Powell River Lake

Powell River Lake
by Tom Koleszar
20 July 2023

This field trip was run for two groups on Saturday and Sunday, July 15 and 16. The trips were aboard the Tla’amin Braves II with Captain Bryce McKenzie, each following the same itinerary.  The trip leaders were Nancy Pezel and Tom Koleszar. The weather was wonderful (and a bit hot) on both days, and we had great views of the surrounding mountains.

Our first stop was near Cassiar Island where Nancy provided some information about the logging and fire history around the lake that has resulted in mainly second growth Douglas-fir forests.  Tom discussed how the last ice age created the “fjord” we now call Powell Lake, with its series of deep basins (350+m) separated by shallow sills, and that two basins still have 200m of salty, anoxic water at the bottom.

On route to the next stop, Elvis gave us a photo op before Nancy talked about how cutblocks have to meet the Visual Quality Objectives (VQO) designated by the government in scenic areas like Powell Lake. At Olsens Landing, we stopped at the old dock which has developed its own floating garden of bog plants, including sundews, Labrador Tea, Bog Laurel, some sedges and a few western red cedar saplings.  Bryce told us something about how the Tla’amin people used the lake, then Tom told us about the more recent history of early farmers in Olsens valley.

After cruising to the Beartooth Valley vicinity, Nancy talked about protected Old Growth Management Areas and Ungulate Winter Ranges (this area is a mountain goat hangout in winter).  Tom then spoke about the different types of rock in this area compared to other areas of the lake, and how these were formed.

We had lunch at the head of the lake, then walked up the logging road to the bridge over the upper Powell River. It was a hot walk both days, but the views from the bridge were spectacular. Before we left the head, Tom told us some stories of the eccentric characters that inhabited the area.

On the way back we looked for Rainbow Falls – but there was no water at all in the Falls! We then headed around to a small dock in the Goat Narrows and those who wanted to went for a swim (the water was lovely!). We then continued on the last leg of our journey, stopping off Fiddlehead to hear about the farm and see the octagonal cabin from the “hippy” era that had been skidded down to the lake and is now a float cabin. Bryce capped off the day by telling us about the Tla’amin Guardian Watchman programme of which he is the senior member.

Thank you to Nancy, Tom, and Captain Bryce for an interesting and enjoyable day on Powell Lake!