Lower Myra Falls, British Columbia
Sometimes my job leads me to work on projects in another province through a different office. Strictly for work, I’ve been as far east as Toronto, and as far west as Vancouver Island (where I am currently sitting), I’ve been up to the Hudson Bay and to small towns close to the Canada — USA border. I’ve been to a lot of places, a lot of places I most likely wouldn’t have gone to on my own accord.
I do get to go to places most people don’t go, especially if you’re from the prairies like I am. Most of the time it’s long drives, fly in only communities (usually on a plane older than I am, always shakes my confidence) or even by train.
When I was asked if I would be interested in a two week out of town job, I was hesitant. When I found out it was on Vancouver Island in the mountains, I thought it could be a great opportunity to see somewhere I’ve never been.
Late last year I had the opportunity to go to a mine near Fernie, British Columbia. It was amazing scenery. But on this trip I am geared with something I didn’t have then, my recently purchased Nikon D5600. With a quick Google search I knew I had the right scenery, a great camera and a recent hobby pick up of photography I was ready to make the most of it. But I had to remember, I’m there for work first.
I know very little about photography, I don’t think I could correctly explain what Aperture is to someone. But I like to think I can envision how I’d like to show something to someone, and that’s what I planned to do on this trip. The project is located in the middle of the Strathcona-Westmin Provincial Park, one of the major attractions being Myra Falls, Lower and Upper.
Lower Myra Falls is made up of about six and a half waterfalls (we’ll just call it six) according to my unofficial count. For clarity, I will start the count at the highest waterfall, so it follows the flow of water.
At the beginning of the trail from the parking lot, there’s an ‘off-trail’ trail, I would call it. A rough trail cleared though the short vegetation where you can see people have walked, but not officially a trail. This is the only way to see the first two (or two and a half) waterfalls. Going off trails can be dangerous, and there are very steep paths, loose ground and uprooted trees to trip on, always be cautious and safe when exploring. But the views were pretty ridiculous.
My count of the half a waterfall starts with a drop through cobble, more of something to crash a kayak on than a waterfall. This is followed by a huge drop to a small platformed pool before flowing over and out. On both of these waterfalls, the rock wall adjacent to the waterfall has been slowly eroded away and has formed a dark deep cave. A sure reminder or the everlasting force that mother nature is capable of.
It was incredible to see the change in topography to quickly. From a relatively flat forest to an almost vertical drop of what I’d imagine to be 25 meters or more, plus whatever depth is open to below the water.
To reach the rest of the waterfalls from the parking lot, it’s about a 1 km hike on a mostly sand path through eerily thin, tall spruce trees. The path is narrow and winding through the forest and at times you can hear the roar of the waters flowing beyond the trees that surround you in every direction. There’s old dead fall usually covered in a think layer of moss and a few wild mushrooms growing on it and even a couple wooden bridges to cross. It really feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
When you’re just over half way through the trail there will be a fork in the trail. One trail continuing to head down towards the falls, and one up to a lookout spot.
By taking the fork in the trail that leads up, you’d end up at a shallow brick walled and rock outlook, giving you this (I would say) pretty spectacular view. You can get closer to this waterfall by actually climbing up the rock of Waterfall Four, it isn’t an overly difficult climb, and the view is nice. But I found this waterfall looks more impressive looking down on it.
Between Waterfalls Three and Four is a pond surrounded by rock and filled with clear blue water. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen water so clear before in person. If I was under water I swear I’d be able to see horizontally from one end of the pond to the other.
From the outlook for Waterfall Three there’s a shortcut trail back to the trail that leads you to the rest of the falls.
Once you’re through the forest, the path opens up to Waterfall Four. A waterfall emptying into a calm pool of cool crystal clear turquoise water. I’m not sure how deep the pool is, but seeing pebbles of the bottom is not a problem. The waterfall itself is calmed my a massive log (measuring about 1 meter in diameter I’d guess)wedged in the fault of the rocks the waterfall flows through.
This I think is the main waterfall that people come to gather around.There’s lots of flat rocks making this area a perfect stock to unroll a beach towel and relax for the afternoon. To get to any other waterfall requires some climbing over rock or pretty steep and narrow trail. It’s a perfect place to dip your toes in.
Like the waterfall above it, there’s a massive log wedged in this waterfalls fault, but it doesn’t muffle the water nearly as much. There’s a large cave where the force of the water has eroded away the rock.
With how jagged and rough the rocks appear to be, they are very soft and smooth to the touch. Something that’s always interesting to me is the places we can find life, plants growing out of the cracks and crevasses of rock doesn’t seem like a likely place to grow but they are here.
Out of the six (and a half) waterfalls at Lower Myra Falls, Number Six is my favourite. Maybe it’s because with it’s dark rock it is the most intimidating, or because it’s the hardest to get to, or how it connects all of the meandering streams to one focal point. But to me, it’s definitely a ‘save the best for last’ moment. The full extent of the waterfall can be appreciated in the first picture of this article, below the title.
Beyond where I am standing to take this picture opens up to a very calm man made lake, Lake Buttle. While I was exploring there were people jumping off the rocks and into the clear blue water and enjoying a swim.
There’s an area right after the last waterfall where it’s very deep, but then it becomes shallow enough to walk into the middle of the lake. And if you did you’d be surrounded in an almost ‘tree trunk graveyard’. I imaging when Buttle Lake was made, they cut and removed the trees that they could. But there’s literally hundreds of huge tree trunks where the trees once stood. With the glass still water, dramatically dark tree stumps, and the muted magnificence of the mountains, it gives me a haunting feeling of the beauty that once stood here. A tree trunk graveyard.
If you have the opportunity to check out Lower Myra Falls, I would highly recommend it. It’s absolutely worth the trip. There’s also tons of other parks to explore, trails to hike and scenery to take in. If you even wanted to venture to Upper Myra Falls, the public road takes you through an in operation gold mine, which is pretty neat. It was my first time every being to Vancouver Island, and it looks like there’s an adventure waiting behind every corner.