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Wilderness Adventures - August Week One

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!
07/08/2005 12:07 PM

The Perfect Sunday

Today is the day to be out on the water. The sun is shining, the air is pleasantly warm, the water is glassy and the fish are jumping all over the lake. Other than the odd floatplane taking off of Nimpo Lake and a couple of fishing boats, there is nothing to disturb the water so its pretty easy to see fish coming to the surface. August is a glorious month for the West Chilcotin and along with September, is one of the best months to be here. It's the perfect time for you to take your vacation and come enjoy the activities available for everyone. You can just relax, fish, sit around a campfire in evening enjoying the view and watch the spectacular sunsets over our majestic mountains. If you like to fire it up a bit more, go canoeing or kayaking on our numerous waterways where the water is rarely rough this time of year. There are miles and miles of local trails, many of which were old wagon roads or game trails, that you can walk or mountain bike. If you are into some serious hiking, this is the country for you! There are several hundred miles of hiking trails in Tweedsmuir Park, some of it very rugged, that will take you to viewpoints such as Hunlen Falls, up into high alpine, into mountain ranges and near glaciers. You can do the same from the back of a horse on a day trip, or on trailrides that last up to two weeks. For a real thrill and to get the best perspective of the country, splurge on a flightseeing trip. Going up in a floatplane will get you some beautiful pictures and it's a great way to go fishing on remote alpine lakes. This is a vast wilderness teeming with birds and wildlife and much of the land has never been stepped foot on by man. But the Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake region is growing up and can offer some very nice amenities. Accommodations can range from the luxurious with jacuzzis and stone patios to very comfortable and affordable with internet access and satellite tv. You can book a massage or read a book. Rest assured that no matter where you stay, you will be in some of the prettiest country in the world.
06/08/2005 11:31 AM

Frost in July

Continuing yesterday's theory of global warming. As I mentioned in the previous story, heavy frost in July was not an unusual occurrence in the area. Neither were northern lights. One of the prettiest displays I've ever seen in my life was on the second weekend of July. Green flashing northern lights spiraled overhead all night. I remember that there was an annual party at Nimpo Lake Resort where I was building my house, and all the party goers spent most of the night away from the campfire and lights from the lodge craning their necks to look at the sky. Many a night that summer I would be coming home from work at the mill and have to pull over to the side of the road, hang my head out the window and watch the spectacular display of light dancing across the sky. You would hear the truckers talking all summer about doing the same when they were working at night. Even now it isn't unusual to see your breath late at night in July but overall the weather is much warmer seasonally than it was even fifteen years ago. Now we can grow flowers and veggies that were impossible to grow then. Locals have told me that you can't get lilacs to bloom here. We took a bouquet of fragrant French Lilacs to our host at a dinner we were invited to one night this spring. I'm a keen gardener but I don't bother with picky plants or plants that are going to take a lot of care, which is why I won't have a greenhouse. If it takes that much effort to grow, it isn't worth it to me but that is how many people have grown their vegetables all along in this part of the country. When I lived here years ago the best you could hope for in the way of vegetables was tiny leaf lettuce, some green onions and if you were really lucky, maybe some radishes and baby carrots no bigger than your little finger. Forget root crops like potatoes. That was then, this is now. My neighbour grew an unbelievable crop of potatoes last year in raised beds as well as beans, peas, cauliflower and broccoli. Our flower garden is in a 'holding pen' right now because we have no garden area built yet, but you can't walk in there for the growth. Admittedly, the extra rain this year caused an overabundance of growth, but it did very nicely last year during drought and hot sun and all but one of over a hundred plants survived the winter. The one plant that didn't was among the few that started to green up mid winter because it warmed up so much, the snow melted and there was no snow cover on them. Although the tiger lillies and columbine are natives of the alpine region, many of the plants in the garden are not and they most definitely would not have made it through a winter two decades ago. Certainly not the roses or clematis that we grow now. Evidence enough that there is a global warming trend? Probably not, but there is no question in my mind that there is a regional one. Whether this has been caused by humans spewing pollutants into the air for two centuries or a natural global cycle...I don't know. I realize that a warming trend for much of the world could be disasterous. For most Canadians however, it's an opportunity to leave our longjohns in the drawer a little longer every year.
05/08/2005 8:15 PM

The Color of Summer

Some signs are definite in the way they point to global warming and plants are probably one of the most definitive. Highly adoptive and quick to evolve when reproducing, to me plants are one of the best measurements for global weather changes. This year in the West Chilcotin is probably a perfect example. We see clover growing two feet high in the ditches, horsetail bent over in bloom, grasses growing up to four feet tall and loaded with seedheads, flowers growing like hedges on the sides of the road and horses and cattle are belly deep in meadow grass. Growth that is usually unheard of in our 'normally' arid summers. But a warm winter, early spring and lots and lots of nitrogen feeding rain this summer has created optimum growing conditions. I have never seen such long candles on the pine and spruce trees, both young and mature and all loaded with cones. Aspens have sprouted twice their height and the soap berry bushes are loaded with plump berries. I believe that the ability to grow to gigantic proportions is latent in all plants providing the conditions are optimum. Why else are some plants more colorful, more aromatic, larger and lusher down in Victoria or Bella Coola, yet weenie little things on the Chilcotin Plateau? Just like the difference between a well fed North American child and a child of starving Ethiopia. They both exist... they just grow differently. But how do you explain a plant growing where it never did or could previously? I lived in the Nimpo Lake region in the late eighties and early nineties. I tried in vain to grow a few pathetic flowers and shrubs. I didn't even try vegetables because I was told almost nothing grew. Many joked that there were only 9 guaranteed frost free days a year and none of them consecutive. Sadly, it was true. My first July in Anahim Lake gave me a shock. It's the middle of July. I get into my vehicle at 5:00 am to go to work, and can't go anywhere for twenty minutes. The frost was coated so thickly on the windshield that it took that long for defrost heat on high to take it off. Because of course, I was not prepared with an ice-scraper. Why would I be? It was the middle of July! After virtually destroying my credit card a few more mornings, I always had an ice-scraper in my vehicle. All year round. I still do.
To be continued tomorrow....

04/08/2005 12:39 PM

Pictographs

The story behind Pictographs and Petryglyphs. I've never known a lot about either until doing some research on the 'Net' after taking pictures of our local ones. Apparently it is very difficult to date a pictograph except by symbolism because the 'paint' used is usually ground mineral, lichen, or other plant material and so is a natural substance to the area. Instead, they can be dated by the pictures. For example, a pictograph by the Plains Indians showing horses dates the picture to after the time native North Americans acquired horses, which really wasn't all that long ago. It's thought that pictographs can tell a story of either real life or dream life. One site notes that "Picture writing is a mode of expressing thoughts, or noting facts, by marks." Pictures showing stick people riding horses after what looks like buffalo seems to be in the realm of the 'real', indicating this is something the native people actually did. Perhaps the images are put there to bring good luck in the hunt. Other images can be quite surreal. Strange shamans, medicine men, and wraith like spirits can be found on many a canyon wall or rock in the Southwest, which has a prevalence of pictographs and petryglyphs. Turtles, oversized birds and humans with tentacles growing from everywhere does make you stop and think. Some images seem obviously to commemorate important events to the artist, but without knowing the customs of the people who authored the pictures, there is no way of knowing the exact meaning of any picture. Many North American native tribes granted a great deal of meaning to the spiritual aspect of their life. It would seem that many of the symbols seen throughout North America reflect that spirituality. Therefore finding the meaning for such symbols would be akin to a primitive bushman from deep central Africa understanding the meaning of the star on top of a Christmas tree. Unless he understood our culture, he would never be able to interpret its significance to us as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. In any case, whether the monster face, 'pregnant' animal or stretched out 'deer' on the face of our local rock south of Nimpo Lake is real or not, I've quite enjoyed my foray into the pictograph world. The beauty of the Internet is that you don't have to go to a library and peruse hundreds of books to find the information you need on a subject. One very interesting resource that showed a lot of symbols was at Inquiry.net none of which had much resemblance to our symbols, but very interesting nonetheless. If you click on any of the black and white thumbnail boxes, it will bring up an enlargement of many symbols used by Plains Indians. For some great photographs, do a search for petryglyphs or pictographs with Google or Yahoo.
03/08/2005 1:14 PM

Flight a Success, Back To Pictographs

The flight for the bug fight was a success. They were back with the spray by 5:00 pm yesterday. Bumpy ride apparently. Which seems strange because we had such clear weather yesterday. But all the moisture at ground level heating up after a spate of cool weather probably caused a lot of updrafts. So wish us all luck on our fight with the Mountain Pine Beetle. Just a side note for all those people that insist this beetle plague is just mother nature; this is mother nature gone wild ... most probably caused by we humans. Normally we would have cold temperatures in the winter that would keep the beetle knocked back to normal levels. Apparently if it gets cold earlier in the winter, the thermometer doesn't have to dip as much for the bugs to be killed off sooner. But this country hasn't seen its normal cold temperatures for over 15 years. Each winter gets progressively warmer. -60F was a common occurrence at least once during the winter, with temperatures warming up to -40F or -20F during the day. You usually could expect to see at least a two week period of those kind of temperatures every winter. Blame it on global warming if you like, but there's no doubt there has been a major change in the weather patterns and I don't think anyone can hope to record all the possible ramifications. The devastation these beetles are causing, numbering in the billions of dollars in lost forestry and tourist revenue, is probably only a drop in the bucket compared to what is yet to come. All that said, I've gone over my space ranting about the weather, so I'll have to go back to the Nimpo Lake Pictographs tomorrow. And just to let you know, a new property has been listed on the Properties for Sale page and more will be coming!
02/08/2005 12:13 PM

The Flight for Bug Medicine

A bomb run was made to the Okanagan today for Saigon. My partner and a neighbour jumped into his plane to fly to Kelowna this morning, the nearest place you can purchase a systemic pesticide to use on our trees. We've been spraying a ring of Saigon on each of our pine trees for the last three summers in the hope of preventing the pine beetle from attacking the trees. Two neighbours have been doing the same, but they've been drilling two to three small holes in the tree and putting a few drops of the concentrate in each one. We had lost hope that the stuff worked because one of our really large mature pines was attacked last week as well as one on the edge of the property. We sprayed the neighbour's trees but it was after they had been infested by the beetles and it wasn't killing the beetles. However, once the trees had time to absorb the Saigon, it did seem to have some effect on them. Respraying our infested mature pine seemed to have killed the beetles as well. But we're out of the stuff now and needed to get more. Fast! Surrounding neighbours have also put in an order for the pesticide today. Frantic research of web sites including Forestry sites and talking to 'experts' only emphasized that there didn't seem any way to kill the beetle once they infested a tree other than by killing the tree itself. Which seems sort of pointless. However, one person mentioned to Brian Reid of Pioneer Log Homes the name of the stuff we were experimenting with and not only did he know about the stuff, but that it was being used very effectively in Arizona where he's built log homes in some very affluent neighbourhoods. Apparently the Mountain pine beetle attacks mature Ponderosa Pine as well as Lodgepole Pine. Trees that had taken upwards of 500 years to grow were being attacked in that state and homeowners chose to attack back. They have an expensive spraying program going on involving the whole tree as well as drilling and injecting the tree and it seems to be successful. The heartbreaker with this knowledge is knowing that eventually the big beautiful Ponderosas in the Okanagan will be attacked by the beetles. But in the meanwhile, at least we have confirmation that what we've been doing may work and although we can't save the surrounding countryside, we might be able to save the trees on our individual properties. As much as I hate the smell of the stuff, and dislike using pesticides, I don't see that we have much choice now. And no one feels quite as helpless in the face of this onslaught by bugs when they're taking a proactive stance to the epidemic.
01/08/2005 12:08 PM

Chilcotin Native Petryglyphs

On a rock hidden in the forest south of Nimpo Lake are painted petryglyphs. South of Towdystan on the right or west side of the road, a little trail takes off next to an interesting rock carved like a squat basin or extraterrestial saucer by wind, water and the grinding of glaciers. Lots of smaller rocks have been piled into the 'basin' center of the rock by people of the past, identifying its obvious purpose as a trail marker ..."turn right here". A short, winding walk through the woods will bring you to a striking rock that rears up out of the ground about 18 or 20 feet with a few rocks laying at its feet and another large rock laying on its back near by. This seems to be the only projection of its kind in the area and sits on what may have been the old telegraph line to the west. Parts of that line followed an ancient footpath followed by tribes trading up and down the coast. There are two symbols painted on the wide 'back' face of the rock and two on the side, one very faint. Research tells me that these aren't petryglyphs, but actually pictographs, since they're painted, not carved. I came across a very interesting website at Crystalinks that describes several of the different types of petryglyphs found in different nations. I was hoping to find symbols similiar to what is painted on this rock and see if there is any chance that they are authentic, and not just some characters drawn on the rock years ago as a hoax, perhaps by some educated teenager. I'm suspicious of the pictographs because of the largest, and strangest looking of the symbols. It isn't something you would expect an ancient tribe to draw. It does have some small resemblance to pictographs found in Bella Coola that are dated at about 4000 years old, which is the only reason I don't dismiss them altogether. Unfortunately, without an archeologist taking a scraping of the 'paint' and having it analyzed and dated there is no way of knowing how authentic this painting may be. Few people know of this spot but mention of it did finally make its way into a small travel brochure. The directions are wrong, however, and you would never find the place without enquiring of a local that does knows about it. The outcropping of rock is strange, and the area has a neat aura about it. It's definitely the kind of place that would have been used for tribal camping, worship or possibly burial. Perhaps the symbols suggest that this is an evil place or a place of good luck. Or maybe they're just a joke put there by someone a long time ago that's still getting a laugh at the 'gringos' to this day. Pictures on the right show the rock and some of the symbols painted on it. As you can see, a couple of the symbols are quite believable, while the one doesn't look the way you would imagine it should.
Just to let you know, this is the start of a new week, so stories from last week can be found at July3.


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!
Two floatplanes taxi out onto Nimpo Lake at the same time
 
A couple kayaking along the shore of Nimpo Lake
 
A garden that didn't used to grow
 
Two out of three plants pictured here are native
 
A rock rears up 18' to 20' from the forest floor
 
Symbols painted or chalked onto the back side of the rock
 
The pair of symbols on the side of the rock are protected from weather  by an overhang
 
The rock is rugged and strangely out of place here
 
An animal hunted by the native tribes? Or a hoax?
 
An animal? Or a sling between two people or trees?
 
A piece of the old telegraph poles with metal stamp still intact
 
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