Camping on Vancouver Island

Our camping adventures on Vancouver Island!

Camping at Horne Lake

13ft Boler, Lakeside camping on Horne Lake, BC

13ft Boler, Lakeside camping on Horne Lake, BC

How can I describe our trip to Horne Lake? Unpredictable, disastrous in some ways, and yet, so much fun!  Let me explain.

First off, picture the Friday of a long weekend, we travel from Victoria to Horne Lake after work and meet with another couple for what we expect to be a fantastic weekend of relaxing, having great times around the campfire and getting in our fair share of sun and sand.  We have our Tracker loaded to the hilt with hot dogs, beer, inner tubes for swimming, the canoe for fishing, and our retro Boler camper that we adored. (We’ve since upgraded, but every memory with the Boler is fond.) Everything to have a great time with friends in the summer, at a beautiful locale.

The friends that we invited to join us have accompanied many of our camping trips. The boys headed out fishing and left us girls behind to spend our time in the sun, floating in our inner tubes with a fruity drink in hand.  Ah! This was just what I had been looking forward to! We spent close to an hour, soaking in the sun, catching up, and wading our feet near the shore, as the lapping waves from the gentle wind on the lake pushed us gently up to the beach. The sun was so warm and inviting, I didn’t even bother to towel dry off, I purposely just let the rays warm my skin after coming out of the water. You might be asking yourself, why does it matter if she didn’t towel dry off?

Swimmer's Itch

Swimmer’s Itch

Well…this is one of the key reasons that about an hour later, I looked at my legs and noticed the large, bumby, swollen and oh sooooooo itchy welts forming from the waist down. The lower half of my body that had been in the water near the shore, including my freshly shaved legs (meaning my pores were nice and open) absorbed the perfect conditions to create the most excruciating experience of swimmer’s itch! At first I thought it would be a slight downer on my first night of camping, expecting a mild discomfort, but would be significantly better by the next day. As the afternoon turned to evening, I became frantic with itch, unable to think about anything else, participate in any cooking, eating and definitely not any laughter. My sweetheart suggested that tomorrow morning we could see if the campsite general store was open and look for an itch remedy. I think he got the message pretty clear when I looked at him, that tomorrow morning was not an option! At the store, it was clear that this is a common occurrence for this lake, as they were fully stocked with Calamine lotion, Benadryl and other remedies. I purchased the Benadryl and stayed in a drug induced coma for the remaining 4 nights of our trip. My friend also suffered the same fate as me, but not to the extent that I had discovered from shaving my legs the same morning before being in the water. We shared Benadryl and sympathy groans for the weekend, and will forever have the lesson etched in our minds.

What else happened to make this experience at Horne Lake so varied between disaster and fun? The winds coming in from the lake made canoeing impossible, but this turned our days into exploration adventures to the surrounding areas, including a fantastic picnic at Spider lake nearby. We also endured a full day and a half of non stop, drenching rain. Endured might not be the right word though, because we passed the time by have a Settlers of Catan marathon competition at the table in our Boler, fueled by cheezies, warm coffee and many laugh till we cried jokes, including jokes from the men about our swimmer’s itch fiasco. The neighbors at the campsite near us invited themselves over to our campfire on our last evening. Although they were friendly enough folks, sharing drinks and stories, we were tired before them, so we closed up into our beds for the night, only to hear them go back to their camper to crank rock and roll into the quiet campground, well past 11pm. It didn’t last long, but the next morning we awoke to another camper from across the road who did not appreciate the music the night before and decided to get even by banging his cooking pot outside the neighboring camper to exact his own type of justice. To top off the weekend, a dog decided his territory on the edge of our campsite needed to be protected and bit our friend. She was fine, and we all agreed that given all that had happened already, this was not shocking in the least.

So, how could all of these events still comprise of a camping experience that would qualify as fun? We learned to laugh at ourselves, find alternatives to what we had expected to do, and still have stories about this trip that make up the fabric of our friendship to this day.

Horne Lake, BC


Some things to know about this campground:

  • This is a Municipal site, so you will not find it mentioned on the BC Government website.
  • This lake is known for strong winds, so keep that in mind when bringing a boat or planning to swim.
  • There is a sign at the entrance to the park (one that we missed), warning of possible swimmer’s itch. It can be avoided, so be aware of the steps to take when enjoying the water.
  • There are two campground sections to Horne Lake campground, North and South. Be sure to look at maps of both areas.
  • The campsite is also well known for the nearby caves that can be explored. There is a separate cost for touring the caves, be sure to do your research.

Posted under: BC Provincial Parks, Camping, Canoeing

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