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 2/2008
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.
got a great tale about one of the best known guides in
the west that John was kind enough to send over today.
- "Clayton MACK - THE MAN FROM BELLA COOLA
I only ever met Clayton MACK one time as I remember. It
was many years ago at A.C. CHRISTENSEN & SON General Store.
It was in the Old Store for sure and long before it burned
I was out at Anahim Lake visiting D'Arcy in the Store
and D'Arcy introduces me to Clayton. I was of course very
familiar with the man as he was a very highly respected
Man from Bella Coola. Clayton asked me what relation I
was to Slim BRECKNOCK and I of course reply that he is
my eldest brother. Clayton informs me that he and Slim
are Best Friends. At the time I was still probably a very
young member of the Mounted Police. It must have been
late fall or early spring because that old 45 Gallon Barrel
wood stove was really puttin' out the BTU's.
I do believe that Clayton was an honorary member of the
Safari Club out of California and was a guest of theirs
on a trip to Africa one time. I also believe he guided
Ronald Reagan once and Fess Parker (Davey CROCKETT) and
countless others. He was "Mr. Grizzly Bear!"
Anyways… I was fortunate enough to visit with Clayton
what seemed like for hours. He had soooo many stories
to tell and I had a million questions. We sat around the
old wood stove and swapped stories 'till one of us had
to go hours later. I was so privileged that he took the
time to BS with me and truly gave me an education on Bears,
culture and his general experience in Bella Coola and
the Anahim Lake area.
Clayton was of course one of the most famous Guides on
the West Coast. Seems like every one of these "Old Timers"
has some sort of "Schtick" they like to play on their
hunters. Certainly Lester DORSEY, Pan PHILLIPS ET AL were
all known for one thing or another and each had their
"Schtick". Floyd elaborates on Lester's somewhat in previous
Clayton was of course a very modest man. Not prone to
be flashy or in any way ostentatious. He was a "Man's
Man" to my way of thinking and I wish I could have gotten
to know him better.
Clayton told me of his "Schtick" he use to like to play
on some of his hunters. Now most all his clients were
wealthy and mostly American. They came up country with
the very best of equipment, rifles and "KNIVES". Clayton
would take a bead on one or more of a Client's knives
and it was his "Schtick" to get that Client to give that
knife to him.
Where and whenever a client bagged a big Bear (hell, any
bear) Clayton would pull out what I would refer to as
a "$1.95 Bacon knife" you might purchase at A.C. CHRISTENSEN
& Sons. This would be a honkin' big bladed thing all stained
up with an old wooden handle on it riveted to the shank.
An "ugly knife" to be sure.
Now the Hunter would be "aghast" that a famous Guide and
man of "Renown Fame" would go about skinning out his Bear
with a "Bacon Knife". Clayton would go into his "Schtick"
about how good a knife it was he was using and good enough
and that it was the only knife he needed or even possessed.
He had a complete repertoire that he had down pat. Almost
without exception, Clayton would end up with the Client
giving up his knife to Clayton and damn proud to be able
to do it. Clayton informed me he had a whole trunk full
of these knives down in Bella Coola. "Real expensive good
looking knives too ya know." He let out a giggle I can
still recall. Now I wonder how many Old Clients of Clayton's
might read this and know they were "Had".
Clayton use to always get my brother Slim a couple of
Big Spring Salmon when the season was right and it would
be the biggest salmon he could lay hands on out of Bella
Coola. I do think Clayton did some Commercial Salmon Fishing
on top of everything else he did. Slim informed Clayton
that he liked to give me a fish to take back to Alberta
with me after one of my annual or semi annual visits to
the Chilcotin. For years thereafter I always brought home
a monster Spring Salmon to Alberta and presented it to
my Father-in-law here in Vermilion, Alberta. Usually something
over 50 pounds or so. I remember one that I brought home
one time, half a fish, from the anus back and it weighed
about 30 pounds or more. That's Big Salmon" Especially
for the "Stubble Jumpers" around Vermilion, Alberta. My
Father-in-law took "Huge Pride" in taking this fish to
the Packing plant and putting it into the "Freezer locker"
or cut up into "salmon steaks". He would show that fish
to as many people he could and brag about his connections
to Bella Coola and Clayton Mack.
John D. BRECKNOCK" -
Good one, eh? I've long heard of Clayton Mack and have
read some excerpts from a couple of books written about
him, his guiding experiences, and even his possible run
ins with Saskquatch. Very interesting reading, especially
'Bella Coola Man'. Thanks John!
The weather was incredibly warm again today, and
melting. This morning I spotted a shape out on
the lake and thinking it might be a coyote, started checking
it out through binoculars. Nope. Golden Retriever. Just
about that time a group of people going for a walk on
the ice road appeared from behind the small island. It
all must have been too much for the moose standing only
a hundred yards away and it finally broke out
from the bigger island nearby. It trotted across the lake
in front of them to a little bay where it must still have
been in sight for a while because I could see the group
still watching it. Must have been a nice thrill for them
to see since the animal wasn't very far from them at all.
Gotta love the Chilcotin! Oh yeah, Happy Valentine's Day.
I was pretty lucky. I got a card this morning because
Andy was smart enough to buy one when he was in town back
in January. Unfortunately, the last time I was in town
was before Christmas, and trust me, they don't have
Valentine cards out on the shelf until after New Year's
is over. So I was kind of on a stick and out of luck and
was trying to figure out how to create something. In the
end, I got lucky because my Mother was going through town
yesterday on her way out here and I got her to pick a
card up for me. And a good job she did too. But
somehow, it's not quite the same when someone else has
to pick out the Valentine card for you. It's bad
enough that I'm not very good in the flower and card department
as it is, and forgetting my anniversary is pretty much
expected around here. Getting someone else to pick out
your honey's Valentine card is probably definitely not
acceptable romantic behavior, nowadays. Fortunately, I
live in the Chilcotin and you're allowed to be a little
bit Redneck out here and I'm just very lucky
to have a very understanding partner. Besides,
guys used to get their secretaries to pick out flowers
and cards for their wives all the time, right?
Little Paddy Dog
John sent a story by email today or you guys probably
wouldn't have seen much for an article. But before I get
on with it, I'll do a quick update.
There's the Kid's 139 Function going on at the Anahim
Lake Community Hall Saturday night to raise money for
the Variety of Hearts. There will also be a poker
run starting at 10:30 Saturday morning at the Stampede
grounds, raising money for the same thing. Everyone welcome.
Weenie roast on Nimpo Lake for lunch.
The last three days have been utterly glorious with our
first warm up holding at above freezing during the day
in over three months. In fact the first day it went to
7C or nearly 50F, fully 15 degrees Fahrenheit higher
than what we've seen in a long, long time. And
if you don't think people are smiling! Of course it also
means walking on ice which we've thankfully skipped for
most of the winter, but it's worth it. The snow is finally
sliding off of roofs that haven't seen the light of day
since November. It's good to get the weight off.
Andy got a picture of a moose that sauntered across Nimpo
Lake this morning. In fact she stopped and watched the
neighbour for the longest while while she went for a walk
across the lake. I got some pictures of three planes
that came in on skiis around noon today, presumably for
lunch at the Dean. The restaurant isn't open through
the winter but maybe Donn threw something together for
them. They looked pretty cool so I'll have to post them
here next opportunity. It's amazing what a little warm
weather will do. Suddenly, everyone's out and about.
Happy Valentine's Day to everyone tomorrow. Have a great
Okay, I think that's it! Enjoy the story below but word
of warning, it's pretty risqué. So if you've a
'delicate' nature, I suggest you skip it and wait for
the next blog. On the other hand, if you like Chilcotin
humour, you'll get a kick out of this. Thanks John.
- LITTLE "PADDY DOG" OF THE CORCKSCREW CREEK RANCH
I was telling a story the other day about D'Arcy's little
Border Collie "Paddy". In all the years I worked for D'Arcy
and the Corkscrew Creek Ranch, I don't remember a time
when Paddy wasn't there. Now that I come to think about
it, there was a replacement and I think that was the last
year I worked for D'Arcy. Another Border collie and I
don't remember what they might have named her. She was
nothing like little Paddy but a border collie none the
Now little "Paddy" dog had quite the personality. He was
good as gold and always behaved impeccably. ('nother big
word) He was quiet, not prone to barking (unless there
was really something to bark about)
I marveled how this little dog would take off after a
rabbit in the Buck Brush. If you were watching, he would
put on quite the performance. I still have a vision of
him bolting through the buck brush and every now and then
leaping high over the buck brush trying to get an eyeball
on his quarry. Most times as not you would hear that rabbit
squeal when little Paddy put the clamp on him.
In no time he would come back, to wherever you were, packing
his prize. You could tell he was damned proud of himself.
Usually a young rabbit. Now try and get that rabbit away
from him! You had a snowball's chance in Hell. That was
his dinner and when he was finished, there wasn't much
left. Hair, bones, head and all; gone!! Like I stated
in previous writing; there was no such thing as dog food
at Anahim Lake.
Little Paddy followed D'Arcy everywhere except maybe to
Town. He would follow us out to the fields when haying
and then find himself a nice shady spot near the edge
of the timber and watch us all day. Maybe do a little
rabbit hunting or catch a field mouse or two. He was as
good as any fox at providing for himself. He literally
When lunch time came, Paddy would come sit with us. God
Forbid he should even look at D'Arcy or me when we were
eating anything. D'Arcy would let out some kind of growl
and the little dog would look completely away. There was
no beggin' allowed; period!
Now I have told you about the Stack Yard Grizzly incident
where little Paddy dog saved the day and most likely my
(then) skinny ass. D'Arcy's too! Well I'm thinking it
was not too long after the Bear incident. Once again,
D'Arcy and I were enjoying our lunch by one of the many
Stack yards at any one of the meadows where we made hay.
Paddy let out a bit of yip that brought both D'Arcy and
I instantly to our feet. We still had Grizz Bear on our
mind! Now we scan the bushes and horizon and see nothing.
After a minute or two, we go and settle down to our lunch
and there is poor little, hungry Paddy dog. He's got his
face buried in a piece of tin foil that contained a huge
piece of Chocolate cake with thick Chocolate frosting.
The kind of cake you look forward to all morning long
with great anticipation. D'Arcy sees this and can't believe
it. He kicks that dog in the ass so hard! For the next
three hours that dog looks like he's wearing a turtle
neck sweater! D'Arcy picks up the tin foil to see what
he could salvage of his piece of cake. Gone!! It's funny
how you remember certain one liners. With enormous disappointment,
D'Arcy whines, "I was saving the best for Last too!" He
cursed that dog for the rest of the day. Now.... did I
share my big piece of beautiful frosted chocolate cake
with D'Arcy?? NOT!!
Now I'll tell you about the female Border Collie (None
the Less) that as I recall replaced ole Paddy. In the
summer of 1966 I returned to the Corckscrew Creek ranch
with a little brown dog, a Heinz 57, a friend had given
me when attending High School down in White Rock, BC.
I called him "Butch" and gave him to Ole' Mac McEwen.
Mac was a frequent fixture around Anahim Lake in the Old
days and frequently worked for D'Arcy at the Ranch. He
was back and forth from Bella Coola in those days. I remember
sharing the Tractor Shed with Mac for a time. He came
and went pretty much as he pleased and was a lot like
family. He was the best built-in Babysitter Judy ever
Anyways… I recall arriving back at the ranch from working
in the Meadow with D'Arcy. We frequently used the Massey
35 to commute back and forth to the meadows when they
were not hooked up to equipment. D'Arcy driving and I
sitting/sort of standing on the running board with my
butt on the fender. We pull into the yard and there is
little "Butch". He's trying to put the blocks to the Border
Collie, who was no doubt, in serious "heat". D'Arcy was
livid! This Border Collie was going to be bred to a neighbor's
Border collie and populate the entire west Chilcotin.
There was money to be made with this program! And money
was in short supply at the Corkscrew Creek Ranch in those
days. No way was that little Heinz 57 going to spoil the
program. "Here Butch, Butch, Butch." "Come to D'Arcy."
"That's a good fella". Within about a minute poor little
Butch was walking real funny. Big hump in his back and
back legs spread out sort'a straddle like. A dog is prone
to do that with an elastic band tight around his nuts
It took but a few days and Butch was singing Soprano.
His "goods" having simply fallen off due to the lack of
circulation. Not a whole lot worse for wear. D'Arcy use
to call it "Brain Surgery" when castrating bull calves.
He use to say; "It changed their minds from Ass to Grass!"
For a week or two thereafter, it was real funny to watch;
at any given time you could see this little dog tossing
his own nuts in the air and playing with them as if they
were a toy. He seemed to enjoy it too. How sad!!
Regards, John D. BRECKNOCK" -
The Warm Spell
has been warm for two days in a row now and it feels almost
alien it's so unusual, for us anyway. Yesterday
it warmed right up to 1 degree above zero and I decided
it would be nice to get out for some fresh air. I had
intended to go for a walk but when friends sledded by
with the intention of going ice fishing down at the south
end of the lake I thought I would ski over there. Since
one of them was pulling a sled that made perfect tracks
for skies, I figured it would be a nice run and me and
the dogs just trucked along until I got to the island.
I had just crossed the ice road when the snow suddenly
changed and I just about fell flat on my face!
The snow became so sticky at just the right temperature
that it balled up under my skies to about four inches
thick and I wasn't going anywhere. I had just removed
my skies with the intention of walking back home when
Andy came by testing out a neighbour's new Skidoo. So
I caught a ride back and machined down the lake instead
to stand around a hole in the ice in the sunshine and
the wind and breathed in all the fresh air I wanted.
Last night it dropped to -8C or about 18F in early evening
but by the time I went to bed it was 1 degree above and
a stiff wind was blowing out of the south bringing
a warm front right at us. It's already 4 above
this morning and I'm very much looking forward to a walk
today. Finally! Our first warm spell in months!
The guys have gone snowmobiling today, presumably up to
Trumpeter and should have an excellent day. There's a
few of them that were pretty stiff yesterday from the
Tatla ride on Saturday. Those of us that couldn't make
it are breathing a sigh of relief that we didn't go. The
more I hear about that trail they bumped over, the worse
it sounds. Rocks, logs and hard drifts are no fun to pound
over, especially if your machine is new.
One of the neighbours sent me pictures of he and his 'step'
daughter's trip to try and get up the mountain the other
day. I'll post them here as I can. They hadn't been
up for a couple of years and didn't realize that the trail
has changed drastically since the Lonesome Lake Fire
when the fire guard took out the lower part of our trail.
As a result, they lost the trail and it looks like they
were stuck a bit. Quite a bit in fact.
Just a reminder that there is a meeting tonight at the
Nimpo Lake Community Hall at 7:00 about the cooperative
deal between West Chilcotin Forest Products and Pristine
Power. It's an informational meeting so if you have questions
about the project, that's the place to be.
It's time for me to get back to work and I don't know
when I'll write next. Depends on how many pictures come
down off the mountain this evening I guess.
Tatla Lake Poker Run
thirty machines showed up for the Snowmobile Poker Run
in Tatla Lake today. That's a pretty darned good
turnout and besides participants as far away as Williams
Lake and Puntzi, a small bunch came from Charlotte Lake
and five of our own, including Andy, went from Nimpo.
It was pretty cold in the morning with a brisk wind and
not a lot of sun, so the weather wasn't really cooperating
for niceness, but I guess the sun came out and it improved
substantially when they stopped for a weenie roast at
The trail turned out to be 64 miles long rather
than the estimated 55 and pretty rough going from the
sounds of it. Andy said there wasn't much snow
down low and it was pure sugar so going off of the trail
meant bending something. It doesn't sound like they've
done a lot to keep their trails cleaned up because they
were bumping over logs in the middle of the trail in some
cases and there were some pretty tight turns in others.
They had a trail that was 15 miles shorter and supposed
to be much easier than the main trail that the novice
riders and women could go on if they didn't want to go
the long way. I guess it turned out to be way worse with
blow down on the trail and these girls were trying to
cut the logs out of the way so that they could get through.
They arrived at the checkpoint only moments before the
long trail riders. Testament as to just how rough the
'easy' trail was when with a 15 mile difference there
should have been a substantial time gap.
I guess it just goes to show you how lucky we are here
to have the group of guys that go out on their fourwheelers
in the summer and fall and clean up our snowmobile trails
before winter hits.
Apparently a couple people wrecked their machines
when they hit power poles cut off low below the snow along
the highway on the last bit of the run. The old
creosote poles couldn't be seen in time to be avoided
and people that knew about them completely forgot they
were there and a danger. At least no one was badly hurt
although it did sound like they went flying over their
machines at mach speed. Since the machines got pretty
bent up, that means there'll be a few dead soldiers to
All in all, it sounds like everyone had loads of fun,
enjoyed Tatla and Eagle Lake's wonderful hospitality,
and the added bonus is that Andy won the run with the
winning poker hand. Of course I think he'll be paying
for it with a few stiff muscles tomorrow, but it serves
him right for going out and having fun today when I couldn't...lol.
Our weather hasn't been anything to write home about the
last couple of days. Mixed sun and cloud, cold breeze,
about four inches of snow on the ground yesterday and
another inch or so today. It drops down pretty good at
night to around -17 or -18C or about zero Fahrenheit and
then warms up to a little below freezing during the day.
Although yesterday, we actually had a melt day if
you can believe it. It got above freezing briefly.
Floyd sent me a short tale today. However, if you have
delicate sensibilities at all, or lack a wry sense of
humour, I suggest you skip the story. Don't say I didn't
warn you about the Chilcotin version of a good joke.
- "THE STORY JOHN SENT YOU ABOUT THE STACKYARD
BEAR REMINDED ME OF ANOTHER STORY ABOUT LESTER DORSEY.
Lester and his crew were at Tanya Lake again with a bunch
of American hunters, and one of them was looking to get
a Grizzly. It was a ten day hunt, but on the third day
this bear hunter kept bugging Lester because they hadn't
seen any Grizzly Bears yet. Early on the morning of the
fourth day Lester got up early and walked up the trail
above the cabin about 100 yards, and let nature take its
When he got back to the cabin the hunter started in again
wondering when they would see a bear. Lester told him
that he thought he had seen some bear crap on the trail
above the cabin, and for him to go up there and get a
stick and dig around in it to see what the bear had been
eating. He explained to the hunter how if they knew what
they were eating they would know better where to look
for them. When the hunter came back later, and said that
the bear had been eating corn, Lester told him that that
bear must of came from Cornlick Creek, and was probably
on his way back, so too far away for them to get. Lester
had the kind of personality that could pull something
like this off." -
And if you didn't get that story I'm not going to explain
it to you, folks. Suffice to say that corn does not grow
wild anywhere in the Chilcotin.
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last week's
great stories about grizzly bears and pack rats at February
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!