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Wilderness Adventures - January, Week 1/2009

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' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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08/01/2009 7:24 PM


We had planned on riding to Hotnarko Falls today but the morning dawned really grim looking with heavy, low lying cloud so the guys decided to cancel. It turned out to be a bit of a miscalculation because in the end, we got one heck of an incredible day with temperatures just above freezing and sunshine. It just took a little while to get it there, that's all. However, by the time it did in the early afternoon, both we and our riding partners were occupied in other pursuits. In our case a very boring, but necessary one.
We heat with wood and have cats in the house, so as a result, dust can take over pretty fast. Especially since we lost so many trees to beetle kill. Our mini forest in the yard had helped to keep down the dust but after all the trees went down and the stumps were dug up, it's been nothing but a dust bowl around here, even with the new lawn. Between that and the wood stove, the dust bunnies can grow to a fearsome size! So when you have wall to wall, large plate glass windows to a ceiling 24 feet high, covered with blinds used to cut down on the sun when it's really bright, you have an all day, two person job cleaning both the windows and blinds. Since we virtually had to take the living, dining area apart to get to the windows, we couldn't really stop in the middle of the job or we would have had to eat supper off the floor. It really sucked to trade such a gorgeous day out for such a miserable job, but since it was my suggestion to tackle it in the first place, I have no one to blame but myself. But at least it's done.
In the meanwhile, we'll aim for another nice day to take our ride but I don't think it will be tomorrow. Looking at the satellite and radar pictures tonight, we might actually see some snow, and probably definitely some wind, even if it is clear out there right now. Sunday might work out okay, though.
So of course, after such a gorgeous day, it was a major surprise this evening to go from right around freezing into a mercury free fall of 15 degrees in only a matter of three hours. It's already down to -15C or 5F and still dropping so it will be interesting to see where it ends up by morning. I figured that cold weather north of Prince George just might slide south but it shouldn't last long. There's another Pineapple Express coming in and it should bring warm air for several days. It also looks to be packing some serious moisture and unless it dumps it all on the North Coast where it's supposed to land first, the folks down around Vancouver and the Island are going to have to put their ducky boots back on again. Actually, that would be better than the alternative.
So many areas down there are flooded now, including some homes, that as Andy has mentioned, if it turned cold now all that flood water would turn to solid ice. Then what do you do?
I know that this should be the start of a new week but this is going to be short again so I'll just tack this on to the past week's articles. Besides, my mouse is still acting up so until I can fix it, or it fixes itself, (which has happened before) using it is awkward.
07/01/2009 6:56 PM

Wabbit Murder

Yet another rabbit, or more probably hare, met its fate on the back trail sometime today. All three dogs were showing a lot of interest in a set of coyote tracks in fresh snow on the trail from the junction to the gun range. Eventually we came across the place where the critter had been murdered, leaving clumps of fur around. Then, judging from the tracks, the coyote proceeded to cross back and forth across the trail dragging his prize, which most definitely did not help me to keep the dogs under control. But all those smells gave them a thrill anyway, probably akin to a pack of women scoring high priced Chanel handbags at knock off prices.
Farther up the trail I found tracks where the rabbit had been coming right down the middle of the trail, so he was kind of a sitting duck since a coyote or fox could move just as quickly on a packed trail as the rabbit. Although the coyote had good cover behind some spruce boughs that swept to the ground so he might have ambushed the rabbit too. I'm not sure why the rabbits are taking to following the trails so much but I've been seeing their tracks for weeks now both there and on the road.
We got a fluffy snow yesterday and last night that probably only amounted to about an inch and a half. I know Andy came home from Anahim Lake madder than a scalded cat today because they had received at least 8" of snow. For that matter, Mary, just down at the other end of the lake, reported at least three inches of the fresh stuff so I don't know if we're just not holding our mouths right or what. Even Williams Lake got about four inches of snow so we seem to be the only ones getting bypassed.
It hung right around freezing or just above all last night and hovered between 1 and 2 degrees above freezing all day. For that matter, the temperature still isn't moving much even though a pretty good wind has started howling out there.We're actually warmer than the Cariboo inland so we must just be riding the jet stream right now. Suits me. I don't mind being warm at all. It's a nice change to be able to take my jacket off while walking or just go outside in a T-shirt to shovel or sweep snow instead of having to bundle up in a bajillion layers before venturing outside.
Boy, did the southern half of BC ever get hit today. Mudslides, avalanches, flooding, and rivers and streams still rising, closing major highways and roads. Talk about messy! I guess things are supposed to continue that way for the Lower Mainland, Island, Fraser Valley and north to Hope until tomorrow. Hope got 7.5 inches of rain today. Can you believe that? Wow!
I finally saw someone with a pickup travel down the Main Arm of Nimpo Lake today for the first time. Others may have come down it but I haven't seen them. I know that the ice is plenty good enough but it just hasn't been plowed out so it might be a bit messy with drifts and such.
Friends from across the lake were kind enough to send over some pictures of our party at the Hall on New Year's Eve, the bonfire, and of the only short little fireworks things we had. Her pictures inside the hall were at least better than mine, which were completely blurry. Not too sure what I did there to screw that up. Unfortunately, their fireworks pictures were as disappointing as mine. There must be some trick to taking pictures of them.
Uh oh. I was just going to post them but my computer is acting up. I've already had to shut it off and restart it several times, as well as change out the keyboard to get it working. But I see my mouse is going wonky again so I'll skip the pictures and pic of the day and get this posted to the Internet right away.
06/01/2009 7:07 PM


We're finally getting some snow! It's not amounting to much, even though it's been peppering it down for most of the day and evening and is dry and fluffy. But we might get up to an inch and since it's actually warming up this evening, we just might get some bigger, fatter flakes.
Right now it's sitting dead on freezing, while it sat around -1C for most of the day. Since it's warming up this evening when it should be cooling down, I can only assume we will warm up through the night into tomorrow. Looking at the satellite pictures on TV tonight, it looks like we can expect more snow tomorrow but Thursday looks like it will be a glorious day so I think that's the one we'll choose to ride to Hotnarko Falls.
The rest of BC is not looking so hot. The Lower Mainland is expecting between 100 and 150mm or up to 6 inches of rain over the next 36 hours. Holy Cow!!! That's a lot of rain on top of all that snow. All I can say is, "Get the sand bags out folks!" Many rivers are expected to crest at 3 to 10 feet above normal levels in the next 36 hours and there's already some extensive flooding starting where storm drains are frozen over or plugged up with slush.
As expected, a few roofs have collapsed on houses and yet they're advising anyone against climbing on their roof to clear it off because of the danger of sliding off. You know, if I feared my roof could collapse under the weight of wet snow and couldn't wait until some contractor made it around to clear it for me, then I guess I would be figuring out how to do it myself one way or another. And I'm not too hot with heights. The way I look at it, it costs a whole lot less to mend a broken bone than it does to replace your entire roofing system. Besides, if you're shoveling that much snow off of your roof, you're going to have a pretty padded fall, especially since there doesn't seem to be a lot of steep roofed houses down there.
The Okanagan has also been hit with a lot of snow with accidents both up on the Connector and down in the city itself. Actually, the streets just looked to be a bloody mess. I can't imagine having to fight my way around that city with that much snow on the ground. It's hard enough to get around in when it's high summer and with dry pavement!
There are snow warnings out for most of BC right to north of Prince George so I guess everyone is going to get hit. Except us..... although I did go for a walk in a mini blizzard today. Other than hitting the wind when I came out on the road, it was a delightful walk. But then we're used to slipping and sliding and wading through snow around here.
Oh, hey! I just noticed that we made it above freezing. We're at a balmy half degree above, and I think that the last time the mercury made it above freezing was on December 9th. That's nearly 30 days ago. Woo Hoo!!!! We're in Hawaii now!

05/01/2009 7:04 PM

Thawing Out

From the sounds of the weather forecasters on the news, Vancouver is finally going to be thawing out but it's going to be a long, dirty process in the meanwhile. They got another dump of snow because it didn't warm up as quickly as predicted. The roof on a recreation centre collapsed, and judging from the snow you can see on the houses, a lot more roofs are going to collapse because of the coming rain. There's a big system sweeping up from Hawaii toward the Alaskan gulf, which will then bring winds and warmer temperatures from the northwest onto the coast, and it's packing a lot of moisture!
There are predictions of upwards of a 100mm of rain over the next two days. I think that translates to about 4 inches of rain on top of all that snow. They think they have problems now? I think it's going to be one unholy mess over the next two days because streets and yards will flood, and that probably means the basements in a few homes will as well. Selfishly, I'm so glad I don't live there!
In the meanwhile, those warmer temperatures are bringing a wonderful reprieve to the Chilcotin. While it did drop to -14C last night, it warmed up to a welcome two degrees above freezing this afternoon, although admittedly, the sun may have been shining on the digital thermometer out back a bit. It wasn't melting out and the wind was raw, but it was still nice with sunshine for most of the day and the warmest temperatures we've seen in many, many weeks!
Radar pictures on the weather tonight show moisture headed our way for tomorrow but whether that materializes or not is yet to be seen. It was down to -4.5C at supper time and it's up to -2C now, so it's definitely warming up and there's a high haze over the moon and heavy cloud to the west. That might mean snow for us. On a personal level, I don't really care. There's enough snow on the ice and back trails to ski on and ride with a snowmobile, and since we've a nicely packed trail for walking, I would rather not see much snow. We're getting just enough drifting or skiffs of snow to detect the new tracks of critters on the back trail, so don't need any more, but the snowmobile enthusiasts love that deep powder!
There were lots of fresh rabbit tracks around today and the pup scrounged up half a frozen rabbit carcass from under the snow yesterday. I fell on my face about four times trying to chase the dog down and take the carcass away from her. I didn't succeed of course other than to end up covered in snow and get soaking wet. I'm pretty sure she's still laughing at me. That's the problem with a hound dog. They seem to be able to smell stuff that even coyotes and foxes can't. It's probably a great year for predators to eat and I won't be surprised if I start running across some lynx tracks soon. We scared a grouse and a couple of ptarmigan up today, so there's still lots of them around as well.
I'm keeping this short tonight. I'm in the middle of a project I'm working on and just got my PST form in the mail today, so I have to get started on my taxes. Oh joy.

04/01/2009 6:25 PM

Weather Change

We've gotten a big switcheroo in our weather today. The weathermen have been forecasting a warm up for most of BC except for the north for a couple of days now and it finally arrived. It looks like it's only going to last for a couple of days before temperatures start dropping again, but it's a welcome break in the meanwhile.
It was only -8C or 17F at midnight last night and has slowly warmed up to just below zero at only one degree below Vancouver's reported temperature right now, which is highly unusual. It was snowing sideways to beat the band today when I went for a walk, and visibility was pretty poor. Not long after I got back a vicious wind started up and has blowing ever since. Snow was swirling all over the lake and it's pretty unpleasant outside. I guess there are blizzard warnings for the Cariboo, Prince George, and 100 Mile area, which probably includes us to some extent, although it will be much worse east of us with wetter snow and more of it.
There are wind warnings for the south, central and north coast of BC for winds up to 50 miles an hour, and snow warnings for the whole south coast. It's kind of bizarre to see Vancouver getting weather we should be getting....that everyone around here has been praying for, anyway. I'm sure most Vancouverites and the Islanders would be very happy to see us take the nasty white stuff away for them, but it doesn't look like it's meant to be. We only ended up with a skiff of snow today while it looks like they'll be shovelling the stuff again. Although not for long. It's supposed to warm up to 7C or 45 degrees Fahrenheit tonight and rain tomorrow so then they'll have a real mess on their hands!
Everyone went snowmobiling up to Trumpeter today, or at least attempted to. I guess that wicked wind we got this afternoon was blowing up at 24 kilometer from this morning on, driving the snow around so badly that Andy said there was almost zero visibility on the Autobahn. He couldn't see either the tracks or the guy running ahead of him and I guess once they topped out through Goat Pass, conditions were so bad that they chose to come back down on the old trail through the woods, and stayed down around Charlotte Lake after that. I was supposed to go but ended up unable to sleep all night and decided to take a pass and get some work done here instead. Boy, was I glad! Watching conditions all day I was only too grateful to not have to be out in that miserable weather trying to find a trail while hunched behind the windshield on a snowmobile. After all, snowmobiling is supposed to be fun! At least down here, bad weather effects the back trail very little for walking.
You've got to feel for other parts of Canada. Northern BC has been in the deep freeze, for so long they probably don't remember when they last saw the mercury come up to the freezing mark.
Right now, the prairies have wind warnings out, with Saskatoon at 40 below zero but with the wind chill, they're at -53C. That's 63.4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit folks! Winnipeg is set to get it tomorrow and Ontario is getting ready for a big baddy swirling in over the great lakes which is then set to move on east and lay some more snow on those poor buggers on the Atlantic Coast. Heck, they're still digging out from under the last four snowfalls! And eventually, all of these places across Canada are going to flood when it warms up. Boy, I have to admit that there are times when I'm really, really glad that I don't live anywhere but here. In any case, with that wind roaring around out there, I wouldn't want to bet on our power remaining on for long so I had better get this posted.

02/01/2009 12:29 PM

The Cold Returns

Sigh....while not back in the deep freeze, it's still pretty darned cold. The temperature started dropping pretty fast yesterday evening and hit -20C (-4F) and then oddly, started to rise again in the middle of the night. It was four degrees warmer by the time I went to bed and we figured some clouds must have rolled in but when Andy checked the temperature at five, it was back down to -24C or -11F and at dawn, it had dropped another couple of degrees to nearly -27C or 17 degrees below F. He said a heavy fog rolled in this morning, probably from Charlotte Lake, and by the time I got up, there was bright sunshine and a thick rime of frost on everything. The trees look beautiful when it's like that!
You could tell that we were starting to get some extreme temperature differences last night from day time highs, because the lake ice really started booming last night. It grumbled through most of the night and now with the sun on the snow, it's booming some more. Growing thicker!
The temperature still hasn't managed to climb above -18.3C today so I think a walk or ski is out of the question. Yes... I know. Other people go out in that weather. I don't. Severe frost bite that I sustained years ago while working at the mill years ago means I freeze up pretty fast. Call me chicken but I'm not a fan of being out in really cold weather. I don't mind looking out at it from inside a nice warm house, though!
So I thought I would try doing something fun. I don't know if it will work for everyone because for me, the following files open in Real Player, but I'm hoping if you click on them, you will get a sense of some of the fireworks we had. Unfortunately, I didn't record them all, or even the nicest ones because I was trying to take pictures at first and that just wasn't working, so I switched to video. However, since we were all standing too close to the fireworks, they were actually right over us. That meant it was a lot harder to get them all in. I think next time we'll try to set them off a little farther away so that we can see them better, and we're less likely to be bombarded by sparks. I haven't checked the jacket I was wearing yet, but probably should to see how many holes are in it. In any case, perhaps you can get a sense of how much fun we were having. Just a word of warning. Most of the videos, even though short, run between 1.4 and 2.5 MB so they will be slow to download on anything but high speed and probably not worth the effort or time if you have anything but high speed Internet, which is why I only uploaded the smaller files rather than the better ones. Unfortunately, I don't have the time today to do any video editing to shorten them up, but for those of you on high speed, enjoy!

Most notable about it all was the tremendous echo set off by the fireworks around the lake and countryside, probably because it's so quiet around here at night. The other thing was the screamers, or the little curly-que things in some of the fireworks that look like a pig's tail flying into the air and squeal something awful! You sure wouldn't want to set off those fireworks as a full time job without ear protection!
01/01/2009 4:30 PM

The New Year 2009

Happy New Year 2009 all. Wow....we made it!
Don't you kind of look around at the end of the year and wonder where the past year went? And I think the old saying is right, the older you get the faster time flies. I'm not too sure where 2008 went to but I was just starting to get used to writing that number on my cheques, invoices, and so on. Now I have to start all over again with a new number!
We had our New Year's Party last night but the numbers were a little disappointing. We had about half the people that we did last year, but there was a bonfire party in Anahim Lake and a small ice party on Nimpo Lake that drew some people away. Although a few did make an effort to hit all three, some stopping in at the Hall for a little while for the fireworks and a bite to eat or a drink. It probably didn't help much either if word got out that our sewer was frozen up and many people weren't sure that did come by if it was working or not.
Still, those that did come had a pretty good time, I think, and the fireworks were fabulous as usual. Thanks to Richard and Leah for those. I also want to thank those people that couldn't come to the party but that bought tickets anyway to support the community association, or threw some extra money in the pot. I would love to mention your names here but I would feel really badly if I missed someone. However, you know who you are. Thank you! I also want to thank those people that contributed either food or their help in decorating, bar tending, etc. Our core of volunteers is small but super!
A few of us got the Hall cleaned up today. It was supposed to be left until tomorrow because everyone was going out riding today, but since we had to shut things down, it was pretty late before our heads hit the pillow. We decided to pass on the snowmobiling and go sort things out instead with the help of some other people that didn't go out. So that's another job done for the year. Or at least until we have another function.
Today turned out to be a a spectacular one, although it never did make it above -6C or 21F today, but it was clear as a bell everywhere except over the mountains and even there you could only see the odd little poufy cloud. I'm sure everyone will have had a fabulous ride up the mountain today with this weather, although it looked like someone might have blown a belt out on the lake just before dark coming back in. We saw a couple of guys working on a machine but they had it fixed in short order from the look of it so Andy didn't see a need to go out there.
As usual, there were a few people out on the lake today either snowmobiling, walking, or skiing. It's sure nice to have it warm enough so that people can enjoy outdoor activities, and to see a little action on Nimpo. I skipped a ski on the lake today, namely because there were people out there and it's just easier with the pup to avoid others and walk the back trails instead. There were loads more tracks of all sorts on the trail again today, easy to see with that last little skiff of snow we had. Not much in the way of big game animals though, but that may be because there isn't that much snow around and they may not have been forced down to lower elevations yet. Or there aren't any around because of wolf and bear predation.
It dropped to -16C or 3 degrees Fahrenheit last night and judging from how slowly things warmed up today, I'm guessing we're in for another cold snap. I caught only a bit on the weather yesterday but it sounds like temperatures will be dropping for Friday. I'm not really looking forward to going back into the deep freeze again already. I was just starting to enjoy getting back outside walking or skiing, but at least we're not facing the sheer misery in the form of bad weather that the rest of BC and Canada are. We're actually pretty lucky so I guess I'll stop whining and take what I get.
On the day we were decorating the hall, friends gave me a cassette tape with interviews with Lester Dorsey from way back and about a few other notables of the area including Pan Phillips. Obviously, with everything that has been going on I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet but I very much look forward to doing so. If I can get permission from the historical society in Bella Coola that created the tape, I look forward to sharing some of those stories with you. I just have to track the society down first, or see if it even still exists.
This is the start of a new week and a new year, so if you look at the navigation on the left, you will see that the past years are color coded links with 2008 being in yellow. As for last week's articles, you can find them at December Week Four. Happy New Year everyone and best wishes to you and yours for the year 2009!

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!
Fireworks red ball.
Four blue sparks.
Green, pink and white fireworks.
Four pink fireworks balls.
Purple fireworks sparks.
Red fireworks bloom.
Three blue lines of smoke.
Multi-colored fireworks.
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