Monday, September 06, 2010

Otter Lake Adventure

Our vacation this past week at Otter Lake (Tulameen, BC) was the perfect combination of wildlife viewing, outdoor recreation, exploration and relaxation.

The wildlife was abundant.  There were black bears walking through the town, such as this one which appeared in our yard one evening.  We made noises to get him to look our way, otherwise he was quite oblivious to us, grazing on the lawn.  It was interesting to us that the local bears seemed to take no interest in people or in their garbage (as usually is the problem), but rather on grazing and eating berries and leaves from the bushes:
Black bear in our yard
This mom with 2 cubs (one is not visible in the bush) came by our cabin one morning, again only interested in the bushes:
Black bear with cub
There were often Mule deer in the yard also, and we saw moms with their young many times while riding our bicycles and driving about (most of the time while our camera was not handy, thus this unimpressive photo):
Mule deer
We saw loons and diving ducks and an otter (or possibly beaver?) on the lake.  There were signs of beaver activity along the edge of the lake, such as this beaver-fallen tree:
Beaver knawed tree
The recreation opportunities were great.  We enjoyed canoeing, kayaking, and operating pedal boats in the lake:
The kids shot baskets in the hoop next to the house (with one of us keeping watch nearby in case of more bears passing through).  They also tried out go karting on a nearby track:
Go karting
We also enjoyed cycling part of the Trans Canada trail, the portion near Tulameen being along a former railway line, so nice and flat - although it was pretty tough going through the rocks and gravel - more suited to the ATVs using the line, than to cycling.  The first time we cycled from the South end to the North end of the lake, and returned, a 3 hour round trip.  We were somewhat relieved when we were blocked by some cows at the North end, since my husband would have liked to have gone further.
Cows on Trans Canada Trail
He went ahead to investigate whether we could pass through, but when a large bull stepped out onto the path (behind my husband, on the left), he knew this was our sign that we have better turn around:
Bull on Trans Canada trail
Another day we explored the trail in the other direction, this time a 4 hour round-trip, to the town of Coalmont, and the ghost town of Granite City, which was a boom town which resulted from a 1885 discovery of gold by a cowboy named Johnny who apparently stopped at the river for a drink and discovered gold nuggets.  It is interesting that there are only two places in the world where both gold and platinum are found in the same waterways, and one of them in at Coalmont, BC.  The other is in a river in Russia.

On the topic of exploration, we heard from one of the locals that there were fossils which could be found fairly easily at the site of a local mine.  So we spent two afternoons hunting fossils, and were amazed at how many we could discover.  Most of the ones we found (at least the ones that we recognized) were of some conifer, likely sequoia or possibly pine, according to my internet searches. 

Here are some photos my daughter took of some of her finds:
Eocene fossils from Coalmont area of BC
Conifer fossils from BC
From my reading, the fossils are likely from the Eocene era, reportedly some 55 to 33 million years ago.  Pretty amazing.  We found some which looked like tree seeds, and one which is likely part of the head and backbone of a small fish.  There were lots of bits and pieces and shapes which we didn't recognize.

There were also lots of opportunities to just "kick back" and relax, enjoy each other's company, and enjoy the scenery.  It was a beautiful lake:
Otter Lake
And it was a beautiful "cabin" - really a full house, with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and fully equipped kitchen and laundry, and huge outdoor deck - sitting on the waterfront with our own BBQ and fire pit and dock and access to canoes and kayaks and pedal boats:
Otter Lake cabin
The kids and I took some books from the public library with us, and I especially enjoyed reading Artists in their Gardens by David Laskin and Valerie Easton.  It explored - with lots of photos - the gardens of a number of well-known artists in the Pacific Northwest, including Little and Lewis, concrete sculptors who inspired my concrete leaf casting attempt, painter Robert Batement, and architect Arthur Erickson.

So after a wonderful week of enjoying the wildlife, recreation, exploration and relaxation, we have enjoyed a day to unpack, organize, and prepare for the start of school tomorrow.  The weather has even cooperated nicely, turning to rain today, to signal that summer is over.  We are refreshed and ready.


Laura said...

What a way to spend the day! That cabin is gorgeous! I could do some serious relaxing there! What an adventurous bike ride you had! Cows and all. The bull look huge! Are they aggressive?

I used to go fossil hunting with my dad as a kid in some of the creek beds on the North Shore. We never found too much, but when we did it was so exciting. Some of my favorite childhood memories!

Garden Lily said...

I was surprised at how easily we could find fossils - I never would have dreamed. Since then, I've talked to a number of people who also have this experience, and found a web site which lists all sorts of locations of fossils for each province and state - pretty neat!

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