Saturday, 10 July 2010

Blackwater Lake

Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook 4th edition - Map 39 G3
Atlas of Canada Link:Blackwater Lake
Latitude and Longitude: 50° 11' 2" N 125° 35' 9" W
Decimal Degrees: 50.184° N 125.586° W
UTM Coordinates: 10U 315386 5562301
Topographic Map Sheet Number: 092K04

Trip Date: July 1st, 2010

Blackwater Lake is a long narrow, somewhat winding, lake with a range of shoreline features including reed and sedge filled bays, rocky points, and an interesting estuary at the south end of the lake where the water from Amor lake flows in via a short creek.

Paul and I  arrived mid-morning after camping for two nights on Mohun Lake. The steep path down to the water was somewhat off-putting but we decided it would be worth it. The little beach where you put the canoes in  was sandy and clean with a view to the southerly stretch of the lake.

We paddled south, the wind for the most part at our backs, and Paul was dive-bombed by a defensive gull who apparently thought he was getting too close to her nest. We stayed to the western shore and when Paul pointed out that I was paddling past a beaver lodge I looked at the lodge and into the water and saw large plumes of mud stirred up below my canoe. We did not, however, ever see the beaver, so I'm not sure where she surfaced.

Along the shoreline of the wide curve of the southern estuary we noticed that small cones had collected in hollows in the silt along with what at first looked like deer droppings. Upon further observation I believe they were actually pieces of the peat-like material that formed a mat higher up on the beach. The pieces of compacted soil had been rounded by wave action and jostling with the cones and together they had uncovered the colourful sand below. Fresh water clams were secured in several of the indentations.

We tentatively ventured onto the delta of the estuary at the end of the lake and gingerly walked around taking photos. The ground was muddy and appeared to have recently been underwater.

 I took multiple shots of the inflow to stitch together later with Photoshop.

The drop in water left some lillies to flower without boyancy.

We paddled back along the eastern shore and eventually spotted two fluffy balls of feathers that turned out to be ambulatory gull chicks with black spots all over their heads. The call of the mother was unlike most gull's I had heard, and the distinctive colouration of the chick's heads made me confident I would be able to identify them at home. It has not proved easy. The chicks were near a cliff face, hinting that they may have been Glaucous-Winged gulls. The raptor-like call also suggested this. In memory the parent's seemed mostly white and smaller with greater wing to body capacity that Herring or California gulls, leading me to wonder if they might have been Bonaparte's Gull, but I think I would have noticed the black head.

Passing the put-in we ventured down stream towards Farewell Lake. On the way we investigated an abandoned canoe.

Abandoned canoe
water line higher
on the inside

The outflow wound around a bit, then presented us with a large log jam. Paul got out to look beyond the jam, but there was another one only a few hundred yards downstream. We decided to head back upstream.

It had threatened rain for most of our paddle, and the wind had been strong at times, but as we made our way back towards the put-in, blue sky took the place of the clouds. Climbing back up to our vehicle we shed sweaters and shirts.

I was able to take some shots for a high dynamic range photos which captured well the quality of this beautiful Sayward Forest lake.

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