Hank Shelley

Hank Shelley

Column: The mysteries of the beautiful Shuswap

As a kid growing up on a small farm just north of Armstrong, in Stepney, it was not uncommon to walk to a neighbour’s house, or ride your bike.

One mid-summer morning while peddling down the long hill to the highway, there was a tall derrick being erected and a drilling rig being set up in a field. Vic Samul, business man, was going to different farmers and homes in the area promoting shares in a new oil-well venture. After drilling for a week or two, and no oil, the rig disappeared overnight.

Could there be a large deposit of gas or oil down below?

The valley, lying from the Shuswap river at Enderby to Okanagan Lake, was carved out by glaciers 10,000 years ago. It left the rich, black soils seen at Grindrod, and Armstrong (Chinese flats), and land contours to farms above.

Further northeast to Malakwa, a friend had a water well drilled a few years ago, and each night the driller took a sample of water. At 100 feet, the water cleared of sediments and at 165, the water was crystal-clear glacier water coming off the north fork of the Perry River. Her husband, who worked on the Mica Dam project, said engineers had once put dye behind the dam structure and two weeks later the dye was seen at the north end of Shuswap lake.

The chain of lakes in the Three Valley region are deep, including Victor Lake and Clanwilliam Lake. Divers searching for a lady and child whom drove over the bank into the lake gave up, saying it was very cold and dark, with the depth unknown.

Could there be underground rivers flowing from Mica to the Shuswap? Could there be a vast underground Lake below Sicamous and Salmon Arm?

Only a geologist would know the lay of the land and possible answers to that question. Pavilion Lake on the way to Lillooet Lake holds many secrets, and it’s been discovered by divers that hot gasses causing black curling smoke cover parts of the lake bottom, bubbling to the surface, similar to what we see in tropical oceans. There are a lot of unanswered questions as to the underground geography of our region, from the mountain tops to the valley bottoms.

There are still places to explore and even some underground caves out there. A few seasons back, a friend and I hiked up Iron Creek into the alpine, and to Two Moon lake where there was a deep cave exiting the lake mid-way, where water shot out hundreds of feet below. Just another mystery in our beautiful Shuswap.