Deer Lake Sasquatch Provincial Park

Thursday, July 1, 12021 HE

Happy Canada Da…. or wait. Depends on what side of history you are on. If you are not of the first peoples to have colonized the Americas, and here I mean colonize in the general sense of a group of people leaving their homeland in search of another place to inhabit. Not, the more Eurocentric sense of the term à la post-Christopher Columbus/Vasco da Gama era of European imperial colonization. Then I am pretty sure that you do not see the celebration of the formation of Canada as a modern nation-state as a celebratory event. In that case, you more likely see it as a reminder of the beginning of a more formal imperial subjugation of your peoples.

But history is complicated. And to say that the move toward the formation of Canada was without utilitarian benefits would be misguided. The modern-day story of Canada is one of admirable values. This myth, however, is idealistic and the truth is much harsher. But I believe that we need myths or stories like this to foster the human condition to something more ethical and moral than what our true animalistic nature is. But that doesn’t mean we should whitewash history. The formation of Canada as seen through a modern-day lens contains some horrific truths. But those truths are telling. And we should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Canada Day should be something to celebrate but at the same time something to acknowledge and mourn. And it should also serve as a warning that we are all imperfect and are constantly struggling toward betterment. As I said, it is complicated.


So we did a family camping trip to Sasquatch Provincial Park. According to the Native Land website this is the ancestral land of the Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ, the Coast Salish, and the S’ólh Téméxw peoples. We joined the Lee’s and the McLean’s for our second annual summer camp. Last year we camped at Alice Lake Provincial Park and given that was a bit of an ordeal to book, multiple computers per household ready at the turn of the hour, we decided to go with something more off of the beaten path. Since the Bench Campground at Deer Lake was more remote with fewer amenities we figured we would have a shot at securing a booking. And we were right, we managed to book several sites for the dates that we wanted.

We arrived on Wednesday morning to set up camp before making our way down to the lake in the late afternoon to check things out. The lake is smaller and is quite shallow but it was peaceful and pleasant. We played around with inflatable boats and SUPs with kids catching tadpoles and water spiders off of the dock. It gave me a taste of the water and I decided that I would get up early the following morning for a circumnavigation of the lake.

Given the forecast, before we left I was expecting clear skies in the morning and near blazing temperatures. It was anything but that. But one nice thing about Sasquatch Provincial Park is that there is no cellphone service. So you are off of the grid and forced to disconnect. But that also meant no longer-term weather forecast.

The trail down to the lake from our campsite brought you essentially to The Point which is at the end of the playing field. If you take the northern trail there it brings you to a bridge walk that takes you over top of the marshland. Below is the view from the bridge way.

Not the sunny morning I was expecting.

And here is the view eastward toward the Deer Lake.

Deer Lake from the bridge over the top of the marsh.

I was the only one up and about at this hour and had the lake to myself.

Good morning Deer.

I set out on a counter-clockwise path without giving it much thought. There had been some wind on the water the night before when we were playing around on the lake but it had seemed to come from both directions depending on what side of the lake you were on.

The water was clear and calm this morning. And you could easily see the scattered debris of tree parts along the bottom of the shoreline of the lake. The wood kind of looked like bones of ancient beasts from a time before. Though the undercover bone analogy was slightly more hearkening in the context of this year’s Canada Day.

A scattering of history lies beneath the surface.

I made my way along the southern shoreline. The small point below was around the one-kilometer mark as I made my way toward the eastern tip of the lake.

What’s around the corner?

Here is a better view of the eastern side of the lake.

The east side of the lake.

There was the remnant of an old rock slide on the southeastern side of the lake. It was well vegetated and I scanned the slope for any signs of life. A deer maybe? But I wasn’t able to spot anything.

An old rock slide.

At the southeastern tip of the lake, there was a headwater of the Deer Lake outflow. After consulting Google Earth I assume that at some point these waters make a connection to the Fraser River.

The outflow of Deer Lake.

There was a lot of sediment here and at one point I got my fin stuck. I had to walk to the front of my board to lift the tail to continue on.

Here is the view back toward the west side of the lake where I launched from.

Looking back west.

And just a little way on there was the mouth of an inflowing stream. There was also at least one other inflow at the west side of the lake that came in underneath the bridge to the marshland.

An incoming stream on the east side of the lake.

The shoreline was quite red as I moved northerly along the eastern shore of the lake. I wondered what was the geology or chemistry that was causing this colouring?

Red rock shoreline.

Here are a few other looks at the russet-like waters.

Russet waters.
Strange colours.

As I scanned the shoreline and wondered about what was the cause of the change in colour an orange object caught my eye on the shoreline. Could it be a pumpkin? What the heck was a pumpkin doing out here? As I approached I realized that it was a giant beach basketball. It dawned on me that it must be the one that I had seen some young children bringing down to the water to play with the night before. They must have lost it to the southwesterly wind.

I landed as close as I could then walked to the front of my board to pick up the ball. It was massive! But luckily I was able to secure it underneath two of the straps to my cargo net. I am not sure why I didn’t take a picture of it. I guess at the moment I felt that taking a picture of the now garbage would somehow take away from the natural experience.
I reversed away from the shore and then continued on my course.

As I paddled away a line of bubbles coming up in the water caught my eye. I circled back to investigate. Below is the image but it is hard to make out the bubble line. Funnily, I even took this photo with an angle to avoid the giant beach basketball now secured to my board.

Bubbles beneath the water.

Here’s a short video that gives a much better visual. There is definitely something down there. I wonder what?

Something under the water.

And here is the view south from the north side of Deer Lake. It doesn’t look like we will be getting any sun soon.

Looking south.

It looks pretty socked-in to the west too!

Clouds in all directions.

When I made it to the northwestern corner of the lake I realized that the lake bottom was scattered with freshwater mussels. I had seen some from the dock the night before but I had assumed that they were shells that someone had scattered from the dock, either as bait or as food scraps. It made a lot more sense now to see them as native to the lake. Though a quick internet search shows that there are many instances where the mussels can be an invasive species.

Mussels on the lake bottom.

I wonder if these mussels are native to the lake or invasive? Another Canada parallel about who belongs where. And when do imports become domestic? At some point, everything comes from somewhere else, so where do you draw your line in the sand?

More mussels.

And here is the route that I took from my Google Fit GPS data.

Screenshot of Google Fit activity tracker.

And my statistics from Google Fit.

Screenshot of Google Fit activity tracker.

2 thoughts on “Deer Lake Sasquatch Provincial Park

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