In Search of a Secret Rainforest

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In Search of a Secret Rainforest

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A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~Henry David Thoreau

I set out with my youngest daughters and husband to find a secret rainforest that I discovered through my research on Earth’s (one and only) inland, temperate rainforest. I am in love with this unique, inland rainforest partly because I grew up in a section of it near Salmon Arm, BC. I am determined to keep an eye on this forest and help protect it in any way I can because it is home to the endangered mountain caribou and wolves at risk (entire packs have recently been slaughtered–shot from helicopters–by the BC government).

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Secret Valley, Mix Hart

This region, with its ancient forest, is fast disappearing and along with the species that call it home. Logging, mining, tourism and human encroachment are to blame for this loss of habitat and with it, loss of the shy, mountain caribou.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASecret Valley, Mix Hart

The valley I search for is called “Incomappleaux.” The Incomappleux Valley is the southern tip of the inland temperate rainforest and home to fabled old growth forests with cedar trees that are over 1000 years old!

IMG_7530_FotorSecret Valley, Mix Hart

Our search was an adventure: I knew very little about how to access this valley aside from an out-dated web page with sketchy directions to a mountain hostel that no longer exists! The directions from the hostel were even worse: a rough, mountain bike trail of about 13 km and then a very long hike of an unknown distance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArrow Lake, Mix Hart

Our journey turned out to be so spectacular that I’ve decided to post our search in a few consecutive blog posts, starting with this one.

I hope you follow along on my quest to find this valley of ancient, giant trees!

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Secret Valley, Mix Hart

Notes from the field:

Our first stop along the adventure is to cross the Upper Arrow Lake ferry.

Arrow Lake is situated between the Monashee and Selkirk Mountains. In the 1960’s a dam was built on lower Arrow Lake (fed by the Columbia River) and this caused the Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes to merge into one, 230 km long lake. The water level in the valley rose 12 meters and the valley lost 2/3 of its land.

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Secret Valley, Mix Hart

Arrow Lake is stunning: the water is deep turquoise and the mountains that surround the lake rise to high, craggy elevations of over 2600 meters.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASecret Valley, Mix Hart

Once we arrive across the ferry, we immediately realize how useless our directions to the abandoned mountain hostel are. The road we are supposed to access doesn’t exist.

We track down a few campers along the lake shore who are able to direct us to a cabin in the woods where we might find “Patrick.”

Patrick: a long-time resident of the area and the best person to direct us on our quest….

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Secret Valley, Mix Hart

Below: We stop to fill up at the only gas station in Trout Lake–they charge by the gallon and the pumps are over 100 years old!

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Trout Lake, Mix Hart

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