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 - January, Week 2/2007
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of the Day.
were moose tracks on the lake this morning in front of
the house. They came across our property and then meandered
drunkenly all over the lake and I certainly would
have liked a picture of the creature that left them there.
It almost looked as though he stopped and pawed a bit
here and there, possibly looking for something to eat.
I suppose it's possible that this moose is down from the
higher elevations and thinks that open expanse of snow
is a vast meadow with wild hay underneath, but I can't
imagine a moose being that dumb. It would seem more likely
that he could scent ours or the dogs' smell under the
snow on the ice. In any case, he sure made a lot of detours
on his morning jaunt and I don't think he was getting
anywhere fast at the rate he was going.
It was time for the big overflow test. Andy
ran his new Ski-Doo out over the lake to see how it was
for overflow this afternoon. First of all, is there ever
a lot of snow on that ice! His snowmobile track looked
just like a trough, more like what you see in deep snow
up in the mountains. And there is definitely overflow
all over Nimpo Lake.
He wanted to beat down a trail from our boat launch to
the one on the other side so that it would begin to freeze
right down to the ice and harden up any overflow. Once
you pack a trail, the snow loses a lot of its insulating
value and one or two nights of cold temperature will make
that wide trail a super highway. A girl down the
way drives her fourwheeler back and forth to work and
there's a substantial savings in distance when you can
just cross the lake rather than go all the way around
by road. She hasn't been able to use the lake for some
time and neither has our neighbour who also likes to use
his fourwheeler to go get the mail. Hopefully, Andy's
pack job will work for everybody because even I
would like to go straight across the odd time instead
of all the way around. Im sure I'm not the only one to
miss the ice road.
I asked Andy to pack our trail through the woods for me
that I use for walking and probably will have to use for
skiing this winter since the lake is out of commission.
He actually got stuck doing it. He said that when
he stepped off the machine the snow was so deep that it
was nearly to his hips. And that's just behind
our place! We talked about what it might be like to break
trail up to Trumpeter Mountain. As he said, a lot of people
went up Charlotte Main to 24 kilometer after we broke
the trail out before Christmas, so there's probably a
hard packed base somewhere beneath the snow. What's after
that higher up though, is anyone's guess.
I wonder if that huge old bull moose is still hanging
around in the woods on the way up to Trumpeter? Or if
he's been driven down here by the deep snow.
Maybe that's him leaving tracks on the lake...
Just Chugging Along
coming out of our deep freeze and most folks have
dug out from under all the snow.
Temperatures Thursday night only went down to about -30C
or a little colder than 20 below zero F. but last night
only got down to -12C and then before going to bed I watched
it do a very slow climb again.
There's a large low off the Pacific that's been sliding
along the coast, moderating our temperatures by quite
a bit. Still though, it's already -15C or about 0F so
we're not out of it yet. At -7 today it felt downright
balmy and I think a few people were about to break out
their summer t-shirts.
The sun has been shining the last few days and everything
looks glorious under that heavy, white blanket of snow.
I had to go into Anahim today, my first venture out since
the snowfall. I was a little surprised to see that our
main road to the highway is a little narrow. I'm not sure
what would happen if you met another vehicle on the road
in some places. I guess you'd manage somehow. And
it certainly would be a good opportunity to sharpen up
on your 'backing up' skills.
I mentioned before that there's a real benefit to snowbanks,
even if they do narrow up the road. You don't have to
worry about going into the ditch now. The worse thing
you're going to do is smoke a snowbank if you lose control
of your vehicle, and what high snowbanks they are! Wider
roads such as the highway have quite the wall along the
sides now and I can only imagine what it's like
at the top of the Hill. It's not likely you'll
be seeing over the snowbanks up there. In fact a Cat had
to be sent up to Heckman Pass to push the banks back there,
at the top of the Hill and back toward Anahim Lake because
the road had narrowed up so much and there was no place
left to put snow.
Driving back from the other side of Anahim today I was
beginning to think we lived in the Yukon or Alaska rather
than British Columbia. Curled up in the entrance
of one driveway was a red fox. He jumped up and
hopped a couple of steps but he wasn't in any hurry to
bound off into snow over his head. Right in the middle
of the highway at Two Mile there was a pretty little ptarmigan
that refused to move. All along the highway there are
tracks galore of moose and caribou.
A lot of people have been commenting on how many
moose there are around this year. That isn't so
much increased numbers as it is snow depth higher up.
Many of the animals have been pushed down out of wintering
grounds by five to ten feet of snow and although it's
up to three feet around here, it's still a lot easier
for them to get around in.
The small caribou herd that winters down here has
been hanging around Nimpo Lake a lot and has been
seen crossing it a few times. Unfortunately, too far away
to get a good picture. I sympathize mightily with the
wild animals this year. Many won't make it through the
Friends told me that the overflow on Anahim Lake
was atrocious before the cold hit. They spent
a couple of hours and a whole lot of calories in the exhausting
chore of repeatedly getting their snowmobiles unstuck
only a few hundred feet from shore. They managed to get
the machines home but now that the cold has frozen that
slush solidly into their tracks, it might be spring before
the snowmobiles move again.
I saw an older snowmobile not far from the boat ramp just
across Nimpo Lake from us this morning, lonesome and forlorn
in the snow. I don't know if someone tried to make a run
through the snow, hit overflow and got stuck, or the machine
quit on them. They must have gone and gotten help, though,
because it was gone a while later.
The neighbour down at the other end of Nimpo Lake
watched someone come through the bay going hell bent for
election through the snow. She said it looked
like a pretty skilled young rider with the energy and
finesse to stay standing on the machine throwing his weight
back and forth to keep the snowmobile going, because the
track behind it was blue with water. So obviously
this last cold spell has not tightened up the overflow
at all. I'm not surprised. Considering the tremendous
weight on the ice that snowfall represents, there will
be cracks all over the lake and water seeping up along
We have a flight instructor coming up that is bringing
cross country skis and had hoped to ski the lake. I'm
afraid we'll be limited to the roads right now and the
back trails once they're opened up by snowmachines, providing
it warms up.....
A New Mountain.
been in the process of poring over maps this morning after
discovering a new mountain. No, we didn't actually 'discover'
it, but it did just show up on our horizon....lol.
First, the weather. The temperature
this morning was just a hairbreadth under 40 below.
That's -40C which is the same as 40 degrees below Fahrenheit.
I think the exact figure was -39.7 on my weather center.
A little over -37 down at the other end of the lake and
-40 was recorded at Anahim Lake. Nothing new. We often
get a much wider variation in temperature than that throughout
the communities but there'll be less variation when it's
this cold. You could tell it's a huge system slowly blanketing
the whole province just by how slowly the mercury moved
down all yesterday and last night. Only one power outage
so far, and that for just a half hour this morning.
The beauty of cold temperatures is that you almost
always get clear, blue, blue skies. Almost a cobalt
blue in some cases. Today it's clear but because of all
the fresh snow and slight breeze off and on, there's a
lot of haze on the horizon from ice crystals, obscuring
the mountains to the south. Not so to the southwest. Which
brings us back to the new mountain.
We have a lot of jackpine in the yard, many in front of
the house. Now I'm not a tree hugger as such, but I always
hesitate to see trees cut down, especially in the yard,
because in this country it takes a hundred years
just to grow a six inch diameter tree. You realize
that the trees are obscuring the view and shutting out
sunlight in some cases, but you don't cut them down. Then
the Mountain Pine Beetle comes along and by infesting
all the pine trees, pretty much makes that 'cut down trees'
decision for you.
Until the snow and cold hit, Andy was plugging away at
knocking a couple of beetle killed pine down every few
days and we would pile the limbs out on the lake and burn
it. Most of the trees he's knocked down have been the
ones most likely to damage the house in a windstorm so
those at the front and sides went first.
This morning we were sitting in the living room enjoying
the frosty cold view outside when I noticed some
very large mountains as big as life poking above the trees
along the shore line to our southwest. "Holy
moly, where'd those come from?"
First we played the guessing game and then out came the
maps and then the more detailed flight charts. As best
as we can tell by plotting on the maps and with an old
compass, we are looking at Monarch Mountain and
an unnamed mountain in front of it along the Atnarko River
Valley. There's another long, rugged ridge to
the west of these mountains that shows on the map but
is also unnamed.
At over 10,300 feet, Monarch Mountain and the Monarch
Icefields should be easy to identify. Unfortunately,
the two mountains in front of it on the map are at over
8,000 and 9,000 feet so there's no way of knowing what
we're looking at for sure. At least not until we fly over
it some time in the future. I have to hunt down
my pictures from snowmobiling that I've taken in the past
at the head of Charlotte Lake and the beginning of the
Atnarko River Valley. I'm pretty sure I recognize
the closer mountain as being one just across that valley,
but looking at it from an entirely different direction
up on Charlotte Main at 24 km from here is bound to change
how the mountian looks. I'll have to replace one of the
pictures on the right so I can post a picture of our new
mountain. The closer, snowcovered mountain nearly obscures
the high peak at the back that we think is Monarch Mountain
and the Icefields made infamous by the young couple that
died up there a few years ago.
Here Comes The Cold
but surely the cold front has been creeping down from
the north. The temperatures have very slowly been
dropping ever since this morning, even though the sun
was shining today.
It's down to -30C or about 20 degrees below Fahrenheit
right now and I expect it could drop to as low as 40 below
by tomorrow morning. We'll see in the morning.
The house has started creaking and another ten degrees
and the trees will start to make snapping sounds as the
wood cools. No power outages for us yet but surprisingly,
we've gotten very little wind so far. Either the prediction
missed us or it's still coming. Our tree boughs are still
heavily laden with snow so I'm kind of hoping the wind
circled around us.
The lower mainland was not so lucky. Between
wind yesterday and a lot bigger dump of snow than they
were expecting, roads in both the city and the Fraser
Valley were in very poor shape. It looked like there were
lots of accidents, vehicles off the roads and traffic
was moving very slowly, when it was moving.
But then when the journalist interviewed one woman who
slid off the road while the cameraman panned the completely
bald tires on her car, you could see why. People will
Saskatchewan has been getting pounded by one hellacious
blizzard all day. The same one that hit us got them
and added some high winds, effectively shutting down every
highway in or out of Saskatoon, many of the bridges and
city streets, the airport, most schools and many businesses.
I used to live there. The roads have got to be the
worst thing you've ever seen in your life before highways
shuts them down so they must be bad today.
It's pretty quiet around Nimpo Lake. Our
road from the highway was plowed today, much sooner than
I expected. I know those guys had their hands full with
keeping up on the highway so I'm pretty impressed that
they got many of the side roads opened up today. I'm sure
none of us would have been in too dire a straits if we
couldn't get out for mail today, but I know that some
people complained vociferously about their driveways being
plowed in. They're lucky their side road was even plowed
out by today. The highways guys most certainly didn't
have time to worry about driveway entrances. That's
what they make shovels for.
Looks like this cold spell is going to be around for a
few days and since it'll be hitting most of Canada, I
don't expect the weather will be doing anything too drastic
besides temperature changes. I'll keep you posted.
You Want Snow?
got snow. And lots of it!
You know how I talked about the weather yesterday? Well...I
probably shouldn't have done that. I think I teed
off the weather gods or something. It was like
they said, "Oh, you want snow? Well here you go,
It started peppering it down pretty good yesterday afternoon
and didn't stop all night although it has finally slowed
somewhat. Using a yardstick in different places that had
no snow before, we got somewhere between 14 and
16 inches. It's hard to say because there was
a wind as well so it drifted to much deeper than that
in unprotected places such as against the front of the
house on the deck.
I figured something might be up when I watched the weather
last night. Doppler radar showed us in the yellow with
red just skimming by us and we're not in the 'yellow'
very often. Either the weather guys were wrong or I dread
to think what happened to the rest of the province.
I did hear through the grapevine that Highway 20
was closed. Whether that's east of us toward Williams
Lake or west toward the Bella Coola Hill, I don't know.
I do know that if we got over a foot of snow, then
Heckman Pass probably got two or three feet and
that's hard to keep up on. However, Tatla Lake and Kleena
Kleene to the east of us often get nailed pretty hard
too because they sit at an entrance to the mountains that
leads clear to Knight's Inlet and the Pacific Ocean. Lots
of moisture comes up that pass.
In any case, it took awhile to shovel all the snow off
of the deck, the holiday trailer and the vehicles, while
Andy spent the morning on the wrong end of a shovel and
most of the afternoon pushing snow with the Bobcat. Not
only did our yard have to be cleared out but our drive
and our neighbour's as well.
Another neighbour took a couple of passes through our
drive early this morning with his plow truck which helped
tremendously, but even he admitted he was having
trouble pushing snow by the second time through.
Thank heavens for heavy equipment. That favor got returned
this evening when Andy went down with the truck to help
pull him out of a bad driveway he was trying to plow for
The wind has kicked up periodically, making it for a wet
day out there, but nothing serious yet. That won't happen
until the arctic high moves down tonight. Then, we can
probably expect to be without power tonight or tomorrow.
The trees are really heavily laden with snow. Throw
a high wind in there and you can bet something's going
There are three huge high pressure systmes coming in from
the north. The one coming off the coast of Alaska is sliding
down the coast while the two most likely to affect us
and the prairie provinces are coming down through the
Territories. It's expected that they will bring
us some seriously cold arctic outflow winds. I'm
really looking forward to that! lol. Actually, that's
the main reason we wanted to get everything we could cleaned
of snow, so that we weren't out there trying to do it
in high winds or really cold temperatures.
I see a little hole in the sky and a glimmer of sun so
I guess this messy system is moving out and our high moving
in. Temps are starting to drop so it'll be a good night
to keep the fire stoked up.
I'll post some pictures on the right but first I have
to load the software for the new camera onto my computer
and figure out how to use it. On second thought .... maybe
I'll just use pictures from the old camera for now or
you could be waiting awhile.
It's evening now and this blog has taken quite awhile
to upload because I was trying to figure out how to download
pics off of the new camera and I wanted to check
on the status of Highway 20. It's definitely
closed from the top of the Bella Coola Hill to the bottom,
supposedly because of avalanche danger. But it's more
likely to be because the guys couldn't keep up on the
big dump of snow and just haven't gotten it cleaned up
enough to open the road. We noticed when we went down
last week that there is a section of road before you even
drop down the 'Hill' that is extremely narrow. The snowbanks
hadn't been pushed back and now there will be even more
of a problem. Where do you put the new snow?
With the cold, clear weather coming the highways guys
will have lots of opportunity to get it all cleaned up.
It just means no one's going in or out of the Valley until
then. I suspect that means doctor day at the clinic at
Anahim Lake will be cancelled and none of the grocery
trucks will be going through. Oh shoot, I suppose that
means we won't get our mail tomorrow, either, if there's
much snow to the east of us. Oh well...
Welcome to a Chilcotin winter!
As you've probably noticed, I've finally gotten around
to starting a new week so you can find yesterday's article
as well as the rest of last weeks at January,
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!