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Wilderness Adventures - Feb., Week 3/2011

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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25/02/2011 8:10 PM

The International Space Station

It's still winter here. All of BC has gone into a deep freeze this week. Last night was our coldest at -36C or -32.8F although one neighbour across the lake says his thermometer hit -38 and the one up on the hill said his thermometer registered -40 which is the same for Celsius and Fahrenheit. What made it so much worse was that there was a wind. Yesterday afternoon when it was only -15, the amount of wind we were registering would have made it between -25 and -30C so heavens only knows how cold it got last night before the wind died down. It would have been awfully miserable for all the creatures out in the cold. I know the little bit I've been outside the last couple of days, which has not been much, I assure you, the air was just bitter with the breeze.
Today was much better with very little wind. It only got up to -16.6C or 2F today but the sun was shining and it has a lot of heat. I left the shades open on the front windows today to let the sun contribute to warming the house up and it hit 90 degrees in no time. That's too hot for even me! Still, it helps to keep the house warm overnight when the mercury starts to plummet.
I brought in a big load of wood this evening and realized how funny it is all the little things we do when it gets cold. Normally we get wood from under the deck as we load up the stove, but when temperatures drop I like to bring it all in earlier so that we don't lose heat to the outside late at night. We keep the block heaters on both vehicles plugged in so that in case of an emergency if one vehicle won't start, the other will. We close the blinds on the windows to help keep the cold out at night and get the dogs moving in and out of the porch at a little faster rate to keep cold air from blasting in the door. The door gets cracked on the porch cold room to keep my veggies from freezing up and the air vent downstairs in the freezer room gets closed up. All the myriad little things that you do without even thinking about and I chuckled to myself. Because I guess there's not much difference in what people do in the city. How do you prepare for a cold snap?
The Lower Mainland and particularly Vancouver Island got hit with snow before getting blasted with colder temperatures and arctic outflow winds. In some places their temperatures were supposed to feel as low as -12C or 10F and it looked like everyone was feeling pretty sorry for themselves. Awww. It's kind of hard for me to feel sympathetic when the weathermen on both channels ooh and ahh on how cold it is there when it's so cold in other areas of the province. They don't even bother to mention our temperatures, which looked to be the coldest, and that's without even taking into account the wind chill. I suppose it is much colder down there because of the humidity, but I still think a lot of people would be toast if they actually had to face a real winter.
I took the dogs out for a walk after supper tonight because they've been crammed into the porch all day. I would like to have taken them on a long walk today but though I can bundle up and stay warm enough in the sunshine, I think it's just too cold for them. A Louisiana hound dog with only a single coat isn't exactly suited to these winters. Not that she wimps out because she certainly doesn't. Other than when we're back from a walk and she's first on the door step to get back into the porch. All three dogs are for that matter and it's a regular free for all to see who's going to get in the door first. Heaven help you if you're in their way. You'll be flattened.
Since it's no fun going without the dogs I didn't go either and really needed a stretch tonight. You can tell that it's cold out when your boots squeak on the snow and everything's dead silent except for the odd snap of a cold stressed branch or tree. I was looking for northern lights with the flashlight off and had just turned around to come home when I saw a bright light moving across the sky. It was really bright and took quite a long time to cross before I lost it in the east so I thought it might be the shuttle Discovery. Andy pulled some times off of the computer and I was too late to have seen the shuttle but just in time to see the International Space Station. It was sure cool looking in that clear, cold air. Now we just have to remember to keep an eye out on Saturday at about 6:15 when we should see both of them fairly close together prior to docking. I think it's supposed to snow Saturday but hopefully we'll get lucky. I would love to see that.
With any luck too, it will warm up for the Poker Run on Sunday. Just a note to anyone considering coming. Normally we have a barbecue after but I guess organizers this year aren't doing that so the only food will be at lunch when there will be a wiener roast out on the trail provided it's warm enough.
Well, I see the thermometer is already reading -30C or 22 below Fahrenheit so I guess it just might hit -40 degrees tonight.
18/02/2011 12:10 PM

An Old Fashioned Winter

Boy, we've definitely got an old fashioned winter. It dropped to -25C or -13F last night and the temperature is a little slow to come up this morning. It's still -20C or -4F out there. But we've got a gloriously blue sky and lots of sunshine so I think that will bring the temperatures right up today. Hopefully. Then again, it might have been colder if we hadn't had cloud cover and it hadn't been snowing this morning so maybe it won't. We couldn't believe it last night. We went across the lake for supper and it was snowing when we left. It was still snowing fine flakes when we got home and it was -17C! Very unusual to have snow when it's that cold here, but it seems to be happening with more and more frequency. Strange, I tell you. It didn't snow that much, but still enough to have to clear the decks and clean the trucks off. I don't know if I've ever seen so many little snows over a period of six weeks. Or big ones for that matter!
Today the mountains just look like cream covered ice cream cones all smooth and pure white with not a rock showing anywhere. There must be a pile of snow up there. It makes sense because those mountains have been socked in for days now and for every inch of snow we get down here it can drop six inches up there.
It's back to being pretty quiet around here. The only sign of life is the two fellows we had dinner with last night are out snowshoeing across the lake. It was much busier this past weekend when Wilderness Rim had their ice cutting on as they always do around Valentines. I didn't get down there to visit at all but saw lots of snowmobiles zipping back and forth across the lake and the Dot Island trail has been beat up pretty good.
This is pretty short notice but Anahim Lake Community has decided to have their Children's 139 Fundraiser after all this weekend. Saturday night at the community hall, dinner, dance, live music and silent auction.
The annual Nimpo Lake Poker Run is going to be on Sunday, February 27 with a 10:00 AM sharp start at the boat launch. Poker hands are $5 apiece, for as many hands as you want. All you need is a snowmobile. I expect if it's a nice day we'll have a wiener roast out at Gus's Meadow and hamburgers back here at the end of the poker run. I hope it's nice and warm. I don't know if I'll be going. If I am it's most likely on one of our back-up machines since I managed to blow up the starter on my machine.
We took the two fellows out for a trail ride the other day up to kilometer 24 on Tuesday so that they could see the view above Charlotte Lake. Neither are accustomed to snowmobiles so we didn't want to take them up into the mountains and now I'm thankful we didn't go. We came back down Charlotte Main and decided to go through Gus's Meadow just because it's a nice winding little trail. We stopped to talk for a moment in the meadow and then continued on across Nimpo Creek and through a little meadow on the way up to the Hooch. I kicked it in the butt at the beginning of the meadow and pulled out in fresher snow to play a bit. I could hear this little this little ting ting noise coming from the motor so I notched it up a bit more to get even with Jim so that I could have him go ahead and stop Andy who was in the lead. Just as I pulled up next to him there was this loud bang so I stopped right there. Jim heard the ting and the bang so he stopped right away too, which was good. I left the machine running because I wanted to see where the noise was coming from and lifted my hood. It's never a good thing when you see a couple of screws laying in the bottom of the snowmobile. It's kind of one of those 'uh oh' moments. What else do you say?
Andy realized we were weren't behind him and came back in a jiffy and we shut it off as soon as he could hear the tinging. There were a few fresh metal scars here and there and a part or two hanging awry so it was time to take the belt off and hook it up to the back of Andy's sled. Being dragged with a rope behind a snowmobile with no power, steering the beast around corners getting pelted with snow from the machine in front is an interesting experience. Fortunately, this is my first turn at it and it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be, mainly because Andy was kind enough to not go Mach 5 and slingshot me around the trees, although he did have to go fast enough to keep up the momentum. Even then he was spinning his track in some places. Unfortunately, my machine is quite a bit heavier than the new machines and with my weight added to the dead machine it can get pretty hard on the machine pulling. Fortunately, at least the Dot Island trail was down hill, and when we got onto the lake, Andy cinched my machine up short behind his and I rode with one of the other guys. That way if we hit overflow it wouldn't drag his machine down. I've heard many guys complain of the terror filled rides they've had down off the mountain because they're being pulled by someone going way too fast. I've never heard that it's a good experience so I count myself lucky that it was Andy pulling me and that we weren't all that far away from home.
So now, there's a really, really big bill to make the repairs. I would just as soon wait and just ride one of the other machines if I want to go snowmobiling. Tuesday was the first time I had gone anywhere in two years because of my hip, so it's not like I've been doing a lot of riding. But Andy doesn't like broken things, especially when one of those things is my baby.
Well, it's two hours later and we just came back from a walk. It was -16C when we left and didn't look like it was going to warm up any more than it had. It's beautiful out with not a breath of wind and that sun has some heat in it so it's not bad if you're bundled up. And since tomorrow is supposed to be colder, we might as well get a walk in while we can. The dogs enjoy the walk but they don't waste any time diving back into the porch where we keep them when it's cold. All those fox and rabbit tracks might be interesting but they like their creature comforts too.
As you all know, about this time of year when there's been too much snow and cold and winter is seeming a little long, I usually bring out Winter Buddha and post him up on the right. Bill and Anita Miller, friends of ours in Quesnel, sent his picture after they built him on one of their adventures and I love pulling him out in the dead of winter because he always makes me smile. Hope you enjoy him as much as I do.
You'll find last week's blog 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!

Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Snowman on the rocks.
The guys waving behind the snowmobiles.
Mountain, snow and snowmobile.
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