Exploring BC’s Shuswap Lake by Houseboat: Day One
Sweat is pouring off my face. I’m having a hard time breathing. And it’s not because I’m in a makeshift tent with three half naked guys late in the evening.
Let me back up a few hours.
Around lunchtime I’d boarded a houseboat in Sicamous, BC – the house-boating capital of Canada – with four complete strangers; Mike, the travel writer from Calgary, Kevin our houseboat captain, Robyn from Shuswap Tourism and Howard from Thompson Okanagan Tourism. The plan was to explore Shuswap Lake by houseboat over the course of three days and nights, with additional side trips and activities scheduled so we could get a real flavour for the area.
A sweat lodge was not on the agenda.
But it was a cool June night and it had started to drizzle.
Threatening skies on our first night on Shuswap Lake
Four of us were quite content to sit around the roomy living area sipping local wines from some of the most northern wineries on the planet. After all we’d had a tough afternoon - eating a catered lunch (an amazing Thai vegetable soup and sandwiches if you must know) followed by a round of golf at Hyde Mountain.
I must digress and say something about the golf – for I am not a golfer. In fact I HAD NEVER GOLFED in my life.
But I get it now. I understand how one great shot - after-all I did land the ball on the green on one occasion thank you very much – makes you think you have half a chance of succeeding as a golfer. It’s just as well there isn’t a video though because I am perhaps the only person who has tried to hit a golf ball and swung so hard that instead of hitting the ball I did a pirouette and almost fell over.
Nonetheless it was a fun few hours, especially since no one took it seriously. The one real golfer among us, Kevin, who looked after the Banff Springs Hotel golf course for years, was always enthusiastic with his encouragement, even if it was misplaced. And Hyde Mountain is a beautiful golf course.
The view from Hyde Mountain Golf Course down Shuswap Lake
Back on the houseboat with drinks in our hands, Kevin gets to work outside building a fire. I’m not sure any of us appreciated what he was up to initially. We were probably rehashing our golf experience – though I bet Mike was pondering his coin toss loss.
When we first got on board Mike and I had to pick rooms. I won the coin toss and scored the stateroom with the sliding glass door looking out to the back. Twin Anchors boasts on their website that the houseboat has five staterooms. Although the amenities on board are fantastic (fireplace/washer/dryer/great kitchen/DVD player/BBQ/hot-tub…), I think stateroom is a misnomer. My room was great but the other four staterooms were not exactly what I would describe as a stateroom. In fact Kevin declared that he felt like a rodent crawling up into a nest every night.
My stateroom - and the best bedroom on the houseboat
Dinner was another catered affair - barbecued salmon, chicken and beef kebabs, sesame stir fried vegetables and rice. Dessert was a gorgeous chocolate birthday cake.
Howard expertly cooking kebabs on the outdoor BBQ
Our very spacious and well-appointed kitchen area
It wasn’t until after dinner I fully appreciated what Kevin was up to. He wasn’t building a fire just for the fun of it, but to heat rocks for at least two hours so they’d be hot enough to provide a sweat lodge experience. In fact he’d brought on board a duffle bag with all the tools to make a sweat lodge – a couple of tarps, something to fasten them together, work gloves and a shovel for moving the hot rocks.
Kevin in front of his sweat-lodge; the red glow is from the rocks and steam and a 30 second exposure
And so about an hour after dinner three of us squeezed under the tarps. One by one Kevin placed red hot rocks into the center of the sweat lodge. We immediately felt the blast of heat. Then came the steam and the full on sauna experience. Sometimes it got so hot I could barely catch my breath. But it left me feeling marvelous and relaxed – so relaxed I slept like a baby.
And so ended my first day on a houseboat.
I’d been pleasantly surprised so far. Shuswap Lake is very beautiful and much bigger than I imagined. You only actually see a small section of the lake from the highway. And on a weekday in June there was only one other houseboat in sight – so you feel like you’ve got the lake to yourself. Our gang of five turns out to be very congenial, the food outstanding and the wine delicious (Recline Ridge Bacchus 2011 and Granite Mountain Cab/Syrah 2006). The boat is roomy enough that you have a sense of personal space. The only thing missing is sunshine.
Have you ever been houseboating? If not would you like to try it?
Shuswap Tourism kindly sponsored this trip but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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