Wednesday, July 04, 2007

High and Low Water

The ocean has its tides, Powell Lake has its cycles. On the Pacific Coast there are four tidal changes almost every day - a high high, high low, low high and low low tide. Powell lake is similar, but on an annual cycle. High high water comes typically in June with both spring rains and snow melt. In October, the lake is at low low water after a long hot summer. The heavy rains of November through January bring the lake back up to a low high state. Then, in early spring the lake drops to a high low level because the storms are less severe and frequent, and snow remains frozen in the high country.

Powell Lake's level is determined by rain, snow melt and runoff from nearby mountains. After a heavy storm, it's not unusual to see it go up several inches overnight. The level is also controlled by a dam at the south end of the lake. The dam was built mainly to provide electricity for the papermill. It's also used to regulate the level of the lake when high water is anticipated.

The pictures in this post show two extremes. The lowest level was in October 2006. We could step from our cabin's float to the exposed rock shelf. You can see the high water mark more than 12 feet up the granite wall. That's as low as we would ever like to see it again.

The highest was tied this morning. Our bridge to shore is in the water. It feels strange because we have to walk slightly uphill to get from the shore to the transition float. Fortunately, the cabin sits in about 80 feet of water. With a little adjustment to the cables and stiff leg (the log brace against the shore), we are able to ride the high and low "tides" of Powell Lake without much trouble. -- Margy

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