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Wilderness Adventures - August, Week 3/2006

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.

31/08/2006 8:55 PM

Bear Tracks Again

The last day of August is going to have a little of everything. The last subject of the day comes first. We went walking in the woods again tonite and I saw bear tracks In the same place as before. This time he wasn't crossing the trail, but rathering following it ahead of us. because it's so dry and the trail is almost like talcum powder in places, the bear's tracks were as clear as a bell and pretty darned fresh. Big as well. I couldn't see in the dust the tell tale signs of grizzly claws but they look more like black bear tracks to me. If they were grizzly tracks, it would be a small to medium animal, but since I'm almost certain they're black bear, then it's a very good sized animal. And not the least bit shy about walking over recent human and dog tracks. We followed his tracks for a little while before the ground got harder, me with one hand in the pocket holding firecrackers, and both of us talking louder. Of course if anything untoward ever happened, most people would say, "Why in heck's name would you keep on following the trail if you know a bear may be ahead of you?" Well, you know those horror shows where the music and the shadows and the creepiness cues you, the audience, that the monster is just around the corner and you're yelling at the screen to the dumb blonde walking nonchalantly into its den? Well...we can't hear any music....besides, it's our woods and we'll walk there if we want to. (It's my party and I'll ......) I know, I know.
Of course then there's the dogs. We let them sniff the tracks and while River backs away a bit, Mocha is a black lab and that means that's she doesn't have the brains that God gave a pea. Nice dog, but not smart and just the kind that would run into a bear and then politely bring it right back to you. Then there's River, the Rottweiler cross. It's a toss up as to whether he would defend the realm or trip you up because he's trying to tuck his horse sized body between your legs. In any case, if I'm walking alone in the near future, I'll probably stick to the road.
This morning, it was 21 degrees F. or about -6 C. at Caribou Flats just south of Nimpo Lake this morning. I don't know what it was here at dawn but I don't imagine it was much above freezing, even with the warming influence of the lake. I know I had to build a fire again last night. This is always an awkward time of year, much like spring. It's hotter than Hades in the house during the day because the sun is blasting through the windows, but it chills right down at night. Same with how you dress. Make sure it's in layers because you'll be peeling them off and putting them on with the wide temperature variations.
I noticed yesterday on the way to Anahim Lake that a local rancher's horse and trailer were on the side of the highway and a number of cows were trailing up inside the fence line. While it's too soon for the cattle to come in off open range, some ranchers do a fall gather to move animals to better pasture, better water, pull in calves, or any other number of reasons. Those cattle looked to be in a hurry to get to that trailer so there must have been some incentive, anyway. That frosty feel in the air might have been one.
The weatherman is still calling for more hot, sunny weather over the long weekend. Whether it quite reaches us or not will be another matter. We seem to be riding right on the edge of the front. But, at least we don't live in Tofino. Poor buggers! The mayor says they only have another ten days and the town will be completely out of water and they will have to start shipping in water for hospitals and other emergency services. This all happening in arguably the wettest place in British Columbia, normally recording about 10 feet of rain a year. Yes, I said 10 feet. Apparently many of the businesses and private citizens have offered to put out the money for trucks to bring in water but they have to get the agreement of the nearest town and its folk, about a half hour's drive away and who right now have people guarding their fire hydrants from water trucks parked nearby. Wow, shades of Mad Max! I really feel badly for the businesses, but on the other hand I'm like much of British Columbia's news audience, I'm just watching with awe as this whole soap opera unfolds. Hard to believe this could be happening to a place smack dab in the middle of rainforest, but then again, we're in the middle of the largest pine beetle epidemic ever, and I think you might want to look at global warming for the cause. Whether caused by people or a natural phenomena or both (I favor the latter) I believe global warming is here to get worse so we had better be getting used to the possible consequences.
30/08/2006 5:20 PM

Brrrr. A Wee Chilly In The Chilcotin!

Such a contrast between last week's weather and now. Today had that distinct fall feel. In other words, it was nippy. Yesterday morning it froze but it still wasn't quite as chilly as it has been all day today. Big thunderheads have built up over and over today but still no rain.
Vancouver has had one out of the ten driest years since record keeping began down on the lower mainland and Tofino's businesses, including resorts and lodges, have been ordered to shut off all water and send their travellers elsewhere by Thursday. That means that all of the businesses that rely on tourism will lose out on one of the best weekends of the year, the Labour Day weekend. Talk about poor planning on the part of city council! Tofino is on the Island, surrounded by ocean and rainforest. It seems hard to believe that their water reservoir is nearly empty, but they haven't received a drop of rain in two full months. Highly unusual to say the least.
A place called the Wickannish Inn, rated one of seven top resorts in the world, is among those required to close down and send their guests elsewhere. Since many of their guests are from all over the world and are enroute to the Inn, the logistics of successfully contacting everyone in time for them to make alternative arrangements would be a horror show. Living in two communities such as Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake that rely heavily on summer and fall vacationers, I can certainly sympathize with Tofino's situation. The mayor suggested that it would take two full days of rain to start to replenish the reservoir, and since there is absolutely no sign of rain in the forecast, I think the area may be in trouble.
I heard this morning that two fires across the border in Washington State have joined up and some of the fire has now moved into Canada around Osoyoos. So much for British Columbia not doing too badly for forest fires this summer. When we can't produce our own, we import them! Lol.
29/08/2006 4:04 PM

Property Sold On Nimpo Lake

Properties are still selling in the area and that's not surprising considering the location and views. A residential property overlooking Nimpo Lake on the main arm with a couple of tiny cabins has sold to a lady from California, as I understand it. The 3.7 acre piece sits up on a hill above the lake and has a magnificent view of the Coastal Mountain Range. That's the beauty of most of the properties around Nimpo Lake. Each and every one has a different view and having a piece of waterfront on one of the prettiest lakes in the country listed as the "Floatplane Capital of British Columbia" is a bonus. Especially if you like fishing! For more properties, check out the Property for Sale page. Or, if you're interested in a commercial venture, we have some commercial properties for sale in the area, including a really beautiful RV and Camping property right on Nimpo Lake with a spectacular view at. Commercial Properties for Sale . The owners would really like to retire so come on folks, check it out!
No rain yet today. Sigh....Cloudy though, so I'm still hoping. A bunch of the guys are up in the mountains improving snowmobile trails again today. They work hard at it here, but just think how awesome it's going to be this winter when we all go out sledding! And don't forget, if you're interested in cross country skiing, the owner of the Dean on Nimpo has a great network of trails that he tracks and maintains in the winter for anyone that would like to use them. Escott Bay on Anahim Lake also has a vast series of ski trails and rents skis. There are also the cross country ski trails up in the Rainbow Mountains that are easily accessed or if you like, make your own trails.
Funny how the air gets a little tiny chill in it and we all start thinking of winter recreation already even though we're still in the season for some great summer activities including fishing, photography, hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing or just reading a book and enjoying the view. It's just that this region has so much to offer, it's hard to pick a favorite season.
I've been seeing a lot of deer tracks on my walks in the woods lately, which is unusual. A few people have mentioned that they are seeing more and more deer in the area, including Whitetail deer when we normally only have Mule deer here. I'm still seeing lots of moose tracks so it's not like they're being pushed out by an increased population of deer. Not yet anyway. I also ran across another set of bear tracks the other day. Smaller than the set I saw the week before so either there is a sow and cub wandering around or two different sets of bears. There are lots and lots of berries this year, even with the long, hot summer so they don't lack for chow.
Okay, so this was a mish mash Tuesday with a quick mix of subjects, so I'll end on that note. Until tomorrow, or the next
28/08/2006 9:14 PM

Wicked, Wicked Winds

Whew Wee!! We ended up with a real blow here today. We may get breezes and we may even get winds, but today a wind came up out of no where that must have been in sympathy with Hurricane Ernesto or something!
I had just returned from picking up the mail at Nimpo when Andy pointed out the flying red pine needles as I dodged and dashed inside trying to avoid the pelting. The needles were flying off the trees like snow and the smaller trees were bent right over. The wind was whipping up some pretty good whitecaps on Nimpo Lake and I ran out onto the upper deck in front to rescue a pair of trousers hanging over the railing before they sailed into NeverNever land. I was listening at various things banging just trying to think if there was anything around the yard we needed to tie down or secure when I could hear this little boat motor just screaming over the sound of the winds. "Oh," I joked to Andy, "Someone's trying to get in off the lake in a hurry!" Then I thought, "You know, that just doesn't sound right." Those rollers on Nimpo Lake were screaming in from the southwest and you would hear a boat slapping the waves as it came in but with the wind behind it, you shouldn't even hear a boat motor. Andy had just joined me on the deck and was telling me how a small floatplane had been trying to land down at the Wilderness Rim end of the lake just before I arrived when we finally saw the source of the motorboat noise. Here was our neighbour fighting her way across the bay in front of us headed for home, her little dog balancing for dear life in the prow of the small boat. She had the nose of the boat into the wind but that motor was screaming pretty good just to give her what little headway she was getting. She turned the boat sideways momentarily, I think to see if she could come in and skirt the shore and we waved wildly at her but the waves were slapping her boat around pretty badly. The next time she got pushed sideways I waved toward our boat launch while Andy dashed back through the house and headed down there. I was relieved to see her head in and locked up our dogs so her dog could bail out of the boat as soon as she tied up. I think she was pretty darned relieved too because she was afraid the boat was going to flip every time she got pushed sideways especially since she had to go farther out of the bay against the wind to get home. I think the girl was really taken by surprise because when she started out from over at the Dean it was pretty calm but when she rounded our point, she knew she was in for it.
I would never normally say that Nimpo Lake was a dangerous lake or even one where you get unexpected winds as you do on so many larger lakes, but flipping a boat certainly was a real possibility today! It didn't take very long and the water and wind calmed down substantially but we sure have a good coating of red pine needles on the roads, trails and in the yard now. We were expecting a weather system to move in today and were really hoping for rain. All we got were those high winds until the front moved through but at least we got no lightning.
This morning we woke to a smoky smell outside and there was a faint haze in the air from a fire somewhere, but the wind blew the haze out in a hurry this afternoon and this evening calm water gave us a good opportunity to watch for beaver and take some pictures of loons. Hopefully, it will rain tomorrow. It's our last chance because there's another high moving in from the coast Wednesday and it's supposed to be hot and dry through the Labour Day Weekend.

26/08/2006 8:21 PM

Anahim Lake Event

Well folks, I missed the boat today. I was running around doing some business today and had to meet with a few different people when it occurred to me that it should be around the 26th. of August. I asked the owners' daughter at the Country Inn Motel in Nimpo if the Anahim Lake Rodeo was on today and yes, indeed it was. Except that by this time it was three in the afternoon and by the time I rushed home, got a camera and roared to Anahim Lake, (not too fast because there was one of our Finest sitting with a radar gun on one of the corners) it was too late Ethel! There wasn't a vehicle left in the parking lot at the Stampede Grounds. I moseyed on to Anahim Lake Trading where I had more business to do and found that I was at least an hour too late and there's nothing going on tomorrow.
The regular Anahim Lake Stampede in mid July was cancelled because of the forest fire down on the Dean. I guess community members got together and decided to hold a small gymkhana for local competitors this weekend, but nothing too big. It's a shame because the Stampede usually draws a large crowd and riders from all over the rodeo circuit but where the date in July might be on everyone's agenda, rescheduling when you have rodeo dates elsewhere would be next to impossible.
In any case, I completely missed out on pictures of barrel racing and what have you, and can only hope I can get to next year's major event for pics.
Today was another glorious day in the West Chilcotin. Both Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake baked under clear skies and temperatures that were getting up there. I think that the only thing saving us from forest fires right now is that we are getting late enough into fall to have cool nights and heavy dew or light frost in the mornings. We are supposed to get a system in from the Coast Monday or Tuesday. If it brings lightning, then hopefully it will bring rain right behind it because those woods are dry, dry, dry. It's expected to turn clear and hot again by the end of the week so we're hoping for a soaker mid-week.
Interestingly, one thing that may not have occurred to a lot of people is that not only are our beetle killed pine in its red stage a serious fire danger, but can you imagine how many inches of brittle red pine needles are going to be laying on the forest floor for the next few years once they start dropping from the trees?
Great friends of ours from Quesnel that we snowmobiled with this spring are fourwheeling and hiking up on Perkins Peak this weekend. I really envy them! They were up last fall and took some great pictures that I've taken the liberty of using on this web site. Miner Lake is about 45 minutes or less from Nimpo Lake and is a good camping spot or staging area for heading up onto the mountain. There's an old mine up there and some cool old equipment abandoned long, long ago and lots of alpine to hike. Although we may not get up there this fall, we're going to make a concerted effort to go snowmobiling up there this winter. So just to remind all of you that would like to visit the West Chilcotin, we've got great activities and places to go whether it's winter or summer!
Last but not least, another property listed on the Properties For Sale page has sold. There are more in the area that need to be listed but I just have to find time to track people and pictures down.

24/08/2006 5:32 PM

Making Trail

A bunch of guys went up on the mountain today to make some trail. Making trail with fourwheelers in the alpine is a tricky thing. The ground up there is very delicate and it took thousands of years of erosion just to grind down enough rock to make a thin layer of soil. Mosses, lichens and low growing alpine plants grow among rocks at higher altitudes here, and are easily disturbed so if you want to access the high country, you have to do it carefully.
We snowmobile up in this area quite a bit in the winter but it can be a real pickle building trail on a snowmobile when there's a lot of snow. You can't stop then because your sled will probably sink out of sight and the whole bunch of you will end up spending the rest of the day digging out. But there are quite a few places on our way up on the mountain that need trail improvement, especially for novices or even when there's deep powder and a trail hasn't been packed down yet for the winter.
We often get together, load up saws and a lunch and spend the day improving our snowmobile trails lower down because there usually isn't so much snow that you have to worry about getting stuck. Up high, it's a much different story, hence the reason for today's work party. It's been an extremely dry summer and one of the few years where you can access the higher country without getting bogged down in creek bottoms and meadows. As it is, it's a narrow window with August being about the only month you can get far on a fourwheeler.
There's also the secrecy issue. It's necessary to keep the work party small and not let anyone else know where the four wheel trail is. The last thing you want up in the alpine is group after group of fourwheelers tearing up the ground up in the mountains because it would take a hundred years for it to repair itself. No, this is strictly for improving the snowmobile trails, not for fun. And then only because snowmobiles do little or no damage to the alpine because the snow is generally so deep.
The guys took pictures of the Lonesome Lake burn up there. You know, we have pictures taken in the winter but you don't realize the true devastation and just how hot that fire is until you see it in the summer. In some places the forest fire was so hot that it literally burned the soil and two years later nothing grows in it. Eventually the fireweed and wild grasses will take root here and there, spread throughout and there'll be undergrowth to protect new evergreen seedlings. But where that usually happens by the next spring after a fire, this area is going to take much, much longer to recover. Take a look at some of the photos on the right where the Lonesome Lake Fire swept through compared to where it didn't. By the way, the elevation is between 5,500 and 6,500 feet in some of these pictures.
Speaking of forest fires, we've been hearing a lot more about the Dean fire since we got home this summer. Apparently some of the old, experienced helicopter and fixed wing pilots said they've never seen a fire move that fast or burn that hot. At one point they estimated the fire to be moving toward Anahim Lake at the rate of 2 km. per hour. A Cat, fourwheeler and other equipment were burned up while the taillights on a lo-bed truck and the windows of an excavator were melted down. They say had Mother Nature not come along and helped firefighters to get the fire under control, the two hour evacuation notice for Anahim Lake would not have been enough. One of the resort owners near the fire said that he was trying to fly out to get fire pumps to bring back to the resort, and everywhere he flew there was smoke from new fires started by lightning strikes. Maybe it was just as well we weren't here. That way the fire was under control before we even heard about it while up north, and we didn't have time to worry..

23/08/2006 9:00 PM

Floatplanes And Meetings

Today was a meeting day and I turned down a seat on a float plane for a sightseeing trip. Which was kind of a bummer because it would have been an awesome photo opportunity. Except that as usual, I didn't have my camera with me and probably not enough time to go home and get it. And to be up in the sky above the West Chilcotin without a camera is kind of like being at the Emmy Awards without a shirt on.
I attended a meeting today involving the tourist operators and community business owners. With some initiative, cooperation, money, good communication and organization, we may be able to get some funding and help with promoting our area to visitors a little better. Rich Hobson with his three books about this area and Ralph Edwards at Lonesome Lake with his two, have probably done more to promote this area in the last 50 years than any other advertising. But I think those coattails are getting a little tired and we really need to move with the times. Some signs, improvements, a visitor kiosk or centre and agressive marketing would go a long way to improving our standing as a travel destination. Alaska, and even the Yukon have us beat there by a long shot. This has never been a real tinsel town 'touristy' place because we've long relied on the area's natural beauty to sell it and the people here are pretty real. I think most visitors to the area like it that way. But maybe many more would come if we glitzed things up a bit. I don't know. But there's nothing like brainstorming new ideas to get you all fired up about moving ahead with outlining goals and then achieving them. Unfortunately, you usually have to do a reality check. Very few people are able to volunteer their time in this country, especially in the summer when everyone is in their busy season. We just don't have the manpower or the resources to jump into a new project with both feet. Hopefully, our new connection will succeed in mentoring the three communities of Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake and Tatla Lake and help push us into the 21st. century.
After the meeting broke up the folks that set up the meeting were going on a sightseeing trip with Tweedsmuir Air around supper time and one seat was available because someone decided to not go flying. Much as I would like to have gone up, as I mentioned above, there was no point without a camera. And I have the opportunity to go up with friends and family any time I ask so it doesn't seem fair to take up a paid seat.
Just found out the folks that went flying had a nice, smooth, two hour ride and got to see our beautiful region. I hope they were duly impressed because this part of British Columbia really is spectacular!
22/08/2006 9:53 PM

Unbelievable Lottery News Item

You know...since when did people stop taking responsibility for themselves? I guess when it's just too lucrative a business.
I actually wasn't going to write tonite because it's been a busy, but productive day and we were out until late this evening still trying to scare off the local beaver population, but I just saw a news item that made me see red.
Some fool from Quebec is suing the local newspaper because he thought he had one of four winning lottery tickets for last week's 649 draw based on the numbers the newspaper had printed. This idiot thought he had won $10 million of the $42 million because three tickets were known to be sold in Ontario and one in Quebec and the Quebec winner had not yet come forward. He and his wife were busy spending the money in their minds and, who knows, possibly for real, before verifying the numbers.
He contacted the newspaper and they told him that the numbers were reprinted from the week before and were a mistake. But the newspaper has a disclaimer telling people that any numbers printed are not the official numbers and should be verified. The disclaimer is widely used because I have seen it in my local newspapers and on web sites when I have checked my own ticket numbers.
Unfortunately, this slime must have seen an opportunity in suing the newspaper even as he saw 'his' $10 million slip away. Who knows, he may well have known that his numbers were wrong if he verified them from another source first, else why call the newspaper to verify the numbers rather than the lottery centre unless he was already trying to cover all the steps? Said slime ball has hired a bottom feeder of a lawyer that has a marked resemblance to a disheveled Miss Piggy. Miss Piggy has declared that on the behalf of Slime Ball, she will be suing the newspaper for a large sum for the 'pain' and 'suffering' caused to Slime Ball because he thought he had won all this money.
Pleeeze....give me a freaking break! From what I could gather, all this 'pain' and 'suffering' happened in the space of only a few hours.
The remarkable thing about this low life is that he's actually middle aged and should know better than to think the world owes him a living! Oh, did I mention he's a car salesman? And obviously a con. Bet you want to buy a car from him, don't you? Personally, I hope he and his wife spent a bunch of money that they didn't have, the lawyer skins him for a snootful, which you can bet she will, the judge throws the case out and Slime Ball has to pay all court costs. Best thing that could happen to someone like that!
I am so glad I live in my own little corner of the world. I don't think I would care to have a con artist like Slime Ball for a neighbour. Our Canadian justice system is backed up enough without garbage suits such as this being permitted.

Check out last week's articles at Aug Week Two.
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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!
Small log fence.
Mountain behind burn.
Inukshuk in the mountains.
Alpine hills and Coast Mountain Range.
Floatplane with yellow canoe.
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