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Wilderness Adventures - Dec, Week 2/2006

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. Check out the Picture of the Day.

13/12/2006 6:47 PM

More Wild Wind

From Vancouver to Seattle the west coast is seeing some of the worst wind storms ever.
There were downed trees on houses and vehicles and lots more power outages for Vancouver again today. The Coquihalla Highway was closed again, partly due to the highways maintenance crews.
Seattle recorded very high winds and lots of damage including broken windows from a sky crane turning in the wind. A tree landed on two differenet school buses in transit, but only one had children on it. That big system coming in from the Pacific that was supposed to land on us pushed farther south and landed smack dab on Washington and Oregon instead. Two more storms are on the way and the one this Friday is estimated to be the big one, possibly with much worse winds.
Wind warnings starting tomorrow for much of British Columbia, including our area, are for 30 to 45mph sustained wind speeds with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. Things are not going to be pretty! I hope everyone down on the coast has their candles out and ready. Stay warm and dry folks!
While we had a few strong gusts of wind today and this evening, the wind is steady at around 10 to 14mph right now. We took the opportunity earlier today when the wind died right down to haul the dried branches of the pines Andy cut down yesterday onto the lake. We set the pile on fire and it only took a few minutes for the whole thing to burn right down. It just goes to show you how flammable those red needles are, and did that fire ever burn hot!
Slipping and sliding through quite a bit of snow to carry branches was more fun than it should have been only because it was a nice sunny morning and it's always nice to be out. Slogging through overflow on the lake is most definitely not fun though. That ice with all the snow on top and water seeping up through it is just a mess.
I talked to the postmistress up at Nimpo today and she too turned back at Tatla Lake last week because she was pushing snow with her bumper, so they must definitely have gotten a much bigger dump of snow then than we did. That, and Tatla's maintenance crew leaves a lot to be desired.
From the looks of the weather map on television tonight, we'll be getting a bit of snow in the next day or two. We had a nice yellow bloom on the radar map right over us, which is very rare, but the same thing happened last time and the forecast turned out to be fairly accurate. Our temperatures are going to be dropping a bit for the next couple of days, so that's a bonus. We get to keep our snow for a while yet!
I know I talk a lot about the weather in this country, but that's just the main topic of conversation in Canada. I was just reading a short blurb in Reader's Digest about that very thing. It's funny but true that all conversation here begins with the weather. Calling a local business. "Hey Pam, how are you doing? This sun's nice isn't it? Yeah, I know, we really have to enjoy it while we've got it. Well no kidding, this is a lot more snow than usual this time of year..." And then you finally move on to the purpose of your call. Calling another business two provinces over in Saskatchewn. "Hey, how's your weather there? No kidding, really? Wow, you must be having a hard time finding a place to put all that snow! Well, no, I wouldn't blame you a bit for being tired of it. No, it's pretty good here. You should be seeing nice weather there in about two days. Nope, it's going to get bad again for you about two days after that because we've got another big system coming in. No, I'm sorry dude, we don't send you our bad weather deliberately. It's just that it all moves east on it's own...." And then you get down to the reason for your call. Or they get down to their reason for calling. Then the call might end with, "Well hey, enjoy the sunshine when you do get it, eh? Yeah, thanks, you too!" Actually, I used to have friends in Saskatchewan call me in BC all the time for a weather report because they swore up and down that what we had they would be getting in two days, and it was far more accurate than weather reports from the actuall weathermen on television. Surprisingly, they were right.
Seriously though, in Canada, you don't have to know the person you're talking to. All you have to know is what the weather did in the past two days and you're instant friends. I don't know if that makes Canadians boring in the eyes of the rest of the world or if they're just more conscious of what the weather is doing all the time. Especially for those people in the rural areas because they are affected so much more by weather, whether you're a farmer, oil patch worker, in construction or just trying to get to work over lousy roads. It's all about the weather.
12/12/2006 7:41 PM

Slush And Overflow

I don't think the chances of us having an ice road on Nimpo Lake are very good this year. Andy took a walk no more than forty feet out from shore in front of the house, stepping into overflow the whole way. He even had a tough time convincing the one dog to come out on the ice toward him. Poor old River performed a splay legged highstep the whole way. I think his approval rating for his master went down a notch there.
Yesterday the neighbour decided he was going to cross the back bay over to the boat ramp up to Nimpo with his fourwheeler. Bad idea. He tore up the pea patch a bit trying to get back out of the overflow and off the lake.
There's just too much snow on the lake ice this year and the weight is pushing water up from underneath through cracks in the ice and at the edge of the shore line. It'll be really disappointing for everyone that likes to play out on the ice over the holidays. Many people keep rinks cleared for skating, I like skiing the lake, and we all like walking or biking the ice road itself. Everyone looks forward to having the ice road to travel on, especially when visiting over holidays and if a person wants to stay off of the highway. It's nice for many of us that go across to Nimpo for our mail because the ice road cuts off at least ten minutes of driving time and a lot of nasty little corners.
The snow came down thick and hard for a little while last night and after it finally stopped we had a few more inches of snow on top of the last couple of days' total accumulation. Even though the Main Arm of Nimpo Lake was not yet frozen up when we got our first big snowfall, there's been enough since that I expect it's slushy out there too. We actually ended up with quite a pretty day today. For the first part anyway. We had quite cold temperatures last night but the sun was shining brightly for about half the day and brought the temperature right up. By afternoon though you could see heavy storm clouds moving along the Coast Mountain Range and our sun hazed out behind high cloud.
The weather forecasters said that the system coming in tonight has formed up and is moving in faster than expected. It will bring 40 to 50mph winds for the whole province, including central coast and central interior. Since we're located in between those two regions, I guess we better be expecting a good blow. I really hope the power doesn't go out. I've got way too much work to do.
Andy cut down a couple of beetle killed pines that were right next to the house this afternoon. A couple of pieces went into the wood stove so I guess they're dry. There are several dead trees next to the house and one over by the cabin that need to be removed this winter. We've been really fortunate this year to not have any really nasty winds but we won't escape forever, and I expect those tree roots are just getting weaker.

11/12/2006 6:37 PM

Welcome To The Great White North

Yep! It's snowing again! Nearly every day we get a little snow. It started snowing this morning again and was so bad at one point when I was trying to drive into the mill yard on business, that it was a complete whiteout. The temperature was just perfect for instantly freezing wet snow onto my windshield wipers so they wouldn't clear the windshield properly. I drove the last few hundred feet hunched down peering through a small clear spot at the bottom of the windshield trying to see a road that was completed whited out.
So far we've dodged the 'melting' bullet, but temperatures are ranging just below freezing to just above, making for slippery conditions everywhere. At least we didn't get hit like Tatla Lake did a few days ago. Apparently it snowed about eight inches, preventing trucks from getting through to Nimpo Lake and causing one family to turn back after hitting snow deep enough on the highway that they were pushing it with their bumper. At about the same time a Bella Coola highways plow truck went off the road on the 'Hill' when the operator overplowed. (Plowing too close to the edge of the road and getting sucked into the ditch.) In the case of the Hill, the 'ditch' goes a long, long way down in places. We've heard different stories and don't know if the truck rolled or slid down the embankment or even what stopped it from going farther.
It's pouring the snow down again now and it's hard to say what the next few days are going to bring, but there are three huge systems coming in off the Pacific Ocean, one after another this week. Vancouver has already been hit with high winds, resulting in trees down and power outages today. They're expecting quite a lot of rain for the next few days but the biggest storm won't hit them until about Thursday.
We are definitely getting hit with a lot more snow than we normally would this time of year as is the rest of British Columbia. It's kind of ironic in view of the movie we watched on television last night. It was quite an interesting movie based on global warming causing a sudden and destructive shift in weather all over the world and the onset of an ice age in the northern hemisphere. Although some of the premise was a little far fetched it did bring home how poorly equipped most of the human race is to face a natural disaster of that magnitude.
Even though my partner and I consider ourselves very well equipped to handle most unforseen disasters, I think a sudden ice age might be a little tough to beat. Food would be the main concern. Although we probably have enough for at least a year or two, once all of the animals have moved south ahead of the snow, ice and cold, you've lost your food supply. Because you sure are going to have a tough time growing it!
We enjoyed the movie because that sort of thing always gives food for thought and if it and other movies like it, wake people up a bit to the dangers of global warming, then that's a good thing. Think about it. There wouldn't even have to be a sudden shift in weather for much of the human race to face disaster. Even at the slow rate that the polar ice is melting, I think that we'll see a loss of vast amounts of coastal land mass in our lifetime. Since such a large percentage of Earth's population is located on the coast of various continents, where are all those people going to go? At least we probably don't have to worry about them moving here. People that live on the coast normally don't like it cold and with all this snow, we look more and more like the great white north all the time!

08/12/2006 11:23 AM

The Worst Kind Of Weather

For snowmobiling anyway. I woke up to an exceedingly dreary morning with misty fog and light snow out over the lake. The temperature is just above freezing so the snow is turning to slush as it lands on the ground. The tree top that fell next to the house in a high wind some time ago has now reappeared from under the snow which means snow levels have dropped overnight. So much for our light, fluffy powder that's so perfect for snow machines. I suppose the one benefit is that if this snow melts down and then freezes, it'll be hard as a rock and provide a good base. That's provided it doesn't melt completely.
As I mentioned yesterday...I guess you can't have it all. On the one hand it would be great to have the snow melt off of Nimpo Lake completely so that good quality ice can build without the insulating layer. On the other hand, we don't see great sledding snow like this so early in the winter very often.
Right now it would take a full scale melt to clear the snow off of the ice and it's more likely to just turn to mush.
We were supposed to get a real cold spell this week. I'm not too sure what happened to that, but I guess it just goes to show you that weather prediction has definitely not yet been perfected.
After seeing the guys out checking the ice on the lake yesterday I went back to last year's articles to see when the ice road was put in. It wasn't until about the third week of December so I guess we're all jumping the gun a bit.
I've always wished I had kept an accurate record of the weather out in this country over the years. I've never been one for a journal or diary as many people are but I have to admit, there's a real advantage to writing these articles. Being able to go back in time a year and see what was happening with the weather then is really cool. What's utterly amazing to me is how our memory can play tricks on us. I guess a written record really is the most accurate one. Especially in my case where I've considered myself fortunate many mornings to even be able to remember my name. My memory is definitely not one of my strong points. I don't do mornings too well either. lol.
But then inaccuracies seems to be the plague of our times. This seems especially apparent with our 'trusted' sources such as television newscasts. My partner was listening to the Mayor of Prince George yapping on the television this morning about the dangers of the beetle killed pines in his city. He insisted that everyone knew that the grey stage (when the tree is completely dead and without needles) was the most deadly for forest fire danger. Wrong. Extensive studies by forest fire fighters has repeatedly shown that the red stage (in the first year when the tree still has its needles but they are red) is by far the most dangerous. Whether because of a gas emitted or otherwise, a small open flame such as cigarette lighter brought to within six inches of the needles will cause them to explode into flame.
Last night one of our brainless newscasters emphasized how the coffin, that the Russian spy killed by radiation in England was laid to rest in, had to be airtight. I'm sorry Sweetheart, but an airtight coffin is not going to protect anyone else from the radiation! I'm assuming that they meant a specially lined coffin was used but neither she nor her writers bothered to do the research.
Then again, what do you expect? Another item on the news lately pointed out that 25% of our population in British Columbia is illiterate. One million people! 60% of that number were new immigrants. Okay, we're not even going to go into my opinion on that one since I believe anyone immigrating to a new country needs to have an adequate grasp of both the spoken and written language of that country. But what about the rest? Blame a school system that has for years now simply pushed students through whether they have a passing grade or not. Failing students is something that teachers are very reluctant to do, but without that threat of falling behind, students simply aren't going to bother to learn.
Now look at another item that you see on the news this time of year. Christmas always brings long newscasts about our homeless across Canada. I see some correlation between a school system that lets students slide by without knowing how to read and write, and a strong, competitive work force that has no room for people that can't read or write. Who to blame? I think we're long past blame. Start back at the beginning with the students and change the system.
There was a very interesting item the other night about the academic success achieved by students in schools where the sexes have been separated. Both boys and girls did much, much better without the distraction of their opposites, especially in their teens. Makes sense to me. I definitely remember my teen years and although I did well in school simply because I loved learning, and I had an old man that brandished a large leather belt, there was no question that I was distracted by you know what.
Another school in the Lower Mainland is talking about going to uniformed dress. Not school uniforms but a strong dress code that may include disallowing brand name clothes and footwear. 80% of parents are in favor of it, particularly because they feel it will be much less costly for them to dress their children for school. Well no kidding! I have always believed very strongly that a uniform dress code would increase learning and cut down on bullying among students. I have personal experience with schools that enforced both uniforms and dress code, and with schools that let it all hang out. The difference was extraordinary.
There you go. It's wet, it's snowing and I've just expressed my opinion for the day. If you would like to read last week's less opinionated and controversial posts, you can find them at December, Week One. Oh, and if you're wondering about the images up on the left...I'm in the middle of updating the web site for Escott Bay and a girl from Germany that works for them has been kind enough to allow me to use some of her pictures on this site. I thought the picture of the riders that have been caught with their camp getting snowed on very appropriate for the weather we're having.

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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!
Pink sunrise and shadows.
 
Overflow shows through the footprints on the lake.
 
Old wooden fence in winter.
 
Snow and campfire.
 
Caribou running on snow.
 
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