Powell Lake’s Natural and Not So Natural History

Powell Lake’s Natural and Not So Natural History
by Nancy Pezel and Tom Koleszar
, 10 July 2022

We conducted this trip on two separate days aboard the Tla’amin Braves II with Captain Bryce.  The weather was OK on both days, just a brief shower on Sunday afternoon.  The lake was relatively calm and the clouds generally high enough to see the surrounding hilltops, if not always the highest peaks.

Our first stop was just south of 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 then explained 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 salt 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 dock which was a floating garden of bog plants, including sundews, Labrador Tea, Bog Laurel, some sedges and a few western red cedar saplings.  Bryce told us about the Tla’amin people’s use of the lake as well as how his job as a Guardian has a very long history with his people.  After a brief geology lesson, Tom told us about the early farmers in the Olsens valley.

After cruising to just north of the Beartooth Valley, Nancy pointed out and talked about the protected Old Growth Management Areas and protected Ungulate Winter Ranges as Mountain Goats hang out on the west side of the lake here in the winter.  Tom then spoke about the different types of rock in this area compared to the 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 Powell River.  A lot of berries were eaten for dessert along the way.  We saw a bear both days, though it was happy to sit among the berry bushes and watch us walking up the road.  The rushing water and rock formations at the bridge were spectacular.   Before we left the head, Tom told us some stories of the eccentric characters that inhabited the area.

As we headed back, we made some stops at scenic waterfalls and travelled down the east side of Goat Island where we saw Rainbow Lodge and learned of it’s history.  After a brief stop at the Narrows towards Goat Lake, we 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.

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

Powell Lake – its natural and not-so-natural history

Powell Lake – its natural and not-so-natural history
by Tom Koleszar 22 Jun

Its 0900 Saturday morning and 12 intrepid naturalists embark on the Catwalker for an all day trip up Powell Lake to learn about the lake and enjoy the beautiful scenery!  We made 4 stops on the way up to the head, including one at Captain Byrne’s cabin at Olsens Landing for a much needed break! (The other stops were in the middle of the lake a few kms up, just past the first narrows, and off Beartooth Creek).

At these stops Nancy and Tom talked about the lake waters (the deep salt layer), forestry practices along the lake (visual impacts, OGMAs, ungulate winter ranges, etc.), the geology and geography of the lake area, and the lake history (which includes many homesteaders and colourful characters!).

At the head we got off the boat for a nice lunch in the sunshine and a short walk up the road to a bridge over the upper Powell River – which offers spectacular views of the lake and the river!  After that its back on the boat for a run down to the second narrows and a look at the Rainbow Lodge and then on to the Narrows area for a stop at a small dock and a swim (all those who went in said the water was great!).  After that we had one final stop off the Fiddlehead area for a discussion on the history of the farm, and then back to the Shingle Mill at 1530.

I think everyone had a great day, and thanks to Captain Byrne for the expert handling of his boat and the use of his cabin!  It seems like this is one trip we’ll have to do again!