09 May 2011

Lake Koocanusa at Record Lows

The first thing one might think when reading that headline is that there is a shortage of water around here. That would be far from the case this year. The lake has been drained to record low levels because the mountains are just loaded with snow. Most drainages in the area are 200%+ for snowpack and it's been so cold there has yet to be much melt. I've also heard this has been the longest winter on record. I don't know if that's true but I can say it's been a doozie!

Yesterday, I decided to go down to the lake and take a closer look at the lake.


The Canadian Rockies. This photo was taken right through the windshield as I made my way down the mountain. Unfortunately, they were shrouded by clouds which is quite common.

For those who may not know Lake Koocanusa, which is not really a lake but a man made reservoir, is located in the Tobacco Valley in northwest Montana. It was created by the construction of the Libby Dam completed in 1972. It runs some ninety miles right into British Columbia. The damn dam blocked the Kootenai River, the third largest tributary to the Columbia. Old timers still pine for the days it was once just a beautiful river valley. The goofy name comes from Koo - for the Kootenai, can - for Canada and usa - for USA. My image "Kootenai Spirits" is my small homage to the Kootenai Indians that once roamed these lands. It is a photo of the rock walls that were blasted out to make the lake. Your can read the story of the photo at EVERY IMAGE HAS A STORY.

I first stopped in at the campground at Rexford. And, wow, I was impressed.

This is the boat launch. No launching this day. You can see a couple of vehicles driving down to the bluff to look in the distant drink.


This is what the folks in those vehicles would be looking down on.


A few years back, 2007 I think, I took a photo of what I thought was the lowest I would ever see the resevoir. I called it "HEAVENLY EYE". Ha, I was sure wrong about that! The point in the photo above is the same as the one seen in Heavenly Eye but from a different angle. Still I think you can see the extraordinary difference. Here's the story from EVERY IMAGE HAS A STORY.

This is looking across the lake at Douglas Hill campground. If you look closely up in the left hand corner you'll see an RV. Unfortunately, I didn't see it myself until I downloaded the image but it gives you some perspective. Anybody, wanting to reach the water these days will have to use climbing gear to get to it!

Next I went over to Mariners Haven a private boat launch. Not any launching going on here either.

I walked right out to the end and it was kinda scary. It just dropped off into a huge canyon.

Another beached launch. Not surprisingly, there were no boats on the lake for Mother's day. 

Lake Koocanusa, Montana

The water is just beginning to run and it's running out of every creek and crevice.
We haven't seen much melt yet and the snow has continued to pile up all spring. According to the weather channel we are headed into the high seventies this week. If they're right, the amount of water that will come tumbling out of these mountains is going to be epic. I'm glad I'm up on the side of a mountain because I'm afraid some low-landers are in for some excitement.

©Kinsey Barnard

2 comments:

Weekend Cowgirl said...

Love these beautiful Montana photos...

Kinsey Barnard said...

Hey Cowgirl!

It's like a desert down there. It's really going to be something when the melt really gets underway which I think it's about fixin' to do.