“It feels like a totally different country up here.” I said those words out loud as I drove my Jeep Wrangler rental car out of the Vancouver airport and towards Harrison Mills, British Columbia in Canada. With such a short and easy flight from Sacramento, it felt like I had barely left California. Here I was hours later, driving the Canadian countryside on my way to Sandpiper Golf Resort to “Play the Piper.” When I arrived, I was thrilled to learn that I was staying in a tiny little golf cabin right on the 15th hole. The accommodations at Rowena’s Inn have been so popular that they are adding 7 more cabins to meet the demands of visiting golfers. It’s like you have your own little golf house out there.
After checking into the golf cabin, I explored the property and scouted my plan of attack for the following day. My plan was simple, avoid the planes landing adjacent to the 17th fairway and make a ton of birdies.
The next day I got up early for a day of 36 with the Director of Golf at Sandpiper Golf Resort, Dave Corke. At Sandpiper, Dave is a little more than just the Director of Golf, he is also the most popular guy on the course. Not a group passed us by without a brief exchange of golf quips and handshakes. It was like getting a celebrity escort around the property. “Hey Dave! great putt for triple on that last hole.” “Play on through, Dave! We’ll just hide out here in the middle of the fairway, so you won’t hit us.” The jests and friendly smiles came in waves.
As for the golf course itself, it’s got several main strengths. The first one is the high fun factor. The course is only 6,500 yards from the back tees and places a premium on accuracy off of the tee. The good news is that you won’t necessarily have to be accurate with your driver. Sandpiper offers plenty of shot options from the tee and club selection comes down to what you want to face with your second shot. When you have options, the fun factor really starts to rise. There are also several reachable par 5’s that will give you several good chances for an eagle. Making eagles is fun.
The second strength at Sandpiper is the beauty of the golf course’s surroundings. The majority of the course runs through chutes of tall stunning pine trees and reminded me a little of Sahalee Country Club in Seattle. The course picks up the ambiance further on the 15th hole when it reaches the banks of the Harrison River. With a handful of the finishing holes playing along the water, the views will delight the golf senses.
If you happen to play Sandpiper in the months of October or November there is a 100% chance that you will find at least one eagle. However, that eagle will most likely be bald. Every year tens of thousands of bald eagles converge on Harrison and Sandpiper Golf Resort for some sort of bald eagle summit meeting. They line the trees and feast upon the spawning salmon. The story of the day goes to Dave Corke for his tale of salmon falling from the sky on the 9th tee box. A bald eagle had dropped his daily catch and the plummeting fish nearly hit Dave right in the head. Fortunately, Dave survived the ordeal and lives to tell the tale of flying salmon.
After a rousing day of 36 at Sandpiper it was time to head down to Harrison Hot Springs and jump into full exploration and discovery mode. That’s right, it was time to begin the hunt for Bigfoot. With sightings all over the Harrison Hot Springs area, there is a wealth of information and lore on the hairy beast. I decide to jump right in and orchestrate my own Bigfoot expedition. First, I was going to need to conduct some research and fully investigate all of the available clues.
Although the fresh fudge clue turned out to be a dead end, I received several hot tips from local fudge eaters that Bigfoot is real and in the area.
There were many Bigfoot clues, but the biggest discovery was the fact that Bigfoot is indeed a fan of pizza.
Following a hot lead, I decided to hike up to Whippoorwill Point to see if I could get my camera lens on the world’s most famous beast. On my way out to the point, I passed the source of the Harrison Hot Springs. Since the springs can reach up to 140 degrees, they are guarded by the trellis in the picture below. It is rumored that Bigfoot drinks the water directly from the springs, a potential source of his otherworldly strengths.
As you can see below, a huge break through in the Bigfoot case was made on Sandy Cove on my way to Whippoorwill point. We are still awaiting the clinical results on the footprint pictured, but I think it is pretty obvious that this print is the real deal.
Like almost every other Bigfoot adventure, mine would come up short in the end. The only shot of the hairy beast that I was able to capture was this picture of a replica Bigfoot in front of Muddy Waters Cafe. This particular Sasquatch is staring down the treats at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory which is also located on the main drive in downtown Harrison. Since he was frozen in stone, I had to eat the all of the chocolates myself.
The scene in downtown Harrison is quaint and filled with all sorts of restaurants and scenic viewpoints. With the mountains on one side of the street and Lake Harrison on the other, the town is worth visiting for the sights alone. Fueled by the hot springs, you can go for a soak in the public pool, take in a fantastic meal at Morgan’s Bistro, or go for some ice cream on the the main drive. The stop at Morgan’s Bistro was easily my favorite meal of the trip. I took in a delicious halibut while overlooking Lake Harrison.
My accommodations for the visit were at the nearby Harrison Beach Hotel. The hotel is located right in the heart of the scene and has balconies that overlook the lake. The photo below was actually taken from my personal balcony while I was in my underwear, which earned the hotel an unheard of 11/10 balcony rating.
With only one day left in Harrison Hot Springs, I decided to pursue the Loch Ness Monster. That’s right, since I failed with Bigfoot, I was going after the second most legendary beast in the world. I would need a boat and an expert guide for this sort of mission and BC Sportfishing fit the bill perfectly. There were no real clues that the Loch Ness Monster was hiding out in Harrison Lake, but my all star guide, Anthony, told me there was a pretty good chance that we might catch some sturgeon. I happily boarded the boat.
Sturgeon can live to be over 100 years old and can grow to be over 20 feet long. These fish have been swimming in the sea for over 200 million years dating back to the triassic period. They might not be the Loch ness, but these fish sounded like the next best thing. Tony told stories of 2 hour battles with these ancient water beasts. However, my battle would last a quick 30 seconds as I reeled in a recording setting fish. When we put the tape measure down it measured a whopping 16.” It was indeed the smallest sturgeon ever captured. The largest sturgeon on record was a Beluga female captured in the Volga estuary in 1827, weighing 1,571 kg (3,463 lb) and 7.2 m (24 ft) long.
Even though I had not photographed Bigfoot or captured the Loch Ness Monster, I considered the trip to Harrison Hot Springs a raging success. After the fishing journey, I jumped on a plane back to the US with my new fishing record and a smile on my face.