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
Wilderness Adventures - April, Week Two/2012
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The Side Road Parking Lots
we're seeing a sight in this country that we don't normally
see and that is parking lots. Just about every side road
is one now. Fortunately most households here have at least
two vehicles or more as in our case, as well as ATV's.
It's coming in handy now. Most folks are leaving one vehicle
on the home side of a mud hole and another on the town
side. That way anyone that has to work or get to
Anahim or Nimpo can walk across mud holes from one vehicle
to another. Unfortunately, in the case of the
north end of the lake, it's not so easy. There are several
mud holes on either end of that road, most of which are
impassible. That means a long walk in between or an ATV
taxi ride depending on who it is. It also means that transporting
large amounts of groceries and other goods is difficult
at best and purely miserable at worst if you're walking.
I gave a ride to the first mud hole off the highway to
a friend and her boy a coupe of days ago and loaned them
a rucksack to put their gallon of milk in. Milk might
not seem that heavy taking it out of the fridge but if
you're a nine year old boy struggling to keep the mud
from sucking your gum rubbers right off your feet, and
you're walking for three kilometers, a gallon of milk
can get awfully heavy in a hurry.
Other friends came in from the Coast with their
vehicle loaded with perishables and dry goods not realizing
the road was in such poor shape. I think that
they spent quite some time ferrying things by hand across
the mud holes and carrying it down to their place on the
The head of highways has been doing his best to keep everyone
updated by phone and getting loaders and excavators to
various holes on the side roads that are keeping people
from getting to work and the kids to school. There isn't
much he can do with the whole mess though, other than
try to ditch off from the mud holes, smooth them off and
wait for them to dry out. Unfortunately, there's the odd
idiot that insists on continuing to drive through the
mud where they can with four wheel drive, tearing the
holes up and causing the water to hydraulic to the surface.
There is no way the mud has a chance to form a crust and
dry out as long as that is happening. There are those
that really must get through. And then there are the numbskulls.
I actually really feel sorry for the highways head
out here. He's doing his very best and all that
he can do but between Mother Nature and
the morons, there's only so much that will improve. Most
people would never think of complaining about the situation
because we all know that nothing can be done about it,
but you still have the complainers out there determined
to make things miserable for someone else.
Our weather was warm up until yesterday when it clouded
over. A wind has finally come up in the past two days
which will help to dry things out, but it's cool, even
though the temperatures aren't too bad. Not nearly as
warm as the past few weeks, but it still got up to a few
degrees above freezing today. It has been getting much
colder at night now as well with drops to -6C and colder,
and that has hardened things up a bit in the morning.
Walking dogs has become more difficult unless you
want to stick to the road now. We tried going
on the back trail yesterday but kept falling through soft
snow and ice into water. Brainiac that I am, I decided
we should cut up over a hill and meet up with the trail
on the other side, thus missing some of the wet. That
didn't work out too well as we got down into a low spot
in the trees and there was water everywhere wicking up
the tree trunks. Andy was wearing his rubber boots but
since I can't walk any distance in the things, I was wearing
my good hiking boots and was trying to keep from turning
them into a sodden mess. Going anywhere is definitely
a challenge, especially for River. For a big dog and Rottweiler
cross, he's really prissy when it comes to getting his
feet wet or muddy and he's always trying to pick his way
through anything messy. He's worse than a cat.
Our neighbour down at the north end of the lake, Kerry
Jacox, took some photos of their mud holes on the road
going in from the highway and has graciously given permission
for me to use them. The mud doesn't look too bad actually,
but just try driving through it. :-)
I have to get on the stick and take some photos of ours
but I'm going to town tomorrow and probably won't have
the chance. Besides, since Henry smoothed it out a bit
with the excavator bucket, it doesn't look half as bad
as it did after my truck had been dragged through it a
couple of times.
We'll use the ATV and trailer to haul coolers and boxes
out to the truck and then Andy can pick me and the groceries
up on Sunday using the same thing. It might take a couple
of trips but it beats carrying everything the distance
on our back or in our hands.
I think now to the days when I was a kid and we
lived over a mountain north of Williams Lake in what we
called, 'The Old Log House'. We still refer to it with
We couldn't get out for six months of the year but periodically
through winter or spring my Dad would walk out the 11
miles to town with an army duffel over his shoulder. If
he was really lucky he could get a ride part way there
and back to where the neighbour lived a few miles below
us. He would usually be back by supper time with his duffel
bag full of library books, tobacco, batteries for the
radio, mantles for the white gas lantern, chocolate for
him and fresh produce like a head of lettuce and tomatoes
for us. We could have cared less about his chocolate stash.
It was the fresh goodies that we were after!
I still remember that we would play outside all day but
always keep an eye cocked for the corner at the top of
the hill where the road came out of the trees. My
Dad was a tall, lanky man with a long stride.
You would keep looking and looking with no one there,
and then suddenly, he was. He would hail us from the corner
that was probably 1/4 to 1/2 mile away, and we would all
go running to greet him. He could cover a lot more ground
than we could but it still seemed a long distance to get
to him and longer back, all the while fighting for his
attention with what I'm sure was just noisy chatter and
nonsensical questions. Funny how such small things will
stick in your mind until the day you die.
I can still remember the hiss of the white gas lantern
in the kitchen after we went to bed in an adjacent room,
our kerosene lamps already extinguished. Like
white noise people play by their beds at night nowadays,
the noise of a gas lantern becomes your world and puts
you to sleep at night. I still remember the eagerness
with which my parents would park in chairs around the
table with fresh tobacco smoke forming lazy hazy ghosts
in the air over the table, rifling through the new selection
of books from the public library, the lantern freshly
pumped glowing above their heads.
Yes, I know, everyone is jerking with shock. Cigarette
smoke and children!! Well, this was in the 60's
folks, and no one knew then what harm that could cause
children, nor in the early 70's for that matter. The 'cool'
habit of smoking picked up during the second World War
and carried through the 50's and 60's was thought no more
dangerous than the four-o'clock Scotch highball after
work or letting your kids ride their bikes to school and
eat worms while catching frogs. How ever did we survive!
In any case, those memories of not getting out up at the
'Old Log House' are much more pleasant than those I have
of this country in 1966 when my parents first immigrated
to Canada with the intention of buying a ranch out here
in the Chilcotin. That was in June of 1966 and it was
an evil, rainy spring and summer. Conditions were not
unlike those out here this spring, except much, much worse.
But another time for that story. I've got to get ready
to go to town tomorrow.
Have a good weekend folks!
Mud Hole to China
on the last blog when I mentioned that our road (main
road from the highway that services properties on the
north side of Nimpo Lake) was starting to break up pretty
badly? Oh, and that we would just have to deal with it?
Within two days of that comment I received a call
from a neighbour asking if it was safe to walk across
the lake because she had nearly gotten stuck in
a mud hole on the corner and didn't want to take a chance
going through there again. She had also wondered if the
highways guys were going to fix it. I didn't think they
would because until I tried to drive through it that afternoon,
I didn't realize how bad it had suddenly gotten.
When I went out I stopped in front of the hole,
dropped the truck in four wheel drive, chose my spot and
gunned her. I barely made it through to the other
side and if the mud hole had been two feet longer, I wouldn't
have. So when I went up to Nimpo I got on the phone to
the head of highways maintenance out here and told him
about the mud hole and told him that we needed a big dump
truck load or two of gravel. He explained to me that if
he put a loaded truck on the main road, it would completely
ruin what was left of it but he would try to get a loader
down in the morning with some mats to put over the mud
and stop it wicking water up. I called Andy on the phone
from up at Nimpo and asked him to leave the radio on so
that if I got stuck coming back, which seemed highly likely,
he could pull me through. Sure enough, I buried
the truck and had to call him on the radio to come with
chains and pull me out.
Early the next morning the head of highways here called
Andy to let him know he wouldn't be here right away because
the bank above the highway at Pelican Creek had sloughed
in and he would need the loader to clear the highway.
That same morning I was supposed to go down to the north
end of Nimpo Lake so I figured on trying the mud hole
again, but I left the radio on just in case. While I wanted
to stay away from the outside shoulder I thought if I
tried staying out of the ruts I had made the day before,
I might make it through. I didn't make it and sure
enough, here came Andy again to drag me out backwards
and then he decided to make a run through it much closer
to the shoulder than I had. He got the truck through
but I think that's the last time anyone is going to get
a truck through there anytime soon. I didn't care. All
I wanted was a vehicle on the other side in case of emergencies
or if we wanted to go up to Nimpo to get mail, etc., then
we could with my vehicle. We'll just walk or take the
ATV to the mud hole, and walk from there to my truck if
we need to.
After Andy got my truck to the other side we could hear
a heck of a noise that he was hoping wasn't a universal.
I told him it had done it the day before too when I had
gone through and I thought it was just rocks caught in
everything. He told me to take it straight up to Len's
and get all that gravel and mud washed out from the drive
shaft, wheels, front end and rear end before I went anywhere.
I got about a wheelbarrow load of gravel, clay
and silt out but I must have missed some rocks because
it sounds like there might be one caught in my brakes
I had already been warned that Nimpo Creek Road was in
pretty bad shape too but decided to take a run down there
anyway just to spin the last of the mud out of my undercarriage
and wheels out on the highway if nothing else. I got part
way down Nimpo Creek Road and could see a big mud hole
in front of me and another beyond that. It didn't look
as bad as ours and I was pretty confident I could make
it through but I had no idea what was around the corner
or on the rest of the three kilometers of road. Since
Andy couldn't get out of our place to come pull me out,
that meant finding someone else that could if I got stuck.
Not to mention that I would tear up the road even more
and have to go back and clean rocks and mud out of my
truck again. Not worth it, I decided. I headed back to
Nimpo where I found out from one of the highways guys
that the head had been down at Cariboo Flats for
a good part of the day with a couple of flag girls trying
to sandbag the edges of the road and keep the water there
from undermining the highway. When he called me
that night to apologize for not fixing the road, I told
him it was no problem. We're all good now with a vehicle
on the other side and I suspected he was up to his butt
in alligators anyway. He was. He told me how many side
roads had blown out just that day and he didn't expect
conditions to improve anytime soon. I don't think his
guys are going to have any time for side roads now anyway.
If this run off really gets going all hell is going to
break loose and it's the highway that's really going to
be in trouble. Like last year, there are a lot of streams
that are flowing down out of the hills now and straight
at the highway. But whereas last year we had a really
cool spring and slow melt that didn't start until well
into May, this year it's been between two and
three weeks now with really warm daytime temperatures.
We haven't much wind to carry moisture away, or cold nights
to freeze dry the ground, both highly unusual for this
time of year. Add to that ground that was already saturated
going into winter, rain and wet snow through the winter,
and you've got a great big mess. It will be really interesting
to see what happens in the next few weeks. Unfortunately,
Andy needs to get out to Bella Coola on Wednesday and
I had planned to go to Williams Lake on Thursday, so we'll
have to see if we can get the new truck or the dually
through our mud hole some time this week. If we
get one really good cold night before Wednesday, then
we can take one of them through on the frost.
Aside from a few things that I need to do in Williams
Lake and on the way, I want to stock up on groceries and
necessities that will carry us through June if need be.
It seems highly unlikely that we need to do that but I
sure would feel stupid if we ran short on stuff because
of flooding when we didn't need to. Not that we would
ever run out of food. I think I've got enough for about
three years, but fresh produce and fuel are two thing
hard to get out here when the road is closed for any length
I don't think we'll have too much of a problem for a great
length of time this year but Bella Coola is already gearing
up for major flooding this spring. They've fought for
Government money to help them shore up their levees down
in the Valley because they expect to get hit. There's
a huge amount of snow up on Heckman Pass and if that's
any indicator of what's in the mountains surrounding the
Valley, then they're definitely in for it!
At least there's one good thing to be had out of such
a quick melt this time of year for our area is that it
should all be over by the end of April, I would think.
Our drainage is from low lying foothills around Nimpo
Lake and once the snow is off them, we start drying out
and the lake only gets so high. Right now it's at an all
time low but should be coming up soon. Otherwise, McClinchey
where the highway blew out in September of 2010 is the
only other River that drains high mountains in our area.
In Anahim Lake Corkscrew Creek drains the Itcha Illgatchuz
Range so they may see some flooding but for the most part,
unless we get a tremendous amount of snow, it shouldn't
be like this for long, because we just didn't get the
snow load that we did in winter a year ago. All
I do know is that right now people with small cars and
without four wheel drive aren't able to go far in many
Yep, things are in the toilet all right. :-)
Are we being affected by climate change? There's probably
no question but as the weather experts said on a show
I watched the other night, climate change is a long term
thing while weather is short term, and it's impossible
to judge whether the weather we have been having this
year is a result of climate change or not. If you keep
up on the temperature records, back in 1947 at this time
of year, the temps were twice as high as they are now
in BC for April. On the other hand, warm temperature records
have been falling day after day across other parts of
Canada for both March and April. Although those provinces
enjoying the balmy weather in the past month or two did
get hit recently with snow and colder temperatures. I'll
bet that was a surprise!
Many of the States are also seeing extreme weather
right now as most of you probably know. I'll take
mud and a little bit of flooding over huge hailstones
and tornadoes, that's for sure. There's no question that
we have been seeing a general warm up in the past forty
years in BC and when I was in Saskatchewan, folks said
the same there. That could be a natural cycle or caused
by humans, or both. Certainly most Canadians have been
enjoying that slow warm up because -20 temperatures in
winter beat forty and sixty below for comfort any day!
I think the weather guys are right. We may see localized
changes year to year but what we're all probably
going to see are more extreme weather events.
Since Earth has been in a pretty stable climatic and geological
state for 10,000 years, we've become spoiled. It has allowed
our civilizations to develop to the degree that they have.
Even so, advanced civilizations around the world including
in South America have been wiped out by what is now judged
to be unusual weather events in just the last few thousand
years. So who knows? Maybe now the fun starts.
I think that if we are going to start seeing more extreme
weather it will have a huge impact on the more advanced
industrial countries, but it will have the largest impact
on the poor countries and those living a marginal life
at best, such as in many of the African countries. I'm
thinking there's not a whole lot to be done about it now.
We could all stop driving our vehicles and close manufacturing
and power producing plants, and it might make a difference....
but we all know it's not going to happen. And if we're
on Mother Nature's roller coaster, I'm not sure we can
stop climate change from continuing down its slippery
The perfect example is in the sinking of the Titanic.
She was the largest moving thing at the time and built
to the best of human ability.... and Mother Nature took
her out like a toy ducky in a bathtub.
But for now and for us, the weather is gorgeous, our temperatures
are high, the sun is shining, there's no wind, and you
couldn't ask for a nicer Sunday. Except for the mud, of
The Annual Canoe Race from Nimpo Lake to Anahim
Lake is set for May 19th. And just a reminder
that there is a Bingo at the Nimpo Lake Hall this Saturday,
starting at 1:00 to raise funds for the Hall. Clint is
gearing up for his fourth annual Fishing Derby on Nimpo
Lake this year but rather than having it in May, he's
thinking around the first week of June. There's a lot
of ice on Nimpo this year, over three feet in some places,
so rather than risk ice like last year, he may put it
on a little later. I'll keep everyone posted.
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last month's
posts at April
Lake Highway cam looking West.
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!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!