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
Wilderness Adventures - August, Week 4/2007
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
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of the Day.
The Last Day
everyone. Happy last day of August! Sorry about not getting
anything posted yesterday. I was actually working on a
web site project that required a little creativity and
a long day and late evening. Sometimes I love my job!
I didn't do much besides peek outside on occasion and
every time I did the weather didn't look to have improved
much. I think it actually got up to 18C or a little over
60F but that was short lived. The clouds were pretty low
at times and there was a cold wind roaring around outside.
Just one of those days you kind of ignore and hope
will go away. Lots of people out fishing on the
lake though. Even in with the wind and the chop on the
Andy had to start a fire this morning but the fog rolled
away and it actually turned out to be a pretty nice day.
Big thunderheads keep moving in and out mixed with sun
but there's really no wind, which is always a bonus.
This subject is way out to lunch considering the
season but I thought I would bring it up before I forgot
about it. I don't know how many of you ever watched
Northern Exposure when it used to be on television. It
was a quirky little show 'set' in Alaska about a small
town called Cicily and all the equally quirky characters.
It was always a favorite of mine because many of
the characters had a remarkable resemblance to people
in the Chilcotin.
The odd time I'm able to find a rerun on TV, and the other
night I watched an episode that I think is called "The
Running of the Bulls." Most of the episode is about
how crazy people get just before the ice breaks up on
the river near the town and ends with all the townsmen
undressing and running up the street of Cicily in subzero
temperatures for the benefit of the rest of the townsfolk.
I know. You have to see the show to get it. But what I
found so remarkable was how well they captured the mood,
albeit somewhat exaggerated, of everyone just prior to
Everyone starts going a little stir crazy in this
region as well and for the same reasons.
Breakup always seems like a bad dream far, far away this
time of year, but when you're in it....Winter is all well
and good, especially if you enjoy winter recreational
sports, but once the pristine snow is gone and everything
is dirty and dreary with a spring that drags its feet,
you just can't wait until Mother Nature finally
gets a fire under her skirts and gets on with the melt.
Our signal of an end to the long winter whether there
is snow or mud on the ground, is the ice on Nimpo Lake
breaking up. The same for Anahim Lake. You can't wait
until ice on in December but by the time five long months
has dragged by, you can't wait to see blue water again.
You're looking out the windows I don't know how many times
a day watching for that first sign. Or cruising the shoreline
testing the ice to see if it's candling yet. Everyone's
making predictions on the date for ice out and of course
no one can ever agree when that has actually occurred
because there are so many bays on Nimpo Lake,
and it's always hard to determine when everywhere is free
of ice. Or if there are still a few ice floes in a bay
no one lives on, does it really count?
I can remember when I was a teenager and living near Williams
Lake that you didn't have to live near water for a long
non-spring to drive you crazy. They used to have a big
dance called the Breakup Ball and it was one that
everyone attended, from cops to bankers to loggers.
Especially loggers because they had usually been shut
down by mud and the inability to drive over the logging
roads when the frost started coming out of the ground.
I remember being deliriously happy when Breakup came and
I wasn't the only one. Which is why Northern Exposure's
"Running of the Bulls" makes lots of sense to
me, if to no one else that has never experienced a multitude
It's funny, but sometimes when you've lived in a type
of environment for most of your life, you forget that
other people may not even be able to comprehend your experiences.
I'm sure few people born and raised in Arizona or Texas
have a clue about what I'm talking about. They just
think Canada is the Great White North with long winters,
long nights, and lots of cold. And boy, are they
Wild, Wooly and Windy
certainly could not get away with calling
today a calm one. The wind blasted out of the southwest
for most of the day today bringing some particularly vicious
gusts from time to time. At one point I had to sprint
outside and recover a huge tarp that was headed for adventure
out on Nimpo Lake on the north side of our peninsula,
and grab another tarp that had plastered itself onto a
stump for the moment but threatened to go for an adventure
of its own in the lake on the other side. I stood outside
for awhile and watched Sad Sack bend over double taking
care not to stand anywhere near him. I don't understand
why that tree hasn't uprooted and fallen over yet.
The law of physics says it should have gone over long
ago. It really should be removed but I think Andy gets
a kick out of seeing whether it can make it through yet
another wind. I'll get a kick out of it
should the tree drop onto the top of the canopy on his
truck since he usually parks in its path. It's gonna
be one of those great, "I told you so." moments.
Do you know that people were out on Nimpo Lake fishing
to beat the band today? At least until the wind got really,
really wild. Amazing. Talk about determination!
I can only assume that the fishing must have been fabulous.
The rain hit yesterday evening and dropped nearly 2cm
or about 3/4 of an inch of rain in short order. It was
a bit of a surprise because I didn't think it looked that
moody before the sun went down but when it came, it was
steady, and though it only lasted a couple of hours, it
added up fast.
I was visiting over at Vagabond RV Park yesterday and
ended up talking to some of Lora's customers. They sounded
a little disappointed in the weather and I certainly cannot
blame them. They asked if this was normal for us and of
course we countered vehemently with how beautiful our
summers normally are. You don't expect to have to
be huddled around in a circle trying to have a conversation,
shoulders hunched against the cold wind and coats zipped
up in August.
I feel bad for anyone traveling through those areas in
British Columbia that have had the same lousy summer we've
had. It's a real disappointment to plan your holidays
and make the investment in time and money, only to be
rained on. We're not bad off because we don't have to
go to work every day but my heart goes out to those folks
that only get weekends off and look forward to their summer
On top of all that, it's extremely irritating to have
to watch those buggers on the news down at the PNE in
Vancouver basking in sunshine every day and looking extremely
smug about it. It's supposed to be raining in Vancouver.
That's what Vancouver is known for. Rain. And the Chilcotin
is known for sun. Bugs too admittedly, but more importantly,
sun. I don't know what happened to our
jet stream this year but it's definitely not
where it should be!
At least I'm not the only one complaining about the weather.
I think everyone around here is getting a little fed up
May the Vancouverites that stole our weather get sunburns
Town Trip - Lunar Eclipse
was town day which meant the whole day was shot.
I'm sure there are lots of people living out here that
quite look forward to going to Williams Lake for the day.
I haven't met any yet, though, and I'm definitely not
one of them. I like where I live. I even
like the 200 mile drive in. I just don't look forward
to getting there and can't wait to leave. However, yesterday
we had to drag the trailer in so that we could bring back
rafter material for a new building, (yes, yet another
one), make a bunch of stops here and there, go to an appointment
and do the bulk shop.
The usual town day.
When you're gone for at least twelve hours you can
pretty much write your day off. Which is why I
tried my very, very best but could not make
it past the first third of the lunar eclipse last night.
Where it would normally be a breeze for me to stay up
most of the night, I could only force myself to stay awake
until 2:20 a.m. and then I couldn't wait to fall into
a bed I had left 20 hours before. Andy set his alarm and
got up a few minutes later to watch the eclipse but unfortunately,
some high haze had moved in so nothing was as clear and
sharp as it should have been. He gave up within an hour
and came back to bed. We'll see how the eclipse looks
when it occurs again in February.
It was pretty foggy and nearly at freezing when
we pulled out of the driveway yesterday morning
and it wasn't until we were well out of Nimpo that the
mountains appeared. And upon those mountains lay not a
dusting, but rather a pretty good little dump of fresh
snow. It looked like it was down as far as between 4000
and 5000 feet and although some had melted by the time
we came home, it was still there at higher elevations.
There was one squall after another rolling in over the
mountains all day Sunday, and although none ever came
quite as far east as us, they brought a chill to the air.
Apparently they were dropping snow rather than rain. That's
okay. We usually have snow on the mountains in August.
Today it's felt as though it should be dropping snow here.
It's been really quite chilly and overcast with a cold
breeze. Now it's socked right in and trying to rain. Judging
from the satellite picture on the weather tonight, there's
a nasty system spiraling off the coast of Alaska and funneling
straight onto the north and central coast. That's us.
It's always interesting where your mind goes on a 200
mile drive to Williams Lake over road that you're very
familiar with. I was noticing that the pine trees
are already a foot tall in the Tatla Lake burn.
That occurred in 2003 and it's amazing that there's been
such a terrific regeneration in such a short period of
time. The trees are as thick as hair on a dog's back and
it's apparent that this rainy summer has been nothing
but good for them.
Also in the burn is a lot of highway mix and that
is a great source of ire for me. If you don't
want to read the rant of the day, stop here!
Highway mix is seed which is put together and broadcast
on the fresh scars created along the side of a newly built
highway or road. Mixed in the seed is what I would
call weeds, and in some cases, noxious weeds.
They're popular because they're fast growing, fast spreading,
deep rooted, need little water, and are excellent as a
quick erosion preventative. Those same qualities often
cause the plants to grow quite tall as well as spread
past their allotted spot along the highway and into surrounding
terrain where they choke out native growth. Look a few
hundred yards away from the highway in this
region and you'll rarely see thick ground covers growing
much above six or eight inches in height except where
it's very wet.
As a result of these unnatural plantings of tall plants
along the highway, highways maintenance must come along
at least once a year and mow the edge of the highway.
Makes a lot of sense to plant something that you
have to pay to have mowed annually, doesn't it?
Also in the highway mix is clover and alfalfa. Now that
plant does not grow naturally in this area at all but
the deer love it! So now you have how many hundreds of
thousands, or even millions of dollars, paid out in insurance
claims for accidents or damage caused by deer? And we
plant something they absolutely cannot resist along our
roads and highways. It really makes you wonder how
much thought people and companies actually put into the
long term ramifications of their actions. Or at
least I wonder about it....maybe no one else does....
On the other hand, whether by putting some thought
into it or by lucky accident, the snake fence is an ingenious
invention. Really, it is. If you don't know what
a snake fence is, it's a fence made of logs that can be
built without nails or wire, although some often use one
or the other nowadays. It's difficult to explain a snake
fence so I can only suggest you look at the pictures up
on the right. Like the Buck fence and the Russell fence,
it's a common sight in the Chilcotin and was around long
before the wire fence entered the country.
The bottom row of logs in a snake fence sit on a short
log laid crosswise on the ground. Each row of log sits
on top of the log from the length next to it until the
fence is between four and five feet high, or high enough
to contain cattle or horses. The top log on each row protects
the ones under it from rain and snow, and eventually rots
and sags in the middle. But the beauty of this fence
is that it's as easy as pie to simply cut another log
and lay it in place of the rotten one as needed.
Occasionally a fence builder will peel off one strip of
bark on the log so that the rest falls off in short order,
but rarely will a builder ever bother to peel the entire
Eventually whole lengths of a barbed wire fence needs
to be replaced because the wire rusts, stretches or is
broken by fallen trees and the posts rot off. It's true
that the base forming a snake fence will simply rot slowly
into the ground, but it doesn't matter because you
just keep adding logs to the top. Forever. Or
until the whole lot rots and falls over which has happened
to some snake fences that could be anywhere from fifty
to a hundred years old and haven't been maintained. But
although the initial fence is work intensive, if kept
up with, it could last many lifetimes. Now is that thinking
ahead, or what?
That fence was invented by someone that didn't have
manufactured materials to work with, and by someone that
didn't want to have to keep doing the same job over and
over again. Somehow I don't think that was the
same person that had the bright idea of making up a seed
mix unnatural to an area that has to be mowed and left
in the ditch year after year, after year, after year......
See what strange things you think about on a 200 mile
trip to town?.
Summer Wind Down
seems to be winding down fairly suddenly here. Mind you,
the term 'winding' might indicate a nice slowness
to the ending of summer. Not so. Our wonderful
clear, warm days turned cool in a hurry. It's still quite
warm in the sun, but since the sun has been covered in
fast moving storm clouds off and on for the last few days,
you get to feel the full effects of that chilly fall air.
I shouldn't really complain too loudly. Although it looks
to have been raining periodically over the mountains and
threatens to here, we really haven't gotten much in the
way of moisture lately. I think that everyone is a little
disgruntled because they feel we've been cheated out of
summer. And it's true. You can probably count on both
hands the number of really nice, sunny days we've had
since the beginning of June. And now it looks like
fall is arriving fairly quickly and we haven't even had
a summer yet! I guess all we can hope for is a
long, long gorgeous fall like the one we had last year.
I wouldn't want to hold my breath though.
Actually, our lousy weather and cooler temperatures are
only supposed to be here for another day and then a high
pressure system is supposed to move into the south coast
and bring lots of sun. Now whether it moves far north
enough to give us nice weather or not is another matter.
The weathermen on television don't really concern themselves
too much with predicting weather for any area but the
lower mainland. We're pretty much left to figure that
out for ourselves up here.
The upside is that with such a lousy rainy summer,
next summer has to be a beauty! After all, a rainy
summer is very unusual for this part of the country so
to have two in three years, we're bound to get a nice
one next year. The law of averages says so. At least that's
what I'm counting on. However, you never know what global
warming might throw into the mix or how it may upset the
balance of things.
Another upside of a cool, rainy summer is the lack of
forest fires in our area and that is always a good thing!
Complain as though we might, we're really far better off
to have rainy summers for the next few years until the
mountain pine beetle epidemic has slowed. Oh, and what
did I mention before? Nimpo Lake is as clean as a whistle
with little or no algae to be seen. So, see? It's true.
You can find a silver lining in every cloud.....And there's
certainly lots of clouds out there to choose from....lol.
I just did the calculations on the amount of rain
I recorded from the first part of June to last weekend.
I'm not sure how much moisture may have been lost to evaporation
in my rain guage while we were gone up north this summer,
but in two and a half months we have seen 12.5 inches
or 32cm of rain. That's a pile of moisture for
this area! Small wonder everything is so green and lush
I think that temperatures got up to 16C or about 60F yesterday
but I don't think they're going to get anywhere near that
today. You never know though. It got down to 5C last night
which means it was probably freezing away from the lake.
We've been covering the little cherry tomatoes on the
deck every night now because you just know that one night.....
I spoke to friends that were down fishing on the
Atnarko River in the Bella Coola Valley last weekend.
They had a wonderful time fishing for Pinks (Salmon) saying
they were easy to catch and there were loads of them in
the river. As for us? We had good Nimpo Lake rainbow
trout off the barbecue for supper last night.
Andy went out and got a couple, one being good sized and
really nice and fat. There have been five or six boats
out on the lake the last couple of days, more than usual,
and I think the fishing continues to be really good.
Although I can't speak for Anahim Lake, although I imagine
the situation is the same, Nimpo Lake is not seeing
the pressure from fishermen as it did in years past
so going out for an hour and getting fish for supper just
isn't that hard to do.
Most people that come here for vacation now come
for relaxation, to get away from the sensory overload
of cell phones, computers, their blackberries and day
timers. To get a break from driving several hours in city
traffic to and from work every day and just get a break
from the grind and noise of the city and a whole lot of
people. Getting fish isn't necessarily their top priority
anymore. Peace and quiet is.
This area can certainly offer that. Point at any
lake on a map in the Chilcotin that you can be flown into,
and your chances of seeing another person during your
stay are slim to none. Even most lakes that you
can drive to in this region are sparsely populated. A
far cry from the city. But then again, I doubt you hear
very many loons in the city. I was just reading that loons
are an important telltale sign of the health of a lake
as well as the tranquillity. We have loads of loons but
I'm not sure they're following all of the rules since
it's not terribly tranquil when one of the floatplanes
is getting ready to take off. The loons let everyone know
of their disapproval but it certainly doesn't discourage
them from being here. Speaking of which, they're grouping
up quite a bit now. The adults will be preparing to migrate
soon while the younger ones will be much longer in going.
I've added a few more pictures up on the right of
our trip to northern British Columbia. Extraordinary
emerald colored Muncho Lake always deserves mention. I
put up a picture of a caribou along the Alaska Highway
that was not bothered by us at all compared to ones we
saw before it. I mention it because we noticed that the
color of their hides up there is very dark and looks like
grey velvet. Their coloring is completely different
from our caribou here. We didn't know if it's
because they evolved to blend in better with the rock
and alpine landscape in their part of the country or if
there was a different reason for their amazing coloring.
They seem much smaller too, although it's hard to say.
We may have just been seeing the younger animals eating
road salt along the shoulder of the road.
You'll see that I finally started a new week. I just realized
that I had a pile of pictures on the other page so I hope
it didn't slow load time down for too many people. You
can find last week's articles, including the last of our
trip up north, at August
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!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!