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 3/2007
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. Check out the
of the Day.
you ever wondered why some things are the way they are?
I am always curious as to where a word came from or why
things are built the way they are. This came in an email
to me and although I don't know if it's true or not, it
sure the heck is interesting! I decided I had to share
it with you. Besides, it's Monday. Everyone needs a good
one for Monday.
Does the statement, "We've always done it like that"
ring any bells? The US standard railroad gauge
(distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's
an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because
that's the way they built them in England, and English
expatriates built the US Railroads.
Why did the English build them like that? Because the
first rail lines were built by the same people who built
the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because
the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and
tools that they used for building wagons, which used that
Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular
odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other
spacing, the wagonwheels would break on some of the old,
long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing
of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial
Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and
England ) for their legions. The roads have been used
ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots
formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match
for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots
were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the
matter of wheel spacing.
The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet,
8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications
for an Imperial Roman war chariot. And bureaucracies
live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification
and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be
exactly right, because the Imperial Roman army chariots
were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends
of two war horses!
Now, the twist to the story.
When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad,
there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides
of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters,
or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory
at Utah . The engineers who designed the SRBs would
have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs
had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch
site. The railroad line from the factory happens
to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had
to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider
than the railroad track, and the railroad track,
as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably
the world's most advanced transportation system was determined
over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's
And you thought being a HORSE'S BEHIND wasn't important!
I won't be writing for the next week folks so that's my
last word for awhile! Hope you enjoyed it as much as I
Another Animal Killed?
skipped the snowmobiling today and chose to go out cross
country skiing instead. The morning started out
beautifully with sunshine, no wind and the temperature
climbing. By the time I went out this afternoon there
was some high cloud here and there and a breeze had kicked
up but I really wanted to rebreak my ski trail. We had
gotten less than an inch of sloppy sleet last night and
it had obscured my trail slightly. With all the snowmobilers
around this weekend I wanted my trail to be clearly marked.
However, I was too late.
I'm trying to determine how many brain cells it
requires to ignore an obvious cross country ski trail
and run right over it. I don't have any problem
with people crossing my trail and I certainly don't have
a problem with animals using it. For one thing, they don't
know any better and my skis run right over the tracks
and push them in. But some heavyweight moron, actually
there was a pair of them, ran the length of my track for
some distance, off and on all the way down to Dot Island.
There's a whole lake to snowmachine on!
I have my track close to the shore just for that reason,
because most of the sledders haven't run that close to
shore in years past. I figure if a snowmobiler is that
afraid to be out on the ice and feels the need to be ten
feet from the shoreline the whole way, then they should
get the hell off the lake and back to their rocking chair.
For that matter, if you can't be bothered to look at what's
ahead of your machine, then you have no business being
on a snowmobile, either!
Do I sound pissed? Ab-so-Bloody-Lutely!
Breaking a ski trail and keeping it broke out is hard
won effort. It's not like everyone in the area doesn't
know I ski that shoreline every year and after making
such a great track this year I actually called the folks
on the other side of the lake that usually run down that
side on sleds, and let them know my track was there. In
fact, that's the main reason I cross the lake before following
the length of it is to minimize the chance of my track
being run over. Hardly anyone lives over there so you
would think that it would be highly unlikely that a ski
track tucked in close to shore would be run over consistently
every winter. I've even considered taking out some stakes
with ribbon and planting them along my trail. But
then, for sure, some monumental idiot will think it's
an obstacle course laid out just for them.
I think what amazes me most is that I have my dogs trained
to stay out of my track. My dogs. So that
means that there is some dip out there running a snowmachine
that's actually dumber than my dogs! That's just scary.
Partway down along the shoreline I came across lots
of hair and blood on the snow and it was trampled
down pretty good indicating some kind of donnybrook. There
were no remains, which seems really strange. It looked
to have happened in only the last couple of days (the
drops of blood were still a bright red) so I don't know
if an animal was actually killed there or just injured.
It would seem that either wolves or coyotes bit at it
and only injured it to where it eventually carried on
elsewhere or someone shot it and took the whole animal
with them. Since there were sled tracks going right to
it, the latter would seem very plausible. Especially
since everyone saw a guy on a snowmobile carrying a rifle
when they came back from sledding today. It's
bad enough we have the four legged predators around but
unfortunately, it's that time of year again. Slaughter
time for that 'cultural heritage'.
On my way back I looked down toward Wilderness Rim Resort
and saw a bunch of figures out on the ice in front of
the lodge. At first I thought it was all the company down
there out ice fishing but even at that great distance,
it just didn't look right. For one thing, it didn't make
sense that everyone would be fishing so far apart and
a couple of figures looked like they were wearing doeskin
brown in the sun. I decided I was going to ski in that
direction and investigate. If it was people, I know them
and I could always just say hello.
The closer I got the more apparent it became that
these were probably animals, but what kind? At
first I thought horses or cattle because there were a
couple of much smaller animals, way too small to be moose
calves. The dogs were being good and staying right with
me but when I got to within about four hundred yards,
the animals suddenly spotted me and took off. As soon
as they did I could tell from their color and the
way they ran that they were caribou. Except that
there weren't four. Suddenly, from behind the small island
streamed a whole mess of them and I counted 14, including
a couple of calves. What I wouldn't have done for a camera
but the big one was at home and the small one still out
It did cross my mind that I could run home, grab the snow
machine and camera and roar back. Although I would probably
get pictures it just didn't seem fair to scare the caribou
any more than I already had. Even so, they should
never have been so spooky at our three small shapes at
that distance and normally I don't think they would be.
But I think the presence of wolves and coyotes on the
lake has got them edgy. I wasn't that unhappy that they
headed for the far bay where they would be much harder
to spot by the guy with the rifle.
When I got home, there was a message on the answering
machine from a woman just across the Short Arm from us.
She said there was a herd of caribou in front of her house
and could we please make sure our dogs were tied up for
the short term. Wouldn't you know it! I've
been trying to get close up pictures of the caribou for
years now and here they were right in front of us and
I've gone skiing. Horseshoes I don't have!
Aside from seeing the caribou today I saw lots of fresh
moose sign since last night's snow which pleased me no
end. One track that was stepping in my ski track quite
a bit was quite small while the other was pretty good
sized. It looks like our cow/calf pair are still around
and that calf moose is not the one that was killed farther
down the lake. That makes me pretty happy.
It's been confirmed. We definitely have a pair of wolves
working Nimpo Lake.
Mary down at Nimpo Lake Resort spotted a pair of large,
dark colored animals on the lake not far from her place
so she jumped on her machine and ran down to investigate.
The tracks confirmed that they were definitely wolves.
There were also the fresh remains of a Mule deer
not far from where the moose had been killed.
There are large meadows back in there that lead into a
sort of draw down to the lake. We're guessing that the
wolves are funneling the animals down that draw onto the
lake where they kill them, possibly after exhausting them
by running them through the meadows first. There's a lot
of snow out there and if you combine that with hummocks
and tall grass forming rough uneven ground under the snow,
it would be really hard on animals being pushed through
the meadows. Once on the lake where there's very
little snow, they could be run down fairly quickly.
Whether there are just two wolves or more, or if they
are letting the coyotes run game to exhaustion for them
and then ambushing them is hard to say. Few animals practice
teamwork the way wolves do.
Mary said that the moose killed there definitely looks
to be last year's calf, which makes sense. It hardly seems
likely that wolves could run down a full grown moose through
soft snow. Although with our melts and freezes it's more
than possible that the predators are running on top of
the snow now. In open areas where the sun shines on the
snow, melts it, then it freezes, there is quite a hard
crust. It's still pretty soft in the woods though.
They watched a moose cross the lake down at that
end of the lake this morning, but I didn't see
a single fresh moose track while skiing on the lake yesterday
anywhere they had been hanging out all winter.
It seems a shame to lose moose to wolves, but I guess
that's Mother Nature. At least the killers weren't two
We've got really warm temperatures today with wind to
carry the moisture from melting snow away. It started
out not a bad day this morning but heavy low cloud has
moved in and it's spitting rain. I sure hope it isn't
going to last. I really don't want to lose anymore snow.
It looks like we're all going to try to go out
snowmobiling tomorrow. I guess we better get in
all we can before the snow is all gone off the lake. Otherwise
we'll have to take the long way around on the trail through
the woods just to get to Dot Island as we did when there
was bad overflow on the lake. Wish us better weather tomorrow!
that makes a lot of people that have to work all week
awfully happy! I guess I'm pretty darn lucky because I'm
not stuck with a nine to five job although some days I
work in my office a lot more than eight hours!
This morning started out being a glorious day
with hardly a cloud in the sky and although it dropped
to about -12C or 15F last night, which was a bit of a
surprise, it warmed up fast this morning. Then high cloud
started moving in watering the sun down a little. By this
afternoon you could still see the mountains but it had
that grey dreary look again.
The light was so flat that I couldn't even see my
ski trail across the lake today when I went out.
I had to actually go by feel and even though it had about
an inch or so of frozen sleet in it, I could still tell
when I left the track. Once I got across the lake to the
far shore where my trail is a lot deeper, the going was
really good. I still had to re-break trail going out but
coming back in was awesome! It's a nice, fast trail now.
I just have to break out the rest of it to Dot Island
tomorrow providing the weather will let me.
Andy and Mazy had high hopes of being able to fly the
plane into Springhouse at Williams Lake today for its
annual since today was the one and only decent weather
day expected for the next while. No chance though, so
hopefully it will happen next week. Instead, Andy came
out on the snowmobile to meet me on the lake and scared
up a caribou just around the corner from where I was skiing.
Obviously it had no fear whatsoever that I was
going to be able to catch it and didn't move until it
saw the snowmobile.
Tomorrow is icecutting for Wilderness Rim, an annual event
that's actually a fairly necessary one. Some of
the resorts and a few cabin owners still rely on the ice
blocks they cut out of the lake to put in their icehouses
with sawdust. For cabin owners without electricity,
it provides refrigeration throughout the summer. For the
resort owners, it gives a large refrigeration area for
clients' fish, extra groceries, etc.
At Wilderness Rim cutting the huge ice blocks with a jig,
hauling them out, putting them on a stoneboat pulled by
a sled, and stacking them in the icehouse is hard, heavy
work. But they make a party out of it and there's usually
a lot of willing hands. Most years everyone gets to prove
their engineering skills by building an igloo out of the
leftover ice blocks. Due to the alcoholic refreshments
consumed in the building, I'm not sure the igloo would
receive the eskimo stamp of approval but it looks
nice at night when lit up from within. The photo of people
carrying ice up on the right is taken at icecutting at
Escott Bay Resort.
The Children's 139 Fund will be held this weekend as well
at the Anahim Lake Community Hall. Folks in the area are
well known for their generosity and aside from the auction
and cash donations, there's usually a big potluck supper
and lots of laughs. I'm really hoping the fact that the
mill is now shut down for a couple of months isn't going
to hurt donations. It has certainly hurt the businesses
in the area. Although we see good traffic in the
summer, businesses and restaurants rely heavily on locals
to carry them through the winter. With only the
planer mill running up until now, and a very uncertain
future, it's been pretty slow going for everyone.
Okay, gotta get this posted. It's poker night tonite!
A Gloopy Day
you heard right. I really don't know how else to describe
Our weather today has been a unique combination of sloppy
sleet and goopy snow. It alternates between wind driven
snow, wind driven rain with periodic sunny periods. Sometimes
all three are happening at once. Hence, gloopy.
You can actually add a rhyming word in there if you want
but this is, after all, a family oriented publication.
Our temperatures are well above freezing and things are
going to be a mess soon. I expect there will be
bad black ice on the highway again tonight. That
happened a week or so ago and a resort owner's daughter
ended up turning her truck on its lid on her way to work
early in the morning. She hit the snowbank on the side
of the highway and it rolled her truck over end for end
in the ditch. No injuries but that kind of thing is never
fun for anyone. Well, other than for her young son who
apparently was getting quite a giggle out of hanging upside
down in his carseat.
We really can't complain about our weather even if it
isn't exactly what we would prefer. When
you see reports coming out of the east both in Canada
and the United States, of eight and twelve foot snowfalls
in a one week period, you really have to feel for those
folks. That, and I congratulate myself continually on
my choice of location. Those places not getting
blasted by snow are getting blasted by cold and high wind
I actually meant to post a picture from a month ago sent
to me by close friends in Saskatchewan of a drift in front
of their quonset where they park their vehicle.
I'll put it up on the right. Like the rest of
the country, they got hit pretty hard with a nasty blizzard
that shut a lot of people in their yards for a few days.
The unique thing about Saskatchewan is that you never
know how much snow you actually get in a winter because
it keeps on moving. You can have a ten foot drift
in front of your door one day and a four foot one the
I remember when I was going to move there a few years
back I kept asking my friends how much snow they had.
They would say, "How much do you want? If you
look at the back of the house where there's not as much
wind there's about four feet, and if you look out front,
the ground is bare."
It kind of makes you wonder how prairie meteorologists
can ever accurately report the annual snowfall. Where
do you find a place in Saskatchewan that doesn't have
wind, thus constantly and completely changing the depth
It looks like the folks in New York got another two feet
of snow while those in Ontario and Quebec were slated
for another three feet of the white stuff. I'll bet you
now that the Ontario people are sorry they were complaining
about golfing in December. Don't diss Mother Nature
or she'll diss you back!
It looks like our warm weather spell is going to continue
but I think I see a glimmer of sunshine for us on the
satellite photos for tomorrow. Man, I hope so! I would
really like to see temperatures just below
freezing tomorrow because it would make a great ski trip
on the lake rather than a sticky run in fresh snow but
I'll take whatever we get handed, I guess!
In case you haven't noticed, this is the start of a new
week. Last week's articles can be found at February,
Week Two .
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!