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Wilderness Adventures - April, Week One/2008

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like 'Lake Monsters' - just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


09/04/2008 9:22 PM

The Fireball

Last night I saw the most incredible, awesome thing and still wonder what it was I saw. I was sitting watching television just shortly after 1:00 a.m. last night, unusual for me, but I had borrowed a movie and I wanted to watch it so that I could return it. Next to me is a six foot plate glass window that looks out over Nimpo Lake and the mountains. It was pitch dark and suddenly there was this fireball streaking across the sky. It was big! Or close. I'm not sure which. It was white in the center, blue around the edges with burning debris or sparks trailing from top, bottom and behind this slightly elliptical thing.
You know how most meteors are just thin green streaks across the sky that usually go past so fast that you definitely don't have time to make a wish before they suddenly burn out? Well, this thing was a lot closer and big enough and slow enough for me to get the colors and shape and trajectory. It almost looked like one of the little bombs from fireworks streaming sparks but the angle would have been all wrong, and this wasn't fireworks.
I was a little stunned at seeing it at first so it took a moment before I ran outside to see if I could hear anything. Fat chance. The lake was rumbling so steadily last night that you couldn't hear anything else. Even so, I eyed up the mountains and foothills in front wondering if this thing had landed close enough to create an explosion or a forest fire. No such luck. Presumably it landed somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean. I bet it made quite a splash!
I suppose fireballs or good sized meteors are commonplace to those who are looking for them all the time or those working in observatories but that one was still a doozy I think. Sometimes I think it would be neat to have an observatory out here. When you consider that the Chilcotin spans something like 3000 square miles with a population of little more than 3000 people, light pollution is nonexistent here. Particularly after midnight and facing a direction in which there is no habitation whatsoever. The only downside to having pitch black darkness is that when you see something like that fireball or meteor that I saw, you have no reference against which to place it. Anyway, it was cool to see if not a little disconcerting.
Not much to report since yesterday other than the temperature dropped really quickly last night hitting -15C or 5F and although the day had a good start this morning with temperatures warming up and the sun shining, it quickly died a slow death. High haze moved in, a breeze came up and it actually started cooling down early this afternoon. Since we've a lot of moisture around, a breeze makes it pretty damp and cool and it turned out to be a disappointing day. The weathermen are still predicting really warm temperatures for Saturday for the Lower Mainland, but it's beginning to look like snow for us. Or rain. That would really just suck. One bright note though. We saw a pair of bluebirds on our way to dinner at friends' yesterday evening. They flew out of that meadow across the road from Fishtrap and they were a indeed a beautiful sight to see!
I didn't get out for a walk today because I was working on a little project that I hope you will enjoy. It's still pretty hokey and a bit of a half assed job, but I really wanted to get these pages up so that you all could get some idea of what I'm talking about when I try to describe the sounds Nimpo Lake makes.
I have some sounds from when she was freezing up late last fall, and then sounds that I recorded just a week ago. Unfortunately, I don't have the ice pictures that go with the sounds for last fall on this computer (the other still undergoing repairs) so all of the pics with the recordings are of open water. I do have the pictures that go with the recordings from this spring, but since both beginning and end were really noisy, one bit from setting the camera on the ice, and the other from being too noisy on the deck, I didn't include them. Besides, they're in avi format. So I just took the recordings, trimmed the noisy bits from beginning and end, changed them to wav and mp3 formats, and uploaded them. They're still pretty big files so probably not worth listening to unless you have high speed dial up or cable. They aren't too bad downloading on our satellite hookup which isn't exactly the speed of light, but it's still faster than slow dial up. I wouldn't recommend anyone trying to listen to the recordings if that's all you have since none are smaller than 411kb.
Anyway, Lake sound 1 is still my favorite. Hope you guys enjoy it. Just remember that you will need to turn your sound up and you will probably need external speakers. I can't hear anything at all on my laptop but the recordings come in loud and clear when I I plug in external speakers or if I use a headset on the laptop. That's pretty good too but I find there's more hissing noise without an external speaker to do the filtering.
I'm not going post these pages anywhere official until I get some feedback, hopefully from you folks. If it isn't going to work or make sense for most people, then there's no point making the recordings available to anyone other than those of you that read the blog. Just keep in mind that I used my poor old digital camera, don't have really good sound editing software, and have not done a lot of this before. Unlike kids that seem to be able to pop a movie up on YouTube like there's nothing to it, I wouldn't have a clue. So please be forgiving! The sound link starts at Lakesounds where you can choose what you want to listen to. The first one is by far the best I think. (Welcome aliens! Or maybe whale song.)
Just think, we get to listen to our lake for weeks on end at freeze up and Break up and it's one of my favorite things to do just before going to sleep at night. Welcome to Nimpo in winter!
I don't have time to change the picture of the day because I really want to get this up tonight. I'll try to remember to change it out tomorrow.
08/04/2008 3:40 PM

Surprise....!

Not really. We all expect to see snow in April. It's just a given in the Chilcotin. Actually, anywhere in Canada. It dropped about an inch of the white fluffy stuff last night, giving a nice fresh coat to cover the mud and old snow that's a part of Break Up around here. It warmed up pretty fast though because the sun kept trying to shine through the cloud layer. It never quite made it but it still has some heat in it at this time of year. All day it's alternated between watery sun and heavy cloud with poor attempts at snow and tiny hailstorms now and again.
While fresh snow just adds to the mess on the ground when it melts, it sure is fun when going for a walk. New tracks! A pair of foxes walked down the back trail, sometimes side by side and occasionally behind one another sometime since the fresh snow but just before the first mini hailstorm that started just as I went out for a walk. At least I'm assuming they were together but they might not have been. To my surprise, just as I came out of the woods at the other end of the trail I saw that one track had come from the trail going to the gun range, the other from the road, but the one might just have been circling too.
Only a few moments after starting on the trail for my walk I came on a great smear crossing the trail, sharp tracks in the snow within it. Otter. It only belly flopped across the trail and then walked up the hillside in the mixture of crusty snow and pine needle covered ground rather than slid. I kind of wondered where the heck it would be going but Otters tend to wander all over the country for little reason other than they seem to really like new snow. I only walked a few hundred feet when I had to laugh. Coming down the hill above me, across the trail and out an ancient cart track to the road were the otter's belly slides. Obviously he was going up the hill in the woods for no other reason than to slide back down again but how he knew to choose the very best spot on the whole trail to go tobogganing is beyond me. They must be smart little buggers. That or else, like crossover skiers and snowboarders, maybe he'll trudge miles just for the thrill of a steep run and new powder.
When I came back along the road I looked to see if he had crossed it at the end of his slide but he hadn't, so I have no idea where he went to. It looks like he came out of the swamp and then went back in there, so maybe that's where he's living.
He's not the only water rat out and about now. The evening before last we walked over to where that beaver had been trying to build a lodge and feed bin last fall where the docks are stored for the winter. Lo and behold, beneath the tree that marks the entrance to the lodge were freshly debarked and chewed sticks and a freshly frozen over splash hole as well as a small spot of open water. It would have to have been kept open all winter to not be frozen right to the ground since it's quite shallow there, so I can only assume that the beaver took up residence under one of the docks. That's the only sign that it's been around since it hasn't tried to rebuild its lodge or move the monsterous pile of wood Andy pulled out of the feed bin just before winter hit. But, it doesn't need to. It's still nearby so he probably goes and pulls off whatever stick he wants, pulls it back to the water and enjoys a nice, peaceful, candlelit dinner. Well...maybe not the candles. Still, I think we've been beat by this little turkey. It still makes me mad when I recognize the limbs of trees and bushes that came off the shoreline of our property.
People are still driving on Nimpo Lake, especially since we've had this chilly spell the last few weeks. The ice has tightened right up again. The Lower Mainland is supposed to see some really high temperatures on Saturday and I'm kind of hoping we will too. We need to boost the melt around here. I think at the rate we're going, it will be the first week of May before we see the ice melt off of lake. Unless things change drastically, it won't be an early ice out and we're certainly not going to break any records this year.

07/04/2008 7:20 PM

Pushing The Sledding Season

Well, it just goes to show you that you can't keep a good snowmobile rider down. A few of the guys went out today and Andy brought me back a nice batch of pictures taken in areas that we don't go to a lot.
He had to use the back trail to the other end of the lake this morning since the snow crust on Nimpo was just too hard, using the only scratcher he had left. That would be one that was on my machine but somehow found itself bolted onto his some while back after he'd broken his own.
Andy said conditions were actually quite good up top with some fresh snow resulting in the nice spring riding we normally associate with this time of year. From the looks of the pictures and what he said, they got into some really pretty little spots once through Goat Pass and on the Kappan fire guard.
There's one spot up there just under the shadow of Trumpeter Mountain under an overhanging cornice that is actually a frozen lake. I didn't particularly care for sitting on the lake under the cornice last time I was up there because it just seemed like you were too vulnerable to avalanches, although a spot farther back and up in the rocks was really pretty and probably quite safe from the danger. Today, the bunch went a little beyond the lake where there's a chute coming down off some pretty steep rock. Andy took a picture of Logan's machine parked next to a large block of ice that had come down off the mountain along with a good scattering of other snow and ice from an avalanche.
There were some pictures of other areas too that I didn't recognize, including a heck of a view of Anahim Peak and the Precipice that I've posted as a collage on Picture of the Day. It's along a trail that most of us haven't been down which is why I didn't recognize the view. A lot of that new country was discovered when everyone went up to help recover our friend's sled after he went over the Trumpeter Mountain cornice last year. Testament to his fine riding skills since not many seniors would have survived that fall in as good a shape as he did. Few youngsters for that matter. His machine didn't fare so well but it was repairable and he's been back riding it this winter.
The weather was pretty decent up on the mountain today but we didn't do so well down here. It started out being a beautiful day but then the clouds started rolling in with the breeze. It still got up to about 6 today but the wind was chilly. Typical weather for this time of year when one low pressure system after another keeps rolling in from the Pacific. Most of the province is still recording below normal temperatures but from the look of the weather on TV tonight, it looks like we might be in for a slight warm up. Suits me!

04/04/2008 1:30 PM

Holding Pattern

Our weather has been absolutely glorious! Well, at least in comparison to what it has been for the last few weeks. That warming that I mentioned on Tuesday has translated into a slow but steady warm up. Wednesday was spectacular with sunshine and balmy temperatures and you could see everyone's spirits rise with the temperature. Except for the hard core snow machine riders who have been very disappointed that our season has been shorter than normal on this side of the New Year. I'm not missing it as much as I might normally simply because I just wasn't able to get out that much this year. And I'm ready for some green....well, maybe mud since green isn't something we'll see for a while. Winter started early last fall and was cold for so long that I've had about enough of it and I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment.
I know I've been a little slack writing this week but you can blame it on spring fever and finally just being able to get away from the computer. And, the lap top isn't quite as comfortable for writing long dialogues as a regular keyboard. However, it turns out the keyboard that was supposed to have fried in the power outage time before last actually works very well hooked up to the laptop which means something was wrong with my business computer all long. So now I really don't have any excuse for not writing a blog, other than I would really rather be outside.
Something I've long wanted to do is fix up our guest cabin a bit that sits down on the lake. It's very cozy and lots of people have not only fallen in love with it the moment they've stepped into it, but feel right at home. I don't want to change the character of the cabin, but I do want to change the layout and the flooring, something my partner would just love to see me forget about I think, but it needs to be done. Unfortunately, although I can do the flooring, I require his services as electrician and roofer and moving person. For one thing, we have an old wood cookstove that's heavier than a truck that needs to be moved out. Fortunately, it's just the thing the neighbours are looking for to put into their new guest quarters, so at least it won't be sitting somewhere in the yard rusting under plastic. But moving it out also required the chimney to be removed and the resulting hole in the roof to be patched.
It's funny how what should be a small and easy project.... move the appliances, rewire for their new position and lay clicky laminate flooring, actually turns out to be a much bigger job than one would think. I suspect that's why Andy might not have been as enthused as I about this whole thing. He was quite aware of all it involved while I blissfully made plans.
Maybe that's why men roll their eyes at the word renovation....
The flooring in the cabin was manufactured long before Moses came along and while it hasn't been in the cabin more than 30 or 40 years, it definitely had a long life and a lot of wear long before it was laid on that cabin floor. Probably brought up from the States by the previous owners, I'm reasonably sure it was used, and used well, for nearly half a century before it came to Canada. Talk about recycling!
Backed with a black tar layer, paper and foil, it was never glued to the planks and so bubbled up here and there over the years, looking much like a geographical topo map with hills, lakes, valleys and a few streams and rivers here and there. Although none of the bubbles were high enough to actually trip over, it was close. I had intended to tear it out and lay the foam and laminate flooring directly over the planks, but Andy's brother suggested that leaving it might give a smoother surface than the wood underneath on which to lay the new flooring, if you can believe it. It probably will if we can punch down or stretch out some of those mini mountains. It will also provide an efficient barrier to the cold and moisture that might seep up through the planks, since I think that's all that is between the soles of your feet and the ground under the cabin. Not unusual since many cabins in this country were built that way, with the base logs often just sitting on flat rocks on the ground. Many cabins constructed in that manner can, and have, lasted a century or more in our dry Chilcotin air.
Sunday:
Hi all. I didn't get the above finished because Andy came home with the mail Friday and friends that we went to the Yukon with last summer sent up a cd with a bunch of their pictures on it. We spent the afternoon looking at those on the computer and then got sidelined looking at GPS maps of that country up there studying the route they had taken after they left us and headed for Inuvik. Before you knew it, we had to leave for dinner over at the neighbour's and another whole day got shot down in fun things that didn't involve working at my business on the computer. Yesterday I woke up with enough of a head cold that I just wasn't up to writing anything. So I'll have to carry on from here.
We still had pretty cool temperatures at night until night before last when it only dropped to -7C or 19F and last night it only dipped down to -3C or 27F and it's already getting pretty warm today with some sunshine and 7C or about 45F around noon. There's a cool breeze blowing but only because it's carrying so much snow melt and cold or not, it will help to dry things out.
I think Andy and a few of the guys are going to take one last kick at the cat either tomorrow or Tuesday and see how the snowmobile trails have been holding up to this warm spell. They'll probably be okay if it's warm enough in the morning to soften up the snow and keep their sliders lubricated and the machines cool. But unless we get a surprise dump of snow, which could easily happen, I think that's probably the end of the snowmachine season.
The Trumpeter swans are still wheeling around here and there, landing on the lake ice periodically and off the point, which now has enough open water to support four of them anyway. I don't know if the ones we're seeing are the same flock or if it's different groups just passing through, but the ones that land on the point still have to go through the Mexican Standoff with the bald eagles for water rights, just as they do every year.
We saw a robin Friday, the first of the year. A big fat, fluffy thing that obviously had a great winter at the smorg down south but seemed a little surprised that the ground was still frozen here. That's what you get for trying to be the early bird....:-)
01/04/2008 2:58 PM

April Fools on Me

April Fools's everyone. Mine came a few days early, on Saturday to be exact and I'm still looking for the funny part. I have found the benefit, though!
On Saturday afternoon I came back from a walk to find that we had a 30 minute power outage. Nothing unusual and since I have a battery backup and surge protector, didn't think much of it when Andy said that he did a proper shut down on my computer once the back up battery started beeping. No problem, right?
Wrong.
"We push button, we no start."
I figured my computer was just giving me some attitude in exchange for being overworked so much these last few months, and this had happened before. An emergency phone call to our techie, who also happens to be my Brother-in Law yielded a miraculous fix.
Not this time.....
We tried doing several different things including leaving the computer turned off to drain off any lingering power, to no avail. I even considered feeding it wine and grapes as it rested but wasn't sure how to go about doing that, or even if that type of bribery would work. Nothing we did, including taking it apart or giving the computer box a good shaking, changed the outcome. Said outcome being that my computer is now sitting happily cushioned in a big box bound for the bus station in Williams Lake. Apparently it's forcing the holiday it only hinted at after the last power outage. It can consider itself lucky. It just about went for a swim. I had to leave and go for a drive and visit with friends here and there to get past my mad-on because I came very close to drilling a hole large enough in the lake ice to drop the whole thing in and see how good a boat anchor it would make.
It has only taken me a couple of days to see the definite upside of losing my work computer, and that would be......no work. Ah, the bliss of it all! To get up in the morning and actually sit at the table to have my breakfast instead of taking it in to my office and absent mindedly consuming it while I sorted through email or got started on my work day.
I actually enjoy going for walks without guilt and even caught myself humming 'Born Free' on one of them. I got to wander around outside today while the sun was shining and enjoyed reconnecting with my partner, guilt free! And reading! I've actually been sitting and reading at night. What a delight! I don't know how long it's been since I actually sat and read for sheer, selfish, enjoyment instead of keeping up on industry publications.
I finally made myself pull out my laptop and start updating it so that I could at least write a blog. Since I'm no longer pressed for time work wise, I guess I don't have an excuse to not write one. Fortunately, the last project I was working on is a graphics publication and it's so huge that it's too big for my laptop and all the material I need is locked away in the memory of that computer sitting in the box. Oh, and on a disk in Williams Lake.
That was kind of a miracle in itself. I put all the files for this project on a disk only the day before we went into town to see if the Printers could produce the publication directly from my work or if they would have to recreate all of the artwork before it could go through their printing process. That is now the only record that exists of all the work I did if for some reason the information on my computer is not recoverable. Obviously, you can see why I was a little PO'd at my computer's failure. On the other hand, if I'm not able to work on this project, then the Printers will have to finish it and I can wash my hands of the whole thing. Hallelujah! I just have to figure out how to convince everyone else that it's the way things were meant to be.
In the meanwhile, to my partner's absolute horror, I now have time to walk around outside cataloguing all of the projects that need to be done this spring and summer. As a result, I think he's about ready to run away from home. I know he's certainly expedited the shipping process for this computer, packing it up and making all of the arrangements himself for it to be taken into town and shipped to the Okanagan, where his brother already has all the necessary parts ordered and on the way. I told them to relax and take their time about getting this thing fixed, but it would seem I'm considered a menace when I have too much time on my hands.
Our weather has finally, slowly, started to warm up. It's still quite cold at night regularly dropping to -14C or 7F but it actually got to a couple of degrees above freezing today and the sun shone most of the time. Although I did wake up to a mini snowstorm that lasted a few hours this morning. But it didn't take long for the skiff of fine snow to melt. We still get a good little breeze every day and though it's great for carrying away the moisture, it sure keeps things cool and it's still not comfortable being outside without wearing at least a couple of layers.
The contrast in day time and night time temperatures still has the lake going wild with sounds. Last night, it never stopped. It was just a steady rumble. Actually, I listened very carefully to come up with the best description for the overall sound you hear this time of year, which is different from in the early part of winter. I've decided that if you don't know what distant mortar fire sounds like, then imagine the sound of far off drums or tom toms. That's one of the most consistant sounds behind all the others. I recorded a few minutes of it last night and I think I have the time now to post the seasonal sounds of the ice in segments on this site. I really will try to get to that sometime in the next couple of days. But not tomorrow. If tomorrow's nice, I want to get to one of those projects....see my husband grimace...lol.
We were sitting in the door of the garage in the sun and out of the breeze contemplating our navels when I kept hearing a sound much like a cat yowling. Finally we realized that a small flock of Trumpeter Swans were wheeling around Nimpo Lake trying to find some open water to land on. They eventually landed on the ice off of our point where another small group joined them to bring the number up to nine. I don't know why they chose that spot so close to human habitation, because they normally don't, but perhaps they figure it lessens their chance of being eaten by foxes or coyotes in the night. Not that it would since a coyote crossed the ice in front of our place only the other morning.
I was surprised to see that there weren't that many open creeks or rivers on our way into town last Friday, lessening the area that ducks, geese and the swans can hang out until the lakes begin to open up. Although there were hundreds of Canada geese and Trumpeter Swans parked on the fields at Tatla, as they usually are this time of year.
Just to let you all know, if you sent an email or message any time over the weekend, it was probably lost to my other computer. If you didn't get a reply to your message, please send it again because I now have my email set up on the lap top.
Oh, and if you're wondering about the plane picture on the right...that's the newest addition to our skies. Duke's newly rebuilt plane predating the SuperCub has an unusual and extremely pretty paint scheme and stands out even against a grim sky. He's been out playing around for the last week or so.
It's the start of a new month and so a new week. You'll find last week's articles at March Week 3.


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The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!


Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Steep mountain chute, cornice and trees in the snow.
 
Snowmobile parked below a mountain chute.
 
Snowmobile next to a large block of avalanche snow.
 
One Trumpeter swan stands in front of another.
 
Black footed swan coming in for a landing.
 
A coyote crosses the ice.
 
A red and white plane flies over lake ice and trees.
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