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Wilderness Adventures - January, Week 1/2007

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 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 Picture of the Day.

08/01/2007 6:45 PM

Winter Monday

Yep, more snow!
High winds Saturday night made it difficult to see how much snow we got until I took a walk in the woods yesterday. Where it had drifted badly in the open, another couple of inches sat on the trail protected by trees. It drifted so badly that Andy had to use the bobcat to clear the piles of snow out of our driveway. I think this is the first year we have had that problem, but then again, I'm not sure I've seen such wind before.
We started out with flurries this morning but by the time I ventured out for a walk this afternoon it was sifting down pretty hard. I don't think the one dog was terribly impressed with his whole head and face being covered in snow the whole way and I admit it wasn't easy to see ahead squinting out between the brim of a cap and a balaclava.
We've already received a couple of inches of snow today and it looks like we're in for a bit more. There's a snowfall warning for most of the coast and inland (that's us!) as well as a wind warning. We're hoping we miss that last part but if you looked outside right now you'd see snow whipping around the front windows and our flags flying straight out. There's a blizzard warning out for the Peace Country to the north for tomorrow and everybody in British Columbia is in for a cold spell.
If you look at where the jet stream is going to be for this next week, most of Canada and some of the northern states are going to get pretty chilly. The storm off our coast coming in tonight is huge judging from the satellite images, but right behind it and being sucked straight down from the north off the coast of Alaska is a big arctic front.
Temperatures in northern B.C. will be around -43C (about 45 degrees below Fahrenheit), and about -27C in the central interior. That means we'll probably see temperatures in the neighbourhood of -30C and colder through the week. The big cold front is what will bring the winds to the province initially and probably some snow to the Lower Mainland. I'm sure they're looking forward to that...
We were just talking today while burning some more beetle kill branches about how much snow there is this year. I have definitely seen more here as in 1990 when we got that four foot dump in one day, but a slow buildup like we've received this winter is unusual and the drifting from wind even more so.
This fresh snow will certainly make the snowmobilers very, very happy. Charlotte Main, a main access for all of us to get to the mountains was plowed by a grader about a week ago. Apparently a couple of local ranchers were late getting their hay out of their fields and couldn't haul it down the main logging road without it being plowed. That upset a few people of course, because no one wants to run their machine on gravel for any distance. However, when we get a couple of inches of snow, Charlotte Main will often receive six inches or more, so we should all be good to go. It's just that by the time this cold spell is over, the snowmobile trail up to Trumpeter Mountain will probably have to be broke out all over again.
A couple of guys went up the middle of this week, including the ex fighter pilot. They spent a lot of time stuck, but that may have been because they lost the trail in a few places. It's easy to do with the amount of snow we've had this winter. Where markers were previously up in the trees, now they are at ground level.

06/01/2007 11:48 AM

Good Morning 2007!

Good morning everyone. I hope you survived the first week of the New Year in good shape and not too wind blown.
I'm pretty sure you can only take the weatherman's forecast with a very large grain of salt. We were expecting colder temperatures and Thursday evening, they did indeed start their nightly plummet. But by the time I went to bed they had already come up 8 degrees and by early morning, temperatures were 15 degrees warmer than they had been the previous evening. With the higher temperatures came a howling wind that lasted throughout the day. We've got a few young, scraggy jackpine that weren't hit by beetles this year, but are now standing alone out there since surrounding trees have been cut down. They've held up to the wind so far without snapping off so we'll see.
Vancouver and area got hit with wet snow yesterday that came and stayed much longer than predicted. More high winds and nasty weather hit Washington State as this huge, troublesome system slid farther south. It pushed our cold front to the north for a day but that too seems to have come sliding back south because temps dropped again last night.
Nimpo Lake is sporting a new look with drifts pushed up by the wild wind and portions of the ice scoured completely clean of snow. Mind you, another inch of snow last night has covered up most of the bald spots now.
Yet another system is moving in from the Pacific and where it's headed isn't known yet. You can't take everything the weatherman says for gospel so I usually just watch the satellite pics and make up my own mind.
The Canadians won the World Jr. Hockey Championship against the Russians yesterday, their third gold medal in a row. Congratulations again to young Carey Price of Anahim Lake. I know he is a Montreal draft pick already but I don't know how much playing he's going to do. It looks like his own team mates flattened him pretty badly in the goalie net in celebrating their win...lol.
I'm way behind in work for one reason or another and have to get back at it, so I don't know if I'll post again before Monday.
Enjoy your weekend folks!

04/01/2007 7:14 PM

On The Map

Anahim Lake has been put on the map, by a sports figure no less.
Yesterday all the news stations carried on about how the Canadian hockey team won against the US in the World Junior Hockey Championships and now will go up against Russia for the gold. They had to do continual shootouts after the game was tied and each team kept getting goals on the other, except for the last goal stopped dead by the Canadian goal tender.
Carey Price is the son of our Chief of the Ulkatcho Native Band in Anahim Lake and is a remarkable young hockey player. He and his Dad, also a goalie, used to spend hours day after day practicing against each other in the beat up old outdoor rink on the Reserve. Trips to play in games required a drive of two hundred miles just to get to Williams Lake, with more travelling from there to get to tournaments.
Carey spent a good part of his young life on the road, with his Dad footing the huge fuel bill for travel year after year. It looks like the results are well worth it with Carey being last night's Canadian hero.
Although the newscasters weren't able to pronounce the name Anahim correctly, (pronouncing it instead as you would the Alexis Creek Anaheim Reserve or as you would the city in California) they did give a little background on the community and showed on a map where it was to emphasize the distance travelled by Carey and his parents. It's a nice promotional boost for our area and maybe, just maybe, a few sports dollars will be thrown out this way. In the face of the isolation of the area and hurdles to be crossed, I think that young Mr. Price deserves our admiration for his unwavering determination to be the best. He certainly has mine.
The lower Mainland and Vancouver Island have been hit yet again, mostly with wind this time but the Island got freezing rain this morning. It resulted in horrendous black ice conditions on an intersection with Highway One and the news cameras just happened to be there to get footage of the impromptu 'Bumper Cars Game'.
Apparently the three way intersection with the highway had been heavily salted last night but freezing rain covered it up. The whole thing started out with a semi jackknifing and just kind of went downhill from there. One vehicle after another slid out of control down the slight grade and you could see each driver frantically trying to keep from sliding onto the highway where cars and trucks were whizzing by. You couldn't drive on this pavement, you couldn't stop on it and it looked like you probably couldn't even walk on it. After a few rear enders and fender benders a sand truck appeared on the scene and he too went skidding by the camera narrowly missing several of the now parked vehicles and barely stopped short on the highway. The only way he could salt the road and intersection was to back up, driving over the salt he was releasing as he did so, giving his own tires traction.
The whole bumper car thing might have been funny if so many vehicles hadn't narrowly missed being sandwiched by speeding cars out on the highway because they couldn't get stopped. Folks down on the coast must be just thoroughly sick of the unexpected weather with one storm after another. But surprise! More wind and snow for you tomorrow!
We, on the other hand, had an absolutely gorgeous day today, if you don't take into account temperatures that would freeze the cajones off a brass monkey, that is. The sun was shining and there was not a breath of wind today, although there were storms shimmying around the mountains. Temperatures this morning ranged around -17C or a little below 0 degrees F. Since temperatures are already around -15C I expect it will get much colder tonite. The weatherman is predicting colder and colder temperatures for the next few days and since we've got a full moon, that would be about right.
The ice on Nimpo Lake was booming last night and one large whoomp! as I was banking the fire indicated a pretty good crack had probably just opened up in the ice. There probably definitely won't be an ice road this year, the first time in years. Terry usually plows one out for everyone but he noted that this year there are several large blow holes that he doesn't trust and I think overflow will probably be a problem for as long as we have snow this winter. Too bad for us but hey, "Change is good, Donkey." as Shrek would say.
By the way, since my partner took umbrage at my comment about truckers in last night's article, I have to change my description from crazier than bed bugs to ... what? Crazier than loons? Anyone have a suggestion? I know they're crazy because three truck driving brothers and a honey has proven that to me over the years. You have to be crazy to drive a vehicle that large over some of the nasty road conditions they do and still think it's fun. It's just what degree of crazy that needs to be determined. And yes, I'm going to catch grief for this paragraph as well.
Rather than enjoying the fine day or helping Andy pile up brush from more beetle killed pine that he dropped today, I got to sit in on yet another meeting. It was for a beetle kill action plan to determine how to help communities affected economically by the destroyed pine forests. I think this was a meeting to decide whether they should have a meeting to determine whether they needed a committee to determine whether we needed them. That was the best I could tell anyway. I hope it helps us...
03/01/2007 9:13 PM

The Road To Bella Coola

It wasn't paved in gold today, I can tell you that!
We actually woke up to a beautiful morning in Nimpo Lake today. A little cold but clear and that held through until we hit the Valley bottom on the way to Bella Coola. There's loads of snow up on top and a surprising amount of snow even going down the Bella Coola 'Hill'.
Now the Hill isn't my favorite place when there's snow on the ground. The way I look at it, when you combine snow, ice, grades up to 18%, drop offs up to what...a 1000 feet? (or as Andy says, you could starve to death before you hit the bottom) and the possiblity of some really big boulders on the road, you might want to check up on that four leaf clover you pressed between the pages of a book last fall.
There is definitely an increased pucker factor on the Hill under certain conditions. On the other hand, a logging truck passed us this morning going up the Hill without chains on so really, how bad could it be? What no one seems to understand unless you're from this part of the country is that A...truckers hate to chain up and will walk across burning coals to avoid it, and B...most truckers have a type A personality and are crazier than bed bugs. I know. I'm married to one.
There's a huge amount of snow up on top around the parking lot where everyone goes into the Rainbow Mountains on snowmachines. The one highways guy we talked to said there was about five feet of settled snow on the 'stick'. Which means snowmachining in the Rainbows is either fantastic, or it's a whole lot of work getting unstuck.
We left the top of the Hill and still had a lot of snow a good part of the way down. The nice part about that is snowbanks. I like snowbanks when there's a long dropoff on one side. Just kind of gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling. Unfortunately, that only lasted part way down and had pretty much petered out around Cougar Rock, definitely the narrowest and nastiest part of the 'Hill'. There was also some fresh snow and a little ice and that's definitely not a warm, fuzzy feeling generator.
Actually, my main concern about the road today was that conditions of the past few days were perfect for avalanches but although you could see little snowballs and snowball tracks on the steep rock face beside us, there was no problem until we came back up later this afternoon.
There were actually a couple of places on the road where large rocks had rolled down and onto the road. We stopped at one spot and Andy rolled most of them out of the one lane anyway, leaving the larger ones for the night shift highways truck driver to move off with his blade. A little farther up the road was a different story with some extremely large boulders on the road but since that is in the worst avalanche area on the Hill, neither of us were particularly interested in stopping. Besides, nothing but a grader was going to move those boulders.
The Bella Coola Valley definitely had snow this year and I don't think the residents are any too used to it. There was a lot more snow out Hagensborg way and the highway had compact snow that was breaking up. There was very little snow at Bella Coola proper and I'm assuming that's because of the warming influence of the inlet. Or maybe they're just that much lower in elevation.
One surprise was the astounding number of little waterfalls (and big ones across the inlet) along the highway. I can only assume that the area got the same high temperatures and either rain or snow yesterday that we did to result in this much water flowing. It was amazing, and beautiful, of course.
We had some time to kill before an appointment so we took a cruise past the Bella Coola docks and marina. There were lots of Trumpeter Swans and Canada Geese on the water as well as a lot of flotsam in the water. The tide was just going out and I couldn't believe the broken wood bobbing along. We both agreed that we had never seen the inlet like that before and can only assume that the intense storms hitting B.C.'s coastline all fall and winter has caused a lot of storm damage, probably ripping out a lot of trees that then get pushed into the coastal inlets.
A quick trip past the marina took gave us a sneak peak at a second wharf, and an old barge and tugs hidden in a protected bay just before the Hydro generating station. I also got a glimpse of Clayton Falls that run into the station but we'll have to take a hike in there one day to get a really good picture of the fantastically smooth rocks and rushing water.
We discovered a tiny picnic area on rocks jutting out into the ocean that I can't wait to make use of next time we bring visitors down to the Valley. I'm hoping it won't be too busy in the summer because it's just too nice to not make use of.
Neither of us recall ever being down in the Valley in the dead of winter before and it's like stepping into a different world. There are dripping trees brooding in the fog that stand so tall along the highway they seem to be leaning over it, mountains above with an obvious snow line lean in over the Valley and block out the sun, while deep green ferns spring out of moss covered rock faces along the road and waterfalls both large and small lace the Valley walls. In stark contrast is the plateau we have just left covered with pristine snow sparkling pure white against a sky so winter deep blue in color it's heartbreaking. It's an amazing difference in such a short period of time. Stepping out of the one world straight into the other is a little mind boggling this time of year but I admit I quite enjoyed seeing and smelling the greenery and I grabbed a tiny piece of moss just so I could bring home a little piece of summer.
I am amazed at Bella Coola's potential. I realize that the Valley has a strong tourism marketing group that work long and hard to promote the area, but to my 'outsider's' eyes, so much of the region's potential has yet to be realized. Oh, and that reminds me, there are some properties for sale there and I have been directed to information on three of them. I haven't had time yet to post anything on them but if anyone is interested, I can give you address of the web page that has pictures and some details on the properties.
Aside from the boulders that had rolled out on the road, going back up the Hill was uneventful but we were blessed with a full moon rising over the snow covered Itcha Ulkatcho Mountain Ranges on the way home. It turned out to be a good day after all!
Of course I consider any day that you haven't fallen off the side of a mountain to be a good one.

02/01/2007 8:25 PM

Not Great Out Of The Gate

Our B.C. weather isn't exactly off to a great start in the new year. A Pineapple Express, or as the weatherman on television calls it, the 'Rain Train' just kicked butt on southwestern British Columbia...again. Receiving up to 150 mm or 6 inches of rain, the entire Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley is a little swampy right now. Rivers and streams have overflowed their banks and storm drains and culverts are unable to keep up with the downpour in the past 24 to 36 hours. As a result, many streets are impassable and many homes and yards flooded.
This is the tenth major storm of the season for the southern coast of the province, and they have got to be getting almighty tired of it. Many employees and owners spent their first day back on the job after the holidays clearing water out of their businesses. Or trying to. Many streams and rivers had not yet reached their floodwater peak and with a high tide still to come in that effects some of those waterways, things are probably only going to get worse before they get better.
Warm temperatures and rain throughout British Columbia have created a serious avalanche danger and some major highways in the province are closed as a result. I expect we would be faced with the same sort of danger here if we were to go up snowmobiling, but no one was that crazy today in view of our dismal weather.
We too have been hit by the Pineapple Express. The weather has varied between sideways rain, sideways sleet, and sideways snow all day laying a slushy mess on top of our fast melting snow. Between a warm wind and the rain, our beautiful powder snow has settled considerably. The temperature has ranged right around freezing and a little above today, while tonight when the mercury dropped just slightly, the slush on the deck turned to ice instantly.
It hasn't been much of a day to be outside at all although a little caulking around the front windows had to be done in the face of that driving rain. The lousy weather definitely put a damper on the number of people on snowmobiles out on the lake today because I only saw two people the whole day. At least this weather held off until after the holidays so that most folks had a good time over Christmas and through New Year's Day indulging in outdoor activities.
The Christmas tree and decorations came down this afternoon, a sure sign that it's time to get back to work and accomplish things. The lights on the tree outside will stay on for another couple of months to provide a beacon for those travelling the lake at night by snowmobile.
We're headed down the Bella Coola Hill tomorrow for an appointment in the Valley. I'm not looking forward to the trip. They got a foot of snow on Heckman Pass last night and a client told me today that friends had a hairy time getting up the road the other night, with a truck sideways, a camper in the ditch and a truck and horse trailer that slid backwards down the hill, even with chains on. Throw in the drastic avalanche danger on the Hill with this rain on top of snow, and I'm thinking we'll check with the Highways foreman before heading down.

01/01/2007 3:00 PM

Happy New Year Folks!

I just realized that I need to start not only a new week, but a new year. Wow. 2007 here already and I am so not mentally prepared for it. It just kind of snuck up on me.
Looking back, lots happened this past year. We've met quite a few great people through this 'blog', many that have become very good friends. Some folks I have never even met in person, but I value your thoughts, your input and your contributions to these articles and I especially value your encouragement.
Last night I had an opportunity to speak to some neighbours on the lake that come up periodically to work on their cabin and just enjoy the winter activities. They had found the blog. They hadn't had much chance to speak to their closest neighbour by phone to find out weather or snow conditions and so they found the blog useful, even though I haven't had much chance to keep it up on a daily basis the past while.
It's a really nice feeling to know that these articles are a practical source of information to folks that don't live here on a full time basis, rather than just some nonsensical meanderings of the middle aged mind. I guess the only disadvantage is that when you do see folks you really don't have much to talk about. I often find that when I go to say something, they say, "Oh yeah, I read that on the blog." So much for talking about the weather...lol. So just to let you all know, your continued support of these articles is most appreciated!
We finally got the New Year's Party at the Nimpo Lake Community Hall done and over with. Wow, what a lot of work! But the whole thing came off really well with an excellent turnout and way, way too much food! We might want to organize the food part a little better next time because each contributor, including myself, brings enough food for a small army and I hate to see it wasted.
There were some terrific prize and money contributions from Terry B. and Lois B. That allowed us to raffle off prizes for money and we did very well on that score. I thank everyone that attended, everyone that contributed their time and food and I especially thank the cleanup crew. It goes really, really fast when there's a bunch of people going at a dead run. I was surprised to see the Hall go from ruins to pristine in little more than an hour.
We got really lucky last night because for a change, the bottom didn't drop out of the thermometer the way it so often does around New Year's Eve. I remember too many years where you might want to dress up, but at -50 below zero, it was more important to bundle up. People don't like being parked anywhere for long because you have to keep going out to start your vehicle, and even driving somewhere is an exercise in caution. Going off the road, having a flat tire or engine trouble at those temperatures is no longer inconvenient, it's deadly.
Last night the mercury hovered just below freezing and although there was a bit of a frisky wind that kept kicking up our bonfire, it wasn't that unpleasant. It wasn't snowing either which was another bonus so as a result, folks stayed at the party a little later than they might have. Although we must all be getting old because we still had everyone cleared out and the Hall shut down by 1:30 am. Gone are the days when hard partying folks around here were still up and going to visit for breakfast after going all night. Some used to do that on horseback! It's probably a good thing. Drinking and driving laws and penalties are pretty stiff and in an area where there is no public transit, you just can't afford to lose your license. As a result, there were a lot of designated drivers drinking coffee last night. You don't make as much on alcohol sales, but you don't have to worry about people getting home safely either.
One of the local RCMP Members stopped in last night. He was a really pleasant young guy that took the time to talk and even bought some raffle tickets. He said it was really quiet everywhere last night including in Anahim Lake so I'm sure that made his life easier.
We woke up to above freezing temps this morning and rain splattering on the front window. Never a good sign when you want to keep your snow. It's snowed a few flurries off and on and it's breezy outside with visibility so poor it would not have been a pleasant day to go snowmobiling. I'm hoping we can hold off a melt because now that the holidays are over and the big rush done, there might actually be time for a little sledding.
You may have noticed that each week's articles for 2006 are no longer listed to the left. They can be found on the link to the last week of December. I'll be archiving new weeks for 2007 on the left as the year passes. As usual, this is the start of a new week (and don't forget, a New Year!!!) so you can find last week's articles at December, Week Four.
I'll leave you with our best wishes for a very happy and bountiful new year!

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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!
Snow on Highway 20 West.
 
Rock wall along the road.
 
Steep snow covered road grade.
 
Dodging boulders in an avalanche area.
 
Snow on mountains gleams in moonlight.
 
People dancing in the hall.
 
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