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Wilderness Adventures - February, Week 1/06

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.
You can search this site for a subject of interest to you at the bottom of this page.

07/02/2006 9:06 PM

Unusually Warm

Again. Sigh.
Boy, we just don't have the breathlessly cold winters anymore that we used to have. I'm sure people many countries over are saying the same thing, but truly, its' absence is most noticeable in February.
In this part of British Columbia late January and the first few weeks of February were the cold months ever since I was a child, but each year the winters seem to be warming up and apparently, this year is no exception. It's been chilly the last few days, but last night it started warming up and today everything was melting like crazy. There's a warm wind out of the south again tonite, and it's still well above freezing out there. There just aren't the 60F below winters anymore. Heck, we don't even reach 40F below anymore. Sometimes, I actually miss it.
We do have lots of snow this year which is really, really nice, and quite a change from the last couple of years. However, if the warm weather keeps up, it won't take long for it to start settling. At least if a crust forms on top, it will cut down on the drifting on Nimpo Lake.
Just to remind everyone, there are resorts and motels here that are open year round. If you're looking for a late winter vacation for some winter sports or relaxation, this is the place to be. Snowmobiling is awesome right now and winter hiking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing is quite a challenge. It's the quiet time of year so if you're looking for a little peace and time away from the hustle and bustle of city life, we have accommodations ranging from comfortable to the luxurious and excellent winter rates. Check out some of the pages under 'Accommodations' in the navigation menu on the left hand side of this page for lodging and take a look at some of the other pages on this site describing dining, winter recreation and the wildlife you can expect to see here. Come and enjoy while the snow lasts!
For those of you thinking of a summer vacation in the West Chilcotin, this is the time to start making arrangements and setting up bookings for accommodation, tours and flyouts.

06/02/2006 12:06 PM

Beef on Service

Ok, I have a beef and I'm going to complain about it so be prepared to turn your ears away. I've spent a good part of the day trying to get onto the Internet for various reasons, including email, banking and this blog. Lately, it has become more and more difficult to accomplish that little feat. 'Line is busy' is the Telus mantra now and frankly, I'm tired of it. Canada is one of the most wired nations in the world, or was... It would seem we have fallen behind, as usual. As a country, Canada always starts out of the gate like a first class racehorse on anything involving technology, and then stumbles and falls behind in the last turn, only to let another country surge ahead on her hard work and inventiveness.
We little guys in the bush see this all the time. There was a big push on a few years back to provide broadband to all areas in Canada. We finally got our fibre optics in this remote neck of the woods. It's buried. It's right there. But it will cost $20,000 to hook the communities of Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake up to that wire and Telus (our phone provider) just doesn't seem to think we're worth it financially. It's no surprise that many business people and some locals have resorted to satellite systems for Internet access. I've held out this long based on a news item on TV a year ago stating that Telus had picked up a huge $240 million dollar contract to supply all BC government buildings with their Internet service/hookup based on their promise to provide what they called 'End of the road high speed service' (high speed access) to every remote area in British December 2006. Email queries to find out how that's going have met with little success. I think we're hooped. But I hope I can get the message across to Telus that they have lost a lot of business, and continue to do so. If I have to go to the expense of hooking up to satellite for my Internet service, I'm not going back, and I may switch my telephone to that as well. Where does that leave our provincial phone company? Based on it's poor service record ... exactly where it deserves to be.

05/02/2006 8:42 PM

Spider Hole

The day started out with a breathtaking sunrise over Nimpo Lake, pictures of which were kindly taken by my early rising partner. Branches on trees still show the most recent snowfall and will probably continue to do so for a little while if our cool temperatures persist. Down to -23C or about -10F below last night and never did quite make it above freezing today. Still, with the sun trying to peek through high haze it turned out to be a beautiful day and after getting a little work done I decided I was going cross country skiing no matter what!
I geared up and prepared to go out on my poor snowmachine-beaten track that is almost impossible to break a flat track on, but like I mentioned yesterday, a lot faster than slugging through eight to twelve inches of snow.
As I pointed out in yesterday's blog, I ran into a lot of overflow with the snowmachine while cutting my track. I knew after last night's temps. that the slush would be frozen solid and it was, until I got between the ice road and the point on the other side of Nimpo Lake. I hit another batch of overflow and happened to look at a hole next to my trail. A depression in the snow a foot or two across went clear down to ice. Water actually. And that water was 'breathing'. That is to say it wasn't overflow that came up through cracks to soak the snow, but was water moving with the waves under the ice. Now call me chicken ...or not ... but I flipped those cross country skiis around and I backtracked faster than you can cluck twice ! If this was a spider hole, I had no way of knowing how large it was or if part of it was spread under the trail I had made the day before.
I think I've described spider holes before on previous blogs written last spring, which is when the majority of them show up. They are round holes in the lake ice with cracks radiating out from them. Usually the water in them is free of ice, and no...they aren't made by ice augers. In fact, no one seems to know what causes them, but while they're more predominent in spring, last year Nimpo Lake was covered with them all winter. They can be all different sizes and look extremely ominous from the air when the ice starts to darken and breakup is near.
Chances are one in a million that this particular spider hole would have caused me a problem, but since I don't swim, my skiis would be almost impossible to break loose from my boots, and the water temperature is right around freezing with survivability beyond 30 seconds almost nil, I wasn't taking any chances.
I ended up back on the ice road re-cleared by our erstwhile plowman-in-training and headed home by a different route.
Yep, you can call me chicken!

04/02/2006 7:19 PM

Snowballs And Overflow

Good snow fall last night! We got about four inches of the fluffy stuff on top of a pretty bountiful base making for some great snowmobiling. Unfortunately, cross country skiing is a real chore, especially on Nimpo Lake. I went out today with the Ski-Doo to break myself a trail after watching the neighbours struggle across the lake yesterday morning. Snowmobile tracks don't make for the best ski trail, especially with a 2" mountain paddle that churns the snow up like whipping cream, but it's a lot better than struggling through a foot of snow with skiis on.
I hit some really bad overflow on the other side of the lake and some deep snow! It's shady over there so the snow doesn't settle and melt like it does on the rest of the lake. You get a lot more snow sitting on the ice resulting in deep overflow. I was trying to go slow enough to form a decent path for skiing but my snowmachine was bogging down. The fresh snow was blowing up on the faceshield of my helmet so when I would look behind me to see whether it was just deep snow or overflow, I couldn't tell. When I circled back to run a second track for the dogs, I got my answer. Water soaked the snow in my track in many places and I was glad I hadn't slowed down too much or I would have been stuck for awhile. Since the overflow may ruin the lake for skiing on that side until it either gets colder or melts, I broke a track on the trails behind our place. That way I can ski or we can walk there, as can the neighbours.
Since Terry is in Arizona, Andy B. played snowplow man using Terry's rig to try and clear the ice road on Nimpo Lake. It was badly drifted in yesterday from high winds, and was nearly invisible today after the fresh snowfall. You could tell he was having a real tough go of it pushing through the drifts all afternoon cutting out only about a one foot swath at a time in the really bad spots. Looks like he's got it in pretty good shape now from this end of Nimpo Lake to the other and wide enough for two vehicles to pass.
Folks down at the other end have been doing a lot of snowmobiling lately and I can't wait until we can get out there. There's supposed to be some pretty nice weather for the next week so I guess we'll see.
Vancouver, Victoria and Washington State have been hit pretty hard by last night's storm. High winds and high tide caused a large storm surge which in turn caused a lot of flooding. Trees downed by the wind landed on houses, streets and power lines, knocking out power to over 120,000 residents on the coast. Selfish as it sounds, it's just another of those times that I'm glad I live here and not there. I'll just sit here and enjoy my sparkly white snow, thank you very much!.

03/02/2006 7:47 PM

Snow and Fourwheeling

Wow, it's a real delight to look out the window tonite and see fine flakes of snow pouring down. It's building up quite quickly too. There is a massive storm system barrelling in off the Pacific and aiming to smother most of British Columbia. You know those bright and ominous colors that weathermen use to display massive storm cells that spawn tornadoes or display hurricanes coming in over the US? Well, that's what our weatherman was showing us tonite for the BC region. It ain't pretty folks. Especially when the weathermen are warning people in Vancouver to keep emergency lighting and candles handy because of the high winds expected. However, if everyone can make it through Saturday, we should see several days of sunny weather and that's something to look forward to!
The ice road on Nimpo Lake needs to be plowed out because it's drifted in pretty badly from high winds the last two days, we need to get more firewood and I sure would like to get some snowmobiling in. 'Tis the season. So some nice weather would be good.
No snowmobiling down in Arizona but we did get in quite a bit of fourwheeling. Like Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake, this section of the Arizona desert is easier to investigate using a fourwheeler or ATV. Although I've lived in Canada for most of my life, I was born in Arizona and the desert is still close to my heart, especially where there are mountains. I'm not at all familiar with the area we went to these last couple of weeks, but it sits on the eastern base of some pretty decent mountain ranges.
The Quartzsite area is particularly noted for its gold and has been since the late 1800's. The only thing that has limited many more millions of dollars in gold from being found over what already has been, is the lack of water.
I'm always fascinated by history, geology, plants, and rocks and the Arizona desert does each in unusual style. We explored the desert several times with fourwheelers, investigated old gold mines and marveled over the plants, all of which have spines of some sort.
We had the opportunity to speak to one fellow that was mining for gold in a dry wash using a 'dry' sluice box which uses puffing air to do the job that water normally would in settling out the gold. He then takes the remaining heavy dirt and uses a gold pan with a five gallon bucket of water to glean out the gold. He showed us some of his gold, mostly flakes and tiny nuggets, but interesting nonetheless. Some people do well mining in the desert, others hunt for gold as an after-retirement hobby.
Some of the old mines are deep shafts and I can attest that there was a whole lot of quartz dug out of the mountain sides by hand and with dynamite. Hard work indeed, at least half of it done under a blazing sun in temperatures up to 120F degrees above zero. We found a large chunk of rock with a fuse sticking out of dried mud in a round hole hand drilled in it, the dynamite gone or long since worn away, and brought it back to put in my mother's rock garden. Now that I think of it ... I hope the dynamite is gone.
Still snowing and from the chat on the radio, the highways boys are in for a long night trying to keep the roads clear. On the one hand, being a selfish snowmachiner, I would love to see a good dump of snow. On the other hand, the neighbour's daughter is trying to drive back from high school in Williams Lake nearly 200 hundred miles through this weather, and I'd like to see her safely home first.

02/02/2006 7:52 PM

The Trip Down

There's nothing like having a snowstorm follow you to Arizona. When we left early in the morning mid January, it snowed all the way from Nimpo Lake to Williams Lake, then off and on clear to the Okanagan. After taking care of business there we left in late afternoon to go across the border. Snowing again until we finally were forced off the road by 8" of slushy snow less than two hours across the Canadian American border. We fought snow and dangerously high winds clear to Reno where we stayed with my brother for a couple days. More snow and cold the whole time we were there and we didn't get out of it until half way between Reno and Las Vegas. In the picture on the right of the Silver Peak Mountains, you can't quite see the snow on the desert floor. While Quartzsite, Arizona, just north of Yuma, hasn't seen any moisture for three months, I think everyone had high hopes we would bring snow with us. We just about did. Although clear for the most part, it was windy and cool in Arizona with frost many of the nights we were there.
The trip back to Canada was just as hairy.
We decided we were safer coming back on Interstate 5 because there was far less likelihood of hitting snowstorms that close to the coast. Hah! We crossed California far to the south where we started seeing hundreds of wind turbines just west of Edwards Air Force base. Uh oh....Sure enough, gusts of wind hit our truck and camper with nearly enough force to knock her over. It wasn't as bad as it had been just west of Reno where there were wind warnings for campers and trucks and where we're pretty sure one dually lifted off the pavement once or twice in the wind gusts, but it was close.
We hit snow in northern California and had to put her into four wheel drive going over a pass there peering through the windshield at blizzard like conditions. A pass in Southern Oregon was nearly as bad and we learned the next morning that many of the passes in Oregon had been closed both behind us and east of us because even trucks with chains couldn't get through. Most of the next day was rain through Oregon and Washington. We crossed the Canadian border the next day looking for road reports for the Coquihalla toll road from Hope to Merrit and the connector to the Okanagan. There was a lot of snow on the toll highway but the road itself wasn't too bad. It was snowing as we crossed over to Merritt where we picked up the highway over an even higher pass to Kelowna. There it was blizzard conditions as it got darker and darker and back into four wheel drive we went. Even though it was a four lane highway, each side was reduced to a single snow drifted lane and you could watch cars and trucks on the other side creep up a highway that looked even worse than ours.
We were listening to the highways channel and it soon became apparent that they were not aware they had one heck of a storm happening on that road. No plow trucks to be seen and of course since it was the weekend, they would have been shorthanded anyway. We made it with a big sigh of relief only to find out the next morning that every available route had been closed behind us because of the snowstorm. The toll highway got several feet of snow and was closed for more than a day.
The road to Williams Lake wasn't bad although we hit snow here and there, but the highway out to Nimpo Lake was in lousy shape with compact snow and icy patches. Our new private contractors aren't bothering to get out there and do their jobs.
In any case, I don't think we're going to do much travelling in North America in January after this. It just doesn't seem to be a very good month for it.
I sure would like to get out on Nimpo Lake to do some cross country skiing today, but it's pretty windy out there. It's gloriously sunny here but there are storm clouds brewing over the Coast Range. Vancouver and coast areas have been hit by really high winds the last couple of days causing power outages and storm surge. I think I'll have to satisfy myself with a nice walk on the trails in the woods out back that are protected by surrounding forest. Unfortunately, spending a lot of time in the truck on the road only encourages spreading of the heinie and we both need some exercise. I got to go rollerblading for the first time in years and it was a real pleasure. The lanes down in Quartzsite were smoothly paved and provided a little bit of exercise, although my sense of balance on the skates needs a lot of improvement after all these years of not being on them.That's ok because we'll be doing some snowmobiling here fairly soon, and that's great balance exercise, especially in deep snow.

02/02/2006 11:06 AM

I'm Back and so is Resorts BC

Which, unfortunately, has been down. It would seem that Murphy's Law states if your web site is going to go down, it's going to do it while you're 2500 miles away from home and blissfully unaware you have a problem.
Hi folks. It's wonderful to be home and I apologize to the ends of the earth to those of you who attempted to access the Resorts BC website for the last week of January and couldn't.
We got back to Nimpo Lake the day before yesterday, unpacked the camper and put stuff away, so that it was late evening before I sat down at the computer. I spent a good deal of time downloading a million and a half emails, (not quite, but it sure seemed like it on a slow dial up) before I went on line to check the stats on the web site. Weird...there were none for the past week. Go to the site and there is no site. Nothing. Nada. Whoa Nelly!!!
I put a late night call back to my hosting service in the province of Saskatchewan where I was fortunate enough to reach an IT that was working late. He emailed the others that had gone home and by the time I got up the next morning, the site was back up and running.
It seems that a domain name swap this time last year had somehow confused things this year. Had I been home, the site would have been down for no longer than a few hours. But since I was on the road and didn't even have access to a computer for the last five days...well, you saw what happened.
Now I guess I get to monitor it for a while to see how much damage was caused to the site's standing with the search engines as well as with those of you who have faithfully followed this blog for the past months.
Finally, you will probably have noticed that my Chilcotin laptop didn't work. When I got to Arizona we spent a couple of frustrating days trying to get the thing hooked up on line. We even had a snowmobiling buddy and computer whiz who was also down there try to get the modem to use my mother's online account. No dice. This tells me that if I get a laptop, I'm going to have to find out how other people who travel access the Internet. I'm sure there's a simple solution, but we bush people just don't know it.
By the way, Happy Groundhog Day!

You can find January's articles about snowmobiling prior to our leaving on holiday at January Week Two.

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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!
Morning color over Coast Mountains
Bright colored sunrise
Fourwheelers on the desert
Volcanic Dome
Cholla Cactus
Arizona desert
Mountains in Nevada
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