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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Most Psychedelic Lake on Earth


Spotted Lake in blue
Looks like a painting, doesn’t it?
Image via bored-bored

The Spotted Lake near the city of Osoyoos in British Columbia, right at the Washington state border, is not the result of someone’s too vivid imagination but of the many different mineral deposits found in it: The lake is rich in calcium, sodium and magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) and even silver and titanium. It is called Kliluk by the Okanagan Indians who have known of the lake’s therapeutic powers for generations.

The lake changes colour throughout the year and therefore is beautiful to look at in any season. But it is only in the summer from about June to mid September that the lake water level lowers due to evaporation and reveals the “walkways” and different pools, the lake’s “spots.” Osoyoos in fact means “narrowing of the waters” in the Okanagan language.

Like a giant painter’s palette full of greens:
Spotted Lake in green
Image via spotcoolstuff

Spotted Lake in yellow
Image via yousaytoo

Beautiful silver composition:
Spotted Lake in silver
Image: Tim Gage

The region around Osoyoos Lake is one of Canada’s hottest areas, with summer temperatures reaching 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) regularly. No wonder it is known for its vineyards and recreational appeal, letting the town’s population of around 5,000 increase quite a bit during the summer months. Especially pensioners value the relatively milder winters and hot summers – the average age of Oyosoos’ population is 59 years!

Like moon craters:
like moon craters
Image via yousaytoo

The lake reflecting the cloud cover:
Lake reflections
Image via atlasobscura

For the First Nations’ tribes, Spotted Lake was always a sacred site known for its healing powers, which they would use to cure ailments like warts, skin diseases, body aches and battle wounds. In the early 20th century, the lake and the land surrounding it became the property of Ernest Smith and his family who had the idea in the ‘70s to capitalise on it and build a spa.

Looks like an amoeba:
Image via VisionBeTa

This would have meant digging and heavy commercialisation of the area; a fact the Native Indians were not happy with. For more than 20 years since 1979, they tried buying the lake and its surroundings but reached a compromise with the Smith family only in 2001: For several hundred thousand dollars, they bought 22 hectares, paid for partly by the First Nations and party by the Indian Affairs Department.

During WWI, the lake’s minerals were even used to make ammunition!
From Highway 3
Image: Andrew Enns

Today, the Osoyoos Indian Reservation with its about 370 members is one of the only Indian Bands in British Columbia with virtually no unemployment, and self-sufficiency on the horizon. Spotted Lake is still private property that visitors can either admire from Highway 3 (8 km or 5.5 miles west of Osoyoos) or at closer range after obtaining permission from the Okanagan tribe.

Here’s the view from Highway 3:

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5