July 31, 2009 | Tips from Travellers >
Fort St. John, Beaches & Swimming
Can you say “heat wave”? In Fort St. John we have had the hottest late July in a long time, so hot in fact, that we have broken temperature records set in the 40s! With this kind of heat locals and travelers alike can do nothing but sweat it out – unless they happen to know all the local hot spots for cooling off.
The most important thing on a hot day is always water, but why just drink it when you can dive in? Downtown Fort St. John is home to the North Peace Leisure Pool which, with two pools and a waterslide, is an excellent indoor stop. I’ve always loved the beachy wave pool and the exhilarating 3m high dive! If you just can’t bear to leave the sun behind but still want to stay in the city, there’s also the Rotary Spray Park. Right behind the Leisure Pool, it is usually frequented by the younger (read: 3-8 yr olds) set but on a sweltering days like today, everyone is welcome (even roguish university students like myself) and the cold blast of water is ridiculously welcome.
If you have a bit more time and ambition, the BC Peace region is also home to a whole raft of great swimming rivers. For those with a 4X4, Copeland’s beach can’t be beat. It’s a great place to swim, hike, skip rocks on the river, and generally just bask in the sun on the sandy shores. Exercise caution on the first hot day of the summer (all the snow in the mountains starts to melt and the river can pull a flash flood out of its back pocket with no notice) but after the snows are melted out of the mountains, a trip out to North Pine and its main attraction (Copeland’s Beach) may be just what the doctor ordered. While north of town already, I find it’s hard to pass up the beaches just east of the Cecil Lake Road Bridge. While much easier to access it is no less appealing for a quick dip on a hot day.
If you head south of Fort St. John the Peace and Kiskatinaw Rivers are great options. I grew up visiting my aunt who lived on the Peace, and though we were warned heavily against leaping into the flow, on hot years when the water is low there are plenty of slower running back waters where it’s safe and fun to cool down and paddle around. The Kiskatinaw is also a great place to swim and, located only about half an hour south of Fort St. John, it’s not too far out of the way. My dad always liked to take the little detour in the summer to drive part of the old highway and swim in the relatively safe if a bit muddy Kiskatinaw.
Now, once you’ve got your fill of swimming you will probably need a snack. There is no question in my mind, after a long hot day on the river or in the pool, only icecream will do! Now if you read my previous blogs you probably know how I feel about icecream and just where exactly I like to go. If, however, you didn’t: Peppermint Patty’s is the coolest icecream joint in town. Check it out!