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 - February, Week 2/06
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.
Pan and Rich
strikes. When Pan and Rich left their old foreman and
the head of the Frontier Company that comprised investors
in the huge ranch discovered by the two men, it was with
the knowledge that they were now taking full responsibility
for the ranch and the cattle and horses on it. Otherwise,
the investors would have demanded all livestock be moved
to the railyard at Vanderhoof and on to Vancouver.
Both Pan and Rich were savvy cowmen and more than
aware that the war would eventually bring high prices
for the cattle on the ranch. They just had to
get past the hurdle of abandoned hay crops, no men, and
no more money injected into the ranch. They stubbornly
took that obligation on and headed for the ranch of an
equally stubborn man that always had an abundance of hay
taken off nearly 4000 acres of meadowland near his homestead.
They struck a deal for him to feed 300 hundred head of
their cattle, sealed the deal with some good rum and went
to bed. They woke to an early snow with over a foot
on the ground and more falling steadily. Not only
did their host not have his cattle in off the range, but
neither did they. They divided pack horses and went their
respective ways. Pan to the Home Ranch to gather cattle
and Rich to the Batnuni Ranch to gather cattle both to
come to their hayman's place, and others to be farmed
out to Nazko Indians that had lots of hay put up. Some
cattle would be left at Batnuni where the range herd of
horses could keep the snow pawed out for a few hundred
cattle for the winter and the little hay that was put
up before the war started would supplement them.
The huge enterprise located by Pan Phillips and
Rich Hobson as described in "Grass Beyond The Mountains"
and controlled by the Frontier Company was so large a
tract of land that it had to be divided into several different
'ranches' with corrals, bunkhouses and hayland for each
making it a more workable enterprise and with most layups
being no more than 40 miles and up to 100 miles apart.
But on horseback...that was still a long way.
The first thing Rich came upon on arriving at Batnuni
after days of wading through snow were cattle dying
and staggering around after eating poison hemlock brought
up from the creek bottom by ice. The cattle had
eaten their pasture down to nothing and were starving
and so ate anything in their path, even if it was killing
them. Rich finally managed to get the cattle away from
the creek only with the help of surprise visitors, an
Indian man and his wife that agreed to stay on and help
drive the several hundred head of cattle on to the hayman's
place. The drive would be through deep snow with no food
for the cattle...and that was only the beginning.
As Rich says "Had I known what that winter
would bring and what we were getting into...I would never
have done it.."
Hopefully, I can continue these excerpts tomorrow. See
Snowmobiling to Trumpeter
was quite an adventure and there was no hope of getting
to Trumpeter mountain.
I realize there was no article yesterday but we were too
pooped to pop once we got back home. Our normally small
group of experienced riders was joined by a very large
group from Wilderness Rim Resort because they had their
ice cutting this weekend. Unfortunately, few had
been on snowmobiles much and most of their machines were
small and old. If you aren't very experienced
with riding but are on a snowmobile that is fairly powerful,
you can usually rely on the machine to get you where you
need to go. If you're an experienced rider, you can push
an old or underpowered snowmobile to do mostly what you
want it to. But a combination of inexperience and
old machines is not a mix that's going anywhere fast.
Three guys in the group were accustomed to snowmobiling
in Idaho and looked like they should know what they were
doing, but their machines were set for a much lower altitude,
so they were pretty boggy and lacked any power.
Although our group of eight went out ahead with the intention
of snowmobiling by ourselves, it just didn't stay that
way for long. Instead, the better riders like Andy and
Logan spent most of the day getting people unstuck while
the rest of us tried to break a good trail for the huge
group behind us.
Our number in total was nineteen, way too large a group
to keep track of. I spent a good part of my time waiting,
counting and 'directing' traffic. At one point poor
Andy had to drag an undersized Arctic Cat with an oversized
rider up a steep hill.
Even trying to break as easy a trail as possible, after
four hours it became apparent that we weren't going to
get anywhere near the top of Trumpeter Mountain.
By the time we reached the 'Play Bowl' a hard wind from
the south and west was blowing snow and with the flat
light it was impossible to tell up from down. You felt
the hill drop away from you rather than saw it which can
make for dangerous conditions no matter how experienced
you might be. We decided that even if we could get everyone
to the top of Trumpeter, which wasn't very likely, they
wouldn't be able to see the magnificent view of surrounding
mountains, lakes and the Chilcotin Plateau and
I felt that herding everyone back down safely might take
nearly as long as going up had.
We did get back down into sunshine and everyone got to
play in the surrounding hills a bit before we returned
to Charlotte Main.
Two of the machines had suffered broken windshields
when their riders flew over the hoods on their snowmobiles
trying to go over a drift, and Andy bent the trailing
arm on his machine when he hit a stump trying to swing
back to help yet another poor soul. I broke the trim on
my windshield on a tree branch following Lloyd on the
wrong trail and Pete was trailing feathers from
a hole in his jacket created by the same branch.
Other than that, it was a good day...I think.
We never resent taking new people snowmobiling because
we've all been new at it at one time or another, but if
they aren't very experienced, it's always best to keep
the group to a small number. It's just too difficult to
keep track of that many people, especially nineteen of
Logan got some awesome pictures of moose in Gus's
Meadow on the way down and we watched a herd of Caribou
cross Nimpo Lake while we sat on the lake waiting
for the rest of our party to come down. I would like to
have gotten close enough to get a good picture of them,
but none of us wanted to frighten the herd into running
in the overflow. And boy, was there overflow!
Yesterday was quite a warm day and spider holes
had opened up all over Nimpo Lake while we had
been up on the mountain. By the time we got back down,
the snow was saturated with water and when one snowmobiler
took off to head home, he had a couple of feet of water
flowing back into his track when he went near a spider
hole. When we headed home, it was at full speed and I
wasn't stopping for any reason. You could feel the machine
bogging wherever it hit water.
I don't think I'll be skiing on the lake for awhile.
I'll give a short recap of events regarding Rich
Hobson and Pan Phillips before we go on with their
story. If you go to the Wilderness
Adventures Oct 3 page and start from
the bottom, you'll get the beginning of their adventures
in this area.
Rich and Pan called their old foreman in the States who
put together a company to raise money to develop the isolated
country they found in the Chilcotin into a huge cattle
ranch designed to be larger than either the Gang Ranch
in British Columbia or the King Ranch in Texas.
All went fairly well for five years until the war started.
Suddenly a shortage of resources, including young cowpokes
that went off to join had the shareholders bailing out
of the project. Even shorthanded and in debt, Rich and
Pan chose to go on with their dream.
haven't made it that easy for people to reach me directly
at Nimpo Lake but miraculously, they still manage.
I received a super call last night from a delightful person
that had been staying at one of the resorts over Christmas
just across from our place on Nimpo, and whom I had taken
a picture of skating on our ice road. We talked for a
long time and I must say it was one of the best conversations
I've ever had with a visitor to the area.
He and his wife explored the Rainbows last year
on snowmobile, much of which was on their own,
without knowing much about the area or country they were
going into. Although this fellow strikes me as being appropriately
cautious, he and his wife both sound very independent
and self sufficient and I can't wait to meet them when
they come up snowmobiling in March. They sound like just
the kind of people we all enjoy riding with and getting
to know. That they may be interested in getting property
and making this a more permanent thing in future is just
icing on the cake!
Many people from all over and from many walks of life
have found ways to contact me even before I added a contact
page. All have, with their enthusiasm, encouraged
me to continue with this blog. Some days you just
kind of wonder if you really have the time to sit down
and dedicate the time to writing an article when you could
probably be accomplishing something a little more viable,
or something that at least brings in a paycheck. But every
once in awhile, that special someone from Bavaria,
or Texas, Vernon, Vancouver,
Alberta, or in the case of a phone call
last night from Quesnel, just brightens
your day and makes you want to keep on writing in the
hope that one more person will feel what a magical place
So thank you, all of you, that wade through
this article every day in the hope of finding something
worth reading. Hopefully you do.
On another note, it looks like we're going snowmobiling
tomorrow. Snow conditions are wonderful and we
have enough firewood in now to relieve the guilt trip
temporarily. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meanwhile,
I think it's high time to go back to the legends in this
country. I will, will, will (remember the little engine
that could? Well I'm working on that philosophy) get back
to writing about the people of our past such as Rich
Hobson and Pan Phillips. So barring an avalanche
or some other disaster buckle your seatbelts folks, because
there's "Nothing Too Good For A Cowboy"!
Newborn on Nimpo
one you would expect to see in the West Chilcotin but
it happens. I just spent the afternoon working my poor,
tired heinie off getting firewood so today's article is
going to be short and sweet. Sorry folks.
Mary and Logan of Nimpo Lake Resort are
celebrating the birth of their newest baby Rachel, and
even I think she's as cute as they get.
She has four legs so you folks might not agree with the
cute part, but hey, we don't get many babies around here
so we appreciate what we do get.
Mary has run the resort for years and over a long period
of time accumulated a strange collection of creatures
that varies from year to year due to the vagaries of death
or adoption. These animals and birds are a never
ending source of delight to vacationers to the area, and
are particularly fun for children. Mary's birds
include peacocks which I admit scared the living bejeeze
out of me the first morning one clacked around on the
skylight of my cabin and screamed it's superiority to
the world. I'm sure I still haven't recovered because
whenever I'm down at that end of Nimpo Lake and
hear the raucous screech of that male peacock, I jump.
If you can get past the sound, they're a really beautiful
bird to watch, especially during mating season when they're
constantly fanning their tail feathers for the pea hens.
In her menagerie Mary has a pair of Llamas. At least I
think that's what they are. They're large and hairy
with big eyes and are definitely not natural to the West
Chilcotin. This, I know for sure!
Harley is a large animal with a rich brown coat and likes
to break out of jail a lot. Nothing can be more
shocking to one's system on a sleepy, early morning than
coming around a corner on your driveway and seeing this
thing crossing in front of you in the mist. The
shape just doesn't fit anything that you know is indigenous
to the region, and even though we all know Harley, you
also don't expect him to be several miles from home. But
Harley really likes his 'walkabouts'.
He's hanging around home a lot more closely right now
because he's a new daddy. I don't know Rachel's mother's
name but this little baby took the colors from both parents
in the oddest way. Rachel's first few days of life have
been in some pretty cold temperatures but she seems to
be taking it all in stride and as Logan says, "Skinny
'lil phart but she's running and frisking around already."
Take a look at her on the right, she's just way too cool!
Just to let any of you that would be interested
in bringing your kids up and staying at Nimpo Lake Resort
know , Mary's season usually begins around May
when she can start opening up cabins. However, should
you want to sneak up a little earlier or later in the
season, she will make every effort to accommodate you.
Besides the great array of animals (did I tell you about
the wild bunny rabbits everywhere?) the resort on
Nimpo Lake offers great fishing for rainbow trout, beautiful
cabins, boating, hiking and some awesome, down home hospitality.
Check out the listing on the Resorts
long, cold night brought in an unusual visitor this morning.
After a balmy day yesterday temperatures dropped to -24C
or about -13F below last night and the air has taken its
own sweet time warming up this morning. An Evening
Grosbeak arrived at the bird feeder at about 8:00
this morning and hasn't been in any hurry to leave since.
For the first half hour he was pretty shy about our movements
in the windows of the house but he started taking one
sunflower seed at a time, turned around and sat at the
feeder watching us as he ate his seed. The funny thing
about it though, is that he chewed on each seed for what
seemed about a hundred times. You know the old saying,
'Chew each bite at least 40 times'? Well, he was doing
that and then some, which is unusual to my mind. I'm
used to flocks of Grosbeaks coming in on a feeder in Saskatchewan
and eating so fast that empty shells are just flying!
This Grosbeak is unusual in a lot of ways. For me, it's
rare to even see them here, especially midwinter, and
even more unusual, this guy is all by himself. He
looks a little scruffy and when he finally finished eating
he sat on the railing overlooking Nimpo Lake for nearly
half an hour looking for all the world like a little old
man sitting in the sun and studying the view.
He finally flew up into a tree and sat there for awhile,
but I just noticed him back at the feeder again after
I heard him making some loud, demanding chirps.
Although I realize many people aren't that interested
in birds, I sometimes have to wonder at the story behind
one like this. This species normally travels in flocks.
I've seen males come in to check out a feeder before the
females and immatures arrive, but not singly and almost
never here. Did this one get lost? Did he
fall far behind the flock on the way south? He's
pretty ratty looking and after four hours is still
hitting the feeder pretty hard so he must be hungry. Is
his beak worn out and is that why he chews each black
oil sunflower seed so slowly? I sure don't know the answer
but he is fun to watch and the Chickadees that are regulars
at the feeder are finally getting used to this big bird
raiding their larder.
Aside from the Rose breasted Grosbeak, the Evening
is the most striking for markings. The males are
a deep yellow-gold with bright white bars and black markings.
They have a band of yellow over their eyes that give
them a big browed Neanderthal appearance. I liken
it to a fat headband you'd see on a tennis player or tinted
yellow ski goggles pulled up on their forehead. I know,
I know, I have way too vivid an imagination and like most
people, I overlay human thought and actions on animals
and birds. So fire me.
Anyway, he's been fun to see and I heartily hope he hangs
around for awhile. As long as he stays alert and
can dodge three fat and lazy cats, he's welcome
to all the seeds he can eat!
one more reference to the Arizona trip. On the last story
I did on pictographs in the West Chilcotin, the page Wilderness
Adventures Aug1 I refer to some
of the pictographs found painted on rock near Nimpo Lake
and wondered how authentic they might be. The
symbolism varies from country to country, tribe to tribe,
and probably from individual to individual so it's very
difficult to compare pictographs and state with any certainty
that this one is authentic, but that one isn't because....
However, I did have the distinct pleasure of seeing pictographs
in the Arizona desert, some of which are without
question ancient, and some probably more recent 'hoaxes'.
These pictures are painted or scratched into a huge outcropping
standing over a large dry wash with a thick gravel bed.
There is no question that water has run here on a regular
basis for thousands of years. Across the wash was
another rocky ridge that no doubt made a great vantage
point for hunters and had some protection at it's
feet with trees and rocks. On this ridge are holes that
have been ground into the rock over a long period of time,
probably Native Americans grinding corn, roots or berries
using rock against rock much like a mortar and pestle
while camped in this spot. Probably even in the worst
heat, there may still have been water to be found in the
bottom of the wash and wild animals would have come here
part of the year to drink.
If you open the Wilderness
Adventures Aug1 page, and compare the
pictographs from the huge rock outcropping near Nimpo
Lake and the symbols on the same in Arizona, there really
isn't any resemblance at all. In Arizona, there's still
the same red hue on the symbols that you see here, but
the color is nearly worn away by time. The freshness of
the color at Nimpo tells me that many of the symbols there
were done fairly recently in comparison. Now whether that
means 20 years ago, or 100 years ago, who's to tell? I
have no idea how old the pictographs in Arizona are. I
do know that they were far more exposed to a harsh sun,
wind and even water on occasion, while the pictographs
here are hidden in the woods on the least exposed sides
of the rock. Fake ... or not? Open up the other page for
comparison and you be the judge. For me, it's all fascinating,
For those of you looking for last week's articles, you
will find them at Wilderness
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!