Merritt, British Columbia – Canadian outdoor pleasure

The logging roads become narrower and worse passable, we go up to 1200 m elevation and down again, but Arminius visibly feels well here. The mixed woodlands are sometimes more, sometimes less dense. Big old trees stand here and there, but there is clear-cut in other places. Many conifers are brown and dead. The pine beetle lays its eggs under the bark. The grubs eat their way through the wood, destroy the nutrient and water capillaries and kill the tree. In former times severe winters always killed a part of the beetles. Few days below -40° are sufficient. But BC waits for those low temperatures for years. And the pine beetle reproduces uninhibitedly and destroys entire forests. An even bigger problem is that the dried trees are prone to forest fires which can easily spread out and cause further devastation.

It is the regulation in BC that logging companies have to erect campgrounds in certain distances. In this area there are many, absolutely idyllic campsites situated at small lakes without a lot of traffic on the logging roads. Since Canadians are looking forward to a long weekend with the Labour Day on Monday, and weather is beautiful, many places are already occupied. But these aren’t silent camping pleasures. Canadian outdoor entertainment is action. People drive with (electro) boats on the lake to angle, ATVs roar between the trees, and whole families ride their dirt bikes adjusted to their body size in the woods. Dogs bark, barbecue grills are preheated hoping for a good catch. On the neighbouring campground somebody turned up the music volume so that the entire surrounding can participate. Nobody feels even basically disturbed. After lunch we drive on and thread through the cows that stoically occupy the road. Despite the dry climate the less wooded areas are used as ranch land. There is only little grass that isn’t dried, but the cattle move freely on huge pieces of land to find something green to eat.

We reach Merritt in the afternoon, a small town that probably can’t be called a gem, but has a privileged location in a valley surrounded by summer-dry mountains. After we’ve done some laundry and shopping – I never bought cheaper bread and cake somewhere else in Canada, but I had to invest double of the usual amount into beer – dusk is falling over town. Days get noticeably shorter, and we still have to find an overnight place. Wal-Mart is still so option for us, but time is limited. We try our luck at the town’s view point. Nightly parking is not forbidden, so we get hold of a site above town with a view like from an eyrie.

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