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 One/2009
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like
'Lake Monsters' about the
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.
The Pretty Day
ended up with an extraordinary day, even if it did snow
last night. We actually did manage to accumulate
about an inch of snow and it didn't take a month after
all. The snow picked up a bit yesterday evening
with fatter snowflakes and it was coming down a little
It was around -8C or 17F this morning and cleared right
off to bright sunshine and a breathtaking blue sky. It
warmed up to a couple of degrees above freezing this afternoon
with no wind and it was absolutely delightful out!
Yesterday the snow was loaded with snow lice, even
the track I was walking on. You would never guess
that the tiny black specks are alive if a lot of them
weren't bouncing around. I guess it must have been warm
enough the last few days to bring them to the surface,
although there wasn't one to be seen today. They were
all covered with the fresh snow.
Even the dogs have been overheating lately because of
the heavy coats they built up over that long cold spell
we had. Every time I stop they're rolling in the snow
to cool down and eating snowballs like crazy. Or snow
lice. I'm not sure which.
The neighbours cleared their skating rink and Andy was
over skating awhile. I have too much work to do or I would
have gone over as well. Andy got the electric start (Stating
it only takes half a line here, actually accomplishing
it took several days.) on my snowmobile so now
I can go where I please without having to cold start my
sled. Pretty much impossible for me. It was great when
it was new but has gotten harder and harder to pull over
the last couple of years, especially when it's cold.
Hey, I just heard from Locky and Midge over at Batnuni.
I don't know if I mentioned it here before but they
purchased Rich Hobson's old place and have been living
there for about the last eight months and very
much enjoying being out of the city. Anyway, Locky just
mentioned to me tonight that they had read about starting
seeds using hydrogen peroxide. They decided to see if
they could make some wheat sheaves in a wall decoration
on the wall sprout. (An aside: This is not something
that would ever occur to someone living in the city. You
don't think about sprouting seeds from a long dried out
old flower arrangement when you live where horns are blaring
and you can hear sirens far away, where there's light
24 hours a day, even if it's only a street light on your
cul-de-sac. Where pizza or Chinese take-out is only a
phone call away and you can check the newspaper to see
what movie is playing down at the theater. Where you're
on the computer or the cell phone all the time, text messaging
your buddies or trying to get home through a Friday evening
traffic jam so that you can get your kids some supper.
Nope. You only look at a wheat sheaf on the wall in a
decoration and recognize it as something that still has
the power to grow when you have the time, and the quiet,
to imagine such a thing possible. Where when it's dark,
it's pitch black. The only sounds after dark outside might
be the low rumble of a generator out back, the far off
howl of coyotes or wolves, or the lonely hoot of an owl
looking for a mate. Inside there might only be the soft
hiss of propane lights and the crackle of wood in the
stove when you notice those wheat sheaves on the wall
Apparently the seeds sprouted within two days and are
now planted and several inches tall. I love plants and
growing but have never heard of this. Have any of you
folks? All I know is I now I have to try it!
In any case, I look forward to hearing from the new owners
of Batnuni in the future and I know when they've got time
to get away from choring, we'll hear some interesting
Have a great weekend, folks!
Vaughan sent an email to me relating some more flying
stories of the past.
The first time I met any of the King family was down on
Middle Lake picking up Mt. climbers and taking them to
Tellot Lake by Mt. Waddington. While I was loading my
second load in the Beaver Harry King came along in a Bell
47, and wanted to know what I was doing. When I told him
I don't think he was too pleased, and thought I was cutting
in on his traffic. Only a few months later I heard that
he was missing on a trip to the coast. He was never found
but they found some of the 5 gallon gas cans washed up
on shore in Bute Inlet that he was packing on the helicopter.
I had heard that one of Harry's sons had moved to Bluff
Lake and was a pilot so I decided to go talk to him as
I was looking for a pilot for the summer. When I met Dave
I was impressed by his down to earth knowledge and experience
with float plane operations.
At the time, Dave had a Cessna 150 so we made a deal that
he would work part time, but stay at home and fly to Nimpo
with the 150 on the days he was to fly for me. A little
while later he brought a Honda 90 motor bike to Nimpo
and parked it at the old Nimpo airstrip so that when he
flew in with the Cessna 150 he could ride the Honda to
the float base.
We usually started flying about 6 o'clock in the morning
so even in the summer when he would get there by 5 o'clock
he would be just about frozen stiff from riding the bike
from the airstrip to the float base.
Dave had done a lot of float flying on the coast and Vancouver
Island, and quite a lot in the Beaver so he was right
at home with bush flying. He hadn't done much wheel flying
so I was checking him out in the 180 on Anahim Airstrip
in a dirty cross wind, which can be a real handful for
anyone. On about the third landing with tires squeaking
and getting kicked all over the runway he said, "You
do one and let me watch." I really didn't want to
because I knew I wouldn't be able to do any better, but
gave it a try anyway.
On the approach we were getting the hell kicked out of
us but just over the numbers I hit a sinker and just kissed
the runway with two little squeaks and rolled to a stop
right down the center. I knew I had just got lucky but
told Dave (JUST DO IT LIKE THAT) and got back in the right
seat. A little while later he figured out that I had tricked
him but it felt good at the time.
One time, Dave was hauling a boat out to Gatcho Lake and
returned in about 30 minutes, so I knew that he hadn't
had time to get to Gatcho, unload the boat, and return.
When I ask him where he left the boat he said that he
had lost it. I didn't believe him at first but found out
that the rope had broken and the boat fell over a thousand
feet and landed in a meadow about half a mile from Rainbow
Lake. He said it kind of flew down right side up in a
circle and didn't look like it was hurt too much. We took
the Stinson, landed in a half lake, half slew, hiked up
and dragged the boat back, tied it to the Stinson and
brought it back to Nimpo. I took that boat to another
lake and used it for years to come as it only had a few
small dents in it.
Dave was one of the best pilots I ever had and I never
worried when he was late because I knew he would show
up eventually. It used to bug me sometimes when he would
come in from a trip and insist on having a coffee when
it was already getting dark and he had three more trips
When Donn, Wayne, and I started the Rednecks Band, Dave
said he played a banjo a little, so when we first started,
he played drums and banjo. He said he only knew one tune
(The ballad of Jeb Clampet) but after we got an electronic
drummer he started playing banjo all the time. I would
have to practice for days to learn a new tune, but Dave
would be able pick the lead the first time Donn would
say, "Take 'R away Dave." We had a lot of good
times playing for dances and rodeos over about a 15 year
After awhile Dave was flying more and so late he couldn't
fly home so I bought a small trailer (8 by 12 feet I think)
that he stayed in. He always had his meals with us, and
when everyone else was done he would eat everything that
was left on the table. Lora never had to throw anything
out as long as Dave was there. After I started doing the
fire patrols Dave usually did them, and eventually bought
the 180 HUY from me and started doing them under White
Saddle Air's license.
are the last three call letters for an airplane, generally
painted on the fuselage or tail. In this case, it's JCQ
Dave had an engine failure with HUY one time and landed
on a skid trail on the side of a mountain with the cabin
filled with smoke, one of the best pieces of flying I
ever seen. He even radioed his position on his way down
with lat and long so we could find him. We used to talk
about this little black cloud that followed Dave around
because it seemed that when he was haying or farming his
equipment would always break down at the worst possible
time. He was always good natured about it but took a lot
of ribbing. " - Thanks
Floyd! Your stories are way more interesting than my musings!
I would not have envied Dave his ride from the old Nimpo
airstrip. We go down it when we cross the lake and go
snowmobiling. But in summer you would have to go around
by the highway and it's a long way around. I should think
it would probably have taken at least a half hour, even
going hell bent for election, to ride over that rough
trail in post dawn temperatures.
We had another day of above freezing temps. It was
only by a couple of degrees but without a breeze, it was
really nice. Some heavy overcast kept moving in
and tried to block a watery sun and it looked like it
wanted to snow, but it didn't succeed until late this
afternoon. Even then, the flakes are so tiny that it will
take a couple of months to accumulate an inch.
We seem to be under a pretty stable system right now with
temperatures that aren't going that far below freezing
at night, and not that much above. I've noticed the same
for other parts of the province including the Cariboo
Region to our east where there's only a four to
seven degree temperature variation at most between night
There is a system coming in from the Pacific
that may give us a little cloud and a big one coming up
the coast from Washington State that is going to collide
with the Pacific system. That looks like it will bring
heavy moisture to Vancouver but shouldn't effect us at
temperature came up again today, even though it went down
to -8C or 17F last night. It's up to 3.5C or 38F right
now and I expect it will climb a little more yet. We've
got mixed sun and cloud but even so, the thermometer that's
on the front deck and in the sun is reading over 43 degrees
Fahrenheit. I like the warmth but I'm not sure our
new lawn will. I noticed coming down the stairs
this morning that a portion of our lawn has been exposed
now, which is not a good thing if really cold temperatures
were to hit any time soon. I doubt the roots grew down
deep enough in the first summer to keep the grass from
dying out without the insulating protection of snow. It
was supposed to snow today according to the weather forecasters
but it doesn't look very likely, although Anahim got a
little this morning.
I just came back from a great walk in the back woods today
with pleasant temperatures and not a breath of wind. I
came across some tracks today where our local moose usually
crosses about every other day. Either the moose,
or moose and calf wandered around on the trail a bit,
or it was caribou. I suspect it was the latter
because the tracks looked more rounded and were of varying
sizes. If that's what they were, it was a much smaller
herd than the nine to twelve that usually start hanging
around about this time every year.
I've come to the conclusion that if you want to
find the buried carcass of every little critter that's
been killed by predators in the woods this year, you should
get a hound. I never suspected before that so
many small animals were slaughtered every winter because
my other two walking partners either never had the nose,
or didn't care that there were bodies under the snow.
Not so Cat. She spends all of her time with her nose to
the ground, or buried in the snow and she finds a prize
nearly every day. Parts of rabbit carcasses, strips of
fur, bird wings, desiccated squirrels, and today, the
hind end of a muskrat with little meat left on it but
well preserved under the snow. I have no idea what
a muskrat was doing that far from a water source
but it got caught out by something, that's for sure.
Walks on the trail no longer involve the meandering enjoyment
of the surrounding woods. Nor a way of thinking through
a problem to do with my business while breathing in fresh
air and the scent of pine. At least not since last June
when Cat, a.k.a. the monster, appeared on the scene.
I guess I always knew somewhere in the back of my little
pea brain that hound dogs had incredible noses. Somehow
I never put two and two together to realize that the animal
we agreed to adopt was a hound dog. I knew of course that
the Catahoula had been bred a couple of centuries ago
to hunt wild hogs, but since we guessed she was an Indian
dog, and so probably had something else in her, I just
naturally assumed she would be like River. Too lazy
to be much of anything but a waste of groceries. In other
words, lovable but useless.
The jury is still out on Cat's lovability, but her abilities
are definitely useless to us since we don't need a hound
dog to hunt anything. In fact, it's a pain in the butt.
Now, whether in the back woods or on the road, I have
to be ever vigilant every step of the way to make sure
she isn't gnawing on something found. Fortunately, in
winter, anything she finds is reasonably preserved under
snow but summer finds are pretty disgusting and of course,
leaves her wide open to worms and disease. Not that she
Thankfully, Andy's gift to me of a training collar for
Cat at Christmas has reduced my frustrations at the dog
a lot, to Andy's considerable relief, I'm sure. I think
he learned a new swear word every time I came home from
a walk with her. You have no idea how annoying
it is to fall flat on your face in the snow several times
while chasing a dog around in the woods that is
determined to keep her found carcass from you.
(I'm pretty sure Andy was laughing his butt off when I
told him about it but for the sake of his continued good
health, he did it quietly.) At least now when Cat has
something, I can get her to drop it using the collar.
But I still have to catch her finding something and she's
getting pretty crafty at hiding it now.
I actually wish I had the ability or knowledge to properly
train Cat because it's pretty evident that she could be
a remarkable working dog and used for tracking lost people.
I think she would be a lot easier to put up with if she
actually had work to do. Then again, I have to remember
that as a one year old, she's still a pup and will probably
settle down by the time she's two. Or at least that's
what the research says. I sincerely hope the authors
of material on Louisiana Catahoulas are a lot more accurate
in their predictions than our weather forecasters are.
I've gotten another great email from Floyd Vaughan about
flying but received it too late to put it in today. I'll
post it tomorrow!
still have amazingly warm temperatures. Late last night
the temperature started rising again after a wind came
up and it was up to 3C after midnight but warmer than
that by a couple of degrees by daylight. I know
that it was nearly 8C or 46 degrees Fahrenheit by ten
this morning and just kept on going up. I was
in Anahim Lake for most of the afternoon and I think it
got up to 10C there at one point.
The wind was wild and wooly all day reaching upwards of
30 miles per hour. I was keeping an eye on some of our
trees on the property fully expecting us to lose a few.
None went down as far as I know, though. Although I think
it played hell with the ice road, especially down the
Main Arm. There were some drifts on our road going over
to the boat launch, however, nothing you couldn't drive
over. But most of the our little road goes through the
back bay where it's more protected from the wind.
These warm temperatures and wild wind have finally
helped to clear our highway a bit. You can actually
see black pavement for most of the way to Anahim Lake,
and as the ice and snow melts, the wind is carrying away
the moisture. Probably a good thing or the highway would
be really icy at night when road temperatures hit below
The only downside of a thaw like this, (other than snowmobile
enthusiasts like Andy being down in the mouth about losing
snow) is that everything tends to get icy in a hurry.
The warm temps thaw the surface of the snow slightly and
the wind glazes it over, especially where it's packed.
From here on in, we'll be slipping and sliding our way
to spring unless we get a snow that sticks and freezes
as it lands or a substantial snow that buries the ice.
If that's as bad as it gets, I'll be happy. We're
still better off than those crazy dog sledders up north.
For the past few weeks, every Tuesday night, there's been
a documentary about last year's Iditarod. For those of
you that don't know what that is, at a 1000 miles, it's
the longest, most grueling sled dog race on earth. I guess
in the flurry of all the 'reality' shows so popular on
television for the last few years, someone decided they
ought to take cameras up and do a show on the 2008 Iditarod.
Unlike most of the sludge they call reality TV,
this is one show that's actually pretty good.
Especially if you've followed it over the years and know
of some of the racers.
Aside from the tremendous belief, trust, and care the
mushers have for their dogs, I have to admire the unbelievable
stamina and stupidity required to run that race. Stupidity
is not a polite word but I really can't think of another,
even though I deeply admire every person with the guts
to enter and finish that race. Any grueling dog
race for that matter.
Andy sponsors a racer that we met when in the Yukon a
couple of summers ago and she's terrific about keeping
sponsors up to date on the races and what's been happening
in them. She completed one called the Gin Gin a while
back going over the pass from Paxton to Denali in Alaska
in temperatures hovering between -40 and -50 degrees.
Throw in a wind so strong that it was actually
blowing the dogs and sleds off the roads, and I can only
assume that the temperature was closer to -70 or -80 with
the windchill We watched a short video where they
were in this wide open pass, not a tree in sight, and
no protection from a wind that was just howling across
the pass pushing streamers of snow along the ground in
front of it.
Watching that video, I can only state that those
mushers have to be genuinely, certifiably, insane.
Much can be said for the Iditarod and Yukon Quest racers
as well as for those that compete in other races nearly
as grueling. Why would you do it? No idea. I guess you
just have to have a deep love of the country and your
dogs, an unbelievably competitive spirit, an A-type personality,
and an amazing counterfeit copy of a day pass from the
local psychiatric unit.
Seriously, I don't mean to insult dog mushers, but I think
you really do have to be crazy! Racing dogs around here
or in a kinder locale would be fun, I think. But facing
harsh winds, blowing snow, extreme temperatures, overflow,
rivers and lakes that open up under your sled,
sure frostbite, snow blindness, sleep deprivation, rough
and dangerous trails, risk of injury, charging moose,
stalking wolves, and who knows what else? I just have
to ask, "Why?"
It's a costly hobby, there's little money in it even if
you do win a race, and nearly every racer
I've seen a picture of seems to have had their nose frostbitten
at least once and all suffer from windburn. How to get
old fast! Then again, I suppose they'll all live
longer than the armchair jockeys. Still, I don't
think that's one sport I'll be taking up anytime soon,
although I know that Andy would love to. There are few
things I would say no to my partner on, but that one's
a resounding no! Three useless dogs in this yard are quite
enough, thank you!
Speaking of dogs. My Sister-in-law emailed me the link
to an amazing video today. A dog had been crossing a freeway
and was hit by a car. Another dog crossed through traffic
to reach the injured one lying in the middle. He
pulled the injured dog across several lanes of the freeway
not with his teeth, but by using his front legs on either
side of the other dog's neck. That dog was prostrate
the whole time and certainly wasn't able to help his rescuer.
All this with traffic zooming on all sides. The rescue
dog had nearly reached the edge of the freeway when some
service workers stopped to help. What was cool was that
the wounded dog lived.
Dogs are certainly amazing creatures but I'm not going
to tell my own pets that. They already think far too highly
of themselves thanks to all of the friends and neighbours
that spoil them.
Groundhog Day 2009
every groundhog in the country has agreed that there will
be six more weeks of winter in Canada. I've always
thought that was kind of cute considering that we will
always have six more weeks of winter regardless
of whether a groundhog sees his shadow or not. Unfortunately,
there's small hope of spring coming by the middle of March
here, and if it does, Mother Nature generally fixes that
little misconception in a hurry with arctic temperatures
and snow in April.
Today was an absolutely spectacular day! It actually
got up to 7C or 45 degrees Fahrenheit today which is utterly
amazing! The sun was shining for most of the day
and I ended up getting way too hot on my walk, mainly
because I overdressed as usual. It wasn't just me though,
the dogs were panting like it was a hot summer day and
River was dragging his lazy behind the whole way. Well,
except when he took off after something in the woods with
Cat close on his heels. Obviously no amount of calling
was going to bring them back and I didn't see them again
until after I arrived back home. They don't do that very
often but punishment was still swift. Not that yelling
and shaking my finger in River's face, or telling him
to get to his doghouse does much good. He already knew
he was in trouble when he spotted me as he was trotting
down the driveway. His pace got slower and slower
until he was almost going backwards and he had that look
on his face. "Who, me??? I've been here all along...."
I'll never understand how it is an animal like that can
drag his sorry butt on an entire walk almost to the point
that I figure I'm going to have to carry him home, and
then be gone like he's been shot out of a cannon when
he catches scent of something.
Just to let everyone in this area know, CBC is up
and running again. Andy spent time on the phone
this morning with the people elsewhere that flip the switch,
or whatever it is they do to activate a new card, but
the station still would not work. Finally he rode back
up to TV Hill this afternoon on his machine and fixed
the problem. I'm not sure how else to get the word out
that it's working, although Andy had to go to a community
meeting at Anahim Lake tonight so maybe he can spread
the word there.
We're supposed to have one more day of high temperatures
and then I think it's supposed to chill down a bit. I
look forward to tomorrow when it's supposed to hit a high
of 7C. Since it already did that today, it will
be interesting to see how high it actually goes tomorrow.
Even now, we're at 3C, two degrees warmer than Williams
Lake or Prince George and it doesn't look like it will
go that much below freezing tonight, anymore than it did
It looked like it was trying to snow over the mountains
again just before sundown today, but so far none of the
snow forecast for the central interior has manifested
Long Month Done
years, January always seems to be the longest month and
just seems to drag on forever. Not so this year
and that's a really nice change.
I don't know if it's because we enjoyed a lot of sunshine
in January or what, but it flew by at a pretty reasonable
rate, even if the weather was wild and varied.
On Friday I was walking on the back trails through a blinding
snowstorm that only slowed enough at one point for me
to see a hawk eyeing us up from the top of a tree. Yesterday
was perfect, with warm temperatures and sunshine and nary
a breeze in the woods. The first day of February is another
matter. It's wild and blustery out there
with the sun making a watery appearance through high haze
that just won't move out. I keep watching the trees bent
over in the wind and can't quite decide whether I want
to risk a walk in the woods. I know that it'll be too
raw out on the road in the open so that's out. Still,
it's sitting a degree or so above freezing so it would
be relatively warm if I could get out of the wind. Of
course my other option is to just stay inside and work
on the computer all day. Yech!
It looks like it's trying to snow over the mountains
but nothing like that has reached here yet. Watching
the news last night the weather forecasters were issuing
snowfall warnings for the Cariboo today and judging from
the radar picture, we should have gotten a piece of that,
but there's no snow so far. That's why it's so hard to
judge what it's going to do here. Because we're so close
to the mountains and in their rain shadow, what
might be forecast for elsewhere is just a guessing game
in the Chilcotin. While they might be wallowing
in all kinds of snow east of us, we'll be as dry as could
Andy has gone up with Logan to TV hill (top of Little
Kappan) to try and install a new card for CBC television
in the receiver. I guess those in Anahim and Nimpo Lake
that rely on television through antenna have been without
one of three channels for a few months now. I'm not sure
how many people still use antenna to get their television
in the area, but I shouldn't think it would be that many.
Still, it's free, and that makes it a lot less expensive
than satellite! It would be nice to do without that
bill but programming on the free channels are Canadian
only and so bad that they're just not worth watching for
the most part and very limited for world and business
The wind never did tone down enough for a walk but at
least I got lots of work done. Andy came in after four
on the snowmachine. He and Logan spent the day up at TV
Hill and then went for a short ride to a little lake that
the guys discovered a year or so ago. Since it sits down
in a valley and doesn't seem to have any outlet or inlet,
they circled around the edge of it just off shore to see
if they could find a creek. They definitely found overflow
in one spot and had to go hell bent for leather for a
moment to get out of it before they got stuck. Andy
figures there's either a spring there causing the overflow
or a spider hole they came across.
Last summer the guys watched the lake carefully to see
if there was any sign of fish or loons and there wasn't,
so it may be one of those rarities in this country.....
a landlocked lake that may just be fed by runoff only.
Andy took some pictures today while they were up on TV
Hill, and while most days you get an incredible panoramic
view from up there, today was just too overcast for anything
to show up well.
A new month means a new week so you can find last week's
stories and some pictures about Lonesome Lake contributed
by Floyd Vaughan at January
Week Four .
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!