Stuff in the water

Stuff in the water

Postby Marin Faure » Tue May 27, 2014 2:23 pm

Participants in this forum have often heard those of us from the PNW talking about the debris in the water from Puget Sound north through BC and into SE Alaska. The debris ranges from logs, branches, and chunks of wood, to huge kelp and eelgrass mats, to man-made things like old pallets, boards, and crab trap floats and lines.

A major source of the logs, branches, and stumps we frequently encounter are the rivers that flow through the coast mountains to salt water. While they are too numerous to list here, in BC there are three really big ones: the Fraser, the Skeena, and the Stikine.

Over the three-day Memorial Day weekend my wife and I took a road trip to a lake in the BC interior that we had not visited for some twenty years. The first part of the trip was up the Fraser and Thompson River canyons. On the way back I took my wife on the aerial tramway that goes from Canada's Highway 1 down to Hell's Gate on the Fraser.

The average flow volume of the Fraser at its mouth is over 122,000 cubic feet per second. At Hell's Gate (named by explorer Simon Fraser who had to negotiate the cliffs on jury-rigged scaffolding), the entire river channels through a narrow rock cut only 110 feet wide.

Five runs of salmon used to pass through Hell's Gate and on to their spawning grounds in the interior, but the construction of the railways on either side of the river canyon in the early 1900s caused rock slides that narrowed the gap even more.

The increased speed of the water was now too much for the salmon. Most of them battered themselves to death on the rocks as they tried to fight their way upriver, and the number of salmon reaching the interior plummeted to near extinction.

In the 1940s, a huge joint effort by the US and Canada saw the construction of massive fish ladders on either side of Hell's Gate. The salmon began to return to the interior spawning grounds and the recovery continues to this day.

I took these photos yesterday to give a bit of an idea of what the Fraser carries into the waters many of us up here boat in. The logs, branches, poles, and even entire trees complete with massive root balls flowed through Hell's Gate in an endless and constant procession.

The first photo of the river was taken on the backside of the Coast Range, where the environment is much drier than on the west, or raincoast side of the mountains. Even at its "normal" width, you can see that this a fiercly flowing river. The other photos were taken at Hell's Gate, in the Coast Range closer to the coast. The open-sided concrete structure in the trees above the high-water fish ladder in the second photo is a snow and rock shed over the mainline of the Canadian National railroad. The Canadian Pacific railroad is on the other side of the river.

Something we learned in the fish ladder museum there: a female salmon lays up to 7,500 eggs. From these 7,500 eggs, an average of nine salmon will survive to return to spawn.
Marin
Attachments
Hell's Gate 3.jpg
Hell's Gate 2.jpg
Hell's Gate 1.jpg
Fraser 1.jpg
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Last edited by Marin Faure on Tue May 27, 2014 6:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
Marin Faure
Posts: 5128
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 2:00 am
Location: Sammamish, Washington USA
Supporting Member

Postby Keith Morris » Tue May 27, 2014 3:46 pm

Thank you Marin. Very informative. That water looks absolutely frightening.
Keith
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
User avatar
Keith Morris
Posts: 1746
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2002 2:00 am
Location: Manchester, WA
Supporting Member

Postby Bob Lowe » Tue May 27, 2014 6:27 pm

Great stuff, Marin!!! Thanks for posting. :)
Good luck,
Bob Lowe
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
User avatar
Bob Lowe
Posts: 13279
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 1999 2:00 am
Location: Mexico
Supporting Member

Postby smcowles » Tue May 27, 2014 10:21 pm

Marin,
Wow...being a OreaWashatonian all my life, I've always wanted to get up there to see that...never get farther north than Bellingham. Going there this weekend so see my new grandson.
You've certainly made this a must see. Thanks.
Stan
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
smcowles
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:00 pm
Supporting Member

Postby Marin Faure » Tue May 27, 2014 11:22 pm

..being a OreaWashatonian all my life, I've always wanted to get up there to see that...never get farther north than Bellingham.


In 1977 I shipped my Land Rover from Honolulu to Oakland, California where I met a friend who'd driven out from Virginia. Together we took a five week canoeing and fishing vacation in the Yukon after which I drove back to Oakland and shipped the Land Rover home to Hawaii.

During that vacation, we pulled a fellow's Jeep out of a lake with the capstan winch on the front of the Land Rover. He paid us $100, which meant instead of driving back down the rather boring Alaska Highway, we could afford to drive down the much more interesting Cassiar Highway to the west and take the BC ferry from Prince Rupert to Vancouver Island. It was on the deck of that ferry as the fog burned off to reveal Grenville Channel on the Inside Passage that I decided that one way or the other, I was going to move to the Pacific Northwest.

It took me another two years, but I made it happen and here I am today. While I love my work at Boeing, the main reason I moved to the Seattle area is its proximity to British Columbia and the Yukon.

Those of us who boat BC's waters are familiar with the fascinating places they have to offer, from the Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound around the top to the west coast of Vancouver Island.

But inland BC is just as fascinating as far as I'm concerned. The lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, and grasslands are as adventure-filled as the coastal waters in my opinion. I've been fishing, camping, hunting, and flying in BC since 1979, and I've just barely scratched the surface.

Washington is a great state with a lot to offer. But in my opinion, BC is better. :)
Marin
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
User avatar
Marin Faure
Posts: 5128
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 2:00 am
Location: Sammamish, Washington USA
Supporting Member

Postby Boyd Godfrey » Wed May 28, 2014 9:41 pm

We hereby grant you honorary Canadian citizenship.
"When life gives you Lehmans..."
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
User avatar
Boyd Godfrey
Posts: 563
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 2:06 am
Location: Squamish, British Columbia
Supporting Member

Postby kdibnah » Thu May 29, 2014 1:44 am

Boyd, doesn't Marin have to wash up on a beach without a passport or i.d. to be granted citizenship?
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
User avatar
kdibnah
Posts: 2538
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2003 2:00 am
Location: West Vancouver, BC
Supporting Member

not that it really matters but...

Postby rick s. » Thu May 29, 2014 2:28 pm

Yup. Roughly 1% of eggs laid by Salmon return as adults. The rest are "lunch"...
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
rick s.
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2010 2:51 pm
Location: Westminster, Colorado

Postby Georg Daniel Reuter » Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:03 pm

Thanks for posting those pictures Marin. The first picture is only about 5 kilometers from the ranch that I grew up on as a kid. You can see the road cutting through what the locals call the "Big Slide". What you don't see on the picture is that the road narrows to one lane and that they only recently (in the last five years) added a guardrail to provide some measure of protection from the 150 meter drop into the Fraser River below (the road edge was too lose for them to attach a proper guardrail).

Thanks

Georg
Georg Reuter
"Civetta"
GB 32 - 540
Vancouver
Canada

“Believe me my young friend; there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats” Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908)
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
User avatar
Georg Daniel Reuter
Posts: 753
Joined: Sun May 16, 1999 2:00 am
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Supporting Member

Postby Marin Faure » Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:27 pm

Georg--- Thanks for the info on that part of the road. I was surprised when we traversed that section of the highway at how narrow and "homemade" it appeared. I have always been impressed at the quality of the roads in BC, including this "loop" road from just north of Cache Creek through Pavillion and then on down the Fraser to Lytton.

This one section was very out of character, but now I understand why.

As we stopped along the way to take pictures and watch the river, we wondered how long our GB would survive in water like that. With the current sheers, back eddies, and whirlpools that mark the length of this river, let alone what it does at Hell's Gate, we decided that the life of our GB would be measured in minutes-- and not very many of them--- if we and the boat were suddenly plunked down in the middle of it.

I have a lot more respect for salmon now, after seing close-up what they have to contend with around here.
Marin
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
User avatar
Marin Faure
Posts: 5128
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 2:00 am
Location: Sammamish, Washington USA
Supporting Member


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests