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Near Harrison Hot Springs, the camping is fine

Beach at Harrison Hot Springs

Driving past Surrey on Highway One for a weekend away, I knew what was ahead. Lakes. Canyons. Fun.

Packed in the back of the car were a tent, a cooler, sleeping bags, air mattresses, folding chairs, a rubber boat, the dog in her kennel, and the trusty pump upon which any promise of comfort depended. Past Harrison Hot Springs, my sons and I drove around Harrison Lake and caught a dramatic view of the mountains that have never failed to inspire me on the five trips I've made to this area. We wound around the lake, lost cell phone reception and as we did, email, computer games and texting slipped from the grasp of mother and sons. I experienced a moment of panic at the idea of truly going offline, but as the road turned and we started up towards Deer Lake campground, we were engulfed by the coolness of the forest, and panic shifted to pleasure. Deer Lake and its companion campground Hicks Lake in Sasquatch Provincial Park offer easy camping for families wanting to spend the weekend outside. At Hicks Lake there is fishing if you hunger for Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout. You can also rent canoes.

Slathered in many coats of insect repellent, we kept the mosquitoes at bay and enjoyed the greatest of Canadian summer pleasures: jumping into crazily cold water, just for fun!

Only to find, after staying submerged for a minute or two that, hey, it's not that cold.

We pumped air mattresses, a blow up kayak and our fishing boat. It took a lot of muscle and leg power but in the end, everything floated. We marveled at the mansion-sized blow ups some people had arrived with, monstrous genetically deformed children of the now quaint seeming rubber raft of yesteryear, stocked with coolers loaded with beer.

A park official came around early on to inform us of the fire prohibition, quelling dreams of marshmallows over a crackling flame. Whatever, one of the kids said, and stuck a marshmallow on a toothpick and roasted it over a tea candle. The others followed suit.

T, a fifteen-year-old with a voice like an angel, sang a repertoire of songs that spanned the range of Beatles, Don Maclean, Jason Collett and much more.

Okay, I've played all roles of camper when it comes to noise. I've wanted to kill late night revelers and if I'd had a hammer I might have done so as they enjoyed their alcohol-inspired rounds of Kumbaya and I've Looked at Clouds From Both Sides Now at three in the morning. This time, however, I belonged to the noisemaking tribe. With nine children and their parents, we played games around the imaginary campfire, laughed, shouted, and generally seemed to have no capacity to lower our voices. Sorry all you other campers! I really tried to get them to whisper.[Deer Lake campground: two hours from downtown Vancouver to your tent site.]

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