#1039. Ghost lake

By John Wilson | Art & Creativity

Sep 12

High up in the Cariboo Mountains of South West British Columbia, on the back road from Barkerville to Likely sits Ghost Lake. As a lake it’s nothing special – you can boat, camp and fish there just like a host of other lakes in this evergreen playground I call home … and there are no ghosts there; pity that.

What is special about Ghost Lake is that the west end of the lake spawns the Mathew River starting with the first cataract of Ghost Lake Falls, a spectacular, thunderous three stage waterfall that drops about 200 feet to the Mathew River.

The middle stage is adjacent to the bridge across the river with the final stage below the bridge just before becoming the Mathew River. You can see it all here:

(1) Ghost lake – YouTube
(2) Lower Ghost Lake Falls P#37BB58
(3) Lower Ghost Lake Falls P#3C32D4
(4) Lower Ghost Lake Falls (#3C32E6

On the other side of the world in the Namib Desert is a dry lake full of ghosts. Deadvlei and the sourrounding area of Sossusvlei is world famous for the forest of long dead and preserved Camel Thorn trees sticking out of the dry lakebeds, backed by the red tinged dunes of the Namib. If we could put water back in the dry lakes, would the trees come back to life? What if they could speak? What would they say?

This is the stuff of “rainy day projects” and strange things can happen when the “rainy day muse” show up for work.

Would they mourn their dead?

Can you spot the animals? There are three.

Would they settle old scores?

Hot enough for you?

They don’t seem to move much. Does that make them lazy?

Do young trees behave like children? Do old trees behave like parents?

Would they recognize their relatives?

Do they get lonely?


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    These photos are WAY more creative than most – last time I saw anything like this, the images haunted me for weeks afterwards, day and night.

    Brilliant – creative – original – what else can I say?

  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    I imagine this is how the Bushmen of days gone by would have seen these trees in their minds as they clicked and cackled around night fires , dancing intricate dances imitating animals and inanimate objects while passing on folklore. Alas today one wonders whether as they sit in communities on the outskirts of civilisation around solar driven boreholes and solar panel chargers , whether they to are browsing Dear Susan on their tablets. Perhaps they to are tempted to comment “I recognise tree #1039 from the story my grandfather used to tell me around the campfire of The Lion jealous of the voice of the Ostrich. Please supply the google earth coordinates that I may drive my grandchildren there and show them where once – The Lion was a man, the Ostrich was also a man, at the time when the Lion kicked the Ostrich’s ||hatten-ttu; when they called (in) the #gebbi-ggu.” Or even worse do you mind if my grandchildren share your images on their instagram feed.

    • John W says:

      Ian – You’ve just added a whole new dimension to my little piece of madness. Never ever imagined it that way. THANK YOU!!

      These were all shot in the famous(notorious) Deadvlei dry lake and across the pathway in the area hardly anyone goes. The final image is from Aus on the lands of Klein-Aus Vista (all 100,000 acres of it). Ask for directions to the abandoned car. The tree is across the roadway. The car was a waste of time but the tree was a find. And your grandchildren are more than welcome to share.

  • Staale says:

    Did not do anything to me, but I’m just into cameras and photos. But everyone to their own flavor… So for me, something I would have rather enjoyed not seeing.

  • philberphoto says:

    How original and interesting!! It reminds me of a joke, describing the world’s most unimaginative man by saying that “all he saw in a Rorschach test were ink blots”! Your images work like those ink blots, or rather thye stimulate/put our imagination to work. Plus, splendid images. Super post!

    • John W says:

      Phil – They seem to have taken on a life of their own in a way I never imagined. I’ve read my interpretation into them with the titles and the questions. I’d love to hear yours.

      • philberphoto says:

        John, you asked for it. People who know me better might have suggested otherwise, but here it is. N°1: eagle cruising… n°2: dragon fight… n°3: ballista,… n°4: water, I beg you… n°5: not so high, Icarus! It will not end well, I tell you… n°6: kids, kids… n°7: crawler alert!… n°8: now who’s the higher one, eh? Again John, sensational. To look at them closer is to appreciate them all the more…

  • Sean says:

    Hi John,
    I’ve had several looks at these crafted images in this post of yours – they’re creative, imaginative and artistic.
    I also sense that you’ve intentionally reduced and refined each image down to its bare and meaningful essentials to convey your vision (as opposed to any adding and building up as in painting technique.) – but you did add a stylised sun.
    One wonders if images like these and how they come about are to be taken as photographs; as a hybrid of sorts; or simply as expression of artistic endeavour. I don’t know what they are, but they stay in my minds eye, for reasons I don’t grasp.

    • John W says:

      Sean – Sometimes we get kidnapped by an idea that will not leave us alone but provides no instructions on how to execute it. The story then becomes the journey of “solving the problem”. All the components of the images are photographs – even the sun is abstracted from photographs of the sun and the water is abstracted from an abstract painting of trees (heavily manipulated). They turned out to be far more haunting than I ever imagined. And yes, they haunt me too … but then that what ghosts do …

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    I love your photographic flight of fantasy using the dead Camel Thorn trees of Namibia! Looking less like photos and more like pen & ink drawings – very clever, dear sir.
    And you’ve given me another spectacular place to visit in beautiful British Columbia; Ghost Lake and environs are on my list of “after the border opens” activities.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • John W says:

      Nancee – Thank you for your kind remarks. The Namib trees languished in their file for eight years waiting to express themself. I glad the finally got their chance.

      Ghost Lake Falls is VERY difficult to photograph! The terrain doesn’t afford any advantageous spots to photograph either the falls or the rapids … though I didn’t have time to check out the area below the bridge. There are a series of waterfalls along this 50ml stretch of dirt road; Ghost Lake was the only one we stopped at; the others are a bit more off the road.

      If you go, Barkerville is a great place to start! That’s where the ghost town image in the “Blurred” theme post is from. You can even stay in the “Ghost Town” … two B&Bs and a hotel.
      Likely has one excellent attraction – Poquette Lake; a strip lake in a shallow canyon next to a dirt road. The best time is early to mid fall. In the morning when the sun comes over the eastern edge of the canyon it illuminated the western wall, the colours are reflected in the lake and you get steam mist rising from the lake. It can be quite magical.

  • Jean-Claude Louis says:

    Very well done, sir !!! Can’t wait for the rainy days to come back :-))

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