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Wilderness Adventures - August Week Three

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.
21/08/2005 11:27 AM

Weather Patterns

Is our weather moving north? After watching the news this weekend I really have to speculate whether the entire North American weather pattern has moved northward. Even today we have a slow drizzle which is very unusual for this country, especially this time of year. Other than for the the hot, dry two weeks of weather this summer, ours has been cool with mixed cloud and sun. More like the weather that Vancouver and Victoria normally has. Meanwhile, they've just been burning up with hot, dry weather, as has Washington and Oregon, almost as though they are getting the weather that the southwestern states would get this time of year. The southwestern states have been getting even hotter temps than usual and summer weather that Mexico normally sees. In the east in Ontario, they've had tornados touch down and do lots of damage and unbelievable flooding with up to 7 inches of rain in one day! That's weather you would normally see in the midwest and southern states. Flooding is not that common in Canada and tornadoes, much less really destructive ones, are even rarer, yet we're seeing lots of both this year. One blessing with our Anahim, Nimpo Lake region is that we really don't get disasterous weather. In fact, it's quite moderate. The Chilcotin Plateau really doesn't suffer from flooding. We obviously never see tornados or hurricanes and few thunderstorms. The weather usually doesn't get extremely hot, and even the winters are no longer extremely cold. We don't get a lot of rain, or snow, and rarely get a hailstorm of any note. Tsunami's or tidal waves are not a worry for us because we have the entire Coastal Range between us and the Pacific Ocean, we're not on any seismic faults, and although we are located in the Anahim Volcanic Ring, it is not an active one. So other than forest fire danger, we're pretty much in a natural disaster free zone. Gotta like that! If you would like to know more about the area's weather, you can go to the Weather page.
20/08/2005 8:43 PM

Forestry Awareness Day

Successful day. The event was held at the planermill reman plant between Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake. The food was excellent. Wonderful steaks with corn on the cob, baked potatoes, salads, buns and bannock. There were lots of steaks left over. Mine was done to perfection which means it was still mooeing. There were horseshoes and axe throwing. The axe throwing was a lot more difficult than it looked. It was a short handed double bitted axe and was still heavy enough that you had to grasp the handle with both hands and throw. Any that tried to throw one handed didn't go far. Most of the time, the axe would just hit the log face and bounce off because the point of the edge didn't bite into the wood. And I suspect the target wood had been around for awhile. That being the case, the wood would be so hard it would be like iron. It was fun to watch in any case. The speeches were short and sweet, which was nice. I got to have a long conversation with an old teacher of mine from nearly 30 years ago who is now our local MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) and represents our area in the British Columbia government. He was a good teacher. Hopefully he'll be as good a politician.
One of the mill guides and someone else were on the catwalk at my station when it broke and tore out all the wiring underneath. So I have a different system to get used when I go back to work tomorrow night. Lucky me, second shift is ending after next week because the price of lumber is so low. Might be down for a couple of months. Which would be great because hunting season is coming up in September and that is when I get a lot of calendar orders with my graphics business. I want to fire back to Saskatchewan this fall to check on my whitetail deer and I really need to work some more on my web sites. Wilderness Rim's really needs updating so it's first on the list. I would like to expand this site as well, so fall will be busy.

19/08/2005 1:40 PM

Short Friday

Little of this, little of that. I went a little overboard on a couple of these articles and my page is filling up fast! So today I'll just cover some quick points. Weather is overcast and a little breezy in Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake and Tatla Lake so I expect we have another weather system coming in. The West Chilcotin Forest Products Forest Awareness Day is on today. They started with tours of the bush and mills this morning and I hope their weather was pleasant enough for that. One lady from the planer mill is taking lots of photos today so that she can put together a slide show for next year. I hope to scoop a few of her photos for future use, including for redoing the WCFP web site. It's a little outdated and needs a new look. Actually it's a lot outdated but it was the first web site I built before I even went to school for this business and I am waiting for new photos and text before starting on a spiffier design. I really wanted to title today's article with "The Bugs are Dead! The Bugs are Dead!" but didn't know what kind of reaction I would get from the search engines. Kind of sounds a little like "The witch is dead!" in Wizard of Oz, doesn't it? At the base of all our mountain pine beetle infested trees is a pile of sawdust and in the sawdust is a lot of dead beetles. These were all trees that were injected as mentioned in previous articles. The same has happened on the neighbour's property and he's literally dancing with delight. And trust me, he doesn't dance! Sap seems to be healing some of the holes created by the beetles which shows the trees are still alive, and producing sap in an effort to defend themselves. That's a good sign. However, until we can take a walk out into the woods and check at the base of trees that have not been injected with the insecticide, there's really no way of knowing whether dying after a period of time is a natural phenomenon for these critters, or whether we really are successfully battling them. We'll see. If so, a proactive approach seems to work. Because heretofore, all we've seen is negativity on the part of Forestry and experts in the field, and hopelessness on the part of everyone else. I'll let you know if they have reason to feel that way.
18/08/2005 1:26 PM

Enthusiasm Truly is a Gift

And contagious! I had the pleasure of a long phone conversation with Cora Blackwell about her business - True North Expediting. She offers a shuttle service from the Anahim Lake Airport, as well as to and from other locations in the area. She has a fourteen passenger van that she will charter for you to your destination of choice and she handles freight pickup. But what's really exciting is her vision for the future. She sees the demographics of tourism changing from the traditional family or male fishing groups to a more varied one. Many people now like to come to this region for mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, river rafting, hiking, bird watching and wildlife watching in summer and heli skiing, downhill and cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling in winter. There is a real need for interpretive guides and charters for the area. We do have the flight charter service that offers endless opportunity for sightseeing, but with the rising cost of fuel, some young families may find it takes a fair chunk of their vacation budget. But there are many, many fascinating and beautiful areas within driving distance. It's just that quite a few of the visitors to the region don't know where to go or would like a guide and transport to these spots. Bella Coola is less than two hours from Anahim Lake. On the way is the old Tote Road. From there you can hike into Hunlen Falls, a breathtaking 1000 foot freefalling waterfall and the third highest in Canada. In Tweedsmuir Park, there are several hiking trails, both long and short, as well as the opportunity to fish on the Atnarko and Bella Coola Rivers and the chance to see lots of wildlife, including Grizzly Bear. Klemtu offers bear watching, ocean kayaking, canoeing and has a native intrepretive centre where there is drumming and dancing. There are the ancient petryglyphs and the Bella Coola marina. From there you can charter a fishing boat or you can catch the ferry back down the coast. There is the hiking trail before the 'Hill' into the Rainbow Mountains where you can walk for a few hours, or take a tent and hike in for days. There are numerous lakes in the area where you might like to go for the day, and certainly this shuttle bus could accommodate you in that regard. Recently Cora picked up two people from the airport with their mountain bikes in boxes and drove them to Tatla Lake where they assembled their bikes and went on their way hoping to find the trail to Whistler over an 8000 foot pass. Quite an adventure to say the least, and a long trek. As Cora proceeds with her vision, she may be able to help vacationers like the bikers understand the kind of country they are getting into, where to go, and how to cope with the unforseen. I think there's a strong need for people like Cora and what she can offer to our visitors in the future. If you are interested in chartering with True North Expediting, you can reach Cora at 1-250-742-3508.
17/08/2005 1:49 PM

Four Wheeling

There is an initiative being put forth right now regarding Off Road Vehicle Licensing & Registration. This initiative is intended to promote responsible use of off road vehicles which includes fourwheelers, motorcycles and snowmobiles. ORV's can cause a negative impact on such sensitive ecosystems such as grasslands, wetlands and alpine areas; disturb wildlife or livestock; aid in dispersal of invasive plants; or disrupt other public or commercial recreation users. Certainly this is an important consideration. But I am concerned about some of the points mentioned in the initiative such as:
Establishment of a Trust Fund for ORV Recreation: to include funds for Education, Safety, Trail Development & Maintenance, Enforcement and Conservation and Stewardship.
* Safety and operator requirements
* Designating trails and recognizing a trail pass system
* Securing opportunities for motorized and non-motorized recreation use, and resolving conflicts
* Highway crossings for trail use
* Liability insurance
* Use restrictions to protect sensitive wildlife, ecosystems and habitats
* Compliance and enforcement
* Implementation, including phasing-in aspects of a stewardship strategy
Most of which sounds quite benign. However, start looking a little closer. Right now we have to pay our money and take a course just to operate a small boat on the lake. Is the same going to be required of ORV's when they talk of safety and operator requirements? Am I to be required to pass a test to operate a snowmobile? That, is ridiculous. By designating trails, are we then required to stay on trails? This means that we can't go off the trails without penalty? There isn't much point in snowmobiling or four wheeling is there? We are already insuranced to death and costs just keep rising. I have liability insurance on my off road machines under a rider on the home insurance. But a separate insurance seems like just another money grab. The scariest part is the use restrictions to 'protect sensitive wildlife, ecosystems and habitat'. We have committees and clubs that battle the environmentalists and Parks constantly just to maintain the right to use traditional ORV areas. Passing any law giving them more right to close us out could have dire consequences on tourism. So much of this country is inaccessible by any but plane, horseback or off road vehicles. If the environmentalists and biologists had their way, we would all only be allowed on the highways. And I don't see where out of province or country recreationists have been addressed. Will there be a temporary licensing structure for them? How will it be established? I agree that our environment is very important, but I think that there is room for both without it being structured and government controlled as so much of our lives are now.
16/08/2005 12:46 PM

Weather and Bears

Mix and Match Tuesday means a little of everything. We've had smoke making the mountains a little hazy for the last few days. Yesterday it rolled in a lot lower. I called my sister at the Cariboo Fire Centre in Williams Lake yesterday to see if we had a forest fire nearby. She'd been sent to the Kootenays where they've had a huge fire burning out of control near Castlegar, but I talked to another dispatcher that said there were actually no fires to speak of in the Cariboo Fire District which was quite a surprise considering the dry weather. What we were getting was probably smoke from the Pemberton fire a few hundred miles away. The situation may have changed after yesterday, however. We got a lot of lightning last night, with only spotty rain showers in the region. It rained heavily in Nimpo Lake last night, but not at all where I was working at the mill half way between Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake. On the way home last night I could see a blood red glow on the horizon to the east but haven't seen or heard anything since. Heavy overcast today and cool temperatures which may put a damper on any fire that may have been started by lightning.
There seems to be more grizzly bears around this year. A grizzly sow and two cubs have been spotted several times around Nimpo Lake Resort. A sow with one cub has been seen several times in broad daylight poking around Two Mile Gas Bar just outside of Anahim Lake, and there's a grizzly sow with two cubs up on the BeefTrail. The cooler, rainier weather we enjoyed earlier this summer may have been why they weren't driven up into the higher alpine they prefer. A few ranchers found calves dead this spring and I know a fellow up at Morrison Meadows has had problems with grizzlies for years. For the most part though, they are a shy animal and tend to mind their own business. The Bella Coola valley offers lots of opportunity to see and photograph grizzly bears since it has one of the highest grizzly populations in western Canada. The Bella Coola and Atnarko river salmon runs draw the bears much they way it does in Alaska. Although I've seen quite a few grizzly, I never carried a camera so I have no personal photos of them. I've taken to packing a camera everywhere with me now and hope to get a picture to post. In the meanwhile, I've got pictures courtesy of Ken Stranaghan of Bella Coola. For more on the wildlife in the area, check out the Wildlife page or the Wildlife Gallery .

15/08/2005 1:02 PM

British Columbia Forest Industry

Some quick facts and figures relating to the mountain pine beetle. According to COFI, The mountain pine beetle epidemic in British Columbia is the largest forest insect infestation in Canada’s history. As of fall, 2004, they are estimated to have affected 283.5 million m³ of timber, spread over an area larger than the size of Sweden. The start of the current mountain pine beetle infestation in B.C.'s central Interior can be traced back to 1993. and the mountain pine beetle outbreaks develop regardless of property lines. They can appear in mountain subdivisions, backyards and municipal parks the same as in wilderness areas. The mountain pine beetle in B.C. is as far-ranging as Fort St. James to the north; Cranbrook to the east; Houston to the west; and Manning Park, located between Hope and Princeton, to the south. The direction and spread rate of a beetle infestation is impossible to predict exactly. In addition to B.C. and Alberta, the mountain pine beetle can be found in 12 western American states, and even Mexico. The beetle infestation will have economic implications in the future for 30 communities around the province and 25,000 families in British Columbia are having their livelihoods impacted by the beetle infestation. I don't think studies have even begun to realize the import of the impact on both lumber and tourism in the region. More importantly, I think that you are going to see some long term effects environmentally. Although the area affected is not as huge as the rain forest in South America, I think that the loss of this many oxygenating trees in such a short period could easily have the impact that burning of the rain forest has. Locally, on a provincial level, I think that you will see some climate changes. There will definitely be more wind from the Pacific without the pine buffer zone. That in turn will knock down unprotected trees. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the next 10 years.
Just to let you know, this is the start of a new week, so stories from last week can be found at August2.


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!
A beautiful, reflective day out fishing on the lake
 
One axe-throwing competitor throws the axe with finesse. Still didn't hit the target though.
 
Charter a trip to Bella Coola
 
Charter True North to go hiking
 
Having lunch in a meadow in the mountains on fourwheelers
 
Large Grizzly in Bella Coola photo courtesy of Ken Stranaghan
 
Three grizzlies photo courtesy of Ken Stranaghan
 
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