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Wilderness Adventures - Dec., Week2-4/2009

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' about the Lakesounds 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.


30/12/2009 5:27 PM

The Holidays

It's 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 could.
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 tomorrow.
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 Eve!

21/12/2009 10:42 PM

The Double Whammy

Not 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 wind-chill.
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 getting here.
Tuesday.
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 Christmas everyone!

18/12/2009 12:03 AM

The Cold

I 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 Holidays everyone!






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!
People around a truck in the ice.
 
A white truck has gone through the ice out on Nimpo Lake.
 
Coyote in the snow on the lake.
 
Orange streak across the sky above the mountains.
 
Several snowmobiles stopped on the trail.
 
Rider jumping on a green and black snowmobile.
 
Rider with a cloud of snow.
 
Girl plowing through snow.
 
Belly pan of a sled.
 
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