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Wilderness Adventures - December Week One

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.
You can search this site for a subject of interest to you at the bottom of this page.

08/12/2005 7:36 PM

Cross Country Skiing

You can go pretty much anywhere here. Unlike many places in Canada or the US where you might live in a city or town and have to load up your ski equipment, boots, etc. and drive down to the park or nearby forest just to go skiing, here you strap on your boots and skis at the front door or back door depending on which direction you want to go. If I want to go down the road or follow the trails near our place, I lace up at the back door. If I want to drop onto the lake and ski in one direction or other, I lace up my boots at the basement door in front and away I go. It's certainly a lot more convenient whether you're going out for exercise, taking your dogs for a run, or just to enjoy the day and it emphasizes the beauty of living or vacationing here.
Our determined ice fisherman was out on Nimpo Lake again today, but in a different spot. He was out for several hours so it's a good thing it was only a few degrees below freezing. Every once in a while you'd see one of the lake residents walk out on the ice to visit with him for a while and see how he's making out.
Went for a ski on the lake today because it's got a few inches of snow over the ice. Ideal for skiing actually, but I followed the shore for a while toward where the Dean River flows out of Nimpo Lake before I ventured out toward the middle and the large island. Started to get a little uneasy the closer I got to the island and turned around to head for home. I had to laugh when I opened up this page tonite to write this article and realized why. The picture on your right showing the Whiskey Jack at the bird feeder also shows where for a week or so, the water pushed the ice back in the bay from the big island so that it froze much later than the rest of the bay. So my instincts were trying to tell me the ice just got a whole lot thinner under my feet once I crossed a certain point. Maybe I'll wear a life jacket if I go out skiing tomorrow. Grin.
The temperature has really gone up since this afternoon and only sits a degree below freezing. The wind is out of the southwest and as I undertood it, our weather was supposed to be clear and cold. Right now it's warm and trying to snow. I don't know how the weathermen manage it. You would think they would have at least a 50/50 chance of getting the weather right. But instead, they're wrong about 80% of the time. It's amazing!

06/12/2005 11:35 PM

It's Strange

Not a sound from the lake tonite. Normally Nimpo Lake sings like every instrument in an orchestra when the ice is growing. Oh yes, it grows...from the bottom up, and our temperatures are plenty low enough for that to happen. But for some reason or other, the lake has been exceptionally quiet this year. Last year at this time that was all you could hear day in and out, were the groans and mutters, whines and cracking explosions, high pitched squeals and gutteral growls, just showing how alive it could be. This is as quiet as I've ever heard it and being inquisitive as I am, I have to wonder just exactly what environmental differences are there that would cause this? Sometimes I wish I were a scientist versed in all areas so that I could at least explain it to myself. Alas, that would mean I would have to do repetitive, dry, boring tests to give a basis for the theory only to finally suggest an answer in some dry scientific digest that no one reads anyway in about ten years time. I would much rather conjecture based on mine and many other locals' experiences with the country to come up with some colorful and possibly more accurate reason for Lady Nature's doings. It's just a lot more fun that way.
05/12/2005 6:55 PM


I half expected to hear a snowmobile start up somewhere in the area today. We got about an inch of snow again last night and with the lake frozen it would have been nearly irresistable for some brave soul to give it a try. Fortunately, they didn't because going too far out could have been dangerous. Of course that didn't stop one of our local pilots, Terry, from skiing by in his plane. Sadly, I didn't get outside in time to get a picture of him. His red and white Supercub stood out like a pretty toy even against the snow on the lake and dull, overcast day.
A couple of the neighbour's boys went through the ice on Anahim Lake on their fourwheelers, but fortunately it was in shallow water and although they had a cold, soggy walk to a nearby residence for help they were able to get their undamaged machines out of the water eventually. That didn't prevent someone from going by fourwheeler over the ice on the back bay to get the mail today or our avid fisherman from being out on the ice looking for a fat rainbow trout. Apparently he's been doing well lately, catching his limit one day and a few here and there on other days.
The sounds of power saws from cutting a winter's supply of wood has even died down now so it's that slim period between fall chores and winter fun that makes it so quiet around here. Sounds carry a long ways over Nimpo Lake so you can hear a saw from up to a couple of miles away.
Residents of Charlotte Lake are eagerly awaiting the freeze up of their lake but that will be weeks and months away. Charlotte is a monsterous lake just over the hills from us at the head of the Atnarko River valley that's so large it can make it's own weather. Since it experiences a lot of wind, the water is rarely calm or cold enough to freeze as early as Nimpo or Anahim Lake. The first time I ever saw what I call an ice mountain was when I was snowmobiling on Charlotte years ago. We came by this massive upheaval of ice blocks as big as houses and the most piercingly beautiful blue you will ever see. I don't know if the line of ice blocks was a pressure ridge caused by too much overflow on the ice, which will sink the ice closest to shore and push it up in the middle of the lake, or if they had been caused by part of the lake freezing and wind pushing broken ice up from water that hadn't yet frozen. In any case, it was one heck of an impressive sight. I've seen minor ridges on the lake since when snowmobiling, but nothing like that.
It reminds me of a couple of years ago when a group of us was snowmobiling up on Trumpeter. Goat Pass is a cliff of rock rearing straight up above Goat Lake. That year there were massive blocks of ice at the base of the cliff that had been thrown around like they were a child's toys. It looked like an avalanche of boulders, snow and ice had broken away from the top of the cliff and landed on the lake ice with the impact of a meteor. In fact, it looked so much like that's what had happened that we all speculated on the possibility. There again the ice was an unearthly blue, far purer than you could ever hope to concoct on an artist's palette. You just can't beat Mother Nature for pretty. Or mean for that matter.

04/12/2005 6:38 PM

Yep, It's Winter

The cold spell continues with snow in the forecast. The snow missed us today but nailed other areas of British Columbia pretty good. Prince George saw about 4" today and the coast down around Vancouver really got it. Looked like the ski hills were doing a booming business today. There's large system sliding up the coast for the next two days to the north. It's supposed to bring warmer temperatures and snow to us tomorrow. I'm really hoping the snow will hold off and let the ice on Nimpo Lake develop a little more. The neighbour drilled the bay in front of our respective houses as well as the back bay with an ice auger today. There's about 9" of ice already which is quite amazing for this time of year. However, these bays have been frozen over for some weeks now and the temperatures have been pretty cool.
One of our local pilots flew over the lake today and said that the only open water left appears to be off the Point where there quite often is no ice. Hopefully that means the main arm of Nimpo will be freezing at a great rate now. I can't wait to get on skiis!
We had all hoped that if we were going to get a cold spell this fall it would be sudden, extreme, and last a good while, to knock out some of the pine beetles. They can withstand short term temperatures to -60F below in mid winter, but even -30F in early fall will kill a lot of them because they haven't built up a resistance to the cold yet. Apparently, they develop some type of 'antifreeze' that helps them to tolerate very cold temps and the only thing that will kill them after they have developed this fluid, is -40F to -60F temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Unfortunately, although we did get this cold snap, it was neither sudden enough or cold enough to have any effect because we had already had fairly cool temps all fall.
Everyone is putting up Christmas lights now and the shoreline around Nimpo Lake is starting to look quite festive. We lit up our living Christmas tree on the point today that's festooned in bright red lights. It tends to be a valuable landmark in winter for those snowmobiling on the lake at night. It can be very easy to lose your sense of direction on a black night with no focal point, especially in fog. There are no residences on the south side of the lake and not that many lit up in winter on the north shore of the main arm either. Many of us go to dinner on our snowmobiles to the other residences on the lake or up to the restaurant in Nimpo and rely on some sort of 'lighthouse' to bring us back to our house. I've had more than one person tell me that our flag lights and red tree has helped them find their way home so it will probably stay lit up from now until March.

03/12/2005 3:34 PM

A Winter Weekend in the Chilcotin

Cold Temperatures are bringing in winter. It dropped to -23C or 10 below F yesterday evening, although it warmed up by 4 degrees by the time I went to bed last night. Cloud had moved in warming things up a bit and stuck around for part of the day. By this afternoon the sun had made an appearance and one of our local flyboys had already installed skiis on his plane and was out flying around. He made a couple of passes but by the time I got outside with a camera you could barely see him flying into the sun.
All of Nimpo Lake is now frozen, especially after those temperatures of last night, but it would still be dangerous if you had to make an emergency landing on the main arm. Chances are there is only about an inch of ice out there and even as light as a small plane is it would probably still go through. Another night of cold temps will tighten the ice up quite a bit, but we are supposed to get quite a bit of snow tomorrow so as I mentioned in previous articles, that may weaken the existing ice and cause overflow.
The phenomenal sounds caused by building ice have started again. They're particularly loud when you have sun during the day warming the ice, and cold, cold temperatures at night suddenly cooling it. I'm still trying to figure out a way to record these eerie sounds so that I can put some examples on this site. They range from high pitched 'UFO saucer' sounds like those of old space movies to rumbling growls you used hear on old monster movies. Then there's the chuckles and burbles and bubbling from water moving under the ice. Some years like last year, it will go on for days on end while this year has been relatively quiet so far.
I would like to see a good snow base building soon for those winter enthusiasts that are starting to plan their vacations in the Nimpo and Anahim Lake area. There's already been early and substantial snow fall on the Coastal Range right from Whistler near Vancouver to the north coast. Down hill skiing has been at a premium south of us, now we just need to get our snowmobiling season jump started. Although it is a little early in the season to get that revved up about winter recreational sports
you can't help doing so if you're an enthusiast yourself!

02/12/2005 10:53 AM

Wow, Winter Might Be Here

And the birds think so too! This will probably be a short article since I've got a bunch of stuff to do today and finally the time and freedom to do it, but it feels great to be back in the saddle again. Looks like our temperatures are going to continue plummeting. Supposed to go to -18C or 5 below F tonite with continuing chilly until Sunday when it's supposed to snow. The main arm on Nimpo Lake is frozen over a little more today but there is still a little open water. I see the ice fishing fellow is out again this morning, creeping further and further out in the bay. He looks pretty serious about his sport but I haven't watched him long enough to see if he's getting anything.
The Chickadees are back in force since we remounted the bird feeder on the deck. In this cold weather they get especially wild about the seed and visit constantly.
I took pictures the other day of Whiskey Jacks that came to visit. They landed on the deck railing, looked through the window as if to say "Is this going to be a chow stop, or not?" I put some chunks of cheese out for them and it didn't take them any time at all to clean up on them. I'm hoping the fact that they haven't returned isn't a bad sign. I can't imagine what would happen if you had constipated Whiskey Jacks. Grin...
Have a good day all, and hopefully I can get back on track enough to start the storytelling again. I look forward to it.

01/12/2005 7:17 PM

We're Baaack!

Hi everyone. The Wilderness Adventure article is finally back. Boy, it's been so long I almost forget how to put this thing together. Since I don't use an automatic 'blog' template, I have to go several steps to get it written with a date and uploaded for rss feeds. In any case, my deepest apologies. This has been a very long absence from writing the articles about the West Chilctoin and I know that some of you have been very patiently waiting. I thank you for that.
I finally finished putting together the last of my calendars last night and mailed them today. I still have a few more orders, but not due until spring, so I can finally concentrate on other things like this blog and some web sites that I need to work on...oh, and Christmas is coming isn't it?
Canada countrywide is experiencing some lower than normal winter temperatures, as are we. I had hopes there for a while for lots of early snow, but we've only gotten a bit. Nimpo Lake has been frozen everywhere except on the middle of the main arm for over a week now and that water is cold! We draw our drinking water from the lake and this time of year when you turn on the cold water tap, you just about get icecubes with your drink. Temperatures have been hanging aroung -10 to -12C or about 18F for the last few days, but it was -15C this morning and looks like it might be a lot colder tonite.
Surprisingly, the main arm must still have enough wind moving the water to keep it from freezing. There's no doubt that we've been getting some wind, increasing the cold from wind chill and with that lake still being open, the air is a lot damper than it normally would be in winter.
Apparently Williams Lake, 200 miles to the east of us, got between 6" and 8" inches of snow and the roads aren't great. Vancouver has been getting snow off and on for the last few days, so of course there's a gadzillion fender benders as a result. There goes our insurance rates again. The provincial government raised the 'sand' size allowance so that we no longer get gravel put on our roads and highways but rocks. Everyone's been taking some pretty bad hits on their windshields from passing vehicles so I imagine glass claims throughout the province will be quite high this year as well.
I just about brought out the cross country skiis the other day, but lack of time and cold weather put the kabosh on that idea. As soon as the weather warms up though...
Alas, we weren't the last people fishing on Nimpo Lake this year. Part time neighbours of ours from Washington came up last week and had the audacity to put their boat in the water a couple of days. I could have cried. Here we were, icelocked, and because their place and dock is on the main arm, they could get out there on a beautiful, sunny, late fall morning, and fish. I could see their lines flashing in the sun. I admit, even though the air temperature was below freezing, I envied them.
There's been a fellow out ice fishing on Nimpo Lake this past week. He's fishing in the back bay which is admittedly quite a ways from the open water, still, I don't know that the ice is quite that thick yet. He must be doing well because he's been out there for long stretches of time.
The month of November turned out to be our prettiest month just about all year. Which is unusual, because it's usually the worst. However, there wasn't much competition and I'm really hoping we get back to our usual sunny weather next year. There has been a huge benefit to all the rain this year. We really needed our water table to be replenished and a lot of trees and plants that have been a little stressed from the last few overly dry summers have really poured on the growth this summer. A nice, thick Christmas tree is going to be easy to find this year!
One other thing, I've noticed that there are some issues with this site using the Firefox browser. I'm not sure what has caused the problem because it all seemed fine before. Those of you using Firefox instead of Explorer, please have patience. I'll be trying to figure out the problem as soon as I get a moment.
You can find November's articles at November Week Two.

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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!

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