As summer comes to an end, we can look fondly back on some great hot spells and good times at the beach. There are many ways in which to keep cool and enjoy the hot weather, and one of the most pleasurable and beneficial things to do is go swimming. In the Campbell River area, we have so many great choices of where to go for a dip. There is the pool at Strathcona Gardens, or if you want a less public place, you can utilize the facilities at both the Anchor Inn and Best Western Austrian Chalet ( I do this frequently in the winter). For freshwater fans, there are the obvious places like McIvor Lake and Upper Campbell and Lower Campbell Lakes, and further north, Mary Lake (but there, you have to be prepared to jump off a cliff to get in). A lesser known place for swimming is John Hart Lake – again not too easy to access, and if you like it really cold, try the water near Moose Falls – I don’t think it ever stops moving.
Down south, there is also of course the Oyster River. Near the Inland Highway, there are some potholes that are both beautiful and soothing, and this special places offers wonderful shade which was especially welcome during our recent heat wave.
Myself, I am a saltwater fan. I live in Storries Beach, and since the beach is just a three minute bicycle ride away, I visit it almost daily during the warm months. This year, our early heat wave allowed me to be swimming in the sea as early as June. Before I go, I check the tide table to see where the water will be – it is surprisingly warm after it has come up over the rocks and sand. Nothing is more gratifying to me, than floating on my back and seeing the wide open sky above, and feeling the great space of the ocean surrounding me. The day melts away.
Not everyone likes the salt. I do. I like the buoyancy and the taste and feel of the silky salinity, and I believe it to be highly therapeutic. Salt water is good for teenage complexions. For centuries, people have sought out mineral baths as a cure for numerous ills. This was the origin of the spa. Many older, established spas in Europe are built around special waters and are still based on getting to the water first. Frills (like massage) come after. In North America, aboriginal peoples have long believed in the healing powers of certain waters. For example, the Harrison Hot Springs (just east of Vancouver) is a resort built upon the reputation of the therapeutic powers of the hot springs there. The Coast Salish peoples who first inhabited the area believed the hot springs to have spiritual and super natural healing powers. Once discovered by Europeans, it became a popular spot for a holiday and as a place that could cure all ills, and today, people still seek relief from arthritis pain and various skin ailments in the hot, mineralized waters of the spring.
Closer to home, we have the Hot Springs Cove on the island’s west coast, accessible out of Gold River or Tofino, which is part of the Maqinna Provincial Park and Hesquiat First Nations reserve land.
If you can’t make it to the hot springs, you can still spend a day at Saratoga or Miracle Beach. The water may not be hot, but the sand is!
I will be sad when the weather cools to the point where the ocean is too chilly to swim in, although this year, I am contemplating getting a wetsuit so that I can prolong the swimming season for as long as possible. To see more about the Campbell Riviera go to: http://riviera.ezabu.com.