Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Myra Falls; third failed attempt

Highway 28 crosses the middle island, coast to coast, following the shores of the Upper Campbell lake, then the Gold River to the inlet at the end. Where it reaches the bottom of the Upper Campbell, it links to Westmin Road, which goes down one side of Buttle Lake, and dead ends at the Myra Falls mine. And just before the mine, there are two waterfalls that I wanted to see: the Upper and the Lower Myra Falls.

Google map view of the bottom of Buttle Lake, and Myra Creek.

But Buttle lake is a long, long lake, more like a wide river. 23 kilometres long, at most 1.5 wide. The road hugs the bank, along the edge of tall cliffs. Three times I've headed down that road, on my way to the falls; twice I gave up halfway, having "wasted" my time stopping to look at rock faces and their plants.

This past week, I finally made it to the end of the road.

Myra Falls is a roughly 200 foot tall series of plunges and punchbowl waterfalls found where Myra Creek empties into Buttle Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. The falls are separated into three main sections with large pools in between. The uppermost consists of two drops in narrow gorge, the middle is three drops where the creek encounters a wide set of steps and the final two drops occur where the creek crashes directly into Buttle Lake. (World Waterfall Database)

First step, I think.

It was a hot, hot day, unusually hot for this climate. This is important; it sort of explains why I wimped out. As soon as I stepped out of the car at the parking lot, I felt dizzy, but the trail led down into the shade.

The path was steep, and seemed to go on and on, always steeply down. My old knees felt shaky. I asked a woman on her way up how far down it went; she waved vaguely off to the left. "Take the trail to the upper lookout. Don't go to the lower one," she said. Okay.

A side trail led to the upper lookout, ending in a narrow platform looking down into a green pool.

Green pool below the first step.

I  started back. From the trail, I could see people on the rocks below me, below the lower lookout. It looked inviting, but I had been warned. And it was hot, even in the shade. The heat was sapping my energy, killing my curiosity. I'm a cold-country woman.

Not quite the bottom; there's still a drop to the lake.

I trudged on up the trail, stopping to rest in the shade a few times. I was surprised when I came to the last curve; there was the sign at the entrance, just ahead, and I had made it easily!

I should have taken the lower trail. Back home, looking at the trail website, I followed a contour graph; the steep part of the trail was the one I had taken. The rest would have been easy. Now I know.

The creek cuts down through steep, tall cliffs.

So: another failed attempt. I'll have to go back, and walk down, down, down to the rocks at the entrance to the lake. And that's just the Lower Myra Falls. Another trail leads up into the hills to reach the Upper Myra Falls. It's over an hour's hike; someday, I must try it.

Map: I was here.

La carretera #28 cruza la isla por la mitad, desde Campbell River a Gold River. Sigue por la mayor parte, las orillas del lago Upper Campbell, y luego el rio hasta la costa. Pero al extremo del lago, un camino, el camino Westmin, sigue para el sur y el lago Buttle para terminar en la mina de Myra Creek. Y justo antes de esta mina, hay dos cataratas que quería visitar, la catarata superior Myra, y la inferior.

Pero el lago Buttle es un lago muy largo; casi parece más bien un río gordo. Tiene 23 kilómetros de largo, apenas 1.5 de ancho. Tres veces he atentado ir a las cataratas, y siempre me he detenido demasiado, mirando precipicios y rocas y las plantas que crecen en ese ambiente. Hasta la semana pasada, no había llegado ni al final del lago antes de tener que volver a casa.

La catarata inferior es una serie de 7 escalones, cayendo primero por un cañon angosto, luego extendiéndose y cayendo sobre rocas hasta llegar al lago 200 pies abajo del primer escalón.

Hacía calor. Mucho calor. Más de lo acostumbrado en este clima. Esto es importante para explicar lo que hice. En cuanto salí del coche en el estacionamiento, me sentí mareada. Pero el sendero se dirigía cuesta abajo, en sombra.

El sendero estaba muy inclinado y parecía seguir sin fin. Le pregunté a una mujer que venía subiendo, que cuanto faltaba para llegar. Apuntó vagamente hacia la izquierda, y me dijo que tomara el sendero para el puesto de observación superior. —No vayas hasta el puesto inferior— me dijo. Bueno.

El camino al puesto de observación me llevó a una plataforma pequeña que miraba hacia abajo a una charca verde. Este era el primer escalón de la catarata, creo.

En el camino de regreso, podía ver tras los árboles que había gente en las rocas abajo. Se veía atractivo, pero me habían advertido. no iba a intentar la bajada, especialmente porque hacía tanto calor. El calor me minaba la energía, me quitaba la curiosidad. Seguí cuesta arriba.

Y no era tanto como había creído; hubiera podido hacer toda la vuelta.  Me sorprendió cuando el sendero dió la última vuelta, y ahí en frente estaba el estacionamiento.

Bueno, ahora ya lo sé. Tendré que volver otra vez e ir hasta las rocas al pie de la última catarata.

Y todavía hay la otra catarata, la superior. Algún día seguiré ese sendero. Es un poco más largo, más difícil, pero valdrá la pena.

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