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Houseboating on the Shuswap

Calgary to Shuswap Lake

We left Calgary at 1.45pm under a cloudy sky but by the time we reached Banff National Park the clouds were starting to disperse and the sun broke through.  The mountains are still summer-bare but a recent fall of snow left the contours striped white on the higher peaks.

Unfortunately the respite was short lived and as we approached Lake Louise a few drops of rain began to fall.  This weather pattern – from sun to cloudy skies and rain lasted throughout the weekend.

Construction is an ongoing problem along this section of the road slowing down traffic considerably for kilometre after kilometre from Banff National Park to Yoho National Park.  Finally we crossed the bridge with the spiral tunnels on our right and left the construction behind.

Path through the trees from Faeder Lake to Kicking Horse River

In BC the bare mountains give way to tree-covered slopes and the rivers are a milky blue/green. We stopped at Faeder Lake for coffee. Sadly the lake comprised a puddle of water in the centre but a short stroll down a pathway led to the river where a strategically placed bench invited us to sit and contemplate nature.   Lovely under the trees which were just starting to turn.

The long downhill to the Kicking Horse rest area is now a beautiful road – they were still busy building here last time we drove through.  We passed a  flock of mountain goats and stopped to take pictures.  They have all completed their moulting and looked quite respectable (Gail, you would have enjoyed seeing them).

Then into Golden, a little town which, in my opinion, does not live up to its name, although the surroundings are lovely.

We continued along a good road flanked by trees which offered brief glimpses of the valley below, crossed the time zone and entered Glacier National Park, Canada (there is another one in the US).  Passed through a series of avalanche tunnels

Avalanche tunnels

and then stopped again to take a photo of the Illecillewaet glacier – might not match those on the Icefield Parkway but the name must be unrivalled!

Mount Revelstoke National Park featured numerous little waterfalls, dense forest and ferns in the undergrowth – a bit reminiscent of the drive up to Hogsback from East London SA.  We stopped at Three Valley Gap to take a photo of their Ghost Town and the famous prospector pulling his donkey – set on a large lake and surrounded by hills.  Three Valley Gap consists of 25 restored historic buildings which were left abandoned when the gold rush ended in the late 1800’s.  This whole area is obviously a tourist corridor judging by the number of guest houses, cabins, campgrounds, adventure tours etc.

Richard at Three Valley Gap

Through Revelstoke itself and then, finally Sicamous and the lake.


The houseboat provided by Water Ways was very well appointed.  We took our belongings onto the dock in large rubber ‘wheelbarrows’ and offloaded quickly.  Three cabins downstairs and a ‘cubby hole’ providing another double bed which the boys commandeered.  Two low ceilinged rooms upstairs completed the sleeping arrangements.

Our houseboat, taken from the forest

The rest of the living area was equipped with a fire place, TV (neither of which we used) a table with 6 chairs, a couch, a gas stove, a microwave, a coffee maker and 2 fridges.    A hot tub on the top deck quickly became a favourite “chilling” spot.

Asher and Cale lost no time taking advantage of the facilities – even while we were still at the dock – Asher casting a spoon to try for the fish which were jumping around the boat and Cale climbing into the hot tub.

By 7.30pm the men had driven into Sicamous to buy fishing licences (Richard and the boys are exempt – too old and too young to need one J )

After a good nights sleep we headed out across the bay, under the Transcanada and up the lake, stopping at around 10am for brunch.  Each couple arranged to supply one meal – this was ours – sausages, bacon, eggs, fresh warm rolls and melon.

Cale fishing

Mark launching the inflatable

We continued up the lake, trolling as we went until we reached a long deserted beach where we beached the houseboat and spent some hours exploring the forest,  swimming, fishing, boating (Asher and Cale in a little inflatable) and generally relaxing.

Later we stopped at the “Sea Store”, a floating shop where I bought marshmallows and sticks in case we got a chance to light a fire.  Trace served tea and cupcakes to celebrate Mark’s birthday as we looked for a suitable place to beach for the night – another little cove which we had to ourselves.

It was Tracy and Mark’s turn to provide a meal and Tracy cooked up a delicious spaghetti bolognaise.  The evening ended with a bonfire on the beach, enlivened by a packet of ‘magic colours’ which Asher threw into the flames after all the marshmallows had been toasted.

Asher taking his turn at the wheel

Awoke around 2am with the boat rocking wildly in what I took to be a windstorm. The men, one by one, wandered out to check. No wind at all, just waves, probably produced by strong winds further up the lake. After being reassured that the guy ropes were holding on the beach everyone went to sleep again.

Breakfast at our beach and then cruised slowly down close to the bank while the fisher-folk fished.  Derek caught a nice rainbow trout and Cale hooked but lost one at the boat.  We tied up at another beach with yet another enchanted forest and Johan, after much trying, eventually caught a large but unidentified fish.

Asher continued fishing off the back with his little homemade rod after everyone else had packed it in and caught a few small fingerlings.

Derek's trout

Barbara and Derek provided steak, homemade sausage and salads for dinner, with freshly caught trout, and then another bonfire to finish off the evening.  An ever-dwindling few worked on a fiendishly difficult crossword puzzle until after 11pm.

After a good night’s sleep on calm waters we woke around 6am to shower and pack.  While Clive and Anne cooked breakfast Derek took us back to Mara Lake where we waited patiently for our turn to dock.  An overcast, rainy day  to end a magical weekend.

September 25, 2010 - Posted by | Living in Canada | , ,

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