THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - If you can’t bear the thought of digging out your own personal earthen toilet bowl, jump back in your 36 foot deluxe model travel trailer and turn right around — forestry camping is not for you.
Those of you who didn’t spend Sunday morning frantically reserving a campsite in one of B.C.’s provincial parks might be considering the option. Maybe you’ve even got rosy pictures of canoes pulled up on the shoreline just so, woodland creatures wandering into your camp, or an 11 pound trout at the end of your fishing line. Back to the land, you’re thinking. Rustic and authentic, you say to yourself.
You can have it all, really — except for the massive trout (you might have to make that one up). But first, there are some things you should know about forestry camping.
One, you probably won’t get there on a paved road. Most of our region’s forestry sites are accessed by a maze of old logging roads. Depending on the weather, they can be muddy, puddly, and pocked with cavernous potholes. Choose your wheels wisely, and expect to find some scratches when you get back home.
So, you follow a set of confusing directions that involve measuring kilometres on your odometer and can practically taste that first beer when you come around the bend to find the spot already taken. Because you can’t reserve a clearing in the woods, forestry camping is always a bit of a gamble. Take a deep breath, and have fun reversing back down the logging road because there wasn’t room to turn around. All is not lost. Most lakes have several clearings where you can pitch a tent, so just keep driving.
When you find your haven for the weekend, you’ll want to give it a big dose of feng shui. Put your tent on the flattest portion of the site — it won’t be level — and park your car so it’s easy to access supplies out of it. Think about places you can hang each corner of your tarp (you packed a tarp right?) A tree, your car, or tallest child will do.
When all the navigation, untangling of tents, and mad search for bug spray has left you ravenous, you pull out your brand new cook stove. After a few failed attempts at getting it started, you reach for your phon — nothing Google can’t solve. But you’re in the boonies, a place where only the birds can tweet. It’s unlikely to find a forestry site with cell service, so be prepared to unplug — or hike back down the road with your phone held high.
Now, how to put this delicately... You’ve eaten... Maybe you’ve been drinking… Bodily functions occur. I just hope you packed a shovel and some TP. Go for a little walk, carve out a nice, roomy hole and squat — if unsteady, grab hold of a nearby tree. You’re doing fine. When you’re done, bury it — not like a cat, with your shovel. There, you did it. And look at how toned your thighs are getting.
Hand washing will occur in the lake itself, or by tipping your water jug precariously on its side. Forestry sites have, surprise, surprise, no coin operated showers, or sinks or running water whatsoever. You’re on your own, and if you didn’t pack a barrel of drinking water, I hope you brought a water filter.
If you’ve lasted this long, chances are you’re going to be a forestry site lifer. Once you’ve roughed it, it’s surprisingly unsatisfying to go back to jam-packed campgrounds, rules about dogs on leashes and the sound of toilets flushing in close proximity to your tent. You’ll never know what peace and quiet really is until you’ve spent the night in a forestry campsite.
You can search for nearby sites on the B.C. Forestry and Rec Site website, or just go driving and find your own little plot of paradise.
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