Part IX - The Camper's Beach
Well - after several scrapes, some stumbles, and a couple of near falls down the slope - I finally arrived at the lower road that led to the camper's beach. Like a scene straight out of the Simpson's - when I stepped onto the roadway - I looked to my right and saw a nice staircase and trail leading to the campground about 30ft away. Doh! I decided to walk along the beach and take a photo along the length of it about 2/3rds of the way down. Because it was so close to the campground - this became known as the camper's beach. Being the first beach that visitors to the park came upon - many from out of town just stopped here - unaware that a nicer, more open beach existed another couple of minutes further along.
Here is a view of the camper's beach. Not the widest stretch of sand by any imagination. But during peak season - on weekends - this beach was well used.
Here is what the views of Windy Lake look like from the camper's beach.
In the other direction is the Onaping Falls Golf and Beach Club. You can see the 8th hole fairway in the photo below. In addition to a small beach, the club featured a dock and diving board. One afternoon around 1980 -my dad decided on a whim that he'd take up professional diving even though he had no formal training to speak of. His first feat would be an attempt to complete a backward double-twisting feet entry "dive" off the board. The board itself was about 2 metres above the water. I considered myself pretty daring at the time and couldn't fathom that my dad was about to do something that other adults and kids would have considered crazy. Changing roles for a moment - I even asked him to re-consider. As a warm-up he decided to start with a backflip to test the board and his gross-motor skills. People started to gather around. Suddenly - there was a lot at stake here. Remember how you felt when Evel Knievel was about to be launched across the Grand Canyon in his Skycycle? This seemed just as pivotal except that dad didn't have the option to pull a chute. I remember him bouncing on the board a few times. I also seem to remember it bending obscenely under his weight. I secretly hoped it would snap so the attempt would be aborted - with no pride lost. Then he jumped and completed what looked to me like the best damn full layout backflip I had witnessed any human perform. People actually clapped. I was in shock. For his next attempt - he completed the same maneuver with a double twist. Now he was taking requests. The next one involved a pike position back-flip one and a half-with a twist. This request sounded more like a drink order to me. Apparently - some members of the gallery had spent time in gymnastics. Unfortunately, this one didn't go quite as planned. Somehow his cerebellum received mixed signals from his frontal cortex and he ended up spinning out of control kinda like Darth Vader's Tie Fighter at the end of the first Star Wars movie. I don't remember exactly how he hit the water - but from the size of the splash - my guess is that it wasn't a "rip" entry. His reign was over. I still think that Louganis would have been impressed. And on that day I can honestly say that my dad put on a pretty impressive show. I still don't know how he did it.
As teens many of my friends belonged to the local canoe club. We would sign-out canoes and paddle them out to the point seen in the image below and dive for golf balls off of the 8th hole - and sell them. The trick was to be able to do this when the water warmed up in late June. Those courageous enough to brave the deep and colder waters earlier in the season were able to reap a bounty of balls. Titleist were coveted. Golden Rams sold well too.
My friend Curtis sent me this photo a few years ago. That's him standing on the diving board at the Golf and Beach club. I'm in the red trunks. Our other friend Brent is sporting the jean shorts. We sure had a lot of fun back in those days. I'd say that this was probably circa 1980. It was such as strange surprise when he sent this photo. I found it hard to recognize myself in it.
From the beach I returned to the roadway and began to walk the kilometre or so to the boat launch area. I was surprised to discover that the park now featured some walk-in sites along this section. These campsites require you to walk in a short distance from where your car is parked on the road - to your site which is typically surrounded by trees and next to the water. If you want privacy - these sites certainly offer that - and provide a much more authentic camping experience as well. They are by far my favourite sites to book when tenting.
Here is the Windy Lake boat launch area. AKA - the "rock launch" area. In the distance you can see the embankment of the CPR rail tracks.
As mentioned at the beginning of this report - I recall my dad and I challenging each other to a contest to see who could throw a rock across the water to the other side of the channel (remember when everyone didn't automatically win a prize - and self-esteem was something you earned?). I remember that after a few serious efforts - I eventually launched a rock that made it across. My dad I believe - came close - but was never able to clear the gap. Now, 25 years later at age 46 - I wondered why I needed to prove to myself that I could still do it. But what I think it came down to for me was that I was curious. And I simply needed to know. Whether I succeeded or not - I thought it'd make a good story and a fun bit of reminiscence to share with my dad. I've since taken a look at this spot on some online topo maps as well as on Google Earth using the ruler tool to measure the distance. If the measurements are valid - the distance from the gravel (we didn't throw from the dock) to the other side is about 300ft. I knew I had to take some practice throws to stretch and warm up. When I was finally ready I then had to select some suitable stones. Ones that were flat enough to gain good lift, yet heavy enough to maintain their momentum in the air. Apparently, the art of rock throwing isn't something to take lightly. I found a few reasonable candidates - but saved the better ones for last. I threw about 10 rocks that early evening. The first few went reasonably far - but the trajectory was either too high - or too low - and they ended up falling well short of my goal. One of the last ones launched felt great - and I was confident that it would clear the gap - but I was disappointed when it landed about 5 ft from the edge - producing a clear splash and ripple in the water. I had two stones left. And these were the best ones I had. If I was going to succeed - I needed to make it work with these two. With the next one - I cleared the gap - but it wasn't by much, as I could see it ricochet off the ground on the other side. It was good enough. It felt even better than I thought it would. I wonder if there's a type of therapy in California that uses this technique?
From here I made my way to the old beach. I wonder if it looked as spectacular as I remembered it on those early evenings many years ago. Judging by the overcast sky - I had my doubts.
See Part X - to find out.