15 December 2018: Dam Repairs Completed!

DSC_6115On Friday December 14th, 2018 the PCS crew finished forming up the original log sluice gate in the middle of the dam and poured concrete, bringing to completion the major repairs to the Clary Lake dam. I can hardly believe it’s really happened! So many things had to go just right for this to happen now, from the lack of rain and snow over the last 2 weeks to the rising temperatures on the day of the pour. So much could have gone wrong, it really is a miracle. If the lake level hadn’t dropped enough and if the temperature hadn’t finally moderated, we’d still be waiting, and who knows when conditions would have permitted the repairs to be finished? It was only 4 days ago that I posted that dam repairs have resumed. All told this final phase of effort took 5 full days, made all the more difficult by the brutally cold temperatures for the first 4 days of the week. Here are some more pictures that tell this latest chapter in the story:

We’re deeply indebted to Rick Pease of PCS Construction and his able crew for their steadfast commitment to completing this project before the end of the year; it made the difference between getting this done now, and having to wait till next summer.

The crew will be back late next week to remove the forms and clean up, at which time we’ll close the existing 34″ gate and start impounding water. I don’t doubt that by next spring when the ice goes out, we’ll have a lake full, or nearly so, for the first time in over 10 years. When the forms come off I’ll take some more pictures of the new weir and explain it’s operation.

6 thoughts on “15 December 2018: Dam Repairs Completed!

  1. Eve & Doug Kinney

    Amazing crew and a job well done. Thank you to all of the crew of PCS Construction and a very Merry Christmas to all !!!

  2. ccaissie

    I checked the lake level impact after closing the gate yesterday, skiing out to the marshland today about 3:00p.m. The moon was rising with the lady’s graceful face approving of all that we’ve done for the lake. The distance to the marsh/channel entry gave me time to take in the hibernating lakeshore cottages, feeling the coming joy at having their lake back in the Spring. Weather was moving in from the West-Southwest, high cirrus cloud and blue sky retreating in the Northwest, graduating to a dense yellow-gray status cloudbank hiding the setting sun. Classic sign of weather front…easy to predict rain…lake rise coming.

    I couldn’t detect any sign of changes in the lake level as I travelled West, staying well back from the channel, skiing over nutgrass (chufa…cyperus something-something) and sedge (genus carex) tufts. I noted very old cattail (typha latifolia) bones, years old, telling me that it’s been a long time since there was nourishment available.

    By the time I got to the “junction”, that’s where the stream from the culvert on the Senott Rd. joins the main channel, I started seeing evidence of fresh flooding beneath the snow….clearly showing in the coyote tracks that were now filling with fresh vegetation-stained water. So were my ski tracks. I disrupted two Eagles (haliaeetus leuco-something), remembering that this area is a favorite nesting area…views in all directions.

    The remaining stretch to the dam was a bit challenging….lots of slush under the snow and even skiing over the sedge grass and bushes didn’t keep the slush from eventually encrusting my skis. Clearly a great refilling of the lake, immersion of the parched marshland, and expanding channel boundaries. In this area the water has obviously stilled, as there was a thin skim of ice forming on the surface of the expanding channel, now becoming the wetland I knew, fifty years ago.

    I considered the possibility of digging out the kayak and coming out on Sunday to celebrate the rise after the rain, knowing that the channel was now passable with the lake level up.

    By the time I got to the narrow gauge abutment and the splendid pine that announces the end of the railbed, my skis were totally slushed, top and bottom, and beginning to ice up hard. I doffed them and with the aid of a scraggly oak tree (quercus borealis) and George’s tape measure I still had in my parka, pretty well scraped them down to the wax base.

    Rather than risk re-slushing and really icing them up on a rigorous colder return trip…even planning to avoid all the slush, I skiied the railbed to the Post Office and headed home, shank’s mare.

    The howling traffic, paralyzing headlights, smells of diesel fumes and tobacco wafting in the turbulence contrasted with the silent, pure, vibrant watershed witnessed just hollering distance to the North. Every couple of minutes in the near-darkness, I watched the rising moon in thin cloud, accompanied by first-magnitude Aldeberan.

    It was such an honor to screw down the gate for the first time in the new era of our lake.

    1. ccaissie

      Kayak trip from the dam to the Clary Lake ice went nicely. Occasional ice floes were a bit hazardous, sometimes appearing as patches of floating debris, and necessitating a quick evasive move. The previous ice mostly remained bonded to the submerged marsh, about 18″-20″ down, but in some cases one edge rose to the surface to appear cantilevered out of the water.

      I traced the deeper channel where my paddle didn’t hit ice, and skimmed over the blackness. I had forgotten how sinuous the channel is.

      At one point I was searching for the channel and got myself into water that was barely deep enough, scraping the ice underneath almost getting stranded. This is the false cove that looks like the downstream channel course.

      I saw the two Bald Eagles, and witnessed fish hitting the surface…what could they be after? Approached a solitary Barrow’s goldeneye duck who sped off and then circled me, and as I cornered a dozen Canada geese, they escaped towards me, missing me overhead by a few feet. I was concerned they might “dump ballast” on their takeoff, but I was only splattered by lake water.

      Looking forward to making the sunny trip again Sunday around noon. This marshland trip could be as popular as the other Whitefield trails, and is certainly as pleasant a way to spend an afternoon. We could give it a name that promotes its beauty as a Whitefield Wildlife Wetland Winding Watercourse. I’ll check early Sunday to see if there’s a skim of ice that could make it difficult. If interested in making this trip Sunday, call me at 248-2201 for a condition report.

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