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Wilderness Adventures - Dec., Week 3/2010

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 some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.

21/12/2010 8:25 PM

The Shortest Day

Whoo Hoo!!! It's the shortest day of the year, folks, and I'm a happy camper! It can only get better from here. Funny how people are so varied in how they think. I went to lunch with a friend today and she feels exactly the same as I do about this date, expressed with the same holler when I met up with her in fact. For those of us that suffer a little with the lower amounts of sunlight, this is a pretty special date, while lots of other people take very little notice of the date and could probably care less.
Not I! I start waiting for this date from about June on when it's the longest day of the year. Yeah, I know, weird. I'm pretty sure I'm getting weirder too.
My computer crashed a week ago. I have actually had a new computer with Windows 7 on it sitting here since early last spring. It was built by my Brother-in-law with virtual Windows 2000 Pro and Windows 98 computers installed on it so that I could continue to use my software without having to purchase many thousands of dollars worth of new software.
I was slowly getting some stuff transferred over until summer and the growing season hit. As you all know from how lax the blogs are, I'm not inside and I'm not on the computer. Then my calendar season hits in the fall and there is no way I have time to work with a new machine, although I did try. The virtual 98 messed up my calendars so badly that I switched back to my faithful old machine..... which apparently isn't that faithful, because she blew on me. Although it probably wasn't the machine's fault.
I installed some Kodak image management software as a favor to friends, and when I uninstalled it, and it prompted me to reboot my computer, I did and it didn't. Fortunately, my Brother-in-law was willing to spend hours on the phone with me on Sunday helping me to recover my data files and move them over to the new computer. We got that done but then there's the little matter of program files which all have to be reinstalled. But first I have to hunt down the license keys for each and every bit of software I have purchased off the Internet for the last five years, and there's lots! Now I know where all my money has been going!
Needless to say, it's been a nightmare and I'm not even close to being done, but I thought I would try posting a blog from the new computer tonight. So far, because of reinstalls and trying to figure out how to use new programs, it's taken me an hour and a half just to post the new Picture of the Day page. Never mind the blog yet! So please don't be surprised if you don't see a blog for awhile. I've already had to turn down clients for work to be done because I can't imagine being able to do that until sometime after the New Year. It will take that long at least to get things back in shape again.
The only reason I'm far enough along to even post a blog is because of Andy's brother who has been trying to drag me kicking and screaming into the techno future, without much success and a high level of frustration on his part, I might add. Under the most recent circumstances and considering I should have been on the new computer months ago, he's been extremely patient. So though I may not be overly religious, may the Powers That Be bless all good brother-in-laws everywhere.
I can't describe the weather as anything other than icky. Well, that's probably not the best word. It's been grey for the past few days with some pretty cold temperatures at night down to as low as -18C and not getting that warm during the day. Sometimes it hasn't made it above -12C or 10F during the day, probably because we're not seeing the sun. We have been lucky enough to catch the edge of a system coming in from the south that has kept us from getting really, really cold as the rest of the province has been. Unfortunately the cloud that's kept us warmer kept us from seeing much of the full eclipse last night.
I'm sure you all heard that a full eclipse on the shortest day of the year won't occur again for another 400 years so I was really looking forward to seeing it, even going so far as to set my camera up on a tripod. By the time the eclipse started, we could see the moon and the eclipse, but it was obscured behind cloud. It wasn't until I was banking the fire that I noticed the moon coming out of the eclipse and that it was much clearer than it had been, but by then I was tired and didn't care.
We're supposed to experience a bit of a warm up in the next couple of days, which would be a nice change. Because of the combination of high pressure system sitting over the province and low trying to push in from the south, we've had steady flurries for the past week. It hasn't built up to more than a couple of inches of snow at the very most, but as I said, it's been grey. We saw a little bit of sun today and it was like seeing a long lost friend!
I don't know if I'll get another blog written and posted before Christmas. It hasn't been easy doing this one since I have to write it on the new computer and then copy/paste it to the virtual 2000 computer and my keyboard is pretty jumpy. I'm going to have to figure that problem out, because I do a lot of typing.
In any case, I would like to wish each and every one of you that have been patiently following the blog, or lack thereof for the past year, a very Merry Christmas. We'll be spending every moment after Christmas getting things ready for the New Year party on the ice so if I don't get a chance to write before then, have a wonderful New Year.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
15/12/2010 6:25 PM

The Otters

Sorry about not getting to the blog for a few days, folks.
We went to Williams Lake on Monday and that always sets things back a bit. Or as we say, requires recovery time. Going to town always does. First you have to take time to make sure you have everything you need the day before going including coolers, boxes, lists, warm boots, etc. in case of a break down. Then you shoot a whole day down from daylight to well past dark getting into town, doing the shop, appointments done, and getting back home. Winter roads tend to slow the travel end of it somewhat and then you still have to unpack and put away everything you bought including a month to six week's worth of groceries, dry goods, dog food, etc. The day following a trip to town is just one that you kiss goodbye. In the meanwhile, you add stuff to the 'list' for next time that you forgot to buy this time.
We went on a walk yesterday in search of a Christmas tree. No luck. So if Andy can't find something along the road tomorrow, I think we'll be pulling out the doober in the box in the attic. It's just a little one foot or so tall fake tree with some lights on it, and tends to look worse for wear when you pull it out of its old, dog-eared box, but it'll do. We don't have a lot of room for a tree anyway and since we're going to have company for dinner a couple of times over the next week or so, we're going to need all the room we can get.
I went for a cross country ski today. It's the first time in two years! I only went a total of about two miles to the far western shoreline and back because I didn't want to push the hip, but even that little trip was enough. There's not much snow on the ice so you can't use the poles to help you out because they just slide. But my track should set up by tomorrow and will make things a little faster.
There's quite a bit of overflow when you near the other shore and several spider holes, so if I go any farther on the next trip toward Dot Island, I'll stick closer to the middle of the lake.
I crossed several otter tracks crossing from the Big Island to the point where that truck went in last year, two of them older, four of them made this morning. I didn't want to get too close to the point but it looks like at least one otter is attempting to keep the ice open there. I saw an otter on my way back at the Big Island, but couldn't tell at that distance what he was doing. It almost looked like he was digging up a berm on the ice. Or he's digging into the bank. I'm not really sure and I couldn't see him from the house. I'll have to keep an eye out for him tomorrow as he crosses from the island to the point.
This year we have had otter tracks all over the place from the back bay to following our point around and then over to the James' bay. I don't know if a couple of young otters got frozen out or kicked out of their existing home and are on the hunt for another or what, but they are definitely a traveling duo. I don't know how long otters would be safe on the island. Andy says they're mean enough to fight off attack from most animals, but I don't know how well they would fare if a coyote pack or couple of wolves caught scent of them. The tip of the island and the point are a few hundred yards apart with open ice all the way, so otters would be taking their chances trying to make it to open water. But perhaps they're trying to build new home on the island where they'll be safe. I'll have to ski a little closer over there and see what's up.
We have had a mixed bag for weather but it seems pretty darn stable and nice compared to Ontario.
Whew! Anyone catch the news?
A major blizzard swept over Highway 402 Monday stranding 386 vehicles in drifts and in ditches on the highway. By yesterday evening police, military in helicopters and locals on snowmobiles managed to rescue 300 of the motorists 24 hours after they were first stuck there. The rest were truckers that stayed with their rigs and locals took them out hot coffee and sandwiches today.
Semi trucks were overturned by the wind and many cars were nearly buried by snow drifts up to ten deep. Plows got to work today to try and clear some of the snow from around the vehicles trapped in it. Some people were taken back out by bus to their vehicles today but many didn't have a hope of getting their cars or trucks started. Under the hoods, the motors were completely encased in a layer of drifted snow and ice and the only way they were going to move was by tow truck. The aerial photos and videos of the whole thing were just unbelievable!
The Canadian East coast is just a mess after a huge storm there dropped 200mm or 8 inches of rain causing massive flooding and power outages from downed trees. Many States took just as hard a knock from violent weather or from snow, and it looks like Florida's citrus crops may not fare well this week. At only 5C or 41F in Miami, I don't expect holiday goers are enjoying themselves much and my brother in Jacksonville will have his winter woolies on and be looking for someone to blame for this. I guess he can blame us. Canadians I mean, seeing as how it's a good old made in Canada arctic front that has contributed to the freakish weather.
Well, the climate guys did say that climate change would cause more extreme weather conditions. While the east got slammed, the west wasn't let off so easily. The Lower Mainland and Islanders have been drowning in their own sorrows, with continuous and heavy rainfall causing some grief down there. So I'm going to try to not sound smug when I say I'm still pretty happy with our weather. It gets pretty cold at night but most days the temperature comes well up and it's quite pleasant to be outside for awhile. Today it got up to just a hair below freezing and while there was a small breeze out on the lake while I was skiing, the sun was shining for most of the day and it was pretty darn beautiful. I'm not going to trade it in for anyone else's weather, that's for sure!
We still haven't gotten much for snow with only a slight skiff the other night. In fact, I think we've gotten way less than folks in the Okanagan have. I know their snow keeps melting so it's hard to tell, but just one of their recent snow falls has exceeded what we've accumulated this winter so far. It makes the local snowmobile enthusiasts unhappy, but the snow will come eventually, although I'm not sure what's left up on the mountains. The Rainbow Range and Kappan Mountain for sure have less snow now than the last time I saw them. There's no question that we're seeing a lot of temperature inversions this year. You wouldn't have believed the temperature differences we saw going into town on Monday! Unbelievable!
We saw temperatures ranging from +1 to -17 going in and +3 to -12 coming back out. Every time we went down in elevation it got cold and up in elevation it was warmer. Monday morning it was -14 in Alexis Creek and when we hit the top of the hill just above Alexis Creek at Lee's Corner, it was -3. Monday evening on our way home it was +2 starting into the reserve at Alexis Creek and in the space of a few hundred yards it had dropped to -9.
It seems that the valleys, especially those near still open rivers or lakes, really suffer from cold, especially when fog develops and blocks the sun for a good part of the day. Without the sun they just never warm up, while a higher elevations the sun often burns off the fog. We've been stuck in the fog from Charlotte the odd day here, but for the most part, we've been lucky and have seen quite a bit of sun so far. And hey! We're only six days from the shortest day of the year and it all gets better after that!
For those of you that knew Gloria Folsom, there will be a Celebration of Life for her at the Nimpo Lake Community Hall on December 28 between one and three. All friends and family are welcome to attend. We're sure gonna miss her around here!
You can find last week's blog at December Week Two.

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!
White clouds and fog obscure the Coast Mountain range.
White mountain with aspen in front.
Foggy sunrise near Redstone.
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