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Wilderness Adventures - August, Week 1/2006

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.

15/08/2006 6:35 PM

Bear Tracks

Probably few things are more disconcerting than seeing a large bear track cross your own. While walking yesterday on our trails in the woods I spotted a pretty large track of the rear foot of a bear that had crossed my tracks from the day before. Although there are lots of berries for bears to eat right now, the heat and limited water sources can keep them in a small area and our woods are an ideal place for a bear to hunker down for the summer. Since I'll be walking alone for the rest of the week I took the precaution of carrying bear spray today as well as my firecrackers. I even went so far as to attach a cat bell to my wrist (for want of anything better) simply to warn a bear that I was in the vicinity. Since the trail is very quiet for walking, I'm more concerned about surprising a bear on the trail than anything. I also walked during the hottest part of the day when any bear with brains in its head should be holed up in a nice quiet spot under a tree or bushes somewhere. Early morning and evenings are times that you're more likely to see animals moving about this time of year.
I watched the news hour with interest this evening because they were going to have a short blurb about the Carrot Lake burn near Vanderhoof. A look at the map shows that the burn was taking place quite a ways north of us and is indeed a heavily controlled one. Forestry has cut out several squares of beetle killed pine with absolutely no burnable material in the guards surrounding the squares. They will be doing controlled burns over the next two years in an effort to gain understanding as to how a forest fire acts in beetle kill versus a green forest. So far they have learned that the fire is much more intense and tends to spot more, which means there are more sparks that start fires further away than normal and that the trees tend to crown more. This means that wild fire travels from tree to tree via the tops. As the one Forestry scientist said, forest fires in beetle kill have the potential to be catastrophic and fire fighters need to learn the methods required to fight them in a safe way. So it makes sense to study the behavior of fire in beetle killed trees versus green forest because with over nine million hectares of destroyed trees so far, there is no doubt that we will be seeing lots of forest fires in the future.
As stated on the news hour, there is no question that whole ecosystems will change in British Columbia and it will be quite interesting to see just what the long term impact of the Mountain Pine Beetle will be. I'm willing to bet the changes to come will be far more extreme than even the scientists can predict.
Today was another cooker with fairly clear skies and high temperatures. Fortunately, no thunderheads yet and hopefully we can keep dodging lightning strikes. There was heavy frost this morning and a friend in our cabin said he actually had to scrape his windshield before going to work. Welcome to the Chilcotin! If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes.

13/08/2006 8:56 PM

Burn A Carrot?

I heard an interesting bit on the news tonight that probably concerns our area. Actually, we had been hearing from the locals for the last day or two that the Minister of Forests will be doing a controlled burn at Carrot Lake of beetle killed pine trees. At sixty miles south west of Vanderhoof, that should put this lake just northeast of Anahim Lake, possibly somewhere in the Blackwater, but darned if I know where it is. I haven't looked at a map yet, but will. The news item didn't say much other than the Ministry wants to see how a forest of Mountain Beetle destroyed pine will burn. How about Very Hot? There have been enough forest fires in beetle pine in British Columbia in the last couple of years that the Ministry should probably already know how such a forest burns. But perhaps they want proper observation rather than the usual panic that a full blown out-of-control forest fire usually entails so doing this burn probably makes sense. Observing the fire's behavior could well serve fire fighters in the next few years when we will be seeing a lot of forest fires and perhaps they will also be able to learn at what rate regrowth occurs and if it differs from a 'green' forest fire.
Many forests can only regenerate after a forest fire. The heat creates exactly the right condition for the pine cones to open up. However, our trees are unable to reproduce after being hit by beetles, so I suppose the only regeneration that will occur will be from pine cones already on the forest floor and between the squirrels and weather, there aren't very many viable ones left.
The newscaster was quick to assure viewers that the Carrot Lake burn will be strictly controlled and that the Ministry said there will be no danger to residents but that people should be aware that there may be a lot of smoke. I'm sure that may be so and not to knock Forestry too much...but they have been known to screw up before. Royally!
Chilko Lake comes to mind when that huge fire in 2003 was made even worse by a supposed 'expert' in his field. This fellow was touted to be the 'end all' in back burn expertise and set the fire fighters about starting a back burn to control the raging forest fire that was billowing smoke 18,000 feet into the air. He didn't take into account the wild Chilko winds that arrive so consistently every morning that you can set your watch by them. In fact, it sounds like he took very little into account when locals in the 'know' tried to give him a little advice about the area. The raging inferno that resulted not only made things much worse by indecently increasing the size of the fire but now put more homes, people, and firefighting equipment into immediate danger. The only thing that saved that particular day was Mother Nature herself! Oh, and the deep pockets of a lot of poor taxpayers.
I really hope this experimental burn at Carrot Lake goes well. Personally, I would like to see Forestry burn a five mile wide swath around the communities of Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake in fall or spring when such a burn could be more easily controlled. That would then provide us with a safety line for the next few years that forest fires are going to be such a danger for us. Once the beetle killed pine are in the gray stage and the pine needles on the forest floor have deteriorated, then the forest fire danger in our region will lessen considerably. Until then, lightening strikes anywhere within fifty miles of us are of serious concern. With a swath burned around the communities, it would act much like a cat guard and then our only concern about fire would be within that line. That would also save a tremendous amount of money and resources for the Ministry of Forests since they could let anything outside of the line burn. The best thing that could possibly happen. However, a plan like that makes way too much sense, which means it will never be implemented.

12/08/2006 6:58 PM

A Nimpo Day

Today was just one of those extraordinary days and I really don't know why. It's not like we accomplished anything today other than maybe go fishing. We got two beauties for our supper. Mine of course was the smaller of the two by far and it took an hour to get them both but getting fish is only a small part of spending time on Nimpo Lake. There were some grebe or merganzer types on the lake and every once in awhile a mighty splash near the boat turned out to be a loon that we hadn't even noticed taking a dive. The fish were really jumping today, and I mean jumping! One little guy had to have gone four feet into the air at least but even the big rainbows were acting like they were in a high jumping contest.
A fish and game conservation officer sped up just as we docked and checked out our licenses. He didn't have too many boats to check out on the water today because there just weren't that many out. Summers have certainly changed here in the last couple of years. Now, if you see five boats out on the lake at one time, it's unusual so there's very little competition for fish. That's okay by us. We're selfish and don't mind having the lake and the fish all to ourselves.
The bachelor loons are still gathering as they do this time of year. I counted nine bobbing out on the water in my line of sight first thing this morning. They like to do their squadron drills in the morning and evening strengthening their wings for the fall migration while the rest of the time they group up, split apart, and fish.
There seems to be very few baby loons this year. I don't know if the bald eagles got them all or what but even our pair in the back bay don't have any babies and they usually succeed in saving at least one baby a year.
The wind was out of the west all day and that bodes ill for our pine trees. While we are surrounded on three sides by water, that is the one direction from which we can expect a real swarm of mountain pine beetles because it's all pine forest that way. We've been told that there has already been two flights this summer so hopefully we won't see one in the next few days. But, we're already looking to the future by designing a lawn in our heads to replace the trees we'll be losing. In the meanwhile, it's going to be difficult to cut down many of the trees in our yard because so many are near the house or other buildings. Our neighbours don't have it that easy either. We walked over to check on their place in their absence today and noticed that they still have several huge pine to fall and dropping them without hitting something is going to be extremely difficult.
There's been a fall chill on the air the last few evenings and I've had to start a fire a couple of nights to warm up the house. No sign of a frost yet but folks down at the other end of the lake say that there were two nights of hard frost just before we returned from holiday. A little moisture wouldn't be a bad thing right now. The woods are tinder dry and we're not out of forest fire danger by a long shot.
You may have noticed that articles are coming at only about one every two days. I apologize but the weather has been just too nice since we got home to be inside the house glued to a computer when there's watering and weeding to be done, mountains and lake to look at, and floatplanes and birds to watch. Summers are short in this country and should be appreciated. Besides, this is the first summer that I haven't been working for the past few years so I'm relishing every moment! I'm sure you understand...lol.

10/08/2006 8:16 PM

Ranching And Trail Riding

I would like to welcome a new listing to Resorts BC. Six Mile Ranch is a small, family run cow/calf operation with about 300 head of cattle and around 50 horses. Besides operating a trail riding business, the family at Six Mile Ranch is now offering you a true ranch holiday. Regular ranch activities include Spring Turn out, Spring roundup, Summer range drive, Fall roundup and more. There are set times of year for these ranch activities so you must adjust your vacation time to fit the ranch schedule for the activity you would like to participate in.
Sorting and driving the cattle can take several days so in some cases you will be overnighting out on the range and delicious camp cooked meals will be provided to you.
You do not have to be an experienced rider because the folks at this ranch say a desire to do the job is enough! A horse will be personally chosen for you based on your level of experience and Terra very much enjoys spending time with both kids and adults that would like to know more about their horse and what can be accomplished with them. While a guest at the ranch you can have as many riding lessons as you would like to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.
For those of you that are experienced riders and are interested in learning the process of starting your own colts, the Colt-Starting-Clinic lasts for seven days in the first week of June. Even if you do not wish to participate in the clinic itself, you can certainly make it a part of your vacation and just come and watch some of the amazing things being taught!
The folks at Six Mile Ranch would like to emphasize that they are not a 'dude' ranch and prefer only very small groups of eight or less at one time so that you receive individual attention, and you are encouraged to put groups together yourself. You can become as involved in ranch life as you choose to be and everything except your sleeping and personal gear is included in the very reasonably priced ranch packages.
You can design your own package which may include only a day or two of ranch work, some relaxation in your cabin, and activities in the general area. This part of the Chilcotin is home to numerous pristine fishing lakes and premier salmon and steelhead rivers. Hiking the alpine with your camera are a favorite activity because you'll see lots of wildlife, birdlife, and fantastic alpine flowers and the scenery is breathtaking. The family also runs a trail riding business so you may want to talk to them about going out on an exciting mountain trail ride in July.
For contact information and to learn more about this unique ranch vacation go to their listing on the Resorts page.

08/08/2006 8:42 PM

Unfortunate Accident

Sadly, a small, local plane went down yesterday. One of the local charter planes from Nimpo Lake crashed in the Itcha Mountains yesterday, killing the pilot and another plane owner from the US. Their plane wasn't located until around 9:00 last night by a floatplane pilot from Nimpo Lake. Since their names have yet to be released by the news media then I won't say more here other than we would like to express our condolences to the family, friends and employers of the victims. Weather was pretty socked in over the mountains yesterday so if a system came in and settled low or if there was engine trouble, then those mountains can sneak up on you pretty fast.
I was working outside yesterday and every once in awhile the clouds would roll in low and black and it would spit a little. Yesterday evening we had light rain and it was overcast off and on today. Lots of sunny breaks though so I found it virtually impossible to force myself into the house to work on the computer.
Actually, I spent part of the afternoon redesigning the yard in my head. Things are going to look drastically different once all the beetle killed trees are felled. There just might be room for a ball diamond! I'm getting quite used to seeing all the red trees. It's kind of pretty really...or colorful anyway. I'm glad we saw so many red trees in the Burns Lake area before coming south. It kind of softened the blow when we arrived home.
We went around and sprayed the remaining pine on our's and the neighbour's property that weren't hit by the Mountain Pine Beetle last year. Most of those are quite young and some have been hit very recently this summer so we're hoping that the spray will at least kill the beetles inside and prevent them from infesting our little trees next year and the years after. The trees that do have fresh bore holes only have a very few. It's nothing like the mass attack of last year so it's possible that we killed most of the beetles on the property last year. There certainly won't be any lack of firewood in the near future.
Picture of the Day will show you what I mean.
Tonite we watched a big, fat yellow moon come up over the horizon and the fish are feeding like crazy in Nimpo Lake. There are lots of insects out there this evening, hence lots of feed. We had to move pretty fast on our walk through the woods tonite and poor River's face was just covered in bloodsucking mosquitoes when we stopped to talk to neighbours out on the road.
There were two interesting boats out on the water last night that I mistook for kayaks. They were back again tonite and it was Andy that pointed out that the occupants were pedaling them. I've seen pedal boats before but they were always the big cumbersome things that moved like a bathtub and took three kids and a dog to move through the water. These craft must be far more maneuverable because we first saw them way down to the end of the bay where Nimpo Lake turns into the Dean River on our way back from our walk. We hadn't been in the house long when we saw them moving right along past us and out into the main arm. It didn't look like these folks were having to pedal too hard to get places but it might be a pretty good form of exercise and a whole lot more scenic than pedaling an exercise bike!

8/5/2006 9:12 PM

Back In The Saddle Again!

We have finally arrived back in Nimpo Lake from our trip to Alaska, and boy, is it good to be home! We got back the night before last but it's been a busy one getting the trailer unloaded and cleaned up, all the laundry, and just reorganizing our house. Oh yeah, and weeding and watering.
We had a minor disaster on our way home and all I can say is I'm sure glad I like plants. We wanted to stay overnight with our friends in Quesnel and since we were ahead of schedule on our way through Prince George, Andy asked if I'd like to stop at my all time favorite Art Knapp's, a plant and garden store. While I browsed the overpriced greenery Andy crawled under the truck to see if he could find the source of a clunk we had been hearing for the last two days every time he accelerated. Turns out that a universal was so bad that we had to return to Prince George and get into the Ford dealer to have it changed right away or we wouldn't have made it home. Once that was done a few hours later we headed south and not far out of Prince while on pavement we took a big rock in the windshield off of the tire of a passing truck. It's a pretty major smuck and the glass is already cracking right across the middle on the driver's side. Pretty ironic when you consider how many thousands of miles of road, gravel and fresh chip seal we went over that previously with no rocks. Other than that, we made it to Nimpo without any more mishaps.
Everything looks great at home and the forest fire in July didn't affect anyone in Anahim Lake or Nimpo Lake, thank heavens! Just scared a lot of people. I guess the forestry camp at Anahim Lake Airport just finished packing up and pulling out the last of their people in the past week.
It sure was nice to see our Chilcotin country again. Even with all the red trees from the Mountain Pine Beetle, no place beats where we live! We've had a couple of really beautiful days since we got home and yesterday Stewart's floatplanes were taking off and landing on Nimpo Lake more than I've ever seen before so they must be really busy with the sightseeing flights.
Cancelled because of the forest fire in July, it looks like the Anahim Lake Stampede may be on again, possibly around the 26th of August, so here's your chance to come out and see a great rodeo folks!
I'm putting up some terrific photos of a bald eagle taken by our neighbours down the road who have kindly given me permission to reprint them for this site and I'll probably put a larger pic on the Picture of the Day so don't forget to take a look!
The last of the articles about our two month trip to the Yukon and Alaska this summer have been shifted to July Week Five. Eventually those web pages may be accessed by a different manner on the navigation on the left than they are now but it will be a little while before I move them. In the meanwhile, we still have lots to do to get over our holiday so articles this weekend may be sporadic, especially since it is a long weekend for most Canadians. For those in British Columbia, Happy BC Day!
I sure would like to thank everyone that made our trip pleasant in so many ways. Thanks to Fleming and Anita for their great hospitality and allowing us a place to park for so many days during our fridge 'disaster' and thanks especially to Anita for the wonderful meals! It was a pleasure meeting Jay in Anchorage who is a childhood friend of Andy's. I'm just sorry we weren't able to meet up with him again but he was off racing his car during the long July weekend when we went back through Anchorage. Some really nice people and old friends of Andy's at Little Atlin Lake, Jack and Beryl, provided us with a beautiful spot to park, good company, great supper and some gold. Life doesn't get any more bountiful than that! Last, but certainly not least, thanks to super friends in Quesnel, Bill and Anita, who've provided us with wonderful meals, parking spot and great company both going to and coming from the north. Special thanks to Andy's sister, Barb, who gave us some great little insights into the places we were seeing through her emails as we travelled over many of the same roads she did years ago, and to my Mom for telling us about Atlin and encouraging us to slow down and enjoy the view. Thanks everyone!
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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!
Forest fire smoke.
 
Blue and white floatplane on the lake.
 
Cattle crossing the river.
 
Blue water, sky, and green trees photo.
 
Bald Eagle sitting in a tree photo.
 
Fire caused sunset image.
 
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