The Lardeau Valley is located at the top of Kootenay Lake, extending north to Trout Lake and bounded on one side by the Duncan Lake – which isn’t really a lake but the back end of a dam. But we’ll come back to that later. The Lardeau River is one of the main tributaries in the Valley and is home to a whole slew of wild life. And some incredible scenery!
One feature of the valley along the river is that you can see an awful lot from your vehicle. The road north is gravel and bumpy a lot of the time but follows along the river bank. This means that in spawning season you will often be rewarded for your patience with the sight of a grizzly bear or mother with cubs. And the bald eagles and osprey at that time are visiting in great numbers. It is amazing to see three or four eagles on one tree – watching the river for salmon.
The Lardeau Valley and Kootenay Lake are beautiful and rugged. The Lake is about 96 km long and quite narrow. It is deep, crystal clear and yes, a bit chilly. A lot of the area is still wilderness with no settlement and accessed only by water.
As you can see, the lake is surrounded by mountains. And glaciers. some of which have been receding over the past decade. I hope to track the paths of a couple of them over time.
The Lardeau Valley is known around here for its salmon and the salmon run. Our salmon are fresh water salmon – derived from the salt water salmon of the ocean (when the coast line was here) and freshwater trout. They are called Kokanee salmon and are unique to this area. And they were endangered at one time by development (surprise?!)
A few decades ago a dam was built on the Duncan River/Lake and created a great threat to the salmon spawning in the valley. To mitigate this threat, BC Hydro and others built a dedicated spawning channel in the area – above Meadow Creek (a small community in the valley). This has enabled the spawn to continue. Each year – late August – the spawn starts and lasts until mid to late October. Both in the channel and the Lardeau River, thousands of Kokanee return to lay their eggs. It is amazing to see the channel and river host a brilliant orange mass of fish.
It is also amazing to see the wildlife that comes to feast on these fish!
The salmon are a key component of the area’s health and vibrancy. Without them many species would leave or die off. Needless to say – the river is off limits to fishing. But watching and photographing is worth any fish on a hook. Said by a true non-fisherman.