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Wilderness Adventures - Dec., Week One/2010

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.

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

08/12/2010 7:05 PM

The Weather

Canada's weather has certainly taken an odd turn this past week. Around Ontario and Quebec, folks there are getting their tutti fruttis kicked by some serious snowfalls. Lake effect snow has dropped anywhere from a foot to five feet of snow on several cities and smaller communities in Ontario. High winds and snow have made a mess of many parts of Quebec while cold temperatures have settled over the prairies again. Not so bad as in the States where they're seeing record snow and cold temperatures from the Midwest to the eastern seaboard. I'm thinking my brother in Florida is going to be complaining bitterly about temperatures diving to 50 and 55F and I can't imagine what the brother in Ohio is dealing with right now since where he lives they see nothing but cold wind from the Great Lakes all winter long.
I think I mentioned in the post about Kelowna the lake effect snow that we experienced while we were down there. Andy has told me many times about it in the past because it was something I guess you just get used to in the Okanagan. The fact that it's peppering snow down but there's actually no stormy weather system causing it seems very strange to me. This past trip was my first exposure to it and I didn't much care for the grey skies and snow squalls caused by moisture coming up from Okanagan Lake and hitting cold air aloft. So I can just imagine what you might get from the Great Lakes in view of their awesome size. I want no part of it, thank you. I'll just stay at home here where the most we have to worry about is fog sneaking over the hill from Charlotte Lake until it freezes over in January and stops sending moisture up.
Our own weather has definitely taken a change for the not necessarily worse, but definitely not so great realm. Yesterday was very grey and dark with clouds low to the deck. It took until afternoon to finally warm up to -6C or 21F, but surprisingly, it didn't drop down again once it got dark because we had this warming system coming in bringing yet more cloud.
This morning we were socked in by fog but once it cleared there was still some heavy cloud to the south and the sun is so low in the sky this time of year that it couldn't quite clear it. So it was cloudy most of the day although we could see blue patches above us. The sun peeked through for a few minutes after we came back from our walk and once again just before it went down, but that was it for sun, today. We did have one heck of a furious little snow storm this morning though. Thank heavens it only lasted about two minutes because it was really coming down.
It came up to just barely above freezing in the shade this afternoon but it's back down to about -4C or 25F this evening. It may get cold because it's clear out and there was a sliver of moon up earlier. It will be interesting to see what happens with the weather for the next few days. It looks like it may stay reasonably warm until Sunday but whether we get snow or not is pure guesswork.
I mentioned before that we were seeing a lot of foxes around this year. Two sets of friends of ours that raise chickens have been having a heck of a time with them. One of them lives near one of our friends that just lost his faithful old dog recently. He was a beautiful big Husky Samoyed type of dog and had been with this single retired fellow for years. I guess he's delighted now that a neighbourhood fox has taken up residence on a dog bed on his porch at night and follows him on walks. Unfortunately, the fox is also after the neighbour's chickens so she's trying to figure out what to do about it without hurting the fox. I expect the solution will have to be a nifty one to outwit the fox and I look forward to hearing about the results.
Andy went down to Bella Coola Monday and though he couldn't get pictures, he did say the changes down in the valley after that flood in September are mighty! He said where you didn't even know a tiny creek existed before, there are huge washes now of rock and debris. The Atnarko has debris piled up high on its banks and on rocks that the bears used to fish from during salmon season. There are places now where you can see the Bella Coola River that you couldn't before because in places, the river wiped out all the trees along the highway. He said there's a huge ice fall where we saw that hidden waterfall in July that normally seems to flow for only a short time in summer. Loads of machinery and trucks have spent the past month trying to clear rock and debris from creeks to allow a clear path for next spring's meltwater, and Thorsen Creek has had to be dug way down to clear rocks that could potentially wipe out the bridge if there was even a minor flood in the future. He said there are so many patches of Highway that have been newly paved where floods took out the pavement, it's unbelievable. It will be quite the experience to see all the changes next spring when there's no snow, especially since we were down there only four days before the flood and I know what it looked like then.
04/12/2010 11:40 AM

This Ain't No Heat Wave

The weather continues to be great but it sure has dropped temperature wise in the past couple of days. Yesterday it got up to freezing but last night we watched as the mercury did a little freefalling. Fortunately, it slowed some time after I went to bed when it was -20C or -4F because it was only -22C or -7.6F when Andy got up this morning.
We've been really, really lucky because we've had bright sunshine all day for the past few days. Even with those kinds of temps at night, that sun almost always brings it up to around the freezing mark by midday. Although it might be a little slow getting there today since it's still -15C or 5F right at the moment. Andy was afraid we were going to be socked in by fog for the day that had moved in from Charlotte Lake but a tiny little breeze came up and blew it out.
Andy was taking the dogs down the driveway for a short walk when he saw an owl perched in a low tree. Cat couldn't take it being there and with a couple of short lunges and a bark, got it to take off. Interestingly, it flew into the top of a big spruce above the dog house and just a few steps from the house. Andy came in and got the camera and took some pictures including the one up on the right and since it didn't move, I got some pictures of it from a different angle a few minutes later. It was just a little beauty and really tame, which is how this particular one, a Northern Hawk-Owl, is actually described as being in our bird book.
The fox in the picture on the right was taken crossing the lake just a couple of days ago, but he was a long, long ways out and the picture isn't great.

Sunday, December 5.
I had to quit part way through writing this yesterday because I ran out of time. There was the Christmas Craft Fair in Anahim Lake that I like to support and we had a birthday party to go to across the lake last night. I wish we could drive across the lake instead of all the way around. It would be the difference between driving a quarter mile rather than three miles, but Andy hasn't had a chance to drill the ice yet for a road across our bay to the opposite lake shore. At least there's so little snow that there's no need to plow an ice road right now. We could just drive over what's there right now. I know it seems awfully early yet for driving on the ice compared to other years, but there's already over nine inches of ice 100 feet out from our shore in front and it's possible that the back bay has a little more ice.
We had a strange change in weather last night. It was -12C or 10F yesterday afternoon at 4:30 and had dropped another three degrees when we went out the door at supper time. By the time we got home three hours later it had warmed up five degrees and stayed right around -10C or 14 all night. Just enough fog or cloud moved in to warm things up a bit overnight but unlike other days, it hasn't warmed up much today. The cloud moved out late this morning but there was still enough to filter out the sun off and on and that makes a big difference. So it never has gotten above -8C or 17F today and I expect as soon as that sun goes down in a few minutes, it will start chilling right down.
I think we're supposed to have another day of clear and cold, and then a warm up is due for Tuesday which may bring snow. Certainly that's what Richard and Leah have been praying for, and doing snow dances for, and I'm pretty sure they're making sacrifices to some deity or other. I'm not sure that my own sun dances and keeping my fingers and toes crossed are enough to beat out their supplications, but I'm working on it. I like this! It's nice to be able to walk out in the woods without wading through too much snow and I figure it will come anyway, it's just that I would like to see it come later rather than sooner. Not that I necessarily get my way all the time but it would be nice....
Everyone was commenting at the party last night on how noisy the lake ice has been this past week. I think we all enjoy the weird and wild sounds it makes. I don't envy anyone that lives too far from the lake to hear it because I'm sure they hear more about the sounds than they care to from the rest of us.
The other morning when Andy was out walking the dogs it was just getting light and he saw a light from an airplane going over, then a bright light moving in an arc across the sky that could only be the International Space Station and while he watched that, a shooting star crossed the horizon. Based on all that, he decided it was going to be a really good day. Last night while we were driving over to Nimpo we saw two shooting stars fall just a couple of minutes apart. I'll have to check and see what meteor showers are around this time of year.
I was talking to a girl from Germany that was at the party. She was telling me that unlike here, there are just too many lights and too much pollution to see stars in Germany. Wow... can you imagine? Living without stars that you can reach out and touch and too numerous to count? Or northern lights. Or a sky so blue it makes your heart ache? I think that's what I especially like about the Chilcotin. The vivid colors. Without pollution, the skies are a bright blue, and the snow a brilliant white in winter. Greens in the meadows in summer are incredible and the color of the water in Nimpo Lake is an amazing blue, while other glacier fed lakes and rivers are an indescribable iridescent emerald green.
Not that we don't get our smoky days that dull all colors during forest fire season in summer. Or days when a lot of people are burning slash early spring or late fall or even days when wood smoke is forced by a temperature inversion to lay in low ribbons over the lake. But when it gets cold and the skies are clear, that's when we get air unmatched by any place located anywhere near a large city. I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.
01/12/2010 7:30 PM

Return of the Lake Monsters

Happy December First, everyone! So far I'm still loving this winter!
The lake monsters were back in force last night. It was such a warm day yesterday that the lake ice must have started warming up under the thin layer of snow. Last night it began to chill down really quickly and that set the ice off. There were the usual heavy sounds like a big truck under water. But there were those high alien sounds that I've tried to describe before, traveling under the ice as well.
Everytime I went outside for firewood last night I would take a few moments to listen to the lake ice talking. It must have done more than that last night. This morning when I looked out over the ice you could see what looked like snake tracks running all over under the snow where the ice split leaving a crack up to an inch wide, and lifted or sank, displacing one shelf of ice higher or lower than its neighbour. That's usually accompanied by a cracking sound and then a wumph! as the ice shelf drops under the snow. I didn't hear any of that last night but then, it was a bit chilly for standing around outside for long. It was around -13C or 8F when I went to bed last night but it warmed up quickly this morning and came up to nearly freezing again.
We had another nice day with mixed sun and cloud. There was a stiff breeze that made things a little raw feeling when it was blowing but I swear, tonight it feels almost warm, even though it's a little below freezing right now.
I have no idea what we're supposed to get for weather over the next few days because the weathermen are rarely right, but I hope it's nice on Saturday. There's a weiner roast across the lake for a friend's birthday and it would be nice if there wasn't a blizzard or 20 below temps since we will be outside.
There were lots of rabbit tracks on the back trail again today, but still no grouse or ptarmigan tracks. It's sure strange considering we had a tremendous year for grouse last spring and summer. They were all over the place! But maybe the fox population is reducing the bird population. Andy did see two along the road this morning but we haven't scared up any in the woods.
There still doesn't seem to be a whole lot of snow up in the mountains. In fact it looks like there may have been an inversion layer over that past couple of weeks because it's looking decidedly rocky where we normally snowmobile. That's a downer for Richard who by September, already gets pretty excited by the prospect of snow. Even worse this year, he's souped up his machine and gotten a new rack for hauling his and Leah's machines around on the back of the truck. So he's eager to get going.
It's hard to say what will happen this year. We have winters with very little snow early on, although not in recent years. But it has happened where you couldn't do much snowmobiling until around Christmas. For me, it matters not. The snow will come or it won't. Personally, I'm eager to see the lake freeze over really hard so that I can try cross country skiing again, and the less snow on the lake for that, the better. My, I'm selfish....
Last week's post can be found at November Week Two. For those of you that have been reading the recent ones, you'll notice I had to split November's so it will look different. And for those of you that gave up on me and have just arrived back for blog reading, you haven't missed a thing!
Oh, and not to mess anyone up with the sunrise pics up on the right. I know it's water you see and not ice, but Andy took those just before we left for Kelowna and this is the first opportunity I've had to use them. Aren't the colors amazing? Oh, and I'm not changing the Picture of the Day today. I like our neighbours' fox too much.

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!
Northern Hawk Owl.
Red fox on the ice.
Red sunrise to the east.
November sunrise over Nimpo.
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