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

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Check out the Picture of the Day.

20/01/2009 6:51 PM

Cold Nights, Warm Days

We're still in that weather cycle of cold, cold nights and warm days but it looks like that's going to start breaking down. It went down to -21C or -6F last night so it took a while to warm up today. It was up to -2.6C when I went for a walk on the back trails and I forgot to look at the temperature when I got home but a little later on Andy mentioned that it was barely below freezing.
That high pressure system that has been forcing the jet stream way up to the north is finally moving to the east, which will bring the jet stream back south again, and that means colder weather for us. We did have some wispy streamers in the sky today that looked like they just might build up enough to block out the sun, but then they disappeared and we were back to glorious blue skies again. I expect we'll see a lot more cloud some time in the next few days if that jet stream does move south. Bummer.... I've really been enjoying this, but I'm sure the Vancouverites figure it's about time we stopped gloating. They're still stuck in fog!
So, the Inauguration took place today and we now have a new President of the United States. Boy, did you see all those people? That was sure something! Andy and I were sitting at the dining room table this evening just in awe of the numbers, and not just standing in the Mall, but celebrating from all over the US, Canada, and the rest of the world. We both had this little niggling feeling at the back of our minds that we had seen this before, but where? Especially since it was stated that there has never been anything like this before except at JFK's inauguration, and that was close, but nothing like this. Then Andy brought up something that kind of shocked me, especially in view of the respect and admiration I have for Obama, but after thinking about it, he was right. It was like those old film clips you see of Hitler speaking to thousands of people in a square who almost seemed electrified by his speeches. It does no honor to Barack Obama to compare him to Hitler, and it's definitely an unfair comparison, but like Hitler, he is a very charismatic speaker in a scary kind of way, and I'm really glad he's on our side!
Obviously the Inauguration took up a lot of the programming on television today and you could pick up some pretty interesting tidbits. For one thing, it blew me away that the helicopter that took Bush away from the Inauguration cost 440 million dollars. Can you imagine??? Why the heck would one little flying vehicle cost 440 million dollars? Yes, I can see extra armor plating to withstand ground to air attack, and beefed up horse power to lift all the extra weight, but that much money? Holy cow!!!
Then there's the presidential car that Obama was riding in down Pennsylvania Avenue today which is heavily armored of course, with an estimated six inches of bullet proof glass in the window frames. How would you see anything out of them? And then the President gets out and walks down the avenue with his wife on two separate occasions. I'll bet his security personnel was extremely unhappy and very freaked the whole time. I can just see them at the end of the night rolling their eyes at each other and fretting over how many years Obama is going to take off of their lives through worry for his safety.
One last thing that was kind of interesting was that the hosts on Daily Planet mentioned that there was a record 54% spike in Internet use throughout the world today during Obama's speech, 60% in the US. Probably all of those people that still had to go to work today and couldn't stay home to watch TV were trying to download Podcasts or other video of the Inauguration.
Just to let you know, I probably won't be posting a blog tomorrow night or before starting a new week on Thursday.

19/01/2009 7:01 PM

The Skating Party

The neighbours pushed snow off of the ice and made a skating rink last week using what we're now calling the Chilcotin Zamboni, a tiny red tractor that's probably at least 50 years old and not powerful enough to use for anything else. In fact, it got stuck in the snow the first time they took it down on the lake. Still, it does a marvelous job for creating a rink. I guess the neighbours decided to flood the new rink the other day using a fire pump and it didn't work out too well. The water froze really quickly on top, and too slowly underneath so they ended up with lumpy ice. Last night at dinner everyone present decided that they would try taking propane torches to the rink this morning and if that worked, there would be skating party. It must have worked because when I arrived after my walk on the back trails, everyone was either skating on the rink or roasting hot dogs over the bonfire.
Somehow this weekend has turned into a long weekend for most of us on the lake even though it's not a holiday weekend. There was the skating party today and a snowmobile run yesterday. We had a nice easy day of it with the neighbours that went with us to Hotnarko Falls last Sunday, our plowing neighbour and his wife, and another couple from just down the road. In fact, nearly everyone that lives on our road in winter went. Some of the people aren't really experienced at riding and two couples were doubled up so you couldn't make it a really strenuous day or that would just take the fun out of it for them.
We toured down to Charlotte Lake via the Hooch and then Charlotte Lake road. The latter wasn't very good because it had been plowed and there was only a few inches of snow with gravel underneath, so we literally 'clattered' down the road wincing at the metal we were probably taking off of our carbides. But we got off that eventually and onto Charlotte Lake where we followed it around to the other side where Rimarko is located. Just before the ranch there is place where a retired couple live and we visited with them for a while before they accompanied us out onto the lake for a ways. He assured us that Charlotte Lake froze over early this year and it was plenty safe enough to cross in the middle, something you can't always do safely at this time of year.
Like Nimpo Lake, there were snow drifts on the ice but they were a lot higher and a lot harder! If you didn't watch every bit of the way, you could hit a drift and go flying because where it was soft on one side, it dropped off abruptly on the other. More than a few of us got jounced around and I felt really sorry for those doubling up. We got back to the west side of the lake and visited with folks that are a part of the Charlotte Lake bunch and that we snowmobile with. Our host there had been instrumental on getting a trail cleared up from Charlotte Lake to Charlotte Main that several of our friends worked on all summer.
This was my first trip up that trail and it's definitely narrow! You've got to use some muscle to get steered through the trees going up hill, then there's a small side hilling section, then you're going back down hill to Charlotte Main. It's a great trail but much longer than the trail from 24 km that we cut down to Charlotte Lake years ago but the difference is you can use this trail any time of the year. In previous years, you had to run a few miles down the lake on the ice and then go up what was a pretty steep trail. But that only works when there's ice on Charlotte and the rest of the year, the trail is rendered useless.
Once we popped out onto Charlotte Main we ran it down to the Hooch and then home on the Dot Island trail and across Nimpo Lake. At 47 miles it wasn't a long ride, or even a really strenuous one, but I think it was just perfect for an easy day out without making it hard on the double ups. We all got to enjoy a big pot of spaghetti at the neigbhour's and a couple of beer, and that was it. By the time supper was over most everyone looked like they were going to fall asleep on the spot so I think it was probably a good thing we hadn't snowmobiled any farther than we had. It's amazing what a little fresh air will do for you!
Yesterday was absolutely spectacular and today was just the same. Our temperatures have really been plummeting at night but by the warmest part of the day, it's come up to at least a couple of degrees above freezing. There hasn't been a cloud in the sky either day, only that rich blue sky we get in winter, no wind at all, and a sun that's packing a lot more heat in it than it was a month ago.
When we stopped half way along the trail to Charlotte Main for a few moments yesterday, we could look up and see the pine boughs on trees moving in a breeze, but the breeze felt warm. I figured the weather was changing but when we got down to Nimpo Lake, there was next to nothing for air movement. Andy figured that inversion layer that has been stuck over the province was forcing warm air from down off the mountains to where we were, creating a wind along the way. I think he's right because it sure looks like we're still losing a lot of snow at higher elevations. I would be ever so happy if this weather continued for about three more months!

17/01/2009 3:46 PM


Well, not really, but it sure feels like it for the first time in a long time!
Today is an absolutely glorious day. I don't think you could make it better if you tried. Even though it went down to -16.5 or 2 degrees Fahrenheit last night, it warmed up to well above freezing today. When I came home from my walk I was shocked to see that it was over 6C or 43F. I thought, "No way!" I figured that the thermometer at the back must be in the sun but I checked the other two thermometers and they actually read slightly higher. I finally took the one at the back down and put it where I knew no sun or warm air could possibly reach it and the temperature held, so I guess that's what it was. It's cooling off now of course because it's only an hour to sundown but it's still above freezing. Amazing!
We're not the only ones with astonishing weather. Both the Peace and Whitehorse regions have been in the deep freeze for months now, but today their temperatures were going to range from plus 8 to 11C which will be quite a shock for them. I expect more than a few will be out sunning themselves. Although it might screw up the snow for the Yukon Quest which starts in February. While the north is enjoying their balmy weather, places in the Lower Mainland still stuck under the weight of heavy fog aren't expecting to see temps much above freezing. Talk about everything being backwards!
We finally got rid of some of the cloud that kept rolling back in and out for the last few days leaving us with only a few high wispy streamers. Just enough to make the sky interesting. This is yet another straight day without any breeze at all, which is really, really nice. It makes it seem even warmer out.
We had three coyotes cross the lake out by the islands this morning. They might have hung around longer but once we went out on the deck they decided to head for shore. That's at least 600 yards from here and yet the animals still heard or saw us. It just shows you how keen some predators' senses are.
Our neighbour finally came home a couple of days ago and started putting in an ice road today. We now have a properly plowed ice road over to the boat ramp and last I heard, he was headed down the Main Arm to the other end of Nimpo Lake to open up a road for folks down there. We sure have some awesome people to call neighbours around here! Thanks Rob!
It's amazing what warmer temperatures will do for everyone's mood. Lots of smiles and people out doing things on the lake now. I see Bernice has been hard at work creating her ice art since she came up from the States a few days ago. There are loads of pieces of colored ice decorating a cement base up at Nimpo across from the store. You can't help but smile when you see them. It's a good trade off when it makes her happy to make her creations, and us happy to see them. It's like bringing a bright touch of color to a world that doesn't have much at this time of year. Except for the sunsets, of course. We had another pretty one yesterday evening, although not quite as spectacular as the evening I took the pictures on the right.

15/01/2009 7:02 PM

The Temperature Inversion

The inversion layer I've been talking about is definitely effecting the whole province in a big way. Our neighbour was telling us about the incredible disparity yesterday because he too noticed the icy shine on the mountains from a major melt. Then on the news tonight they were showing how heavy the fog has been on the Lower Mainland and in the city all day, all because of the tremendous temperature inversion. I guess the temperature in the city was 1C, while at 4400 feet, the temperature was 10C or 50F, and at 7800 feet the temperature was a whopping 15C or 60 degrees Fahrenheit. And even at 13,000 feet, it was still only at the freezing level. Small wonder that our mountains looked like they had lost huge amounts of snow!
At least we're pretty lucky here. We've had fog in the mornings but it burns off fairly quickly, but in Vancouver, they've been blanketed by a pea soup layer of fog that they estimate to be between four and five hundred feet thick, and they're not the only ones! Numerous towns and cities throughout British Columbia are situated in valleys, usually because they started as little communities located on lakes or along rivers. Throw in an inversion layer that traps cold air in the valley bottoms along with water from whatever waterway is in the area, and you've got fog and cool temperatures that's going to last for days. Apparently that's the case from Vancouver to the Okanagan, all through the central Cariboo and points north. Even poor Osoyoos is going to have fog. How bad is that? BC's desert and it's going to be foggy.
They showed some images on the News tonight of Vancouver as seen from the top of some of the ski hills, which were in bright sunshine. There was no city of Vancouver. Only this incredible layer of fluffy white pillows blanketed the valley with the mountains looking like islands floating in it. It was pretty cool looking. That must be why I always liked living on a mountain or in high places. You have more sunshine.
Our temperature went down to -14C or 7F last night, but a neighbour just down the lake said they went down to -16C last night and the cashier at a store in Anahim Lake said they went down to -22C or -8F last night, so we're seeing quite a variation in temperatures right now and the fog could have something to do with it. I don't mind it dropping at night at all, as long as it comes up during the day, and it certainly has been.
I was late getting home from a meeting today but it was only -1.9C when I went for a walk this afternoon. It had cooled considerably by the time I got home but that wasn't long before sunset and it's still only sitting around -5C or 23F so maybe our long overdue warm up is coming. Or not. As I mentioned before, that jet stream is way up in the Alaskan Panhandle before it drops back to the south again on the Alberta border, so we should be a lot warmer but cold air left over from that last high must still be trapped here and there.
Looking at the temperature map for Canada and the US, it's pretty blue right now clear down to Texas. Right now about the only thing that shows yellow on the North American map is California and a couple of desert States. Even Florida isn't terribly warm. I know the East and Midwest is suffering under the cold but many parts of Canada are not faring much better. There were actually three large areas in Canada that were in the red on the map today and listed under an extreme wind-chill warning. Not just wind-chill warning but an extreme one. That means any area under that warning are experiencing temperatures of -50C or colder. That's 58 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and in a humid place like Toronto, I'm sure it's just plain miserable. Right now about half of the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are under one massive block of red on the maps, so I kind of feel for them. Not much to stop the wind in those provinces and it'll be hard on the cattle. In Quebec, the utility companies are warning people that they need to cut back on their electricity consumption because records are already being broken for consumption of that resource, and I think the power companies are afraid of brown outs. Somehow I think their imploring message is going to fall on deaf ears.
You can sure tell we've warmed up here. There are lots more people out doing things, although it's still a lot quieter than in years past. Still, the odd snowmachine is out and about, people walking on the lake, and our neighbours went zipping by on cross country skis in front of our place this morning. At -11C I would have thought it a bit too chilly to be out but they said they warmed up pretty fast with the activity.
I came home from my meeting this afternoon to a note from Andy saying he was over at our neighbours' skating. Sure enough, after bundling up and dragging the dogs along on my way for a walk, there was several of our neighbours, a big, beautiful skating rink, picnic table and bonfire down on the ice. A little distance away was parked the 'zamboni', a tiny little tractor not much bigger than a present day lawn tractor but really, really old. It was probably considered a serious little machine in its day because the only thing that would have predated it would have been a Clydesdale, but it's sure small. Did a great job on that skating rink though, and it beats being on the wrong end of a shovel!
Andy had asked how the meeting went and I said I thought I had convinced the tourism association to look into marketing to Europe and to work on bringing out a media fan tour prior to the 2010 Olympics to bring attention to our area. Then our one neighbour suggested working on inviting members of a team that will be competing in the Olympics, such as cross country skiers or biathlon athletes, to train here. It's actually an awesome idea! We have snow conditions very similar to Whistler's Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley with our elevation being about 700 feet higher, which would actually be better for training, and I figure we can get together to do the grooming for the trails. In contrast, the lake would probably work well for skate skiing training. It was an off the cuff idea, but I think it's a great one! We've enough places here to comfortably offer free accommodation and meals so for those countries that don't have a lot of money in the kitty for their athletes, I think it would benefit both sides. My only problem is I have no idea how to go about contacting who to find out if any team would even be interested. But I figure if Pemberton can host the Jamaican bobsled team for training, and they have no training facilities, we should be able to do the same for those teams that can utilize what we have to offer in the way of snow sports in this area. So the reason why I'm bringing it up on the blog here is that I'm looking for any ideas or feedback about this, as well as any ideas at all about who to contact. Any and all suggestions are welcome so I've set up an email address to save everyone having to go through the contact page here at which means it will probably start to accumulate spam eventually but I can discontinue it by the time that happens. The idea might be completely off the wall but you never know, we might be able to make it happen for us. Write with your ideas please!
On a final note, we had another spectacular sunset the other evening and I wanted to post the series of pictures here but I had to wait until I had the room. You will never believe that all of these pictures were taken within a half hour span, but the sky was lit up nearly 360 degrees, so there were lots of different colors to choose from.
I'm actually on time for a change and am starting a new week when I'm supposed to, so you'll find last week's articles at January 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!
Pink wispy clouds.
Orange pillow sunset.
Sunset colors.
Pink streaks against blue sky.
Burst of orange sunset.
Purple snow, pink and orange sunset.
Orange sunset over mountains.
Pink and yellow streamer sunset.
Peach sunset.
Ball of fire sunset.
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