Thursday 29 September 2011

Maple Lake

Vancouver Backroads Map Book 4th Edition -- Map 33 D7
Atlas of Canada Link: Maple Lake

Degrees, Minutes, Seconds: 49° 38' 19" N 125° 0' 48" W
Decimal Degrees: 49.639° N 125.014° W
UTM Coordinates: 10U 354618 5500406
Topographic Map Sheet Number: 092F11

Trip Date September 28, 2011

I've driven down the enticing, if impressively root-bound, access road to Maple Lake twice before. In one case it was late in the day and I was worried about the gate closing, and in the other I decided to paddle elsewhere. But I've kept it on my list of lakes to paddle because it looked promising. When John, a long time Vancouver island paddler, suggested we give it a try, I immediately agreed.

John and Paul heading out onto Maple Lake

The boat ramp/put-in is a sandy area scooped from a sandy bank on the eastern shore of the lake, accessed via a tunnel under the Island Highway off of Minto Road. The land surrounding Maple Lake has been recently logged but whether by design or happy chance, there is no way to perceive the cut from the lake or access. An examination of the area on Google maps reveals a healthy boarder of trees around the lake. Imagine if all lakes on the island had this healthy buffer! It would increase the recreational experience 100 fold or more.

I was interested to see John's Mohawk Odyssey, a canoe (and canoe company) I have looked at casually in the past. I enjoyed listening to John give his impressions of the boat and the company.

John gave me an opportunity to paddle the canoe and I found it to be responsive, comfortable, maneuverable and good looking. John said the boat really comes into it's own in moving water and invited us to join him on the Salmon River some time -- one of his favorite destinations.

Maple Lake turned out to be a Sedgebender's dream. The eastern shoreline is broken by several inflows, and an expanse of high ground stretches out into a chain of tiny islands surrounded by a diverse wetland and extended marsh.

We enjoyed winding our way in and around the large areas of bull rushes, reeds, and sweet gale.

All the foliage was touched by the coming fall colours and we appreciated the warm sunshine in an otherwise cool day.

We were visited by large dragon flies and by wasps, but fortunately the wasps only seemed to be interested in checking out our bright PFDs and then zooming off to more important things.

We noticed that all the lilly pads had lost most of their leaves, with secondary growth leaves on a few. It looked to me that water levels had dropped and/or a storm had taken the mature leaves away somewhere. It made for an interesting waterscape.

All three of us share an appreciation for the life and scenery of the wetland and stopped to admire this corner of beauty.

As we headed north along the eastern shore we rounded some high ground and I noticed literally thousands of Whirligig beetles doing their mesmerizing dance below the overhanging sweet gale. Here is a good video on this fascinating beetle:

The gap between peninsula and the little islands is filled with an impressive stand of very tall rushes or reeds, I'm not sure which. They are just off camera to the right in the above photo.

We paddled through a patch of smaller reeds or rushers on the other side of the peninsula. Perhaps some day I will be motivated to sort out the differences in these beautiful aquatic plants.

After emerging from the rushes we made our way to a nice shaded opening in the shoreline and stop for a bite to eat.

While we ate and talked about important subjects of ethnicity, history, and politics another couple arrives at the distant put-in with their canoe. The day was slow and peaceful and the company was good.

The northern shore is steeply sloped with a couple of well used fishing beaches and we made our way across the bay, back into the sunshine and warmth.

There are lots of nooks and cranies on the lake, and we enjoyed investigating them all.

Maple Lake is a beautiful little lake hidden within a few minutes drive from three central island communities. We were all a little impressed at what a gem it really is.

After loading up our canoes we stood and talked and watch dragon flies hunting some sort of "Mayfly" looking gnat over our heads. Out on the water the sun was setting and a dragon fly crash landed on the water, unable to take flight again. We watched it's desperate attempts, even when it was almost completely underwater. All around us life was emerging, thriving, and dying. I thought of Darwin and my recent reading of his work. Nature is endlessly interesting and deep, and I was filled with gratitude to be able to share appreciation of it with others.

Earlier in the day one of the impressive dragon flies landed on John's face, but I wasn't fast enough to catch it on film, even though it stayed on his face for almost a minute.

As the sun set we were hesitant to leave, but finally the falling temperature drove us to our sweaters and vehicles. Another idyllic autumn day on the water on Vancouver Island.


  1. Hi there!
    These are wonderful pictures! Love these red canoes in this wonderful wilderness!
    You have a very interesting blog! Many great photos! If you have any free time you should post some pictures.. at least we would like to see them!!
    Greetings from Switzerland
    Yvonne & Raphael

  2. I spent my honeymoon (from my first marriage) in the Vancouver area back in 1973 and can still recall a lake we camped by. It didn't get any prettier than that! Just a gorgeous area with a serene, still lake.