to continue. Sure enough, we soon came to the chutes, a long stretch of what appeared to be Class 1-2 rapids. It was nice to hear the sounds of the rushing water, and watch the flow. We had brought a lunch, so we nestled the rear of our kayaks into the shore and had a bite to eat.

Heading back was a lot easier, which was very welcome, as for the first paddle of the season, we covered a bit of ground. It was amazing how fast that even a small current will propel you along. We watched the flow and tried to stay in the fastest moving water. We were really moving along, with far less paddling, really only some minor course corrections. We were back in half the time it took us to get upstream. It was an awesome paddle that felt great...wonderful to be back out in the kayaks.

this guy landed and stayed the longest time
looking downriver from the site
Naturally, a cold beer was well earned back on site. By now it was late afternoon, time to lounge a bit and think about dinner.

at the 100th meridian...where the great plains begin.

Dale brought Barley out on his harness and leash, and he seemed to quite enjoy leading Dale around for an exploration of the site. He was quite adept at snagging the occasional dragonfly out of the air if they ventured too close. We did not want him having them for an afternoon snack, so we quickly pulled him away from his catch. They seemed in shock, but a bit of prodding with a twig soon had them up and flying away. I wonder if they even realized what had hit them so suddenly.
he loved it here
Dinner this evening is salmon fillets with BC Salmon Rub, a concoction of brown sugar and assorted spices. It smells really yummy in the bag, so it should be nice. We are also having an arugula/quinoa salad, with crumbled feta and lemon garlic dressing. A nice fresh summer meal. A G & T made an appearance while dinner was being rustled together...one of our traditions at this time of the day. Some time on the Q and the salmon was ready. The rub carmelized in the heat of the Q, and formed a flavourful glaze. Definitely a make again meal. Dale had brought some strawberries for dessert.  Having dinner while sitting at the picnic table right on the rivers edge, was marvellous!

A little overcast this morning, but that will not deter us from taking another little spin in the kayaks. Headed in the other direction on the river, towards the lake opening. Almost all the river front sites are occupied, which is not surprising. Lots of breakfast activity going on, campers are all out and about. Nearing the lake, we can see the wind is up and it is a little rough, quite the difference from the calm serenity of the river. Not interested in the lake, we turn around and head back upstream.

the eyeball
the lunge...
the prize...
Noticed some campers on shore staring in our direction.  Turns out a beaver swam by us with head mostly out of the water, the he gave a huge whack of his tail before diving below and shooting off out of sight.

Dale wants to check out the cabins a bit more thinking of a future girls weekend. The family we saw on the beach has departed, so we explored the cabin. Nice little setup, two bedrooms, basic kitchen, living room with a gas fireplace. Big BBQ outside, as that is where most of the cooking will happen. Outside is a nice big area with rustic seating and a firepit. Good little setup.

Got the kayaks loaded up and started to gather our gear to head out. Sky is really overcast, but thankfully no rain. Barley was out for another little explore, he was really comfortable sauntering around, checking out the water, the long grass and the assorted bugs that he spooked into the air. He showed no signs of the panic he sometimes got in the past. Still, we are super attentive with him, watching for any sign that he may be starting to freak out. Hitched up and pulled out in the early afternoon, an awesome weekend on a great river site. We have marked this number and will be reserving it again.


  1. Wonderful place, thanks for the report! Do you remember what was your site number, I always wanted to go to Bonnechere for camping and canoing, you just comforted me with this idea :-)

  2. We were on site #99. Along that stretch, all the riverfront sites are quite nice.