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 - Dec., Week One/2013
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The Winter Blast
December has arrived with a real arctic blast from the
north.... Were going into our third day of cold
temperatures now and it looks like were on a bit
of a down hill slide. Yesterday morning at its coldest
clocked in at 27.7C or 18F. This morning the temperature
was at 29.9C or 22F but at least it was sunny right
from the get go, which has made a lot of difference.
It started out sunny yesterday and then all the mist created
on Charlotte Lake from open water and cold air meeting
blew right in over the top of us creating a heavy grey
layer of fog that hung in until after noon. No sun
keeps the temperature down, thats for sure.
The big difference for us is that this house was built
to take advantage of passive solar heat in winter. The
sun is low enough that when it hits that bank of south
facing windows, it can hit 90F in here in a hurry. But
without sun, we rely entirely on the wood stove in the
basement to keep the house warm and the windows end up
so cold that we have to close up all the blinds to keep
the cold from dropping into the main room in the evening.
Finally late yesterday evening we broke down and we started
a fire in the fireplace upstairs. Woo Hoo! Love that fireplace!
We usually dont start it up until it hits
30 or colder but I surely did enjoy it last night.
I love sitting next to a fireplace reading or watching
television feeling that heat radiate off the glass and
right onto your toes, and Andy put more wood on it when
he got up so it was downright balmy in here this morning.
Nimpo Lake looks to be frozen over for as far as
we can see but I dont know what the Main
Arm farther down looks like. Maybe well take a drive
over there this afternoon and see. Charlotte Lake mist
is being pushed down valley by a slight breeze out of
the east so its possible that some of the Main Arm
might still be open and we couldn't tell if it was. We
both agreed that the baby loons probably didnt make
it off the lake before it froze over but at least they
made it far enough down the lake that we dont have
to watch the aftermath. At least freeze up is right on
time. When people ask us when the lake freezes over, we
reply that its usually in the first week of December.
I didnt get this post finished yesterday so Ill
add to it today. We took a drive down along the Main Arm
yesterday before going to the other end of the lake for
dinner and everything that we could see was frozen. Ditto
for the north end of the lake so Im calling December
fourth the Freeze Up date for 2013.
It was much warmer this morning at 16C or 3F but
thats probably because its socked in and snowing
fine little flakes. According to the weatherman, after
this passes, the cold is supposed to move back in over
the entire province. Vancouver was just a tenth
of a degree away from breaking a cold record yesterday
so I guess theyre feeling the chill down there.
Victoria is only registering one degree today, about five
degrees cooler than when we were down last January. Whew!
Even chillier down near the ocean of course because it
will be damp as heck. Thankfully, were done with
that part for a few months now that the lake is frozen
You know its funny but Clearwater lake froze over
nearly a month ago and Williams Lake has been trying to
freeze over for nearly two weeks now when both lakes normally
freeze up after ours does. Im not sure why we were
later than they were this year other than because of a
couple of inversions, we seemed to be warmer a good bit
of the time, which is also unusual. However, it seems
to be becoming more and more normal all the time. Im
sure not going to complain! I would much rather be warmer
out here than cooler as has been the case for as long
as Ive ever been in this part of the country.
Happy December first, everyone! Only three more weeks
to the shortest day and were done with the down
hill slide. Yahoo!
Today it got up to 4.4C or 40F with the sun shining
all day, turning out to be the perfect day to
get in a couple of loads of wood. I didnt participate
in the getting since Andy was helping the neighbour to
knock down some schoolmarms, so they loaded up their wagons
at his place, but I did get a few wheelbarrow loads picked
up and stacked down under the deck while Andy split the
wood on the splitter. Besides getting in my walk down
to the gun range with the dogs, I also ran the ATV on
the back trail with the trailer to break and pack a walking
trail. We were supposed to get snow tonight but if we
dont, it will freeze hard over the next few days
and make for some great walking.
The weathermen have been forecasting a cold front
coming in from the north for a week now and its
due to arrive in this area tonight. Our temperature
was dropping at a pretty good rate there earlier but its
come back up again so it may be tomorrow before we really
notice the cold. Sadly, today while walking the dogs I
could hear a loon out on the Main Arm near the ice in
our bay. It was the odd, and very recognizable croak of
one of the loons that was born in our neighbours
bay this spring so its a sure bet that he and probably
his sibling made it out from the ice when our South Arm
froze over, and have been on the Main Arm since. Unfortunately,
Im assuming the smaller sibling cant fly yet
and he wont leave it behind. That means theyll
both die here because unless we get high winds, I only
expect the Main Arm to be open for another day or so after
this cold front moves in.
I swear, I dont know how loons have managed to keep
from going extinct. They regularly have their babies too
late for them to fly out in the fall and it doesnt
help that our springs come later and are colder and wetter
than usual. Frankly, I dont even know how young
loons know to leave and where to go when they do. Unlike
other flocks of birds with mixed adults and juveniles,
someone usually knows when and where to go. One would
assume that crucial migration information is passed down
through ancestral memory. But adult loons leave long before
the immature birds do, so how do juveniles born here know
that they should leave before the lake freezes over? Apparently
in some cases they dont and they die. I guess thats
what Darwin meant by natural selection.
I came out of the backwoods trail just across from our
driveway and saw a beautiful fox hightailing it down the
road. Fortunately, the dogs didnt see it and it
dove back in on the trail farther up. I wondered how close
it might be because I had been following some pretty fresh
tracks along the trail. I just didnt realize they
were that fresh! I keep wondering if we have one hanging
around here at night. The dogs dont bark at animals
at night anymore because theyre in a pen now instead
of on lines but the cat acts pretty freaked out sometimes.
I mentioned this on Facebook yesterday but for those of
you that dont follow the social media stuff, Ill
repeat my experience here. I was walking back on the trail
yesterday and again was pretty close to where I come out
across from our driveway when I ran across an earth
worm on the snow. He looked like he was about
done for but I put him in my pocket wondering where the
heck he had come from. About 25 feet from the first worm,
I came across another, this one a little bit more vigorous,
although he was still wrapped up in a writhing ball, probably
trying to stay warm. There were no tracks in the fresh
snow of either man or beast, or worm, for that matter.
For the life of me, I cant figure out where they
came from. Did they drop out of the tree branches? Ive
never heard of earth worms being in trees, but where else
would they come from? Had a bird dropped them? Well where
the heck would a bird get them from? You cant
find a worm anywhere near the surface once once the ground
starts to freeze to save your soul. I know, because
I was digging for them back when we were going to go fishing
a month ago. Ive never been able to find them late
in the fall so it seems highly unlikely these worms were
anywhere where a bird could get at them. I would love
to know the answer. In any case, I dropped them into my
pocket and brought them home. I put the still pretty vigorous
guy into my worm carton in the fridge with another that
I had left over from fall fishing, but I just couldnt
get the other guy warmed up enough and he expired. Small
wonder. He looked pretty blue out on the snow. If the
one that made it survives the winter in my fridge then
he and his buddy will probably go out in the garden in
the spring unless we get out fishing early next year which
is unlikely. Either way, snow worm will get to live a
whole lot longer than he would have if he had stayed on
the snow through the night. If anyone can solve the mystery,
by all means, drop me a line!
Oh, yech, its snowing outside! I should
have known there was a reason why the temperature came
back up. I was really hoping we wouldnt get any
after I packed the trail today. Three more weeks to the
shortest day, three more weeks to the shortest day, three
more weeks to the shortest day.......
Last month's blog is at November
Lake Highway cam looking West.
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!