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Wilderness Adventures - April, Week 2/2014

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 some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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19/04/2014 10:00 AM

Still Waiting on the Lake to Open Up.

The past couple of weeks have been a mish mash of everything weather wise. We’ve had high winds with a couple of calm mornings, reasonably warm temperatures averaging between 8 and 10C or 50F but for about three days there we were at 13C and made it up to 15C or nearly 60F this past weekend. In fact with three amazing days in a row I got all kinds of yard work done and we got quite a bit of burning done. On Sunday we had a pretty good sized pile of slash from those two trees we had topped this winter so that went out on the burn pile which meant a wienie roast. It was a stunning afternoon and after working all day we were both ready to sit and relax around a fire with a couple of friends.
It’s going to be the end of open burning pretty soon and with a good bit of the snow gone, it would be foolish to burn much past the first of May anyway so I guess if we have any more stuff to clean up and burn, we better get on it. It’s just that’s easier said than done. It seems that we’re on a dead run doing one thing or another and these winds have thrown a wrench into things because they just won’t let up. I think we’ve only had one reasonably calm day in the past month or so. The advantage as I’ve mentioned before, though, is their drying effect which is pretty critical at this time of year. Without them we would be knee deep in mud.
Our lake ice hasn’t moved much at all this spring. There just isn’t a thing to indicate it’s melting. By this time of year there is usually a little channel of water between our shore and the edge of the ice that the buffle heads and loons cruise until the open water expands but the birds are still all stacked up down at the bridge where the Dean exits the lake, and even down there the ice is taking its own sweet time moving out.
The point has opened up a little bit but nothing like it should be. Normally it would be open all the way across to the island by now. I saw a couple of birds in the water there yesterday but those are the first so it hasn’t been opened wide enough for anything to swim around or feed there.
We went to Willy’s Puddle and back on Tuesday and Clearwater Lake is already wide open with not a shred of ice on it. It normally opens up about two weeks before Nimpo Lake with the exception of last year when Nimpo cleared before Clearwater, the first time ever I know of that happening. But I don’t see our lake ice being clear in two weeks. I mean, it should be. That would put it into the first week of May which is our average ice off, but I don’t know about this year. Who knows? Maybe the ice will just suddenly fade away like it did last year.
What the ice has been doing some nights is making a tremendous amount of noise, especially when it’s really warm during the day and gets really cold at night, and then throw a waxing moon in there. There was one night that I lay in bed listening to it and the ice did not stop muttering and rustling for even two seconds. It was just a steady noise of low crunches and whoofs, and whispers. I love listening to but trying to describe it is pretty much impossible.
The mountains are still whiter than they have been for most of the winter so I think there must be a pile of snow up there now. There are lots of time when we’ll be clear here but you can see storms to the south and the west and it's snowing over the mountains. We’ve had the odd flurry here as well but thankfully nothing that amounted to much. We also got some rain for a couple of days this past week but it wasn’t heavy nor steady, so it didn’t really mess up the drying process on the roads and in the yard. In fact what we did get was perfect because our main road was just graded and even though the frost is still coming out of the ground the surface was actually getting pretty dusty, especially after being graded. So the rain just served to compact the fines brought up by the grader. The rain might also have helped to warm the surface temperature of the lake ice but like I said, no real sign of melting yet.
We have certainly been more fortunate than the rest of Canada. The prairies got snow Thursday and Ontario got nailed yesterday. I think it’s Atlantic Canada’s turn next. Poor buggers. Winter just won’t go away for them. I think that the worst part for most of the Provinces is that they’ll get a few really nice days and then bam! Ontario was up to 23C or 73F one day earlier this week and the next day they were –4C or 25F and slammed with snow.
Isn’t that just a non-balmy surprise!
I would say better them but us but we’ve all had our share of that kind of spring weather at one time or another. It’s called, “Welcome to Canada.”
I remember being absolutely furious as a kid one spring in late April. It had been a long, long winter but finally the weather had really warmed up, everything pretty much melted and even drying up, grass just starting to turn green and us kids playing outside and loving every minute of it! It was a late Easter like this and we had a long weekend from school coming up and then boom! There’s a two foot dump of snow. Man, was I cheesed off!!!
I don’t know why weather is such a big part of my life but I’ve often thought my first real run in with it harkened back to that spring. My second clearest memory of being really cheesed at Mother Nature was on Halloween. All my life we kids were dragged to my Mother’s friend’s house for Halloween where all the folks of her age and one generation older hung out. So while other kids got to go trick or treating, we had to go there and hang out with the old fogies which was absolutely no fun at all, regardless of what my Mother thought.
(I’m that age now, of course, and still would not consider people my age to be more fun to hang out with than going trick or treating or hanging out with other kids.)
So this one year we’d had the most marvellous, long, hot fall and we had to talk long, hard, and fast, but we finally convinced my Mother that it would be way more fun if we kids could have a bonfire and friends over for Halloween. I think my Dad must have pitched in on our side for a change because otherwise, we would never have won that one. She finally gave in and even became part of the planning process, agreeing to buy the hot dogs and marshmallows for us, and we had just the biggest plans to make this the best Halloween party, ever. You never saw such an excited little bunch of heathens in your life! The day before the big party, the temperature plummeted and it started to snow, and snow, and snow…… My brothers cried. I was PO’d beyond belief and of course we had to call our friends and call off the big party. The next day my Mother dragged our sorry butts up to the same old place she always did every year and we watched fireworks in the snow and listened to the old fogies tell each other about their aches and pains and which doctors they were seeing and what operations they’d had in the past year, etc. To this day I’m certain my Mother was in cahoots with Old Man Winter and I have never, ever trusted Mother Nature since. I never bet on the weather. I always have high hopes when planning a function for outside, but I don’t bet on it.
I’ve seen commentary written here and there over the years about the inordinate amount of time Canadians seem to spend talking about the weather and it’s true, we do. I think that it has changed somewhat in the cities like Vancouver now, which doesn’t see a lot of extreme weather so urbanites probably don’t notice much other than it’s either raining or it’s not. But there are still a lot of Canadians in rural areas and most of the rest of Canada’s cities are not so large that they aren’t affected by weather.
For example, New York probably isn’t as affected by winter weather as it was a hundred years ago because it’s just such a massive heat sink. Where as Montreal and Toronto are probably the only two Canadian cities that can claim to be big enough to rarely be affected by winter weather. The rest of Canadian city centers are affected drastically by winter weather and rural Canada is affected year round, of course, just as rural US is. With exceptions like this past winter when all of North America got a winter waxing, Canada generally has more extreme winter weather than the US. I think Canadians figure you can’t change it, so you might as well talk about it. While weather as an opening topic of a conversation has been a global joke for years, it actually is a conversation opener in pretty much all of Canada.
Maybe weather is less of a factor in the daily lives of folks that get up, drive to work, sit in an office all day, drive home and sit in their house for the rest of the evening. But for people that work all their lives outside, weather becomes a major factor in their lives. If it’s 30 below zero outside but you know you still have to work a 10 hours shift in those conditions, then you have to dress for it. Then you have to wonder if your vehicle will start at the end of those 10 hours, if your fire will have burned out and the house be cold by the time you get home. If it will be too cold or too windy to cut firewood on the weekend. And if you lived with no indoor plumbing and an outdoor john for much of your life as I did, then just going for a morning constitutional is directly affected by weather. I was raised on a farm so weather affected every day of our lives and when I owned a farm in Saskatchewan, weather affected every day of my life, from feeding animals, to hoping they don't go down on the ice in the paddocks, to waiting for first rains to green up the pastures, to gardening, to hoping you could get the hay off the fields dry and in good condition to hoping you can get out of your driveway, to shovelling snow… again. Even here where I don’t have to get up and go to work in lousy weather any more, it still affects every day of my life. From ear aches caused by wind and SAD from lack of sunshine in winter, to pins in my ankle that predict incoming cold and arthritis from injuries as a teen that tells me when there are changes in barometric pressure, I can tell you that weather affects my life in every way, every day as it does most Canadians.
I have often wondered what it would be like to live somewhere like Hawaii where the weather really doesn’t change that much, the temperature is always pleasant, and everything is always green. I can’t imagine it. To me, that's what Heaven would be like.
However, just to clarify, while I know I talk a lot about the weather on this blog, it isn’t entirely for my own sake.
We actually have a lot of part time residents in the Chilcotin that like to know what the weather is doing here. It helps them to keep tabs on their cabins or houses remotely.
By knowing what the temperature is, they know how it’s affecting their homes if they are away. And if there are windstorms, then they have a good idea of what kind of clean up they can expect when they get here. If it’s a slow spring, summer residents know not to bother to come up until everything has melted and dried out or they may not be able to get into their driveways when they arrive. Many like to come up fishing first thing in the spring and like to know if the ice is off of the lake.
If it’s a long hot summer then forest fires are a likelihood and part time residents know that if they do come up, they may not be able to get in or out if the highway is closed. Some come up if there are a lot of fires just to check on their places. And lots of people like to know if it’s a long, warm fall because they may take time out from work, etc. to make a quick run up for some fishing or hunting.
For those that like to come up in winter, they know that if there has been a fresh dump of snow it may be hard to get into their driveways but the skiing or snowmobiling is going to be excellent. On the other hand, a large amount of snow can mean overflow on the lake so snowmobiling from home might be impossible. If it’s really cold, then winter visitors know it’s pointless to come up because it will probably be too cold to do anything outside and being stuck inside for weeks on end is no fun. For people that do a lot of clean up on their properties, they like to know if there is still some snow on the ground in the spring but it’s dry enough to burn while in the fall, some folks like to know when it’s still warm out but there has been a fresh snow so that they can burn their summer slash piles. And also…. I just like to talk about the weather. :-)
By the way, I do apologize to everyone for it being so long between blogs. As many of you may have noticed, this site was on and off line over a period of a week and there truly was a lot of blue smoke over this house. I changed servers, the first time in nine years, and of course it was guaranteed to go wrong. I chose an excellent host and I have to say, I have not had such tremendous online customer service in years! Unfortunately, I had to call the help line several times as it turned out there was a glitch in the move, and every time I got an English speaking American. In fact, the number goes to Utah and I don’t care if it’s not toll free. It’s just wonderful to get knowledgeable techies that speak perfect English! My new server is Blue Host and so far, I would recommend them to anyone and everyone for hosting your website. I guess there’s a reason why they have the highest reviews of any host on the Internet. That being said, between my ignorance, using a different domain server, the Heartbleed bug which threw a wrench into the middle of my move, and just a weird little glitch, a 24 hour move took five days. That’s never a good thing but since I’m a great believer in Murphy’s Law, it was expected.
Oh, yeah. And if you’re wondering what the weird moon photo is up on the right, that was my attempt at photographing the lunar eclipse the other night. I think I need to improve my night photography skills substantially before attempting this again next year.
Happy Easter weekend, Everyone!

Last week's blog is at April Week One.

Anahim 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!

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Grey ice on Nimpo Lake with blue sky and mountains.
Orange red moon with a star above.
Pink glow on the snow of the mountains from a rosy sunrise.
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