Crater Lake - 080301
Built along the Cariboo Wagon Road in 1862, by Charles Adrian during the Gold Rush, 70 Mile Road House became a stopping place for travellers. After G.B. Wright and his construction crew completed the 23 miles of wagon road from Clinton to 70 Mile, he and partner J.C. Calbreith were surprised to see Adrian had already pre-empted land and was erecting a log structure. This would soon serve as the local hostel for the road works crew and later be bought by Wright himself in 1869. By 1875 Saul and Company, who established 59 Mile Road House at Painted Chasm, purchased the 70 Mile Roadhouse. Until its demise by fire in 1956, the stopping house was operated by many others.
As gold seekers and adventurers traveled through 70 Mile House, they explored surrounding areas, not necessarily to discover gold but to enjoy the many rich wetlands and beautiful lakes amid the forests and meadows of the South Cariboo. One uncovered gem is Crater Lake, sitting placidly juxtaposed with the evolution of the mining industry in British Columbia.
Traveling along North Bonaparte Road, Green Lake, so aptly named, is only moments away and makes an idyllic picnic spot. However, higher and further away from the brilliant green lake you will find Crater Lake, at the bottom of a rushing river, below tumbling waterfalls and looking as deep down as its name might suggest.
A forested and rocky traverse, winding with the river, will take you to the top of the waterfall. In the opposite direction a steep and challenging trail takes you 45 metres down to the lake, surrounded by steep embankments and tall evergreens.
The Rayfield River plunges into Crater Lake, which is surrounded by basalt rock and feldspar. The geology presents itself from the Pliocene and Miocene Epochs some 10 million and 16 million years ago. These phases of concentrically zoned igneous rocks range from alkaline, potassium and sodium rich composition (syenite), to a more silicic granite (diorite) plutonic complex. They occur as a window of alkaline plateau basalts and feldspar of the Chilcotin group which blanket the Cariboo and Fraser Plateaus.
Crater Lake is home to trout, as well as other fresh water critters. It is also a watering source for a variety of wildlife. Sit patiently and you may soon observe moose, mule deer, fox, coyote, small mammals, big horn sheep, black bear and, on occasion, cattle. The skies above ring with the calls of songbirds, osprey, eagles and hawks. The owls are there, but seldom heard.
Sit longer and imagine the gold seekers exploring the unknown territory and creating the very history that is Gold Country, British Columbia, as we know it today. Consider the hardships and challenges they faced and you will find a new perspective for your hike back up from Crater Lake.