Burkholder Lake Trail
This is a gem of a lake, found part way up the Yalakom valley. Yalakom means ‘ewe’ in the local Chilcotin, First Nations language. This is a fitting name, the Yalakom river winds along the valley bottom adjacent to the Shulaps Range, which means ‘Ram’ in the same language. California Big Horn Sheep are traditionally common in the area.
The trail head begins at Lake La Mare. Lake La Mare offers a couple of nice camping spots and Rainbow Trout fishing. Like Burkholder, the lake was stocked with fish by early miners to provide a source of food to feed their operations.
The trail begins on the western edge of Lake La Mare and immediately begins to climb through a Lodge Pole Pine (Pinus contorta) and Douglas fir (Psedotsuga menziesii) forest. Initially, the trail skirts along a cut block which allows for views down the Yalakom Valley; on a clear day, Fountain Peak and the other mountains surrounding the town of Lillooet can be easily identified. As you crest the top of the first incline you will have gained nearly 200m in elevation. As you walk along the trail notice the fine powder like dust that makes up the soil. This is volcanic ash from a massive volcanic explosion originating from what we now call Mount Meager, as the crow flies, 90 km to the south west. This massive explosion took place approximately 2400 years ago. The eruption is recognized as the largest volcanic eruption throughout Canada, within the last 10,000 years. Mount Meager could still erupt an anytime, it’s subterranean volcanic activity is evident due to earthquakes and the presence of hot springs that flow out of the ground in surrounding river valleys. Mount Meager is located within the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt, which is the most northern arm of the Cascade Volcanic Arc. The Cascade Volcanic Arc contains the infamous Mount St. Helens which erupted violently in 1980.
As you continue along the relatively barren hogs back ridge, you will be rewarded with tremendous views. The trail continues down the ridge and undulates up and down over the course of a few kilometers before eventually reaching a grassy slough. This would be a great place to catch a glance at a moose, if you are lucky. Almost immediately, you cross over a small bridge that spans a stream originating from Burkholder Lake. One last hill to ascend and you reach the remains of an established horse camp; within a minute you have reached the treed shores of Burkholder Lake. Notice the trees in the area, lodge pole pines of a similar size with much larger Douglas fir interspersed. This is evidence of a forest fire hot enough to open the Lodge Pole Pine cones, but not hot enough to penetrate the corky protective bark of the large Douglas Firs.
The name Burkholder comes from the original homesteaders of the Yalakom Valley. The family included a husband and wife with three children, who settled in the valley sometime between 1904 and 1907.