“I’ve gotta walk where I can stretch my legs,” announced my bestest buddy when we met up in Kamloops. “Let’s find the dike beside the North Thompson River where we met that beaver several years ago.”
Turning off Westsyde Drive and parking at the Community Park, we found it where we had left it! Three trails led south, and, walking along the narrow one closest to the river we saw plenty of evidence of logging activities by our beaver and others in the poplars and cottonwood. The water level was still very high, sweeping up branches and small trees at its edge; in places, our trail had been under-cut, its sandy make-up obvious where it had collapsed.
Two gals passed us, floating downstream with their colourful, inflated, plastic armchairs facing each other.
“How do you paddle back upstream?” I called.
“We don’t,” one answered.
“My car is at my place and hers is at her place,” explained the other, pointing forward and back.
Turning back sooner than my buddy, I paid closer attention to my surroundings. This being the warmest, sunniest day Kamloops had managed so far during this cool, wet summer, locals demonstrated how many ways you can play in that natural setting. Spotting a paraglider wafting above the river, I thought, “I hope he can steer that”. Indeed he could, landing safely on the far side.
Two guys, father and son, were relaxing beside a cottonwood tree that had fallen across the trail. I commented on the classy white scooter leaning on it.
“With this I can go exploring and keep up with my son on his bicycle,” said Dad. “I am disabled and this is my freedom.”
“He rides it as if it was a dirt bike!” his son chipped in. It is almost silent, I discovered.
On finding out I was from Clearwater the younger one asked, “Do you know Jenkins Road?”
“Sure do,” I responded.
“Our name is Jenkins,” he said. “That road is named after my great-grandfather!”
Further upstream, couples and families had staked out tiny beaches where they could cool off safely. Young children jumped from the top of intertwined roots of an almost undermined tree, grasping their mother’s hand and yelling happily as they splashed down into the brown water. Dogs chased sticks flung out into the flowing river, grabbed them in their smiling, open mouths and brought them ashore further downstream, pushed by the current. One dog had no intention of getting wet and its master flung his stick in the wide space separating this trail from the dike.
“It has to be that stick!” the good-looking bloke told me, as his dog dashed away after the unwieldy branch. All age groups were there. Voices of young teenagers were punctuated by girlish squeals and giggles. Cyclists ensured they were heard as they approached me from behind. We chatted or waved companionably.
Reconnecting back at the car, my buddy and I enjoyed our picnic lunch beneath a shady tree. About to leave, we were distracted by the “dust mop” doggie getting out of the car beside ours.
“We just got Oreo from the Kamloops SPCA a couple of months ago,” his proud new owner told us. “He is 12, but his ‘mother’ had to move into a care facility. He’s spoiled,” he admitted, “and we’re keeping up the tradition!”
Ironically, I had seen Oreo on the SPCA website where I’d been tantalizing myself by window-shopping in late spring. It was wonderful to know he had a caring new family – and a fitting end to this sun-filled, fun-filled afternoon.