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Wilderness Adventures - Jan., Week 3/2011

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 some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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20/01/2011 9:30 PM

The Moose Herd

We finally made it to Williams Lake on Tuesday. We decided to make a break for it because the weather looked pretty good for a change. And in fact, the highway at our end of the Chilcotin was in excellent condition with lots of sand on the compact snow. It was just lightening up when we saw our first moose, and second, third and right up to eight moose in one meadow! All but one, and the one was laying down so we couldn't tell, were full grown moose. In fact, some of them were really big! So it wasn't like it was a few cows with several calves in this meadow. It was unbelievable because I've never seen that many full grown moose in the same place before. I don't know if I've ever seen even four full grown moose in one area before. So it was a pretty amazing sight to see. Unfortunately, the poor light and vibrating truck most of the pictures I took didn't turn out but it's just as well. I really don't want the area recognized or the 'keepers of the land' will be out there hunting them on snowmobiles.
Just a way down the road we saw two more moose, although they looked like a two year old pair out on their own for the first time because they weren't in the great shape the others were, and not much farther along, we saw another pair, these much bigger and heavier looking and in great shape. So within an hour's or so drive, we saw 12 moose. That, folks, is a record for me. It was awesome! At least it means for right now this year, our moose population is pretty healthy. On the other hand, no calves in the vicinity of all these moose is not a good sign. That might indicate they have already been pulled down by either grizzly bear when very young, or wolves.
The tremendous snow that we've had has probably been a large factor in pushing so many moose down to lower elevations. I expect it's really deep higher up. The only advantage to the moose is that the snow is also fluffy, so wolves have a real struggle trying to catch up to any game, which is a good thing. I should think too that there may be safety in numbers and maybe that's why the moose are hanging in together. Would one moose defend another if one wasn't a calf? I would think so but who knows for sure?
The remarkable thing about seeing eight moose together is that it's well, unheard of. Or has been for years. Rich Hobson wrote when he and Pan Phillips crossed the mountains that they looked down on these huge meadows where moose were everywhere. He called them herds. More than one person around here as pshawed at me when I've mentioned it, saying that it was a figment of Rich Hobson's imagination. Moose don't herd. Well, maybe not, but we saw eight moose in dark, dawn hours in a century where moose numbers have been down drastically and so unhealthy that this has been a limited entry hunting area for years. If we saw eight in that poor light, the chances of there being twice that many among the trees is far more likely than not. The moose were scattered and certainly not huddled together because moose aren't like that, but if there are eight full grown moose in the vicinity, I call that a herd, folks, regardless of what the old timers say.
I can only imagine what it would be like for two guys coming down out of the mountains into country not seen by whites before eighty years ago. Moose were little hunted by natives then because they weren't familiar with the animal so their only predators would have been wolves and grizzly bears and there would have been a wicked battle. Apparently cow moose charged the riders on a regular basis and were considered extremely dangerous, so perhaps these moose had developed an efficient method of defending themselves and perhaps the other herd animals against all comers. In any case, it was pretty darned exciting to see that many moose in one place.
Our weather has been mixed. Yesterday had some sun and cloud and it got up to -4.4C or 25F so it certainly wasn't that cold. But I think today is going to be a beauty. It's already above freezing and what clouds we had this morning have pretty much cleared out so there's sunshine and a warm breeze out there. Hallelujah! Warm weather for the next few days according to the weather forecasters. MAKE MY DAY!!
17/01/2011 2:30 PM

The Perfect Sunday

Yesterday was the perfect Sunday!
It was already above freezing when we got up Sunday morning and there was sunshine which was so nice to see. The water was just pouring off the trees like rain from the snow melting on them. It was really pretty looking at it with the sun as a back drop. There were some fast moving squalls that would come in, cover the sun, spit a little rain and then be gone again. I was outside most of the day just because it was the first gloriously warm day we've had in a long, long while. Besides, there was more shoveling to be done and I wanted to get the greenhouse and yellow shed cleared off completely with the melt. Andy had more snow to move yesterday for a neighbour as well as for us. In exchange the neighbour came over and helped him to clear the trailer shed roof again. So we're set for a while if we get more snow.
I came back from a struggle through the snow on the back trail, because it certainly wasn't a walk, and asked Andy if he wanted to run trails with me. Since it got to four degrees above freezing, conditions were perfect for packing the trail in the woods with our snow machines, and then letting it freeze overnight. It was much easier walking today as a result, that's for sure!
Today is really nice as well, although there's a bit of a stiff, chilly breeze out there. It went down to -8C or 17F last night but still made it to a degree or so above freezing. The breeze is keeping it from melting much though. I don't know what we can expect for the next few days but I'm just counting my blessings that we've gotten two nice, non snowy days in. It improves everyone's mood.
Our neighbours Alex and Iris have a perfect sight line down to the point and the big island, and every day they've been watching two otters playing out on the ice between the two. I was over at their place yesterday and you could see very clearly an otter on the snow, and then gone. So they must somehow be able to dig through the ice to the water below to go fishing. It's the first time that I've seen otters out there but as I mentioned before, we think that a young pair were kicked out this fall and that's where they decided they could hole up for the winter. I think they have their home on the edge of the big island, and they fish on the point. Our neighbours really seem to have been enjoying watching them every day. We can see the same area from our place but we have to peek through tree branches and we're much farther away. So the otters aren't quite so easy to see.
Aside from fox tracks there isn't a lot of wildlife sign around besides the otters, which often come through the back bay, climb up over our road and down into our meadow, and cross to the point. In fact our neighbours were saying that they see the otter tracks scooting through the snow all over the place in the trees around the lake shore. They sure get around, those little buggers.
Well the sun was shining just moments ago, but now there's a little snowstorm happening. Silly weather.
One of our neighbours, Ted, sent me pictures of his neighbours carving snow out on the lake, which is pretty amazing actually because it's rare that you get enough powder on the lake to do that. However, after this warm spell, I expect that the lake has settled down quite a bit and hear from people that have sledded out there that the overflow is just terrible in places.
For last week's blog, go to January Week Two.
And don't forget, if you want last year's blogs, the 2010 blogs can be found by clicking on the listing in orange that starts with the last blog in December 2010.

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!
Three moose against a snow back drop.
Moose running.
Snow machine turning steep turns.
Sun behind snow melt on trees.
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