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., Week2-4/2009
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of the Day.
been quite an adventure over the course of the holidays
this year. Most of the community of Nimpo Lake and many
from Anahim Lake attended Leah and Richard's wedding reception.
Unfortunately, most of us also seemed to have picked up
a cold bug there and it wiped out the holidays for a lot
of us. It was a virulent, nasty thing that's still
taking down community members that hadn't gotten it yet.
I've had it for nearly two weeks now and it definitely
set me back. In nearly all cases it's gone down into everyone's
chest so we're all outside trying to get stuff done, hacking,
coughing, and short on breath. This little sucker takes
a lot out of you so we're all pretty slow trying to get
things done for the New Year's Ice Party.
Preparations for the ice party got slowed down a little
two days ago. Sunday night I looked up from cooking stuff
for the party in time to see a white Ford with a canopy
go across in front of our place on the ice. I watched
it for awhile as it followed the shore around thinking
it was someone going visiting. A few minutes later
our neighbour called and said the pickup had gone through
the ice out on the point. Now that's probably
the only place on this lake that is a bad spot for any
vehicle or sled. Stay out 30 or 40 feet from the point
and you'll be okay, but they cut right next to it, and
it rarely freezes deeply there. I guess they noticed that
the ice looked different but kept on anyway. They dropped
their front wheels through the ice to the rocks below.
Fortunately, the front wheels were on ground under the
ice, but it drops away fairly quickly there. They were
walking back toward Nimpo so Andy went out on the sled
to see what the situation was. Since it was going on dark
there wasn't much anyone could do. Or it would have been
dangerous to try because you just can't see what's happening
nearly as well as you can in daylight.
The next morning several people went out to see
if they could get the truck out but the front end froze
in overnight, and it turned out to be an all day affair.
Since the visitors were from Vancouver, they didn't really
know what to do, and as with any community full of strong
personalities, there were a lot of ideas floating around
and way too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. Andy took
a chainsaw out in the morning to cut the front wheels
out. Then he came back for chains because Richard tried
pulling the truck out right off the bat and only succeeded
in busting the cables because that truck just wasn't going
anywhere. Part of the reason was that it had been left
in gear, so Andy took out a couple of batteries to give
the truck juice so they could get it out of Park and into
Neutral so the wheels would move. No such luck.
Of course as with anything that goes wrong in the Chilcotin,
community members usually find a way to make a party out
of it. Once it became apparent that this was not
going to be a quick fix, a fire was built and soon hot-dogs,
lawn chairs, and liquid refreshments arrived.
While that may not have helped in the formulation of a
plan that could be agreed on, I'm sure the people on site
had the best of intentions.
After trying a few different things, they finally put
big logs on either side of the truck just back of the
front wheels and then drilled in logs back behind the
truck to hook big come-alongs to. Then in between the
come-alongs, they ran a line from Richard's truck to the
sunk truck with the intention of using a combination of
the pulling power of his truck with the come-alongs At
about 2:30 I went out to see what was happening. I had
forgotten to take my camera and would have returned home
to get it but I had arrived in time to help throw my weight
on the logs behind the wheels. The idea was that
if you had people bouncing the logs in front while others
winched from behind, we might be able to bounce the front
of the truck out of the ice. All we succeeded
in doing was bust the ice behind the front wheels as the
truck was being dragged backwards. The front wheels weren't
coming up high enough to clear the ice. I had to leave
after only an hour because I had to cook for guests and
I could see that all we were doing was breaking ice. That,
and it was a little annoying to see that of the seven
people bouncing both big logs to move the truck, three
of us were women (two of them tiny), while several strapping
young men stood around and drank beer. Evidently young
men nowadays really do believe in equality. Or does that
only apply when work needs to be done?
Just after I left, one guy finally put on a wet suit,
got in the water, and got a Jack-all under the hitch on
the front and lifted the truck enough so that the front
tires would come out up above the ice. It was something
that actually needed to be done long before, but
the position of the truck previously meant that if someone
was at the front of it and the truck slipped, that person
stood to lose their legs.
They put another truck at the back using a winch and I
was watching through binoculars when I heard a great cheer
go up as the truck was jerked out just as the sun went
down. Good thing too. Had it not come out then,
it may well have been there until spring. That
was many, many hours of a lot of people huffing and puffing
from deep chest colds and soaked to their knees from the
water on the ice.
I think that the visitors from Vancouver that put their
truck through the ice are very lucky that so many people
from the community were willing to devote a whole day
to trying to get the vehicle out. But the cold sure knocked
the stuffing out of everyone sick with it while they were
at it, and of course, it meant fewer days to get stuff
done for the party. However, the truck owners did
attempt to return the favor today by helping where they
Andy borrowed Terry B's plow truck and in the last couple
of days, managed to get a huge area plowed out for the
party. Yesterday morning a few of us got a bunch of wood
cut up and hauled over for the bonfires, as well as for
the Swiss Candles. Yesterday afternoon Andy and I pulled
some scraggy pines in from the back trail that had broken
off from the heavy snow loads this winter, while Richard
and Clint brought a bunch more in this morning. While
Andy and John chainsawed the Swiss candles, the rest of
us got the lights strung, a curling rink put in and the
ice bar built. Talk about the Chilcotin meets Fred
Flintstone. But all that ice really looks awesome!
Now all I have to do is remember to take the camera over
We just have another full day's work and it'll all be
ready! Funny how much work you put in for just one evening
of party but I think it'll be worth it. Unfortunately,
Andy has carried the load for a lot of the work and trying
to get that truck out really worsened his cold so he's
pretty drug out right now.
It has remained fairly cold all through the Christmas
holidays. Yesterday it actually got up to freezing and
above in the sun, the first in a long time. It was weird
listening to snow slide off the roof. It hasn't been warm
enough to do that for awhile!
We were supposed to get snow today but thankfully, there
were just a few flurries although it might snow yet tonight.
It's supposed to get really, really cold tomorrow. It
would have been nice if the cold could have held off for
just one more day, but no such luck. Hopefully,
the bonfires will keep everyone warm enough tomorrow night.
That and the liquid refreshments and hot food.
I doubt I'll be able to write again before New Year's
Day, so here's wishing you all a wonderful New Year's
The Double Whammy
only have we been hit with snow again, but we've another
cold front moving in. I'm telling you, someone has definitely
peed in the Weather Gods' cereal.
I don't even remember now when it started snowing but
I know Andy was out pushing snow on the Bobcat yesterday
afternoon. It snowed all day and most of last night I
guess because there was another good four inches of snow
on the deck this morning and somewhere between one and
two inches of snow has fallen since I cleared it. Since
it's been a long ongoing thing, it's pretty hard to measure
but Andy figures we got another good eight inches of snow
and probably more. It's a good thing it's been
really fine light stuff or we would all be in trouble.
It turns out that Friday ended up being our warmest day
with it going a few degrees above freezing. I don't know
exactly what it was because my brother and I were out
trying to find a Christmas tree. Not an easy endeavor
with this much snow on the ground and on
the trees. After a gorgeous, sunny afternoon, the mercury
started cruising downward again and I don't think it's
gotten above -10C or 14F the last couple of days. Last
night it got down nearly to -20C or -4F and it's already
there this evening so it's going to get cold tonight.
A little breeze out of the north rears its ugly head off
and on and that really drops the temperature with the
We are supposed to have some seriously cold air
move in over us for the next few days. Since it's
supposed to clear off as well, that's a good thing for
those people traveling, or seemed to be. But this evening
the weathermen were giving conflicting reports on what's
supposed to happen across Canada up to and including Christmas.
There's supposed to be some wicked winter storms which
does not bode well for anyone. Especially since many modes
of transportation seem to be badly backed up in the States
due to weather, and that has a ripple effect in Canada.
Add to that the terrible weather the east coast in Canada
has had and is still expecting. I've got a brother coming
back from Iraq and then in from Ohio for Christmas so
I don't know what kind of weather he's going to run into
I finally ran out of steam last night folks, so I decided
to continue this today. It cleared off last night and
you could see the moon clearly while we watched the temperature
drop. It ended up at -28.8C or 20 below zero Fahrenheit
this morning and still hasn't warmed up much above
-25C or -13F and it's nearly noon, but at least the sun
is shining. Even as cold as it is Andy and my brother
(the poor dude from Florida) have had to get up on the
roof of one of our sheds to clear the massive amount of
snow off. Even though the first snowfall slid off, we've
had quite a few since and because it's a long, long roof
with a gentle slope, the snow has really built up and
isn't going anywhere without help. Most of our buildings
have tin roofs so that the snow will slide
if it warms up, but since two major snows this winter
were preceded by rain that turned to wet snow, it froze
to the tin and just won't move. And of course, we've only
seen one day above freezing for some time and it takes
several before that snow will slide.
I'll tell you what, this is turning out to be some
snow year. The sledding enthusiasts certainly can't complain
about the lack of snow, although cold temperatures have
prevented some trips out. Weather forecasters keep claiming
that the latter half of the winter is supposed to be warmer
than usual in Western Canada because of El Nino. That
prediction can come true anytime it wants to.
I'm starting to get a little tired of the cold and I expect
Andy is getting a little tired of pushing snow. It will
definitely be a white Christmas around here. Unlike the
Christmas about four years ago when there was water on
the ice because it had rained for three days and melted
like crazy. Come to think of it, I think that was an El
Nino year too.
I'll just remind all of the local people that we are having
the New Year's Eve party on the ice this year so don't
forget to check out the posters to find out more. Merry
realize it's been a week since I last wrote anything,
folks, and I'm sorry but it couldn't be helped. It's been
crazy busy around here and it didn't help that we had
to go into Williams Lake for a couple of days this week.
Naturally we chose the coldest morning of the year
so far to go in, which meant canceling a vet's
appointment for one of the dogs. There is no way it would
have been fair to make River ride in the back of the truck
in that weather and it would have been impossible to put
him in the front on the return trip as we might normally
have. In those temperatures, we needed all of the heated
space that we could manage for anything that might freeze,
including canned goods and vegetables.
Since my post last week, the temperatures just kept
on dropping. The warmest day we had one day was
-5C or 23F but most days the mercury stayed below -14C
or 6.8F for a day time high and stayed between the -20's
and -30's during the night. By Sunday night we knew the
temperatures were really going to take a header and sure
enough, Monday morning arrived with the thermometer
sitting just short of -40 degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit.
The air was so cold it kind of made you suck wind every
time you had to go outside, which was quite a bit since
we were leaving that day for Willy's Puddle. We would
never have dared had it not been for my brother staying
here with a willingness to keep the wood stoves full.
That the weather was a bit of shocker for him is an understatement,
considering he had arrived from Florida. I think that
cold air just about took his breath away. He became immediate
friends with our Rottweiler and yarded the dog into his
cabin to keep him company and keep him warm. Now the big
galoot, (the dog, not the brother) doesn't want a thing
to do with us. Every time one of us goes down to the cabin
he ducks out of sight. Hey, why not? He gets to sleep
on a bed (he's not supposed to) in a nice warm cabin and
get treated like a king. He's going to be so spoiled
by the time my brother leaves that he's going to think
he's people and we won't hardly be able to stand him.
A little warm up has finally happened and although it
didn't make it above freezing yesterday, it will today,
especially since we've got sunshine. There are some storm
clouds rolling around over the mountains but hopefully
they won't make it this far east. We have to go get a
Christmas tree today and it would be nice to do it in
the sun. We're hoping the trees thaw out a bit. Had we
gotten one in that cold, the needles would have dropped
off as soon as we brought it into the house. They still
might. There is something to be said for phony trees and
much as I would like one, my partner loves a real and
won't hear of it.
Yesterday Andy and my brother drilled the ice in the back
bay and over toward the public boat ramp where we want
to have the New Year's Eve ice party. The thickness
of the ice varied between 11 and 15 inches. There
was actually less ice in the back bay where it's protected
by snow than out in the open where there's less snow on
the surface to insulate the ice from the cold. We'll definitely
have lots of ice for folks to dance on.
I'm not sure what the weather is supposed to do here in
the next while. It looks like this warm up is only going
to last for a day or so and then it's going to cool down
again. I guess if anyone wants to go snowmobiling, they
might want to do it now. A couple of trips out were cancel
last week because it was just too cold.
I just received an email from one of my neighbours with
some pictures. He and his daughter went out to Gus's Meadow
today by going across the lake to Dot Island and then
up on the other side. He said there's lots of good snow
over there and that they played around for quite a while.
Those are his pics on the right.
Since we're all gearing up for the holidays, I may not
have have a lot of time to write a blog in the near future
but you can find previous articles at December
Week One and if I don't write, Happy
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!