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Wilderness Adventures - August, Week 4/2008

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' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


29/08/2008 8:05 PM

More Rain

We got an absolute downpour today....again. It started early this morning and poured off and on all day. We got over an inch of rain and I know it made our gravel road so greasy that I was sliding around the corners on my way out to Nimpo today. It started to clear off this evening and the sun was even shining on the bright new snow on the Coast Mountains but a big, black cloud has moved in over us again from the west. It looks like it means business.
It's funny, but it looks like we've been inside the cold side of the Jet Stream, because our temperatures have been dropping steadily the last two days. Yesterday morning actually started out gloriously. It was sunny, and reasonably warm, so I decided computer work wasn't getting done after all. But by noon I was driven in by a chilly wind and cloudy skies threatening rain.
Today was cold at 9C or 50F, but it's already down to 5C or 40F and it's dropping fast. I've already covered my vegetables but I'm debating whether I should take my flowers in as well.
Driving home from Nimpo I noticed the Itcha and Ilgatchuz Mountains have fresh snow on them and they aren't nearly as high as the Coast Range peaks. The weatherman suggested on the news tonight that folks in the Cariboo may expect snow flurries tomorrow at higher elevations. I've got news for you man...
There were extreme temperature differences on the weather map today with Williams Lake coming in 10 degrees warmer than Prince George just to the north. There's quite a difference in temperature depending whether you were on the north or south side of the Jet Stream today. Unfortunately, we in the Chilcotin seem to have chosen the wrong side.
According to statistics for the Lower Mainland, they've had one of the rainiest Augusts on record. I'm beginning to think that could apply to us as well. This is usually the very best month but since there isn't a lot left of it, I think we'll just give up on it and wait for September. It has to be better! Hey, but the upside? It's too cold even for the freaking mosquitoes!
So have any Canadians been watching the news about the Listeria outbreak? You know, processed meat isn't something we normally worry about since we rarely ever purchase it. But since we were having a dinner party Saturday night, we picked up smokies for the barbecue in Williams Lake. I knew of course about the Maple Leaf meats and made a deliberate effort to buy another brand name. It wasn't until the week progressed and the recall included such a huge list of brand names I never even knew Maple Leaf owned, that we started thinking about those smokies. Finally, I dug the Fletcher's package out of the garbage and looked at the lot number, just for my own peace of mind. I mean, if you're going to poison your friends and neighbours, you should at least warn them. Besides, I had to get Andy off his jaunt. Every time anything went wrong this week, whether a bruise, stubbed toe or sore eye, he joked that we had Listeria.
The smokies of course were fine but then they're talking about Maple Leaf bacon on the news next. Well jeez, man. Give me a break! Okay. Check the bacon in the freezer. Now it's salmonella in cheese in Quebec. To heck with it.....I give up!
It's a bit of a problem for those of us that live in the boonies and do our shopping once a month or every six weeks. Naturally, you freeze everything. So when an outbreak occurs such as this where meats that left the plant in June are at fault, and symptoms may not show up for five weeks, it can be a problem for those people that freeze a lot of stuff. I consider us fortunate that we don't eat a great deal of processed food and so I don't have to go digging through my freezer to check establishment numbers, but I feel for those that do rely on the processed stuff. However, I certainly don't think Maple Leaf foods is at fault. From everything I've ever read about the 100 year old company, they have an impeccable record and actually do more than they need to when it comes to inspections in their plants. So unless something is found to be totally out of order, I completely sympathize with the damage this is going to do to them. I think what really bothers me is the class action suits springing up all over. I sincerely hope courts looking at the suits make sure there is evidence of mismanagement or negligence before allowing the suits to proceed. Jeez. We're becoming as sue happy a nation as the Americans!
My heart goes out to family members of people who have died from this, mostly the elderly or immune impaired, but sometimes things just happen. Listeria, as I understand it, is a common bacteria in many things all around us. Sometimes, you just have to accept that things happen and there isn't anyone you can pin the blame on. Particularly if in this case, Maple Leaf foods met and exceeded all the standards set for them. Sometimes sh!!t just happens.
Have a wonderful Labour Day weekend folks!
27/08/2008 4:50 PM

The Big Plane

One of my favorite planes came in today from Westcoast Air and I haven't seen it in years. It's a big Twin Otter turbo prop on floats made by DeHavilland since the 60's, although production was discontinued in 1988. However, a Canadian company operating out of Victoria bought the rights to start building the plane again and an assembly plant was set to go into operation this past January in Calgary.
Aside from being one of the prettiest planes around for its size, it has an incredible rate of climb. In fact, part of its designated name is STOL, which means short takeoff and landing, and does it ever!
When that thing took off this morning I swear it took less lake than a Supercub to take off and climbed nearly straight up and then banked sharply to the south. I'm assuming the pilot had no passengers on board because most of them would have left their stomachs on the ground. Actually, when he came in and while he was refueling I didn't see any sign of passengers in the windows, so he was probably driving that plane the way it was designed to be.
The Twin Otter is easily able to operate in temperatures to -75C or 103 degrees below Fahrenheit. The two engines make it reliable and safe, it can land and take off anywhere on floats, skis or wheels, including on gravel beaches and tundra, seats 20 and is a favorite plane in the far north and Antarctic. It's even a favorite plane for skydivers! I just love that plane, especially when it flies overhead checking Nimpo Lake over before landing. It sounds like a jet plane. I could put forty pictures of it on here but I'll try to be good and just put one on Picture of the Day.
Our dreary weather hasn't improved one bit. Actually, that's not true. The sun was shining for a little while this morning so I threw the doors and windows open because the house was already warm from the fire in the wood stove all night. Next thing you know it was freezing in here and everything had to be closed up again. In no time clouds had covered the sun, a cold wind sprang up and it turned nasty. Even the birds were fluffed up today. Our feeder is presently being mobbed by a whole bunch of immature blackbirds. They all look pretty fat anyway but they looked even more so with their fluffed up feathers. Much as I would like to feed them up before they head south, I'm letting the feeder run out of seed. Otherwise, past experience has shown that they just won't leave and get caught here when it turns cold.
I had a good walk today and was sorry I hadn't taken my ear muffs. I know, it's August, but you wouldn't know it and there's no improvement expected before the weekend! Which reminds me. I guess there's a long weekend coming up. I didn't realize Labour Day fell on the first this year so it snuck up on me. Hope you're all planning a last kick at the cat before summer is over. Vacation wise, I mean.
In any case, as I mentioned before I have a bunch of work to do. It has taken me most of the day to find my desk under the pile of stuff on it, so I no longer have an excuse to not get to it. I may try to write tomorrow and then take the weekend off from articles to work at something that actually brings in a pay cheque. I don't know about us but it looks like you folks on the south coast are going to have a pretty decent weekend weather wise, so have a good one!

26/08/2008 11:31 PM

Surely Not Winter Yet!

We're freezing our Wellington's off here folks! I was working late last night and didn't get a chance to start a fire. As a result, getting up this morning felt like we were back in the winter season already, and it was worse outside!
Our neighbours stopped over for a few minutes and we were wandering around outside for only a short time, but with heavy overcast, a blustery breeze and a low temperature, you sure didn't want to stay out long. Yeech!
I got a chill picking up some lumber for the greenhouse and couldn't shake it so I didn't even go for a walk this afternoon. It was just too miserable out and way too early for winter to start but it sure felt like it!
When I was driving along the highway today I noticed quite a few of the shorter aspen that were in low lying areas where the frost settles had already turned yellow, seemingly overnight. And as I drove by the mill the smoke was only barely coming out of the burner and it was already headed for the ground, that's how heavy the air was.
It threatened to rain all day but only spit a little here and there but it was definitely snowing in the mountains off and on all day. It's at 4.6C or about 39F out there right now and I don't know if it'll freeze tonight or not. There was heavy cloud cover earlier so you wouldn't expect it to, but it was supposed to get windy tonight and that generally clears things out. In that case, it will definitely freeze. Which is why I covered everything up tonight. Last night I took my flower pots into the garage and didn't even bother taking them out of there today. I'm pretty sure I heard the Petunias croak a thank you as I went by this afternoon. I don't blame them. I didn't want to be out there today, either. The only consolation is that most regions around the province are reporting below normal temperatures as well.
I sure don't know what's happened to our normally fabulous weather in this country. I hate to jump on a crowded bandwagon but I sure have to wonder about the climate change thing. This is starting to get a little ridiculous. I can see it being possible to have a wet year in 2005, and '07, but another this summer? Three out of four cool, wet summers just is not the norm for the Chilcotin. Remember, we're in the Coastal Mountain rain shadow and on a high, arid plateau. Or at least we're supposed to be. And I don't count four days plus four days of hot weather as our definition of summer. This sucks. Either someone slid the Chilcotin off the plateau and we didn't notice, or Mother Nature's really PO'd at us!
Oh well, maybe we'll have a nice, long, warm fall.
If this kind of weather keeps up for a few more years, there will be a definable trend. Cool, wet summers, and slightly warmer winters with higher snowfall. In other words, more moisture all around. And if this keeps up, it shouldn't take too many years before we start seeing a shift in vegetation. Oddly, one contradiction to our weather has been in the activity of the beavers. They completely blocked a culvert under the highway this spring, and there's a lake where there never was before. Too, they've reduced the Dean River to less than a trickle. It made a lot of sense when we got that little hot spell and I figured it indicated a hot summer because they seem to do a lot more damming if the weather is going to be extremely dry. But it would seem their weather forecasting is as unreliable as our own. Or maybe it just means there's a bloody cold winter coming and they don't want their lodges or runs frozen out.
Anyway, that's the weather update for today and there isn't much else to report so I'll keep it short tonight.

25/08/2008 6:57 PM

Brrrr!!!!

Mother Nature appears to be reading the wrong calendar of late. It's supposed to be August!
According to the rain gauge, we only got about another half inch of rain yesterday, which surprises me considering how hard it came down. I'm assuming it was much worse out quadding yesterday since Andy came in looking like a drowned rat, and that was after he had dried out some while having lunch at Gus's Meadow with everyone else. He tossed his jack shirt to me in a plastic bag and it was soaking wet. I think that was after he had wrung it out too. Same with everything else, like his gloves. It sounds like everyone got pretty wet and cold which is why they had turned back initially from going all the way up Charlotte Main and decided to hole up at the meadow. I'm beginning to think that only having one four wheeler in this household might not be a bad thing!
The temperature dropped pretty good last night with only one degree above frost this morning. Water on three sides of us is the only thing that saved my plants because I didn't cover them. But talking to someone at Anahim Lake today, he said he was scraping frost off his windows this morning and apparently it froze quite hard on Charlotte Lake as well, so I got lucky.
Today was quite cool with mixed sun and cloud and a ruddy chilly breeze. If you were in the sun and out of the wind, it was quite pleasant. Otherwise, it was jacket weather for most of the day. I had three layers on when I started out on my walk this afternoon. You warm up after awhile of course, especially in the protection of the trees, but it definitely had that fall feel. I expect the leaves away from the lake will start turning pretty soon. The aspens are often yellow by the first of September.
So we finally fired up our new toy this evening. We purchased a new generator in town on Thursday but it's been sitting in the back of the truck until now while we got other things done. Andy got it together and running after supper and we just tried it out on our water pump that draws from the lake for our sprinklers in the yard. Fired right up! It's pretty exciting because now we finally have a gen set big enough to run part of the household and the water during a power outage.
We had been disappointed in the generator we bought before because it just wasn't big enough to start up either water pumps. We can always do without anything else if we have to but the water pump was one thing I did want operable in the case of an outage. Not that we don't have lake water available a few feet from the door, but it's a pain to pack it for toilets, shower, and kitchen, etc. Ha! Listen to me talk! I was raised without running water and spent well into my 30's without it and here I'm complaining about having to haul water for a few hours or days. Still, it is a pain and we had another concern. In case of a power outage during a forest fire, or because of a fire, we wanted to be able to keep sprinklers running on the property continuously and we can do that now.
Sadly, we only learned from a Charlotte Lake resident two days after we picked up this generator that we could have gotten a bigger one, used very little, for a lot less money. Such is life. You have to have bad luck some time!
Well folks, it's cold enough in my office that I'm contemplating starting a fire in the stove tonight. We had to have one last night and I expect it will be the same tonight. Just to let you know, blogs in the near future may be sporadic. The pile of stuff on my desk that needs to be done has reached epic proportions and a couple of phone calls today verified that it isn't going to go away. Having poor weather is probably a good thing because I'm less likely to sneak outside to play in the dirt for the day and more likely to face up to the mess on my desk. Sometimes I just wish the dog would come in and eat my homework!

24/08/2008 9:51 AM

The Long Absence

Happy Sunday Folks! It's been pretty busy around here which is why there's been no blog. We made a day run into Williams Lake Thursday which means you're on a dead run from early morning to late evening and dead beat when you get home. And the last couple of days has been busy with getting ready to put on a barbecue for some of the Charlotte Lake folks and Nimpo Lake people, including our soon to be new neighbours. That's how we bribe people to move out here. We feed them full of good southern cooking!
The weather has been really dreary ever since it changed last week. It's been trying to rain off and on for the past few days, although to date we still only have about 3/4 of an inch of rain at most. We sure haven't seen a lot of sun so I'm thinking fire season is officially over unless we get an unusually hot September. That's not impossible. We got a limited draw entry for moose this fall and invariably when that happens, we're hunting in hot weather.
Andy got the forms off of the footings for the greenhouse and it looks pretty darn spiffy. Although I think that most people might laugh when they see it. It might be a bit overbuilt for a greenhouse with 16" footings and a short wall on top of that. But that's how Andy likes to build things and admittedly, very little ever moves with the frost around here. If it had been me I would have just used beams on gravel and left room for the glass to move if the beams shifted, but then I always did build in a more half-assed manner. It comes of being raised in the boonies where you made do with whatever you had and cement wasn't something we ever had.
So...the Beijing Olympics are officially over today and Canada made a pretty poor showing. On the one hand, that's to be expected when you're competing with the Chinese in their own country. Their strict training regimen from a very young age for their athletes has a resounding familiarity to the Russian training program during the Cold War years. While I don't necessarily agree with that type of training, the Canadian government has long gone the other way with little or no support for our athletes.
We were shocked to learn that so many of our athletes would never have made it to Beijing if their communities hadn't put the funds together through fundraisers to send them. Night after night on the news yet another story would be aired about how an athlete went to the Olympics solely because of the good hearted generosity of their communities, not the Canadian Government! What the hell goes on here?
I understand that since they are amateur athletes they can't accept money in a manner that a professional athlete could, but these people work their butts off all of their lives for that one chance to make their country proud, and we can't pay for them to go to Beijing? We see our tax dollars wasted on garbage and pay hikes for our bureaucrats but we can't pay for our athletes' transportation? For that matter, the lottery corporation is supposed to be handing out money to sports programs. How about holding back a million or so dollars every week on the 649 draw for things like this instead of giving it out to prize winners? It's a pretty sad commentary on our country when we can't do better than we did in the Olympics and I think you can lay the blame almost entirely on the Government's lack of funding.
There was a news item about a girl with Cerebral palsy that was going into the Special Olympics in Beijing but would not be able to go because transport of her horse alone was something like $21,000 as she competes in dressage. As most people probably realize, dressage is one of the toughest disciplines in the world and few hale and hearty people can manage it, much less someone with Cerebral palsy! And we can't pay for her to go? Fortunately, her community raised the funds necessary to send her and her horse to China. A remarkable feat for a community, and a really, really sad show of support from our nation's government.
Two doctors have quit in Ashcroft because they are overworked, clocking in 130 hours a week and just can't do it anymore. Our health care system is in the toilet, more and more communities are losing their hospitals and emergency services, our roads are falling apart, the number of homeless on the streets increase every day, and we're all taxed to death. Just where is our tax dollars going, anyway? Oh yeah, that's right. Our top heavy government keeps on giving itself pay increases. For what!!???
The United States is in no better shape so perhaps Democracy is not the be all end all when it comes to a form of government. And we wondered what happened to the Roman Empire....I think the answer to our future is staring us in the face unless things change drastically in this century.
On to more fun stuff. Well, maybe not so fun for those involved. Everyone was going up on the mountain on quads today. The weather looked kind of iffy because you could see storms rolling in over the mountains but Andy and our neighbours took off from here when it looked like it was clearing up. The kids from the store were going to meet them a little later up there but the guys just radioed back to say they were stopping at the shack at Gus's meadow because it was pouring rain and then they will return home if it doesn't clear up. Unfortunately, I couldn't catch Richard and Leah before they left so I'm hoping they don't find themselves alone up in the alpine in this weather. With any luck they'll keep an eye out for tracks and see where everyone has gone. The rain at Gus's Meadow finally hit here and it's pretty black and just pouring out there so it won't be pleasant.
Okay! Just got a call from the kids and they turned back because it was raining so hard and they were cold and wet, so that's a good thing! It's definitely a deluge out there and Andy will be wet, cold and a very unhappy camper when he gets in!
I just checked on our cabin because it's raining so hard and there are a few leaks around the screws holding down the old tin roof. It was never a concern before because the battleship linoleum on the floor could take anything, but since we've just laid a new laminate floor, it really can't take the moisture. There are a couple of leaks but I put covering down under them so it should hold up okay. I guess that means that project 4653, putting on a new roof, may have to be moved up a notch. More work!
I'm posting the more modern pictures of Rimarko Ranch taken by John and Blair a week ago up on the right, so enjoy!
I've started a new week so you'll find last week's articles at August Week Three
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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!
Man standing in front of an impressive Chilcotin gate.
 
Deteriorating barn, corrals and cattle chute.
 
Rimarko Ranch outbuilding with door falling off.
 
Old equipment shed and yellow bulldozer.
 
Old red Rimarko Ranch vintage truck.
 
Row of old, log cabins on the beach.
 
Bent swimming pool with shrubs growing up through it.
 
View of Charlotte Lake with Coast Mountains.
 
Man standing behind a log sign.
 
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