Atlas of Canada Link: Sarita Lake
Google Earth: Type in Sarita and zoom out a bit, the lake is East of Sarita
Trip Date: January 16, 2008After morning errands I loaded up the Tracker and left Nanaimo at 10:35 heading for lakes located along the road to Bamfield. At the Summit of #4 Highway between Cameron Lake and Port Alberni I took the connector road over to the Cameron River Main, down past Bainbridge Lake and on to the Bamfield Road. I arrived at Lizard Pond at 1:20. Finding both Lizard Pond and Hawthorn Lake frozen over, I returned to Bamfield Road and continued on the Sarita Lake, arriving at 2:25.
The bridge right before the lake that spans a tributary of Sarita River gave a glimpse of a very large log jam, cleaved in the middle by the creek. Just past the bridge on a muddy landing was a drilling machine of the sort used to drill into rock during road building. “hmmm...” I wondered, “did they dynamite the log jam?”
The Atlas of Canada map indicates a campground on the southern shore near the Eastern end of the lake, and the Backroad Mapbook placed the campsite further down the lake, so I watched intently for a road access. Recent grader work was evident creating a large furl of rock and gravel at the road edge, but I spied no turn off until reaching a road further down the lake, which I turned into. This turn off revealed the campsite nestled under deciduous trees, right where the Backroad Mapbook said it would be. It is a pleasant forestry style campsite with direct access to the lake via a gentle grassy boat ramp. The campground and boat ramp seemed oddly cluttered with logs and woody debris. I unloaded the canoe and headed out onto the water, my attention drawn immediately to a large white bird gliding along the far shore. A determined but stealthy paddle towards the bird nevertheless scared it into flight. I took several photographs of it winging its way to the far end of the lake, but it was too far away to make out the exact species. It was probably a Trumpeter Swan. Turning east I paddled towards the inflow of the Sarita River and was completely dumbstruck by the view. I had been so focused on the Swan, I had not fully appreciated it. White barked trees of the type at the campground, probably alders, were showing a red haze about their branch tips, the tightly bound buds waiting for spring. Sunlight, breaking through the cloud cover, striped the hillside behind.
As I approached the southern shoreline again, I noted a number of large logs and tree stumps clustered together in an odd tangled mess. Spanning between two of these stumps were other pieces of driftwood. Could it be that the forest company had, in fact, blasted the log jam causing a wave of water to wash these specimens into the lake? If that was the case, the water level must have risen to depth 10 or 12 feet above the level I was resting on?
Pondering other possible explanations I rounded the next small point of land and drifted past a flock of Golden Crowned Kinglets peeping to each other in the underbrush. A Junco and Winter Wren were also gleaning the shoreline logs and their activity drew my attention to a graceful piece of driftwood.
Rounding the next promontory where I had initially expected the campsite to be I startled into flight two black and white ducks, probably Ringnecks, from an area of shore where a creek had recently deposited large amounts of sand and gravel, arranged on the lake bottom like a multicoloured fan. The water turbidity was moderate, though the river had seemed relatively clear when I had crossed it.
After paddling around the eastern side of the lake I headed back toward the put in, sun descending behind snowy mountains. A mist was forming as I took the canoe out of the water and the temperature was dropping steadily. My thumbs were feeling it, even through my titanium lined neoprene gloves. As with all paddles during the winter months, the limited daylight hours, and temperature mean the paddling time always seems a little too rushed. Nevertheless, I was pleases to have paddled the lake on such a calm and tranquil day.
Summation: Sarita Lake has a nice shoreline with moderately interesting hillsides surrounding the lake on all sides. The most striking aspect of the lake is the long line of Alders (?) on the Eastern shore by the inlet from Sarita River. This panorama is breathtaking. I would like to see it both in its spring raiment and summer greenery. I expect that the lake is used heavily in the summer, being so close to a main road and less than two hours drive from Port Alberni. It may, however, be overlooked by many who are heading to and from the West Coast Trail, providing for them only a brief visual break from the miles of forest and clear cuts. I will not make Sarita Lake a destination lake during the warmer months, but if I should happen to be in the neighbourhood, I will definitely swing by to check it out again.
Recommendation: If you plan to visit Sarita Lake in the winter months, be prepared for cold water and possible changes in water level. The roads this winter are heavily used by forest vehicles and graders will most likly be working, I passed one on the trip. I also passed two loaded logging trucks, and another with its trailer piggybacked, and numerous of the ubiquitous white forest company chevy pickups. Also two cars. Tracks in the snow indicated that at least two vehicles had visited Lizard Pond, the snow being over a foot deep in places. This is a high use area because of the active logging.