Mesachie Lake is a small lake next to Cowichan Lake. It was home to the Hillcrest Lumber Company sawmill from the 1940's to the 1960's. The property where the mill once stood is now a private children's Summer camp so public access is not allowed. I've been diving several of the old lumber mill sites around Cowichan Lake and I wanted to see what was underwater here.
From the Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives:
I drove up for a dive on June 18, 2018. I parked on South Shore Road. The drop from the road to the lake is mostly too steep to access the water. There is one spot where it was just barely possible. I slid down the steep slope of loose rock and pushed my way through the trees to the water.
It was a very hot day (I find the Cowichan Valley is much hotter than Victoria in the Summer) and I was already overheating. I now had to struggle through the 1-2' deep water to wade out to where it was deep enough to swim. I almost immediately sank into the silt up to my waist. The water boiled around me with foul-smelling hydrogen sulfide gas that was released from the decomposing organic matter in the mud. I tried to ignore the fact that breathing in too much of this gas can be fatal and I struggled onward. The bottom was a deep mess of mud, branches and twigs that was very difficult to wade/crawl through (especially while carrying my cameras). Even without the heat, this was probably the most difficult dive access I've ever done. I definitely wouldn't do it again. I eventually made it through to water that was deep enough to swim in. This area had a row of pilings that I think was from the old railroad log dump. The water was only maybe 3' deep. Visibility was less than expected (around 10').
I swam out over the bottom, following my compass towards the far shoreline where the mill used to be. The bottom here was 30-40' deep and it was dark and spooky in the murk. There were lots of logs piled around. I didn't see any fish, but there were a few crayfish.
I saw a peavy (a tool for hooking floating logs). In an old picture from the Hillcrest mill one of the workers is holding a similar peavy.
As I ascended up the slope, the water in some areas was full of white bits, almost like plankton.
I swam in the shallows along the shoreline where the mill used to be. There was surprisingly little metal debris left over from the mill. I saw a few medium-sized trout and more crayfish.
I swam back along the shoreline, but this time near the bottom of the slope (about 30' deep). There still wasn't much large debris, except for the logs.
I followed my compass back along the bottom to where I started. I don't think this spot is worth diving again. The difficult access and poor visibility compared to nearby Cowichan Lake discourage me from coming back.