Friday, January 29, 2016
Harrison Lake West - Puttering About
Today I opted to go a few miles up the West Harrison Lake Forest Service Road (FSR) to get a few pictures of the lake and do a wee bit of geocaching while I was at it.
Click on any picture to see the set in full panorama view :)
First stop was at at lookout high above Harrison Lake, last stop was the back roads around Lake Errock.
The West Harrison Lake FSR is a familiar friend and I have been up this way many times over the years. A few years ago I put a series of geocaches along here that is best accessed via 4X4 as the first of the caches is 20 miles up the FSR. Steep rutted hills, sever washboard, and sharp gravel makes these caches not the ideal choice to go for in the family grocery-getter.
As I was only headed as far as mile 4 there was no rush to get there, or anywhere, so I puttered along content to check out small little goat trails off the main road that led to 2-3 truck camping spots or dead ended a couple of hundred feet off the FSR.
I took one of the main turn offs that gave a commanding few of the south end of Harrison Lake and snapped off a few pictures. Low hanging clouds associated with rain showers meant the lake was partly obscured for the camera but I could see just fine.The lake is 60 kms long so although I could see up and down the lake in reality I could only see a small portion of the lake.
This is one of my favourite pictures...I think it's due to the ribbon of brown sandwiched between greens and browns of the foliage with the vast blue and whites of vast lake in the background.
Proving that any age is a good age to splash in puddles, I decided to try out the video setting on my camera to see how it works. To do that I needed any "action" shot, and since the Jeep was still way too clean, I thought I could make everyone happy (me and the Jeep) at the same time.
There, that looks a lot better! Now all the other Jeep owners won't laugh at me and not let me play their stupid reindeer games!
Back down at the start of the forest service road is Weaver Creek Spawning Channels created by Fisheries Canada and now run by the local Sto:lo First Nations people.
The channels provide a natural habitat for the various types of salmon returning to spawn, the most prized being the Sockeye salmon.
Today it was mostly Chums in the hatchery beds but the limited numbers was enough to provide interest for the tourists.
The few Sockeye that were here stood out in stark relief to the mottled grayness of the Chum.
There is plenty of room in the man made beds but one thing is for sure - all the salmon end up as food for the wildlife. Bears, raccoons, seagulls, and every other form of fur and fowl have a field day gorging on the plentiful bounty of the salmon runs.
It's no surprise that such a great supply of food during the winter salmon runs would attract Bald Eagles to the area.The large predators enjoy a a tightly packed area of rivers full of spawning salmon. Weaver Creek, Chehalis River, Harrison River, Fraser River, and many side channels and marshes of the Harrison River and the Fraser River supply enough salmon to make this area one of the top 3 wintering areas of the Bald Eagle on the Western Flyway. The Squamish River area is usually #1 spot, Haynes Alaska is #2, and the Chehalis Flats area of the Harrison River is #3.
A tourist industry has sprung up surrounding the December-January return of the eagles. Squamish has done this for years but in the past 3-4 years this part of the larger Fraser Valley has gotten organised and promotes various marketing campaigns to bring the Metro Vancouverites to the area.
Remnants of a former age are scattered throughout the local forests...some of the biggest stumps of Red Wood Cedars and Douglas Firs I have seen are in a local suburban Surrey park. I spotted this one a mile or so up the Chehalis FSR as there were two geocaches I wanted to nab. The notch you see in the tree stump was chopped there by loggers to insert a springboard. A Spring board was a long plank of wood with a pointed end they would insert into the notch they cut into the tree. The trees of yesteryear were first growth trees,and often stood a couple of hundred feet tall. The bases of the trees were massive and would take forever to chop three either with an axe or with a two man whip saw. The loggers "cheated" a little bit by starting the cut 10' feet up the tree were the tree trunk was thinner.
There are numerous artesian wells in the area some of which are on private property. In this case, the local land owner was tired of people trespassing on his land to fill their water jugs and making a mess of the forest undergrowth so he tapped into the well and ran a line down the hill to the forest road for the public to access the water there. To make it a bit interesting he built a small rock wall and put a statue of Buddha to offer good vibes in the area. There is an Earth geocache here (Earth cache means there is no actual cache, just a "virtual" to discover the area, and another actual cache across the road along a the banks of a small creek. In the old days you would call that a "two-fer" :)
On the list of my "must sees" when ever I bring someone new to the area is the old Kilby Museum in Harrison Mills. Originally a train stop it became a small community onto it's own as the local loggers from the logging "shows" or forest operations, needed a place to stay so the train stop became a combination general store below and a small boarding house on the upper floor. It was also a distribution point for the farmers in Chilliwack across the Fraser River who would row across the river with their fruits and vegetables to catch the 4.00 PM train to take their produce into the vast market of Metro Vancouver.
Later with the rise of the auto-mobile gas pumps were added to service the area. OK, so your first question is...."why is there a board walk going up to the second floor"?
This area was prone to springtime flooding and it was quite common for the surrounding land to be under 6 feet of water for a few weeks. The basement of the store, which was actually ground level, was just bare dirt and other than a few tools and work benches was left empty as it was often under water with the freshet.
I sauntered out of the Harrison Mills, rambled east down the Lougheed Highway, and meandered into the back roads of Lake Errock. Lake Errock is actually an old oxbow of the Harrison River situated slightly upstream of where it empties into the Fraser River. Looking at a topo map it's easy to see that this oxbow was probably part of the Fraser River at one time before the river cut itself off and left the Harrison River to claim this twixt of water.
Here was one of the neat things about aimlessly driving down back roads...you find the most interesting things. I knew that the Western Painted Turtle is on the endangered species list in BC. I have even seen them in some suburban parks sunning themselves on logs...I did not know there was a small population in a marshy area in the Fraser Valley. I have to chalk up this find to geocaching as there was a couple of nearby caches that highlighted this turtle oasis; without the impetus to drive down this stretch of road I might not have found this reserve.
All kinds of treasures are found are found down back roads...some are a wonder of nature, some are a small feat of modern man. In this case an old Fargo pickup truck trying to maintain it's dignity sat in a corner of someones rural property...all but abandoned and being overtaken by brambles. I can't help but think this is a diamond just waiting for the right person to find it and restore the truck to it's former glory.
Now this is what back road exploring is all about....a beauty of nature in the form of two large firs growing out of the same trunk tucked right against the edge of the road and the local community having the grace to leave the tree as is and have the road skirt the edge of the tree. This quaint image is one that I think of when I think of what I would like to see when I am Out and About rambling the back roads of Beautiful British Columbia.
The full album of today's pictures can be seen on my Flickr web page here.