Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Labour Day 2006: Day 1 - Nairn Falls
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.
When we decided over 3 weeks ago to go camping this weekend, we knew right away that we would not hazard the long weekend border traffic or ferry line-ups to Vancouver Island. Instead we thought we would try and find somewhere nice to camp closer to home than ¾ of a state away.
Well, that was easier said than done. We checked the province's reservation system for campgrounds in its parks. Even with 3 weeks advance notice, no parks within 1, 2, or even 3 hours of the Fraser Valley had vacancies. This was frustrating, because there was no way that we would gamble that any of the 'first-come, first-served' sites would be left; not with five kids in the van. So we kept looking until we found a little place called Nairn Falls Provincial Park, just outside of Pemberton, BC.
We read through the park description online and then consulted our hiking and camping guides. According to management plan posted on the BC Parks website, the site was designed to help provide overflow capacity (oh good!) as the Sea-to-Sky corridor is very busy and popular for recreational activities. Beyond that the park preserves the falls as a local native heritage site as well as protects the habitat of the rubber boa - the northernmost member of the boa family. Well, Cheryl just about fainted after reading that. But she soldiered on, as this was seemingly our last hope. The guide books mentioned the trail to the falls as having some hazardous sections where families with small children should take care. They also said that this park was a popular base-camp for further exploring the Whistler region.
After some deliberation we decided to post our reservation, since time was running out, and hoped that we had made a good choice.
We drove up Highway 99, the "Sea to Sky Hwy", leaving just before 10 am Friday morning to avoid the horrible long-weekend traffic; which we did!
We got into Nairn Falls Provincial Park around 1:30 pm. We checked the reservation board near the entrance and found our site number. We just about cheered when we saw that our assigned site was well away from the river (one of Cheryl's concerns) and not too far from the out-houses.
As we cruised down the park lanes we saw that there was a hand-pump to draw well water for drinking. And there seemed to be wood available somewhere for a camp-fire. The sites were well spaced so some privacy was to be had. In short: the place was beautiful!
With three adults to keep an eye on the small people, we got camp set-up in about an hour. Well short of the 2½ hours it took on our trip to Washington. That left us plenty of time before supper to go and visit the falls!
The "narrow and hazardous" parts of the trail were not nearly so scary as the guides had made out. Or maybe it was just that our children are experienced hikers. At any rate, you can see in the pictures that even Maribeth and Megan got to do a little hiking. Maribeth, for the record, is very much the little rock-gymnast. It remains to be seen how we long we're actually going to be able to steer her away from climbing.
The falls themselves were very pretty. Worth the hike, but not "awe-inspiring". The guides were correct however that they are a very good example of "the erosive power of water". Even Michael could see how the water had carved the potholes and where two potholes had worn into each other below the surface, leaving a natural bridge.