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Wilderness Adventures - April, Week 2/2006

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.
You can search this site for a subject of interest to you at the bottom of this page. Check out the Picture of the Day.

16/04/2006 2:07 PM

Happy Easter Everyone!

Of course you shouldn't be on the Internet reading this. You should be getting ready for an absolutely huge Easter dinner now that all the kids have finished their Easter Egg Hunt. At least I guess people still do that. Pagan that we are we usually don't really notice Easter too much here anymore. Today was different for us because we were invited to Easter brunch at the Dutchman Restaurant in Anahim Lake by my mother. After filling up on a terrific meal that should be the only one of the day, we have to make room now for dinner down at Nimpo Lake Resort.
It gives me the opportunity to check out the new laptop with the Wi-Fi system on my Mom's satellite system. I really need to see if I can pick up a signal anywhere I go in future. Unfortunately, my computer just informed me that the driver for the Wi-Fi may not be compatible with the Windows XP operating system on the laptop. Don't you just love technology?
I think I can hear Nimpo Lake rumbling but it's pretty tough when the sound is drowned out by a whole crowd of insanely singing red winged blackbirds. They've decided the food and company here are good and that's just all. They aren't leaving! The neighbour finally got so mad at them eating all of the food he puts out for the chickadees that he's stopped putting out food altogether.
The weather just can't make up its mind today. We had a weird, warm wind blowing last night and it's clouded over today with some blustery gusts coming in. We are just on the edge of a huge low coming in from the Pacific Ocean. I guess they've been getting snow in the mountains and passes throughout British Columbia and rain elsewhere. At least we're not getting the flooding that they are back east and gladly not getting the weather that the eastern seaboard and midwest have been getting in the States. It seems awfully early for tornadoes and other little nasties and hopefully isn't a harbinger of the summer to come.
Sadly, everyone coming back into the West Chilcotin for summer are starting to notice what we have for the last few weeks...the slow reddening of the pine trees. We got hit pretty hard by the Mountain Pine Beetle last summer and it's starting to show. On the other hand, change is never a bad thing if you can look at it with optimism and hope. Who knows? The country may change but it might be for the better. It just won't be great in the short term.
We've wandered through the woods on walks trying to guess what changes we'll see in the next few years. The pine trees suck up a lot of moisture. Perhaps once they're gone, we'll see more aspen, willow and undergrowth. Perhaps the wild meadows will expand. This would be a boon to wildlife because while they can eat all of the above, they can't eat pine trees. It'll be interesting and since there isn't a darn thing we can do about it, we might as well go along for the ride!
Oh, and I'm very sorry for no article yesterday but two computers and a laptop all running on my desk at one time and trying to transfer information and load up software was a bit overwhelming yesterday. Couple that with running around the country dropping off some graphics work to clients and it all ran me a little short of time.
Have a great Easter Dinner and don't eat too much!

14/04/2006 12:16 PM

The Vagaries Of Technology

Speaking of yesterday's thread, I'm drowning in technology and I'd really rather be fishing, so to speak. I now have a laptop bought by for me by my sweetie, which is pretty exciting because it means when we go away for awhile, I can keep track of my sites and keep up on this blog. Unfortunately, there's a long haul between here and getting to the point that the laptop is actually a useful tool.
I have to load all of my program software, and then I have to load all of my data that I just spent the morning backing up from my desk top computer to the laptop. I need to figure out how to do a system back up on the laptop first. Apparently it has a hidden partition for backing up the main operating system, etc. before you start adding the mass of data that I need to.
There are three ways of hooking up to the Internet and I have tested the dial up already. Once everything is loaded up I'll drive down to my mother's place at the other end of Nimpo Lake and see if I can pick up her satellite and upload to the Internet using the laptop's Wi-Fi and her system. There is no way of testing for a cable hookup in this country so I'll just have to take it on faith that the system works.
The only other possible fly in the ointment will be whether I can use RSS software that I have on two different computers at the same time since that's what I use for uploading the blog. It's all fun and games this technical stuff. Yuk.
It snowed last night. The neighbour just stopped over and said it started snowing at about 2:00 in the morning. It was certainly a bright white out there when I got up and there's a real 'chilly' winter wind. He asked if we would be interested in going out snowmobiling one more time before shutting it down for the year. Unfortunately, it would require trailering and we're awfully spoiled for that, so we'll see. It's kind of hard to think about snowmobiling when standing next to an RV trailer that we just bought. It's a pretty cool low profile, light weight trailer with everything we need to call home while in Alaska this summer. With that in the yard you tend to be thinking more about summer fun than winter fun right now. Although we're probably jumping the gun a bit. Spring hasn't quite gotten here yet even if there are little tiny green things trying to sneak up out of the frozen ground.
Oh yeah. Happy Good Friday!
13/04/2006 4:09 PM

Wild, Wild Wind In The West Chilcotin

Wowee, is it ever a wild, blustery day out there today! It's so windy I haven't even seen any red winged blackbirds at the feeder today. They're probably afraid of being blown away if they risk venturing into the air. I wonder how you calculate the weather for the end of the month if the middle comes in like a lion rather than the beginning? Just asking. :-)
So yesterday I talked about how sad it was that so many young people and their children have no idea how to go fishing. You know the saying 'Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.' Or at least I think it goes like that. I feel that there is a very valuable lesson in that phrase because what happens if you can't go down to your corner grocery store and buy your next meal?
We've all experienced power outages due to blizzards, ice storms or even heat wave, some for up to a week. We can usually all find something in our cupboards to keep us going for that period of time. But what happens in the case of a long term disaster? Case in point: New Orleans after the Katrina hurricane, just to bring home some reality. What happens after a natural disaster such as an earthquake that could affect the entire western seaboard of North America at any time? How about a tsunami? A massive blizzard blanketing the entire eastern seaboard cutting off all ties and transportation to and from the rest of the world for weeks? Volcanoes anyone? Floods? Or the one thing that scared the hell out of me all my childhood and early adult years, and now has again become a bleak reality ... nuclear war.
Chances are pretty good that if you were from a subsistance culture, you would survive most natural disasters easily. But fewer and fewer people even know the basics of survival and more and more rely heavily on their state, provincial or federal government to bail them out in the face of a disaster. Oh yeah, all we have to do is declare our district to be under a state of emergency, and we'll be fine. The government will come through.
The fault with that kind of thinking is what happens when you reach the limits of what a government can do? What if the government just can't do a damn thing? Not only does that possiblity exist, but as with Katrina, it occurred. Too many people sat around waiting for the government to kick in and take care of them, and the problem was compounded because people didn't believe officials when they told them to get the hell out of Dodge in the first place.
Someday, something is going to happen that is going to be beyond the scope of the government's ability to coddle you, protect you, or take care of you. Of course my view is why should they have to in the first place but I'm sure that won't go over well with anyone. Be that as it may, what do you do in the face of that kind of disaster? Give up and die? Because unless our race can maintain some modicum of survival skills, besides taking up arms and stealing from others, we will eventually go the way of the Romans. That civilization fell and so too will ours. In the face of a massive disaster, anyone from Alaska, Northern Canada and the poorer regions of Mexico have the best chance of surviving because they are closer to nature. They know how to make a livelihood by making use of the resources nature has to offer in their rawest form, be that plants, fish or game. In other words, they know how to catch a fish.
I am far more inclined to put my money on someone who knows how to fish in the face of a disaster requiring basic survival skills than I will on someone who is a hotshot in the boardroom but has no clue where the steak he had for supper comes from.
As the world becomes more advanced technologically and people draw away from nature outside to sit in front of their computers and televisions more and more, the problem of survivability for our race will only grow worse. And ultimately, given the right circumstance, a more backward people will conquer us just as the Romans were so easily conquered by the barbarians.
Oddly, most people rarely seem to think about the possibility of a disaster large enough in scale to set back their little piece of civilization and the few that do, dismiss it. They do not understand that it is not a matter of whether a large scale civilization-busting disaster will happen but rather when it will happen. Either way matters not to me.
I know how to fish.

12/04/2006 1:43 PM

Property Sold

One very nice property is now off the property for sale page. The pretty house with the big front windows has been sold to someone from Alberta as I understand it. That's really great because the owners are a young couple with a son that bought a beautiful acreage with house on Nimpo Lake just across from their sold property. They bought it a year or two ago so that they could have a place for horses for their son. But it can be pretty tough to hold two properties at once. So I'm really happy for them. Besides, that means they're neighbours on our side of the lake now, and that's a good thing!
This side of the lake actually had several properties occupied by mostly summer or part time residents. But we're gradually getting more and more full time residents over here and they're all just terrific people. We're going to have to think about having a nice neighbourhood 'block' party when everyone has come in for the summer. And no, this isn't quite suburbia. Most of the 'neighbours' on this lake are several hundred yards through the trees from each other.
I read a sad little article in BC Outdoor magazine this morning. Fisheries is actually talking about setting up day classes at some of their freshwater fishery pools around the province to teach kids how to fish. Apparently, fishing isn't something that many young parents know how to teach their children anymore and many of the people that do know how are growing older and the freshwater fishing industry is going down. Wow. That's scary.
What happened to going out to any old puddle or slough and hanging a line off of a stick when you were a kid? Or your parents outfitting you with beat up little rod, a bobber and your excitement at digging up your very own worms from musky rich earth near a little lake they've taken you to for the day? Even here, parents take their kids out on the ice of Nimpo Lake, Anahim Lake or other lakes in the area on a nice day to do a little ice fishing, sit around a fire and roast hot dogs. I guess I know what's happened. I know young parents now from the cities and towns that were raised on Nintendo and Gameboy, computers and TV. So now their little children sit around playing games on the computer and instant messaging friends they have never met over their computers or cell phones, or what have you. On the one hand they probably know more about the world of technology than I could ever hope to keep up with. Perhaps they even know more about other cultures because of their cyber friends. But they've never had the excitement of hooking a fish and bringing it in.
That's sad.
It's also scary. I'll tell you why tomorrow.
Just a word of warning for those with slow dial up. The
Picture of the Day the day is a large file because of all the colors.
11/04/2006 5:07 PM

Walking In The Rain

And the hail and the mud and the blood and the tears... Oh no, that's a song isn't it?
I decided I had better be going for a walk early this afternoon before the sun disappeared behind some ominous clouds. I got just a little way down the driveway and ended up doing most of my walk in a hailstorm. I was just about back when the sun started shining again. Then there was a mini rainstorm of only a minute, and now it's been absolutely glorious the rest of the afternoon. My timing, as usual, sucks!
However, I finally got the tweaking on this site done that I've been working on for the last few days. So the listings on the resorts, motels, and services pages are much tighter and a little more attractive I think.
There is still a lot more work on the code to do in future, but at least I'm comfortable with it for the summer and since my partner has been gone for the past week, it's been an awesome opportunity to get something done that does not go well with interruptions.
The property for sale pages are up and I'll update them as I find listings or people contact me. I do know that there are more properties for sale than are on the pages, particularly in Anahim Lake, I just haven't had time to go around, talk to people and get pictures and writeups.
Things are drying up at quite a rate around here. What was mud from snow melt only a few days ago can actually be walked on for now. That will change of course, as soon as the frost really starts coming out of the ground. Then you're in breakup, like it or not. But if the weather stays like this with only the odd unusual rain or hail storm, things may well dry up by the first part of May.
A very dry summer is being predicted for this year. That doesn't bode well for any of British Columbia that has been hit with the Mountain Pine Beetle kill. When the trees are in their red stage (the needles have turned from green to red) they are highly volatile and can literally explode when a spark is present. Not on the tree. Near the tree. That's how explosive the gases put off by a beetle killed pine is.
In addition to that bit, I was reading today that fuel prices are expected to climb again this summer possibly putting a dent in the number of travelling vacationers to Canada. I'm very much hoping that the prices don't drastically affect us as this area relies heavily on those who come here for summer vacation.
Oh well, come anyway. Trust me, it's worth it! And just to show you how much so... check out the
Picture of the Day page. It just goes to show you what you can see when you take a hike!
10/04/2006 1:42 PM

Noisy Monday

Sorry about no article yesterday. Remember that algebra that I mentioned a few days ago? Well, I've been faithfully trying to stick to that code rewrite that I've been working on for days. Since I've also been sick the last few days, writing code and the blog have just been one too many things for my little pea brain to handle.
The blackbirds have just been going nuts outside on the bird feeder lately
and I've been trying very hard to get a picture. With that many birds fluttering around a little feeder you can see all the bright reds, oranges and yellows of their wing bars. Every time I try to sneak up to the window to take a picture, they're gone! I do have some great pictures of the window blinds though. If I even walk near the open door to the deck, the rotten buggers know I'm there, even if they can't see me. So sitting outside on the deck quietly in the hopes of getting some pictures is out of the question. They're just not as dumb as the otter was. Of course there's a zillion of them in the trees surrounding the deck, but try getting a black bird in a nearly black tree to show up in a digital image!
Here's the cool thing though. I thought the blackbirds were late showing up this year, but last year, according to my blog at April Week Two , they arrived at the feeder a full week earlier this year and these are fully mature males. That seems really strange because I'm sure the ice on the lake and snow on the ground was melted way sooner last year. Anyway, the raucous boogers have sure gone through a lot of sunflower seeds in the last few days.
There's a big spider hole that has opened up midway between here and the island on Nimpo Lake. It's position is exactly where new ice formed from the Main Arm against the older ice in the bay. Early last winter it froze clear out to the Main Arm, then a wind blew up and melted back to this joint. This might be a clue as to what causes the spider holes. One has to assume that there is some stress at that joint between the older and newer ice. All I know is that spider holes were my nemesis this year. There was just too many of them on the lake. Between that and the overflow, I just wasn't comfortable with going cross country skiing on the lake, especially after discovering that a spider hole opened up under my ski trail. Normally they wouldn't bother me, but there was enough snow on the lake to hide them all winter.
I expect that overflow and melt will be an issue on many of the other lakes now when going snowmobiling. The guys went up last Thursday, but the neighbour said it was pretty mucky in places with a lot of water on the trail. Though, once they hit the junction between the Hooch and Charlotte Main going toward Trumpeter he said it was pretty good.
Most of the lake accesses on to the ice road are shot now. Both the ones on and near our property have open water near shore. I'm assuming the ramp up to Nimpo Lake is in the same state. You can still walk on the lake, you just have to deek down onto it where the ice hasn't pulled back from shore. Oh, and check out the
Picture of the Day. That's pretty much what Nimpo Lake is going to look like in just a few days.
Ok, I have to get back to work. Soon, you will see the new and improved pages on this site. I hope...

08/04/2006 5:27 PM

Ice Is Coming Off

Slowly but surely, it's going out now from Nimpo Lake. Last night someone had a little bit of difficulty getting up the ramp off of the lake. It was after midnight when I watched a pickup come down the ice road, spin around a couple of times and then stop. After that, it was a few minutes of spinning the tires and then I guessed the occupants decided to walk home or get help. A little while later I could hear a couple of more pickups that came down the boat ramp and after walking around for awhile, presumably to check the ice, the one pickup pulled down in behind the first and pulled his truck backwards until he was clear. I don't know if he smoked a snowbank on the edge of the ice road, or fell into the hole full of water that's been growing steadily over the last few days. If the latter, he would have had difficulty getting enough purchase on the ice to back up. Didn't look like it took too much for his partner to pull him out though.
The ice pulled away from our shore in front today, and you can see clear down to the bottom of the lake now so I think that's the end of me driving the ice road. I already took a tranny out of my truck a couple of years ago being the last to drive the lake. I won't do that again! The road itself isn't the problem because it still has lots of ice. It's close to the shores where you have to get up off of the lake that the ice deteriorates first and you never want to take a chance on going into the drink if you don't have to.
The red winged blackbirds finally found the feeder yesterday. I've been listening to them singing all day a few hundred yards over at the neighbours for the past week and envied him the pleasure. Once they arrived here, I had all the singing a person could handle for awhile. It's quite a large flock and that close, once they get going it's not an orchestra anymore, it's just pure cacophony. Still though, to me their trills sound like pure liquid crystal. Maybe because they're such a sure sign of spring.
Folks down at the other end of Nimpo Lake saw a small group of caribou out on the lake this morning so they haven't moved into the high country yet.
Pretty blustery, windy day today which is good for drying up the mud and taking down the snow I guess. It was up to about 10C or 50F today and some big thunderheads moved in from the south and west. I haven't heard thunder but Mary down at Nimpo Lake Resort said she heard thunder the other day. That's really unusual for this time of year
Hey, just to show you that the ice really is going out from shore, check out the pictures on the right! An otter popped up close to shore in front of our house this evening and decided that was going to be his feeding place I guess. He would come up, sit on an ice ledge under the water, then dive again for awhile. I got some pictures from inside but by the time I snuck outside I was losing my light and the pictues with the digital weren't as clear. Hopefully the 35mm pics will turn out better. In the meanwhile, the cat kept an eagle eye on the otter from the deck while the otter kept an eye on him, and the dog completely missed the visit. She knew something was there, she just didn't realize it was in the water.

07/04/2006 1:04 PM

The Black Fox

Although we have foxes of all colors here, black seems to be predominant. One of the pictures that Bill and Anita were kind enough to give me was of a black fox they saw when they left Nimpo Lake on their last snowmobiling trip. Which is fortunate because although we see them, I as usual, never seem to have a camera when I need it. We have a fox that hangs around here that we've watched crossing the lake. A couple of times we have seen him bounding across the lake, then he'll stop and look back, wait for a little while, then off he goes again. Eventually you'll see a couple of tired and panting dogs show up behind him. He seems to like to tease the dogs into chasing him but since they don't have a hope in catching up, he'll stop and wait for them to get close enough to see him again, then take off. The one dog usually gives up by half way across the lake but the other is a lot more determined.
Our neighbours have seen the same fox a couple of times on their walks, and if it's the same one, I've seen it crossing the road a few times down by the outlet of Nimpo Lake at Fishtrap.
The one I've seen there though has some really oddly colored splotches on it's rump and a white tuft on its tail. Very similar in coloration to one that hangs around the mill. I was sitting outside in the sun during lunch one day and watched this fox playing on the other side of the parking lot for quite a while. Finally someone came by and when I questioned them, they said that it hung around the mill all the time and they thought someone from the bunkhouses might be feeding it. We seem to have a lot more foxes locally than coyotes or wolves. Although I'm pretty sure I heard a wolf howling the other night, and that's very unusual right around Nimpo Lake. I listened to it for a few minutes and I'm pretty darn sure it wasn't a dog howling. Wolves have a deeper timbre or resonance to their howl than even a big dog seems capable of. I don't really know how to describe the difference but it really is distintive.
Quite a few people around the lake have stated they've seen a black wolf this winter and our neighbour saw tracks crossing his yard in the snow. You don't normally get them hanging around this low, although we did watch a pair cross Nimpo Lake in broad daylight three winters ago. It's possible that a young male was kicked out of his pack and has been hanging around the small caribou herd that's been here all winter.
As you can see from the pictures on the right, I'm still sneaking in those stuckmobile pictures, courtesy of Bill and Anita, and will continue to add snowmobiling pics until the end of the season up in the Rainbows.
This is the start of a new week, so you can read last week's articles at
Wilderness Adventure April Week One .
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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!
Many blackbirds
 
Otter
 
Otter diving in Nimpo Lake.
 
Black Fox
 
Fox on snow
 
Digging out a snowmobile.
 
Child and snowmobile.
 
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