Monday, May 11, 2009

Tunkwa Lake - May 2009 - Part 1

When your family lives on one side of a body of water, and you live on the other, you can either try to pretend that day's like Mother's Day don't exist, or aren't important - or you can make them special in your own way. Tunkwa Lake Provincial Park, is without a doubt, my favorite place to be, so this past weekend,being Mother's Day, that is where we headed. The trip would also give us another trial run with the new RV'ing set up. With the exception of a few more articles of clothing and a few more cans of food, we were loaded up with everything we will be taking with us when we head north in 11 days and counting!

As Provincial Parks go, Tunkwa hasn't been a park for very long. For many, many, years it was an unregulated recreational area, and like so many of those places, bore the scars. Fortunately it was taken over by the provincial government in the 1990's. If you have never been to Tunkwa, and you are suddenly prompted to go, you could be forgiven for thinking "Is she insane?!"....all there is, is a bunch of dead trees and wide open grassy areas. In fact the first time my husband took me there, we drove in on a hot dusty day and I took one look at the RV's parked out in the open on scorched brown grass and said "Not on your life!" - or words to that effect....and that was back before the pine beetle devastated the area. At that time, my husband neglected to show me that most of the campground, back in those days, was set in nice pine forest. I'm not sure what made me relent and give it a second chance, but I did....and now there is nowhere else I'd rather be.

Since then, the pine beetle has done its thing and for safety reasons most of the dead trees within the campground have been removed, then of course, just like in a subdivision that leaves a few token trees, the first strong wind takes care of those ones. And wind there is at Tunkwa. The elevation is high, the countryside is flat, the weather can be extreme, evenings are usually cool, a blessing considering that in summer at least it can get very hot with virtually no shade.

There are actually two main, man made lakes, Tunkwa and Leighton, and many more smaller lakes and ponds within the park itself. There are also two campgrounds. The one on Leighton allows ATV's and dirt bikes while the one at Tunkwa is for the quieter set that enjoy the outdoors on foot. Both lakes and campgrounds are primarily known for fishing.

So Friday May 8th, as soon as he got off work, this is where we headed. There are a number of ways to get there from here, but our favorite is up the Coquilla (a good test for the new truck which flew up the snowshed hill in spectacular fashion, unlike the old truck and trailer set up that was more of a 'I think I can....I think I can....' ), to Merritt, out #8 to Lower Nicola and then up Mammet Lake Road (#97C) straight to the park.

I took the above photo on highway 97c to show that the hillsides, for just a short while, were covered in the gorgeous native wildflower - Balsam Root. Once 97C joins 97D at Logan Lake, it is about 17 km to the park. Once you've negotiated the rather wash boardy road into the campground, the dilemma is where do you stay? on the spit (which I'll show you later) or 'up back'? When and where depends on the time of year, how busy it is, etc. etc. We opted for 'up back' this time.
Here we are, set up in one of our favorite spots.........

I like it because there is this marshy area right beside the campsite and there is also more vegetation by this site than near most of them. As I already mentioned, Tunkwa is at a high elevation, in fact the ice had just come off the lake the week previously and as you can see, none of the vegetation, like the Aspen trees or the wild roses, were showing even a hint of green yet.

Canada Geese were flying and roaming all over the campground area, you can see that even the grass is just barely starting to grow.

There were also Killdeer running all over the place, creating quite a ruckus, something they continued to do throughout the night. Between Killdeer calling and Coyotes was anything but quiet! Perhaps the fact that there was a full moon had something to do with it.

This Killdeer was doing it's best to fake injury and lure me away. There were a pair spending a lot of time in a certain area across from us. The next day I looked and looked but couldn't find any nest, although I did find several depressions in the soil so perhaps they were still just thinking about nesting and not actually down to business yet.

An evening view from our campsite, looking sort of south west - one thing about the pine beetle, you now have a view of the lake from every single site in the place!

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