Go West, Day 20 – E. C. Manning Provincial Park, BC

Author: Larry St Aubin

We board the ferry in Nanaimo to head back to the mainland. Going to camp at E.C. Manning Provincial Park. I wanted to go to this park last time I was here but could not fit it in the schedule. I liked the pictures of the Visitor Centre. This time we are going to take a short hike at the park. Today is mostly driving or ferry today so not much time for activities.

The region of Manning Park was the traditional meeting ground of the Stó:lō and Similkameen First Nations that would meet to fish, hunt and trade together and the present-day Skyline Trail was a well-used travel route.

Red’s Bakery, Nanaimo. We were out walking about the town at 5:30 am. I wanted to finish yesterday’s blog so got up early. Lo and Behold we see a flashing OPEN sign. I tie up the pugs and head inside. I say “I’m impressed that there is someone open at this time”. He says “Or, we are the only ones in Nanaimo stupid enough to get up this early”. He is very cheerful. I order a coffee and apple fritter (which was fresh).

We were enjoying the morning at the little table outside. No one was around, no traffic. All of a sudden (well, the fritter was finished so no reason to stick around), Greta gets up, walks over to the plant and sits down looking at me. Maybe it was her endearing way of saying – go get another fritter. But I was having breakfast at the hotel.

The Coast Bastion’s restaurant opened at 7. I went down a couple of minutes to 7 and there were already people seated, included a large group of 8. The waitress explained my order my take a little longer, which was thoughtful of her. I didn’t mind because my ferry left at 11 so had time to kill. Ordered avocado toast with poached egg. And it came quickly after the 8 were served.

I don’t need to recount the ferry ride other than I was at the front again. And I had lunch – chicken sandwich. This way I wouldn’t have to stop for lunch after the ferry.

However I did do quite a few rest stops along the way. I can feel my concentration starting to ebb and look for the next BC Rest Stop sign.

E.C. Manning Park “is a focus of outdoor recreation that is unique in British Columbia. Located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains it is within a three hour drive from either the Lower Mainland or the Okanagan. The climate and geography have combined to make this park an all season recreation area. The park contains a large number of scenic, historic, floral and fauna attractions and provides a wide range of both summer and winter recreation.”

“E. C. Manning Provincial Park is home to a wide variety of birds and animals. There are 206 separate species of birds and 63 species of mammals within the park. Many of these are quite common species, such as the Columbian ground squirrel and the common pika, but also found in Manning are the less common mountain beaver, wolverine and the Cascade golden-mantled ground squirrel. E. C. Manning Provincial Park and the Cascade Recreation Area are also central to efforts to recover the threatened grizzly bear population of the North Cascades, forming part of the core habitat area for the conservation of this small but significant population.”

I missed the sign to the park, but saw the Manning Resort Park’s big sign. I wasn’t camping there so ignored it. Went another 10k when I saw a gas station and “Food” sign. Stopped in and asked her where Coldspring Campground was. She was nice and explained were the turnoff was. I had passed it without seeing the turnoff. I got a couple of muffins for the morning and gas.

Found the sign and it was very small. There were a few campers settled in. I drove slowly to the very end. It felt good again to be among the pines, to smell their scent, to hear the rushing river.

Canyon Trail. This 1.6 km loop trail follows the Similkameen River. The trail head and bridge is right next to our camp spot. It’s one of the reasons I chose the spot. We head out on the trail before setting up the tent. There is shade and a cool river breeze for the pugs.

As the name implies, the path takes us up the hill across both dirt, pine needles and rocks. There is a lookout at the top of the canyon.

We then descend. On our way down we meet a British couple with a Golden Retriever. They tell me they heard bear sounds in the bushes at the bottom. My bear spray is back in the car.

We make the trail without any bear sightings.

Manning Resort Lodge. The park has a resort lodge for guests to stay at. It includes both the Pinewoods Restaurant and the Bear’s Den pub. The patio is not pet friendly so I leave the pugs to snore away in the car after their hike.

In Coldspring there is a pump with well water. There is a boil advisory sign. In the resort, there is a sign “Fresh Spring Water” – no boil advisory. You get the picture. But I take advantage of their hospitality and get a seat at the Pinewoods. I’m early so there are plenty of tables. Over the course of my meal, the place would fill up. Must be lots of people at the resort. House salad and pulled pork Tacos along with Old Vale Brewing amber.

Head back to the campsite, setup the tent and snuggle in. It is colder up in the mountains so I make sure Greta is fully covered. Eve knows the drill and is already snoring under the bag.