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Wilderness Adventures - Feb., Week Two/2011

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 some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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13/02/2011 4:30 PM

And More Snow....

We've had quite a mixed bag for weather in the last few days.
Yesterday it was snowing when I got up and it snowed itty bitty little flakes all day. It only amounted to four or five inches all told, but it made it a very ugly day for going anywhere. I had to go to Anahim Lake midday. Our road wasn't bad with only about three inches of snow on the ground when I went out but the highway was terrible, and it wasn't even the fault of the highways maintenance guys! They had plowed the highway but the snow was coming down fast enough to completely obscure where they had plowed. When the road is white, the snowbanks are white, the sky is white and the snow coming down is white, you have an old fashioned white-out. The light was so shadowless that it was impossible to see where the edge of the highway and the snowbanks were. About all you could do was drive down the middle of the highway, slow down and ease over carefully to your side if you saw an oncoming vehicle and they did the same. I think the maximum I was ever able to go was 35mph and it was a real strain on the eyeballs to even go that fast. Fortunately, there was very little traffic on the road. Apparently I was one of the only foolish ones out there although the person I was meeting in Anahim had the same problem coming in on the highway so neither of us was particularly smart to travel on such a day.
For little tiny flakes the snow sure was wet and heavy. Probably because the temperature had been pretty close to freezing all night and it was quite warm yesterday, even without sun. It was some work pushing a shovel full of snow and Andy was having the same problem on the Bobcat clearing our yard and driveway yesterday. It's a good thing there wasn't more of it as had been predicted. It was the kind of snow that packed into ice under your tires and I guess a couple of people spun out coming up the Bella Coola Hill yesterday and had to back down and take another run at it. Now there's a hill you don't want to be spinning out on, or backing down on when it's icy!
We haven't seen the otters in the back bay since that last day and there doesn't look like there's been any activity there lately, but Andy saw the otters out at the point the other day so either these guys moved back out there or it's a whole different bunch altogether. Hope they leave some fish for us for this summer.
I scared up a pair of ptarmigans on our driveway not a hundred yards from our house yesterday. Neat to see them so close but not so easy to actually see them against the snow. Between them and fox and coyote tracks all up and down our driveway it's no wonder the dogs go nuts with their sniffers in the morning when Andy takes them for a walk. There's a moose hanging around as well so it's starting to turn into old home week as it usually does this time of year. I expect we'll see a lot more moose now as the snow builds up in the high country.
If you can believe the weather channel and forecasters at all any more, and I don't, we should be seeing it snow steadily over the next couple of days, but who knows for sure? We were going to run the back trails with the snow machines today but it seemed pointless if it was going to snow some more, so we went for a walk and pushed snow with our boots instead.
09/02/2011 7:10 PM

The Otters are back!

We've gotten back into a little cooler weather since that last snow fall. The night before last it dropped below -22C or -8F and last night it got down to -19C or -2F but the days have warmed up really nicely. Yesterday it got up to -3C and today it just topped over the freezing mark. Surprising really because although it started out clear this morning, we had little sun throughout the day and normally it just wouldn't warm up if it clouds over too soon in the morning.
I'm not sure what we're supposed to be getting for weather in the next few days because all the weather forecasters have been wrong to a good degree lately. It doesn't matter really. We're not traveling anywhere and if it warms up enough for me to take a walk in the afternoon, that's usually good enough. Sunshine and warm temperatures are nice but then it's harder to make myself stay inside and get work done in my office.
Remember I mentioned that we've seen absolutely no sign of the otters out at the point for a week or two? The morning after that blog Andy came in and said, “Guess what we've got in the back bay?” It turns out that at least one, and possibly two otters are making use of a couple of spider holes just off our shore in the back bay. All winter, the dogs have been doing a lot of sniffing at the base of a tree over one of our steeper banks where there used to be old holes in the roots used by beavers in winter. Since we often saw otter tracks coming up over the bank and across our road we wondered if they were making use of those holes. A few days ago a couple of spider holes opened up nearby and now it would seem that the otters are using those to access the water.
Yesterday when we came back from our walk Andy spotted an otter rolling around in the snow next to the bigger spider hole. We watched for a moment but with three dogs and two humans spying on him from up on the bank, it didn't take long for the otter to spot us. He stopped rolling around, watched us for a moment and then slid into the spider hole, but we could see that he hadn't disappeared entirely. You could just see the top of his head above the water, then it would slowly come up and he would peer over the snow to see if we were still there. We watched him do that for a while and then decided to leave him be and headed back to the house. I had to go out yesterday so I took my big camera with me in the truck and checked for the otter on the way down the driveway. No sign of him so I stopped on the way back and parked for awhile, watching the hole in the ice. I waited for the longest time hoping to get a picture, all the time the shadows in the snow around the hole playing tricks on my eyes, but no dice. The otter wouldn't show. I just hope we didn't worry him with watching him for awhile and now he's cleared out. I don't see how likely that could be with the way the dogs have bounded down to those holes in the tree roots all winter and snuffled all around leaving their scent behind. You would have thought that would have chased them away long before us watching them did, but I guess you never know. Of course Murphy's Law dictates that now that I remember to carry a camera with me, we won't see them again.
There are just loads of rabbit tracks in the back woods this year. In some cases either one or many have literally packed down little trails through the skinny pine thickets so fresh that Cat goes bounding into the snow in the hopes of seeing one. I think she's found a few burrows under the snow but I call her away before she can get down to the job of actually digging one out. There are definitely fox tracks around so they're on the hunt for the rabbits, but I haven't found any carcasses this year, thankfully. Or I should say Cat hasn't found any yet. It's been hard enough to get her past a point where a couple of grouse were slaughtered some time this winter on the trail to the gun range, presumably by a fox. Even though the feathers and bits have been run over numerous times by snow machines and buried by snow, she's as determined to eat those remains as I'm as determined that she's not. She tried having another go at an unidentifiable clump with feathers today so I'm obviously not going to win that battle easily!
I saw the furry tracks of a ptarmigan along the road today and lots of fox tracks indicating that one had been searching for the bird but I don't think it succeeded in finding it. There has been the odd moose passing through and a few squirrel tracks and one even chattered at me today, so the woods are waking up a bit.
I noticed yesterday that we can see even more of Monarch Mountain from our front window than we ever could before. I pointed the mountain out to Andy and he could see the vast difference too. He has the direction pinpointed to the yards of a couple of our neighbours down the lake around the other side of the point. One has taken a tremendous number of beetle kill off his property and the other has had wind knock down whole windrows of beetle killed pine on his property. Even though they're a half mile to a mile away the result is that without those big old mature pine in the way, our view has improved markedly. While pine knocked to the ground by wind does pose more of a ground fire danger during forest fire season, if it all falls down in the next few years before the young stuff grows up, we're going to have one heck of a view that way. Actually, our view to the west improves all the time now with the pine being knocked down or blown over. We had virtually no view to the west and couldn't really see sunsets before the mountain pine beetle swept through. While we still have a forest of trees in that direction, we see the sun set a lot more there now and a few more mountains that we couldn't see before. I guess you can find the silver lining in any cloud if you look for it.
Speaking of which, we've had some really pretty sunsets lately and Ted sent me a pretty cool picture to post of his sled on the ice with yesterday's sunset behind it.
You'll find last week's blog at February Week One..

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!
Mule Deer on Revenge Hill.
Really impressive sunset behind the snowmobile.
Clear blue sky over Nimpo snow on the lake.
White contrail stands out against a dark sky over the lake.
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