A storm in early July birthed a new island on Lac la Hache much to the confusion, delight and concern of residents on the lake.
Covered in grass and bullrushes, a free-floating chunk of vegetation has been seen floating across the lake at Lac la Hache earlier this month until two locals banded together to safely guide it away from the docks that line the shore. While it may look like an island it is, in fact, a large piece of bog that likely broke off during the windstorm the area weathered near the beginning of July.
One of the men who pushed the floating bog away from residents’ homes was Lac la Hache local of 50 years Ross Curry.
“My wife and I have a cabin on Emerald Island on Lac la Hache and after work we got on our barge and went over to the cabin and we just made it there before that major windstorm hit on July 6,” Curry said, adding it was around 9 p.m. that he received a call from a neighbour that a floating bog was outside his home.
Curry figured it was just a small floating chunk of something and went out and got into his barge to check it out. What he found was a huge chunk of floating weed bed complete with four feet high bullrushes, roughly 40 feet by 50 feet in size.
“It even had a wooden walkway, I guess it came out, just North of Fircrest, there’s a peninsula out there that runs to a little island and in between the two people used to walk back and forth. So I guess with that major windstorm it must have broken loose and took that whole section of walkway out into the lake,” Curry said. “It’s something I’ve never seen before in the 50 years I’ve been here and it’s probably something I, hopefully, won’t ever see again.
As daylight was fading, Curry got out behind the island with his barge and with the assistance of neighbour Kendall Pratt in a pontoon boat the two pushed it up the lake and stuffed in behind the island it came from, where he hopes it will stay. It’s still free-floating but Curry hopes behind the island it will have some wind protection. Come winter he hopes it will freeze up and break up into smaller chunks with the ice melt.
“I know if it ever broke loose in a windstorm and went down the lake and got up against somebody’s docks and boats on the edge of the lake it could majorly destroy them,” Curry observed.
If anyone happens to see it moving again, Curry encourages them to contact either himself or someone else capable of redirecting it into a bay. He observed humorously however that, if anyone could figure out how to attach an outboard motor to it, the island would make a cool party barge.
Pratt, for his part, is a new resident of Lac la Hache who is currently building a home with his family in the community. From Grande Prairie, Alta, Pratt said they visited the Cariboo on a whim in the winter and bought a lot on the lake and were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the place was without snow and ice on the lake.
“It’s just so laid back and the people are good here, it’s a slower pace then we’re used to,” Pratt said. “It will be a few years before we move here permanently, but we are moving down at some point.”
His family first noticed the floating island when they were sitting at the dinner table and he looked out the window and said to his wife “Can you come here because I’m not sure what I’m seeing but I’m pretty sure I’m seeing an island that wasn’t there before.” After she confirmed it was indeed there, Pratt went out to investigate in his boat and did a couple of circles of it and after hooking up with Curry, helped him push the island away from homes.
“I really think we could have gone out and walked on it but it was bigger than I initially thought, it had to be at least 80 feet wide and quite circular,” Pratt mused.
Pratt thinks that, at some point, the community will have to deal with floating bog island again as, if there is another storm, that it could easily break free. He’s not sure how to deal with it but said that, if it does get free again, they should try pushing it to the north side of the peninsula and let the natural current from Kokanee Bay keep it in place. He’d advise people to be aware of their surroundings as you never know what might come floating by.