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Wilderness Adventures - August, Week 2/2012

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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10/08/2012 12:30 PM

Hiking The Rainbows

You heard me talking about the blazing hot weather in the last blog post. Only one night later we ended up with a nice little humdinger of a thunderstorm.That evening was the hottest yet, still at a sweltering 22C outside at 10:30 at night. I thought man, this is going to be a miserable night to sleep because of course, it was nearing 80F in the house and no way of bringing the temperature down if it was just as hot outside, even with every window and door open in the house. I was not looking forward to a breathless, sleepless night. Our warmest yet. Andy was just headed to bed when he saw a flash outside. We stood out on the deck and saw another to the south of us. It was just heat lightning a long, long ways away without thunder but I had hopes it would hit us, although Andy didn't think it would. I turned off the lights and watched a small dark cloud to see which way it was going and decided the storm might take a couple of hours to get here, but we just might get a piece of it.
About an hour later I could hear the aspen leaves start to move, first just a little and then more and more until you could hear a wind sighing through the trees. I turned off the lights again and sitting by the dining door facing east, I could just catch the mutter of thunder on occasion and the more general flash of heat lightning. Then the rain started. Thank you, Mama! The temperature dropped nine degrees in less than half an hour and it made all the difference in the world to changing out the air in the house. A while later I could see lightning bolts directly adjacent to us in the east and at one point counting showed it to be about a mile away, and then the storm moved on. I think that we just caught the edge of it with the worst of it being to the east of us but friends parked over at the beach at Charlotte Lake said that it was booming pretty wild over them. However, even they figured that the bulk of the storm occurred over Redstone to the south east. That makes sense because that's the direction I saw most of the lightning.
Apparently lightning caused a number of fire starts in the Chilcotin and a day later when a storm passed through there, several started in the Cariboo. I have no idea how large or serious they might have been because the fire center doesn't bother to keep their website updated, but I doubt if they're that big. Most of these storms carry a lot of rain with them and though it looked a little smoky out there yesterday and this morning, I don't think there's anything near us.
August 12
Not only did I get waylaid finishing writing the blog but our Internet has been down so it wouldn't have been possible to post anyway. We have finally gotten a little bit of a cool down. That rainstorm seemed to have broken the hot weather pattern, but it's starting to heat up again slowly and I think that by Monday or Tuesday, it may be pretty hot. Unless the weatherman's forecast changes again, of course.
Our project manager over at the West Chilcotin Tourism Assoc. had a friend out last week that is quite the hiker. She took in a few trails in the area including the Rainbow Range Trail hike and I thought you hiking enthusiasts might enjoy reading some of her observations on it as she has kindly given me permission to reproduce parts of her blog post here. Her name is Leigh McAdam and I think you'll enjoy the read:

"I’m in the West Chilcotin area of British Columbia – an area not many have visited or even know about. Within this area lies Tweedsmuir Provincial Park – home to the Rainbow Range Trail – and a hike that’s just about as close to hiking nirvana as you’re going to get.

I’d call the Rainbow Range hike one of the best one day hikes of my life - and that’s saying something considering how many I’ve done over the years.
I can only describe the hike in superlative terms and hope my photos give you some sense of just how awesome it really was.

I first heard about the Rainbow Range after reading British Columbia’s Magazine 50th anniversary issue in 2009 – Top 50 things to do in BC Before You Die. The photo of the Rainbow Range captured my imagination then and I’d have to say that the area’s beauty exceeded my expectations.

The Hike

You spend the first 45 minutes of the hike walking through an old burn that occurred in 2009. I actually think it’s made this section of the trail very beautiful. Wild flowers have proliferated so there are now great swaths of pink fireweed, yellow arnica and a white flower I’m not familiar with. And they’re all set off against a black background so there’s a lot of drama.

Once you’re through the burn then it’s only about 15 more minutes of walking to reach the high alpine and the start of a series of outstanding mountain views. Interestingly horses are allowed on the trail but in no time we lost sight of them in the expanse of the wilderness.
Ninety minutes of hiking provides you with jaw dropping views of the so called Rainbow Mountains as you look ahead; if your turn around you get equally stunning views of the Coast Mountains. Throw in an abundance of wildflower filled meadows and numerous small lakes and tarns with deep blue water and you can understand why I was in hiking heaven. And there wasn’t any evidence of bear scat which made me very happy.

What you need to know

This is truly an off the beaten path hike. You may not see another soul so be prepared to be self sufficient in an emergency.
The hike is accessed off of Highway 20 shortly after entering Tweedsmuir Provincial Park if you’re driving west. Signage is good. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Anahim Lake.
The hike is eight kilometers one way though once you’re in the vicinity of the Rainbow Range you could hike for days.
The vertical gain is approximately 300 meters – quite civilized to get a hike of this quality. The gain is greater if you continue past the last of the cairns.
Camping is possible with obvious campsites situated by a small lake on the trail with a bear proof box provided for your food.
The trail is very well marked with cairns.
This is black and grizzly bear country. Bring bear spray, bear bangers and be bear aware.
Allow at least five hours so you have time to sit and ponder the beauty of the place over your lunch."

Thank you Leigh!!
I absolutely recommend that you go to her actual blog because the photos that accompany her text are stunning and really make all the difference in the world to the story. Particularly the photos of the old burn. For those of you that follow my blog you'll remember my reporting on the fire there when it first started and of course, the evacuations that came out of it. You'll find Leigh's blog at Hike Bike Travel
and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. In the meanwhile, I didn't want to take Leigh's photos so I've added some up on the right of wildflowers to be found here and in the alpine.
August 13
We were out of Internet again yesterday so I'm only just getting this uploaded. Sorry, folks.
We had a lot of smoke roll in yesterday and by yesterday afternoon we could no longer see the mountains. This morning is just as bad but it's mixed with cloud as well as we're seeing a few light raindrops. I've asked around and we've been listening to the radio but no one seems to know where it's coming from. Apparently a bit of smoke haze showed up in Williams Lake this morning so it's a far reaching blanket. I can't smell smoke so presumably there is no fire close by. Although I did smell it when we were blanketed by that smoke from Siberia so I guess smell doesn't mean much. Usually forestry has helicopters out flying when the smoke is this heavy just to see where a fire is or if there are any new ones, but I haven't heard or seen a helicopter since yesterday and I think that's our Initial Attack crew that's based here, so I guess everyone that's supposed to know, knows where all this smoke is coming from..

This is the start of a new week so you'll find last week's blog at August 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!

Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Indian Paintbrush flowers.
Orange and purple mountain flowers.
Purple, yellow and red wild flowers.
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