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Wilderness Adventures - Feb., Week 1/2008

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.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


07/02/2008 6:56 PM

Eye Of The Storm

We 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.

04/02/2008 11:29 AM

Stack Yard Grizzly

Here's 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 Gordon CHRISTENSEN
- "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, "Aw Shit"!!
We both knew enough to keep a sharp lookout and did not want to accidentally get in the way of this ole Girl and her cubs.
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 a clue!
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!
Regards,
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 right.

03/02/2008 10:24 AM

Lester

Geez 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 away.
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." -

Two men stand by a floaplane.
Thanks Floyd!
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 or not.
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!

01/02/2008 7:11 PM

Bush Rats

John 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 Rats!!
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 night before.
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 Week 4.


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Sled in fresh snow.
 
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