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 - Feb., Week 1/2008
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.
Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture
of the Day.
Eye Of The Storm
must be in the eye of the storm in our little corner of
the Chilcotin because we seem to be about the only ones
not hit with nasty weather. Our weather has just
been kind of ho hum, not bad temperatures, not much in
the way of snow, some sun here and there, and some pretty
good wind. But compared to everywhere else, we're in gravy.
Vancouver/Lower Mainland got hit with yet another
winter snowstorm, dropping so much snow on Burnaby Mountain
that something like 1200 students had to camp out in the
campus gym for the night because they were advised to
not drive down the hill and there was no transit.
More than one person was interviewed out Coquitlam way
that looked to be sick and tired of shoveling their
driveways and cars out. I have to admit, there
were some pretty big snow banks along the streets there.
Another 60cm of snow landed on Seymour overnight, which
will make the skiers very happy, but I think they're about
the only ones. And then the folks in Vernon and Kelowna
can't be too happy about their surprise dump of snow.
So much for the sunny, warm Okanagan that all the prairie
farmers retire too. There's probably more than one
bad Ukranian word being spoken from the wrong end of a
shovel down there right now.
And then there's the Connector from Vancouver to Merritt,
shut down because of an avalanche up near the snow shed.
I didn't think there was anywhere on the Coke that could
have much in the way of an avalanche, but I guess....
In the meanwhile, the poor folks up in the Dawson Creek,
Fort Nelson and Fort St. John area are still freezing
their tailpipes off with temperatures to -40 and
wind chills to -47 degrees. Boy, they've been in the deep
freeze all winter and Whitehorse and southern lakes hasn't
fared much better. But, we're still all a lot better off
than the folks hit with those tornadoes in the States.
Winter tornadoes yet. And that's the highest death toll
we've heard of in a while.
In the meanwhile, I feel almost guilty reporting our temperatures.
We finally, finally made it above freezing
today for the first time in a long time at 1.9C. It only
stayed there momentarily and a wind kept it cold out,
but hey, spring's coming! Actually, it really has
been a while and I was just commenting yesterday
that it's been months since we've seen snow actually melting.
If we'd gotten last year's snow with these temperatures,
we would be wading through about five feet of snow in
our yard right now. As it is, it's just been a very chilly
winter, but no nasty weather to speak of , which makes
us more fortunate than many parts of the country. Our
biggest problem has been with the house shifting enough
so that Andy actually had to move the notches in the door
jamb yesterday so our basement door would stay shut. Frost
has been driven far enough beneath the footings now that
the house is moving much more than normal. Or we've
certainly never had a problem to this extent before.
All houses move in temperatures like what we see in BC,
and older ones on poor foundations move a lot! Newer houses
like this one are usually pretty good but this has been
an unusual winter.
I don't have much to report and I do have to get back
to work, but I'll leave you with some snowmobiling pictures
of the neighbour playing around Gus's Meadow a week or
so ago. And just a note that Tatla Lake is having
a Poker Run this coming Saturday starting at 10:00 and
expected to be about a 50 mile run. The weather
is supposed to be pleasant, so it might be a fun thing
to do. I think Andy and our Nimpo bunch are going and
I think they'll have a lot of fun. Me.....I'll be working
in front of this Dad Blamed computer again...
Maybe they'll take some pictures for me.
Stack Yard Grizzly
another great story, this time from John Brecknock and
his finely honed sense of humour.
HOW TO ESCAPE GRIZZLY BEAR - as advised by D'Arcy
- "Gotta tell you about a time and incident
back at Anahim when I was just a kid working at the Corkscrew
Creek Ranch. I only ever encountered Grizz on two occasions
and they happened to be both on the same day and most
likely with the same Sow and her cubs.
D'Arcy Christensen and I were making our way from the
Ranch to the Airport Meadow to make hay. Now that meadow
was flood irrigated and there was a ditch dug that brought
water from the creek to different parts of the Meadow.
Just before Anahim Stampede the water was shut off and
the water allowed to settle. We would start making Hay
sometime after the Stampede; weather permitting.
Now this Irrigation ditch was dried up for the most part
and the silt had settled in the bottom of the ditch. Crossing
the ditch one could not help but see the very clear tracks
of the Sow Grizz and two cubs. They were using the ditch
like a roadway. The only words out of D'Arcy's mouth were,
We both knew enough to keep a sharp lookout and did not
want to accidentally get in the way of this ole Girl and
Now it did not take to long to get into the swing of things
and we were busy putting up Hay. Pretty much never gave
the Bear a second thought. About lunch time we met at
one of the Stack Yards for dinner. D'Arcy had a little
border collie back in those days and his name was "Paddy".
Paddy went everywhere D'Arcy went and never much let him
out of his sight. He was a pretty good little dog and
had a natural talent in catching rabbits. He had to, to
survive. No such thing as dog food at Anahim Lake in those
days. He had to make do past getting a few left over hotcakes
in the morning.
Anyways…. We were eating our lunch by the Stack yard which
was located on the edge of the timber. Eating and B. S'ing
about a lot of different things. Paddy lying down beside
us hoping to get a crumb from our lunch. That did not
usually happen by the way!! Beautiful day, Sun is shining,
life is pretty good. In a split second little "Paddy"
is on his feet, ears perked, off through the buck brush
at nine-o, growling and a barking. Within the time it
took us to stand up you could hear the woofs and roars
of that Sow Grizz. Paddy is going nuts and making a hell
of a racket. Sow bear just a roaring and growling!!
Now D'Arcy and I are on our feet and I'm looking to him
for some guidance and direction. Paddy is on the Bear
and we can't see diddly through the buck brush but I certainly
know what direction the Bear and cubs are and it could
not be more than 50-60 yards by the sound of the ruckus.
I again look to D'Arcy for direction 'cause I don't have
Now you gotta picture this!! Bear & Cubs!! Little dog
going crazy!!! About to be eaten and I look to D'Arcy
who is virtually star gazing looking up!! I can't take
it any longer!! I said what the Hell are you doing?? The
bear is over this a-way and you're Star Gazing!
So help me God within a heart beat he gives me the answer
that registers like in a milli second. "I'm looking for
a tree with lots of limbs!" Makes perfect sense to me
and I now join him in the search for the perfect tree.
D'Arcy follows this advice up with, "I guess it don't
really matter; I'm' gonna be peeling bark all the way
to the top, branches or no f%#ing branches!"
Now you just gotta love this guy's attitude! I'll never
forget that comment as long as I live...
Needless to say little "Paddy" Dog saved the day. We got
the hell out of there on the tractors, Paddy plodding
along behind proud as a Peacock!
It was quitting time and I was walking back to the Ranch
House by myself from the Meadow through the bush and it
was getting dark. About this time I again hear that very
recognizable woof a bear makes. Nine -O all the way home!
Never looked back!
John D. BRECKNOCK " -
Everyone had a great time snowmobiling yesterday.
Some of them finally got up to the top of Trumpeter Mountain
after trying a few times over a period of time, but yesterday
it was clear enough to make it to the top and I've got
a great picture of three of them clowning around at the
cairn on Picture
of the Day.
I didn't think it was going to be much of a day for them
yesterday because it was so cold and cloudy in the morning,
but I guess by the time they hit the Hooch and Charlotte
Main, they were in sunshine and they covered a lot of
ground in the afternoon.
We've started warming up a bit and it actually got up
to -7C or 20F today. Of course it's dropping again now
but not nearly to the extent it has been. According
to the groundhog in Ontario, it's supposed to be a short
winter. According to the climate/weather guy,
the groundhog is only right 40% of the time. He
says to expect the same cold and snowy weather everyone's
been having throughout the month of February and possibly
into March as well. I guess we'll see at Breakup whether
the four legged critter or the two legged critter was
Louise. I sneak away for one evening and two stories are
in my inbox when I get back. Which is really nice for
me because I didn't have anything for the blog today,
so I'll post them in order of arrival.
This from Floyd Vaughan:
- "The story about pack rats reminded me of
one time when Lester Dorsey was at Tanya Lake with six
American hunters. They were all sleeping in the cabin
there which is only about 16 by 20 feet. Tom Mathews was
also along as cook and guide. Everyone was sleeping on
the floor in zipped up sleeping bags when about three
in the morning, Lester heard this bush rat in the rafters.
So he held a flashlight on it, got his 30-06, and blasted
When he shot, parts of bloody bush rat fell on everyone,
he dropped the light which went out, and the stampede
was on for the door. With the smell of gun powder, it
being pitch dark, their ears ringing and zipped up in
their sleeping bags, Lester was just about trampled to
death in the stampede.
Lester was a real original, but had a bit of actor in
him also. One time when the C.B.C. was doing a documentary
on him they wanted to get a moving picture of him riding
away into the sunset. He was dressed in gum boots, slouch
hat, and his horse didn't have its tail trimmed or mane
cleaned up. Lester worked on the horse for about ten minutes
then got on, pushed his hat back turned his toes out and
rode off for them, straight as a ramrod." -
I think everyone who has ever read a book about this country
has heard about Lester Dorsey, and he was indeed an original.
Considered to have been a close friend to Pan Phillips,
I think he was the crazy bugger that first rode that contraption
they designed to tear up the hummocks for hay meadows
for the ranch. Supposedly, they had this monster team
of horses on it with Lester sitting up in a tower about
ten feet in the air. According to the story the
team tore the contraption to pieces the first time they
tried it, but I don't know if the story is true
Temperatures are a wee chilly today. -28C when I went
to bed and Andy and a few members of Nimpo took off a
little after ten this morning to go snowmobiling and it
was still -20C or -4F then. It's pretty cloudy and the
odd snowflake is sifting down so hopefully it will warm
up for everyone. In meanwhile, I'm stuck here because
I have work to do so I better be getting to it.
Before I go, though, I just want to congratulate
Richard and Leah for officially taking over the Nimpo
Lake General Store. They've done their inventory
and are the proud new owners so lets do our part to support
them, folks! They're both fine partners and participants
in our community and maybe a few years down the road they'll
even help to increase the population around here!
Brecknock sent a story over from Alberta today about bush
rats, also known as pack rats.
PACK RAT, TRADE RAT, BUSH TAILED RAT or VERMIN
Anyone who has lived in the Chilcotin will be familiar
with "Pack Rats".
Leave a cabin empty for any amount of time and you will
soon have a pair of rats set up housekeeping. Once they
get in; you'll know immediately by the odor. A "Pack Rat"
has a very distinct smell and there is no mistaking it.
Drive out the rats and the smell soon goes right behind
them. I think so anyway; or maybe we just get use to it
or maybe we just overpower the smell of the rats with
our own distinct smell or whatever. Suffice to say they
stink and it ain't pretty!!
Late in the haying Season we would move out to "Behind
Meadows" to make Hay. Behind Meadows is a few miles North
West of Clespocket Ranch. The whole hay crew would set
up a camp at the Meadows. My sister Judy would take over
the cabin which was really the cook house and she would
feed the hay crew which could be 8 or 10 guys depending.
The cook house was really just a small sod roofed cabin
big enough to contain a big plank table, benches and a
bed. Some native families would also come along and set
up their camps as well. Back in those days all the raking
of hay was done with teams of horses. D'Arcy would contract
his tractor and mower and knock down hay. Some horse mowers
may have been used as well where the ground may have been
still too soft to hold up a tractor.
Anyways….I remember taking teams of horses down the road
to the Meadows and my sister Judy coming down the road
in the old 1956 Ford Panel truck with all the grub and
stuff.. We would set up the cook shack and clean out the
mess etc. Now Judy would sleep in the cabin and everyone
else out in a tent.
First night in the cabin and Judy cooking the next morning
complaining about no sleep as the Pack Rats were running
all over the cabin, all night. Now right after breakfast
Judy is looking for her wedding and engagement rings.
Can't find them!! She claims to have placed them on the
window sill the night before and now they are gone! Pack
It did not take us long to suspect that the rats had made
off with the rings. Judy says she could hear the rats
running under the floor boards in the cabin all night
when they were not on top of them. I can't remember now
if they left us something in return for taking the rings
but that is usually what they will do.
Judy is not sure how she is going to tell D'Arcy about
losing her rings. They were still relative "newly weds"
back then. Pack Rats will always make a nest close by
and to my way of thinking it must have been under the
floor boards judging by the noise they were making the
Well we decide to pry up a few floor boards and see what
we could see. Pried up the first board and right there
on the very top of the Pack Rat nest were Judy's rings.
Also found enough cutlery to equip a small café. Also
found enough silver change to make about a day's wages.
Bottle caps, anything shiny. Broken glass etc. They had
quite a collection of stuff.
Now all is well at "Behind Meadows". We're ready to make
hay. Judy now armed with a .22 rifle and a flash light
up most of the next night popping off Pack Rats. She actually
had me holding the light and she shooting the rats. Another,
quite routine day, in the Chilcotin.
I also remember that Judy and D'Arcy spent a winter at
"Behind Meadows" feeding cattle all winter back in 1959
I think. There is another whole story about a weasel that
came to visit and never left. Also a secret duck dinner!
Regards, John D. BRECKNOCK -"
I don't know about you guys but I definitely want to hear
about the secret duck dinner. I wonder if it has any resemblance
to Floyd's loon supper??!!!
For anyone not familiar with our bush rats, they do not
actually resemble 'city' or garbage dump rats at all.
They don't have the long, skinny, hairless tail for one
thing. And some can get really, really big. Put
it this way, it takes a pretty tough hombre of a house
cat that can kill a pack rat. In fact I only ever
knew one, and even he didn't take on the big ones. And
they really are the collectors of all things shiny. We
would find their nests around the farm and they would
be full of stuff that couldn't possibly
have been any use ever to a pack rat, but it was shiny.
It only went down to -18C or 0F last night and actually
made it up to -6C or 21F today, which was wonderful because
I definitely wanted some fresh air. It was nice and sunny
so Andy knocked down a couple of beetle killed pine over
at the neighbour's that were actually on our land, but
not accessible except from the lake. We decided once the
lake froze up we would start getting those trees out this
winter where we could drag them out onto the ice with
the pickup and burn the brush right there. It didn't take
us more than a couple of hours and only that long because
we dawdled outside enjoying the sunshine. I wasn't in
any huge hurry to be stuck back at my computer desk regardless
of how much work I might have to do. By the way, happy
first day of February everyone!
And on that note, since it's the first day of a new month,
it's also the start of a new week. You'll find last week's
stories, many excellent ones kindly provided by Floyd
Vaughan and John Brecknock, at January
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!