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Wilderness Adventures - January, Week 3/2008

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.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


18/01/2008 8:49 PM

Friday Night Free For All

I received a phone call from the acting commander taking Paul's place for the moment at the Anahim Lake RCMP Detachment this afternoon. Boy, am I impressed! We had a long conversation and I learned a lot, but since it's late and out of respect for Constable Spoor and the seriousness the conversation deserves, I'll leave that until tomorrow or Sunday.
For tonight, I'm going to pass on a bit of silliness sent to me today by John Brecknock after he read the story by Floyd posted yesterday. I laughed myself silly reading his email and at the risk of being murdered by the subject of the story, I'm going to reprint it. After all, it's Friday and we all need a good laugh every once in awhile. Just a word of warning. If you are shy, do not read on!
- "JB. How the Hell are ya anyway. Just read your web and saw pictures of Pan and Flyin', Fornicatin' Floyd. Now I'm not giving him that name; that's how he use to refer to himself as.
I remember Floyd giving me a ride from Anahim to Williams Lake in his Stinson about 1968. I had left my brand new 1968 Pontiac Beaumont at the Williams Lake Airport. My brother Don flew me to Alexis Creek in his Cub and I somehow found my way to Anahim Lake and flew back with that Floyd Fella. Worked out good for him too as he was back and forth from Anahim to WL and he was able to use my Beaumont to conduct his business in Town while I was visiting in Anahim.
Seeing that old photo of the Airport reminds me......
I remember when the Airport use to be between Anahim and Clespocket. Just a dirt strip back then and I'm thinking about 1964 or so.
Anyways...D'Arcy CHRISTENSEN owned and hayed the meadow next to the Airport. We called it the Airport Meadow! Original eh! We were making hay on this one particular day and it was real hot! I mean real hot!I mean one of those real summer scorchers. D'Arcy was mowing hay and I raking hay with Massey 35"s. As we were prone to do, D'Arcy takes off his shirt during the heat. On this day however he also take off his jeans. Now you gotta picture D'Arcy driving the tractor wearing nothing but his skivvies! Now he is in one part of the field and I in another maybe 3 or 4 hundred yards apart.
Just about then a contingent of people show up on the airstrip and are watching us make hay. They were very interested and I have no idea who they were or where they came from. Maybe 5 or 6 people; well dressed and not from these parts to my way of thinking. Anyways...D'Arcy does not see them as his back was sort of to them. Now is the time he stands up on the tractor and starts waving his tally-wacker at me. We got bored easily in those days and were continually finding ways to entertain ourselves and each other.
Well I am cracking up at this display and just about dying from laughter. Not at D'Arcy but at the fact that he had such an audience watching intently. Of course my laughter and antics only encouraged him to continue waving his stuff towards me. Now I'm screaming at him to look over to the Airstrip! I'm absolutely hysterical about this time and quite literally had to stop and get off the tractor.
D'Arcy has a look. Have you ever seen a man get so small that he can drive a Massey 35 completely hidden behind the dash? Now if you know D'Arcy; you know he is very modest, usually!! One of life's most embarrassing moments for sure. Never told that story outside the family before. But it's true." -

Now as long as I don't get murdered in my sleep the next time D'Arcy is out this way....
I haven't changed the picture of the day because I haven't taken much in the way of pictures the last couple of days. Today was kind of grungy and overcast but the temperature was above freezing again. It's warmer now than it was in all of November. Have a good weekend everyone!


17/01/2008 12:18 PM

First Snow Machine Races in Anahim Lake

Although I don't really have time to write much now, Floyd Vaughan was kind enough to send me a great email detailing the first snow machine races in Anahim Lake. Actually, when he was telling me about it over the phone about a week ago, the first race was between he and Pan Phillips and he thought maybe a couple of other guys. Because his snow machine was 2 mph faster than anyone else's, he would win the race. I can see that working on a long, long race, but it might be awfully close in a five mile race! Anyway, I'm going to put in Floyd's story with pictures inserted as sent to me. Enjoy!

SNOW MACHINE RACES
The very first snow machine race was most likely when the first two snow machines met. It seems that in the Chilcotin, and maybe everywhere else, people that ride horses, cars, bikes, or snow machines are very competitive. The first organized snow machine race in Anahim, Nimpo was in the winter of 68-69 on Anahim Lake. Don Baxter was selling Snow Cruiser machines that I think were built by Evenrude, and had sold quite a few around the area. Pan Philips had one as well as Don Baxter, Tommy Holte, and Goldbloom (ANDREW CAHOOSE). I had a Skidoo Alpine which was the double track with the single sky in front, which would do about 26 miles per hour. The Snow Cruiser would do about 24 miles per hour so I won almost all the races. There was a large turn out, and everyone had a great time. All the kids got into the races, and I think it started a tradition for many years to come.

Two men near old snow machines.
Photo above property of Floyd Vaughan
The races were held after that on a regular basses put on by the locals, and were a great winter break for the local families. Some of the cross country races were up to 150 miles with large prizes for the winners. Usually the same people won the long cross country races. Wayne Escott, John Porter, or Roy Gram. Later sponsors from outside the area got involved, and outside riders were entering the events. I ran in most of the races, and did fairly well, but after racing a 150 mile cross country it took some of the fun out of the dance that night.
The kids got started as young as three or four some with the big machines, but mostly on what we called a kittykat. In one kittykat race, Jim Vaughan had removed the governor from Lane's kittykat so it would do about 20 miles per hour when all the other kittykats would only do about 15. Lane was way ahead about 300 feet from the finish line when his machine quit, so after pulling the rope a few times he backed off and gave the machine a big kick. The little kids would take off across the lake on their kittykats, and after a ways stop and stand with one foot on the machine, and B.S. just like the big boys.

Snowmobiles racing on Anahim Lake Airport many years ago.
Photo above property of Floyd Vaughan
By the time that these kids grew up the races were just about ending. It seems that the liability to put on a function became too much for the locals, and dances afterwards weren't attended enough to break even. One of the problems was that at the races almost everyone would have a beer or two, and the cops were there to see who to stop when they went home. The dances were what made a lot of the revenue so when people quit attending them it spelled the end of the local events.
One of the great local events was the 2000 New Year's party held on the ice on Nimpo Lake. It was all done by volunteers including a load of logs for the bonfire. A large skating rink, and dance floor was bladed off, then blocks of ice were cut for a bar with a large punch bowl hollowed out of the ice. Trees were set up with lights all around with hay bales, and tables for the ones that couldn't stand. There were hay rides for the kids, and music for the partners to dance by. The only thing that worried some of us was that the parking lot that was bladed off had over 50 cars, and trucks parked on it. The ice held them all and everything turned out great.

There's a picture to go in here but it's pretty degraded so in the interest of saving download time, I'll probably reduce it and put it up on the right.
You know, it's funny that Floyd mentions liability. When I first moved out here in the 80's to work at the mill, there were still snowmobile races on then with a lot of participants. Included was a very long cross country race as well as a bunch of shorter races. But I remember overhearing organizers talk about them probably having to end the races because the insurance for liability was just way out of the local associations' reach. The same happened more recently with our race in Nimpo on the track that Len built. It was run only one year and then had to be shut down because the insurance was too outrageous.
I wonder what happened to the days where you could just go out and have fun at an impromptu gathering where you take responsibility for yourself, including your own injuries that may or may not have been brought on yourself. To a time when organizers of an event didn't have to worry about getting their butts sued off by someone that injured themselves because of their own stupidity or carelessness. I forgot how much I missed the 'old days'.
Just as a quick add on. It's gloomy and overcast but it's 2.4C above freezing so every once in a while great avalanches of snow go shooting off of the roof shaking the whole house. There's a slight breeze as well. Funny that we're so warm when everyone else is so cold. Right now it's snowing over the mountains and looks like it's going to move this way. There are a few flurries filtering down.
16/01/2008 12:33 PM

Wonky Little Weather Events

We've had about the fastest switching weather in the last three days of any I have ever seen. First, I have to apologize yet again for the long absence. It's probably going to be like this for the next two months until I can get a couple of big jobs done. So if you get some long silences, just hang in there! I'll be baaaack!
I stayed home to work but everyone else went out snowmobiling on Sunday and had a really great time from the sound of it. The wind was really howling up high so they didn't bother going through Goat Pass and on to Trumpeter. Instead, they decided to break out a bunch of the trails lower down and take our neighbour, who hadn't been out much snowmobiling, on a sightseeing trip. So Lloyd's trail through the trees (the old tight trail) is broken out to Goat Pass. The back trail through the old cutblocks down to the Telegraph Creek Trail are broken out as well as the new trails around Little Kappan. Then everyone went up to the Forestry Lookout on Little Kappan to show our new rider the view. A few stucks and some sore muscles out of the day but that's to be expected when you're breaking trails through new snow. Although it was windy up high and some fast cloud was moving through, the temperatures were good at around -4C at the Lookout and only around freezing down here, so I think it turned out to be a pretty decent day for snowmobiling.
Monday was another matter altogether. The ice road had just gone in to the extent it was going to when the wind came up on Sunday but it really started howling Monday. Every so often I looked out the windows to see this wild wind scouring across the lake drifting snow everywhere. "So much for the ice road," I figured. It was a really miserable day. It looked like those pictures you see of the high arctic when there's very little light and nothing but blowing snow in sight.
I half expected the power to go out but it didn't for us. Unlike many places in the Lower Mainland where not only did they lose power but there were downed trees and apparently pieces of building were falling onto one of the streets in Vancouver. I don't know what that wind was blowing in but when the wind died Monday evening, we watched the temperature literally plummet from around freezing to -14C or 7F in just a couple of hours. By the time I went to bed it was -20C or -4F and when Andy got up in the morning it was -25.7 or -13F. In fact I happened to glance at the temperature on Tuesday morning at 10:20 a.m. and it was sitting on exactly -20.0C in the sun.
The weathermen had been predicting that a high associated with a cold front would be coming in but it came in a lot faster than I would have expected. Oddly, it got really hazy for us yesterday while it remained clear and blue down in Vancouver. But that haze indicated that the jet stream was carrying warm, moist air up and over the cold front we were locked under, which brought snow. Our temperature had finally come up to -10C or 14F after it started snowing in the afternoon, first small flakes, then big fluffy airy ones. They were so light that you felt like you could go out and blow the snow off of the deck. Of course if you had done that this morning after the snow had settled, you would have been blue in the face. By this morning the snow had compacted to between 3" and 4" inches, depending on where you checked, but it's still more snow than we've gotten in one drop in a while.
I went out to clear off the deck this morning and the sun was shining on all the fresh snow and it was only about -4C. Right now it's already above freezing, so I think a walk or a ski is in order today. I'm beginning to feel like an old crotch scrunched up over this computer day in and day out.
Rob was anxious to test the ice road yesterday so he and Andy went back down to where the crack has opened up across Nimpo Lake in the hopes it had frozen up in that cold weather and that it could be crossed. Andy walked in front of Rob's plow truck, throwing up his hand whenever he saw suspicious looking ice and they got a little ways, but then Rob's truck went through the top layer of ice to the slush beneath and they gave it up. Logan had tried with the fourwheeler to get through from the other end and got stuck in the slush. There was no point in getting a full sized diesel pickup in a pickle. It's a real job to get out of overflow once you're stuck in it. But Rob did get the drifts plowed off of what ice road that exists. Now he has fresh snow to contend with and he doesn't even get paid to do this, any more than Terry ever did.
Later:
Well, I went out for my ski. The snow was pretty sticky until the sun went behind high cloud. Which made it better for skiing but not nearly so pleasant to be outside. I may have been walking this fall and winter but it sure has nothing on cross country skiing for a work out. Especially when you have to break a trail. I only made it a third or half way to Dot Island so it will be a while before I make it all the way down but once a trail is broken out it should be good for the winter unless it drifts or snows more. I noticed when I skied across the Main Arm that the ice road was completely covered in. Were it not for tiny snow banks along the side you wouldn't have known it existed. We just noticed Rob firing back down the ice road plowing it out again. Unfortunately, with this warm weather today, it won't help that slushy spot farther down to freeze up at all.
Last week's articles can be found at January Week 2. I'm not sure how much I'll be writing this week, if at all, so have patience.
Oh, check out the
Picture of the Day. I love that picture!

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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!
Two people, blocks of ice, decorated trees on the ice.
 
Low sun reflects on snow while sledding.
 
Mountain with weak winter sun shining on it.
 
Flags stand out against fresh snow.
 
Bobcat clearing ice of snow.
 
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