Sunday, March 06, 2016

Dividing the waters. Strathcona Dam.

I was born under a wanderin' star*.**  I can't resist a poorly travelled side road, curving out of sight under the trees. The Strathcona Dam was down one of these, about 30 km. out of Campbell River.

View over Upper Campbell Lake, from the top of the dam.

The dam is a wide earth-mound dam built by BC Hydro, dividing the Upper Campbell Lake from the smaller Campbell Lake. With two other local dams, they produce 11% of the electricity used on Vancouver Island. Below the dam, Hydro has provided a free campsite, open year-round. I didn't go down to it, and I don't think I could stay there; I watched a smaller dam disintegrate and take out a bridge that I'd just crossed when I was a teenager, and the memory sticks. I drove out onto the dam itself, took a few photos and went back to the safe road alongside the reservoir.

Through a gap in the trees. The distant mountain may be Victoria Peak, 2100 m.

Another view of that mountain.

Weak sunshine behind the clouds, reflected on the water.

I drove slowly, checking the bush on either side of the road as I went. When I saw a deer on the shore, I stopped the car, hoping it would ignore me. But it ran out of sight, and as I sat there, watching, five deer dashed out of the forest ahead of me, leaped across the road, and sprang up the hillside into deeper cover. There's nothing more beautiful than a half-flying deer. Except, maybe, five of them.

A slight foot trail led down the hillside to the water. I got out, now that there were no deer to startle, and walked down. This was where I found yesterday's cup mushrooms.

The area has been cleared. There's a fire pit down on the shore. And my car, hiding behind a tree up on the road.

This was strange. About 4 feet above ground, a dense clump of something grew from the bottom of a branch, curving upward. The stalks are not like the branches around them; darker, more solid-looking, newer (no lichen). Does anyone know what this is?

Water, water, everywhere. In the lakes, in pools, in ditches running along the roads. Dripping from the trees. And pouring down the hillsides around every curve. A zillion creeks with no name.

On the way home, I stopped to watch common goldeneyes in one of the small, green pools beside the highway. (They swam out of sight before I turned on the camera.)

The road was gravelled, muddy in spots, and pot-holed. Now I need more water. With soap.

*(Lee Marvin, YouTube)
** I came by it honestly. Dad used to say he had "itchy feet." I inherited them.


  1. Well, I'd call the abnormal growth a witch's broom, and expect a fungus or insect to have caused it. Beautiful pictures, by the way. You make me want to move to the Pacific northwest.

  2. You do get around. I should explore more, but I pretty much stick to my corner of the lake. - Margy

  3. Sara, thanks! I looked up "witches broom" and now I realize that I've seen them many times in evergreens in the Chilcotin without knowing what they were.

    "Witches broom disease is not caused by witches, however. They’re actually caused by stress that is brought on by pests or disease. This includes anything from mites, aphids, and nematodes to fungi, viruses, and bacterial organisms (phytoplasmas)." (From

  4. Margy, there's no "should" about it. I love reading about your corner of the lake. Besides, I'm aware that you've been all over this area before I ever showed up.


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