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Wilderness Adventures - Jan., Week 3/2013

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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30/01/2013 7:49 PM

The Snow and Sun

Well, I got my turn on the snowplow yesterday as predicted in the last post. I went out yesterday morning to shovel the decks and clear off the town truck so that it could be moved once Andy got back from plowing the neighbour’s driveway and then ours, and then could start plowing out the yard. He thought I had already plowed the ice road but of course, I figured he had done that so hadn’t started on it.
I got my truck running, tested moving the plow blade up and down, and proceeded to go down our ramp to plow the ice road. That’s the first time I’ve ever done the whole thing as well as the Nimpo boat ramp and one round on a steep ramp at the end of our road. It actually went well although I’m sure I was much slower at it than Andy. First of all, I’ve never operated a plow before, and until I get used to where the blade sits the job isn’t going to be perfect, but it works. I noticed today though that we are starting to get overflow along the edge of the ice road where the snow banks are pressing down on the ice. I figured that would happen fairly soon if the overflow was so bad out on the main part of the lake. The ice road is still fine, of course, but we’ll see what happens over the next few days if this warm weather continues.
Oh yeah, we’ve got warm weather. It is glorious!
Today the temperature got up to 3C or 37F and we had pure sunshine until later this afternoon when cloud moved in over the mountains or it would have gotten warmer yet. We took the dogs for a walk down to the gun range when Andy got back from sledding and it was a real struggle walking on the back trail. The snow had softened on the snowmobile track I set there a day ago and it was a real pain in the butt to walk on it. We both ran another track this afternoon while it was still warm, and hopefully this time with two machines, maybe it will set up better. Or not.
Andy ran up to kilometre 24 and beyond on the Charlotte Main with a neighbour that wanted to collect tools from a cabin down on the lake today. I was supposed to go but I took yesterday off from the computer so that meant working on it today. It looked like it would be a great day to go for a little ride, though.
Andy said that you definitely cannot get off the established trail up there because there isn’t any more snow there than down at this elevation and there are rocks everywhere. I guess it was pretty tough up there for the guys that went up two days before. One thing that Andy said was really remarkable was that it seemed much warmer on Charlotte Lake than it was down here today. And when he went up for the mail, he said one resident on the lake said that yesterday the thermometer registered 9C or 48 degrees!
Can you believe that? Wow!

Mind you, it isn’t hard to see that it is much warmer at higher elevations right now. All you have to do is look at the mountains. Even after that snow that we got Monday, you could see black showing up on the mountains by yesterday afternoon and today they’re looking just pitiful. The higher mountains in the Coast Range are looking worse yet, so I wonder if it’s been raining up there, or just melting? Right now it’s still a degree above freezing and we’ve got some freezing rain on our deck this evening so heavens only knows what’s happening up there.
This isn't going to improve the overflow on the lake at all if it continues to be warm and especially if we get any amount of rain tonight. Andy and the neighbour came back from Charlotte on the lake today and he said there's overflow everywhere on the Main Arm. I guess all we can hope for is a huge melt to take that snow down a little bit so the overflow will freeze up.
I have no idea what we can expect for weather in the next few days but so far, if you can go by the radar they show on weather on television, it looks like it may just stay warm for the next few days. That arctic front moving down from the north was diverted to the Rockies and pushed cold air in over the prairies. Poor Saskatoon was a nasty –40 degrees last night. They can keep it. I’m loving what we’ve got. And so are the animals.
We’re not seeing a lot of sign on the back trail but there’s no reason to. All the larger game can stay high yet with these low snow levels and the wolves are going to have a heck of a time decimating herds this year if conditions stay the same. There’s not enough snow to bother a moose at all but it’s soft, powdery, and deep enough to impede a pack of wolves in a serious way if the way it affects our dogs when they go off the trail is any example. Maybe this winter won’t be quite so devastating for caribou or moose for a change.
For anyone that has stayed at or dined at Anahim Lake’s Eagle’s Nest Resort, you may wish to know that Lady Enubi died in Bella Coola Hospital on Saturday. There will be a small memorial for her at Eagle’s Nest this coming Saturday between 11:00 and 4:00. Everyone is welcome.

28/01/2013 8:30 PM

Snow and Overflow

Boy…. Talk about a mixed weather bag….
We got out from under that heavy snow from five days ago. Andy spent a whole day out plowing ours and neighbours’ driveways as well as the ice road. Andy left one swath on the ice road so that I could get used to using the snow plow on the ice. It’s actually easier than I thought it would be, I guess because I thought there would be a lot more resistance for the plow, because I was pushing part of the snow bank on the edge of the road, but it cuts through the snow like butter. It’s really awesome actually. I think I might just be getting another turn at it tomorrow as well because we got clobbered again today. Well, not clobbered, really. That would be on the order of six inches to a foot of snow or more in a day. But we did get snow…. All bloody day!
It was peppering down baby flakes when I got up this morning and I figured it would let up before long, but every time I looked out the window, it just seemed to get worse and by the time I was thinking about taking the dogs for a walk, it was salting down huge furry flakes and it would have been hard to even see while walking, so that was out. I might have said the dogs were displeased about it but every time I looked outside all I was saw was squinty eyes and black noses peering from doghouses, so they weren’t that enthused about being out in the snow either.
According to the weather forecasters we’re going to get another round or two over the next couple of days so I guess we’ll see how it stacks up by the weekend when it’s supposed to clear off finally for a couple of days. Up until today the weather has been pretty decent actually since that last snowfall, with lots of mixed sun and cloud, and on one day, pure blue with not a cloud in the sky.
Everyone has been enjoying the weather and we’re seeing more people out there on the ice. Yesterday the dogs set up a ruckus and we looked out to see friends cruise past on an ATV pulling a skimmer, with two more up on a snowmobile leading the way, and with at least three dogs bouncing along through the snow. I expect they were going ice fishing, but who knows? It looked fun no matter what they were doing, or at least the dogs sure thought so!
On Saturday we went for a walk, then I ran the back trail quickly with a snow machine to pack it a bit for walking and then decided to run a quick trail out on the lake for skiing on because that last snow made it too deep to break a nice trail with skis. I made it out as far as the point and then felt the machine start to lug, badly! I knew that feeling! I gunned the hell out of it and kept swerving it up sideways to try and break the track free of the overflow and made a run for the ice road in front of me. I didn’t dare take the time to look back. Holy Cow! A couple of people had mentioned running into overflow on the lake since that last snow but that’s the first time I’ve run into it that deep since hitting it years ago up on a lake in the Rainbows. We often get overflow on the lake when we’ve gotten too much snow, but not that sloppy or deep!
I came back with the machine and decided to go back out on skis on the trail I had made, at least to the point, and then I would go off the trail into the snow where I shouldn’t be bothered by overflow. Wrong. I skied up to where I had hit the overflow with the snow machine and not only could I see at least eight inches of slush in my track but there was about four inches of water on top of that. My track from where I hit the overflow to the ice road looked like a drunken sailor had made it where I had swerved a few times to try to break free of the overflow.
Being out there on skis didn’t help me a bit. In no time I had instant ice frozen to the bottom of my skis and spent most of my time out there scraping the ice off with the points of my poles so I could get going again and didn’t have to walk home. Man, what a mess.
I've probably described overflow before but for anyone new to the blog and unfamiliar with it, I'll try to describe it again. Imagine lifting a shovel full of snow a foot deep where the bottom eight or more inches is dripping wet and the top four inches is pure white, innocent looking, fluffy snow. Go ahead, lift it. I dare you. :-) Now take that same snow and try to run a tracked machine through it. What happens is that slush on the bottom under the snow is created by cold lake water coming up through the ice through spider holes or cracks in the ice created by the weight of the snow on top of it. If you put an ice cube in your drink, it usually floats to the top, but put a weight on that ice and the amount of your drink that flows over the ice depends on the weight put on the ice. In the case of the lake ice, the water comes up and saturates the snow, making it even heavier, and sinking the ice even more. When you run through that saturated snow it freezes instantly to your track and the resistance of the slush starts to slow you down, a lot! All you can do is gun it and go like hell to get out of there. Normally any overflow you hit, especially when it’s that deep, is in just short stretches but I ran from the point to the road and was in it all the way, and when I skied past it, I could see where our neighbour had run through it the night before and he had ice frozen in his track for as far as I could see. In fact, I’m attributing the power of his machine for keeping him from getting stuck because it looked like he splashed up about 12 inches of slush from his tracks. He made quite a trough in the muck.
Oh yeah, and you don’t want to get stuck in overflow. That’s why you gun it. Some guys have been known to spend a day trying to get a machine out of overflow and as one friend said when we talked about it when I came back from skiing, if you don’t get it out that day, your snowmobile freezes in until spring.
The same friend had come from down at the other end of the lake that same day and said the overflow was pretty bad all the way down to the north end and there were lots of large spider holes, so she just went like hell over them and to keep from getting stuck in the overflow slush. In fact she went past me on skis just in front of our place and didn’t stop. I gave her a hard time about it when I called her and she said she was so used to looking forward at what was coming and looking for overflow that she didn’t even see me. She just wanted to get her sled home. I could hardly blame her. After seeing that mess out at the point, I won’t be sledding on the lake any time soon. I might try skiing the ice road because it seems to be okay so far, but that won’t last for long. The heavier the snow banks get, the more likely you are to start getting overflow along the edges of the ice road. Apparently that has already started to happen down on the Main Arm. It’s too bad because this lake can be so much fun until you get overflow. The only thing that will fix it now is either very cold weather or if some of the snow melts and hardens on the lake. Otherwise, if it’s like a couple of years ago, it will be spring before it will get better, if at all. I know everyone wanted more snow for sledding but this is a bummer.
Speaking of which, so far there really hasn’t been enough snow to go out but this last snowfall might have improved things a bit. I know that some of the guys went out a couple of days ago and invited Andy but like he said, he didn’t feel like peeling the color off his skis on rocks if there wasn’t enough snow higher up and I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t either. You’re probably fine if you stay on the trail but if you ride like Andy, you don’t stay on the trail. And from his point of view, if you can’t play in the snow, then there’s not much point in going. However, if the forecasters’ predictions are right, that just might change in the next few days.
I put some photos up on the right that I took today. Only the bottom one shows the streaks of snow coming down to any extent but there were lots of times that we couldn’t see past our shoreline today much less out to the island.
There’s one photo there of the snow sliding off the greenhouse roof that droops like a curtain, and from that, there’s a bunch of icicles hanging. It's kind of cool looking. It’s hard to see through the snow but if it’s nicer tomorrow and hasn't broken off, I’ll try taking another photo.
You’ll find the last blog at January Week Two but for any of the older postings, this is the start of a new year so you’ll have to go to the menu to the left to find the 2012 blogs.

Anahim Lake Highway cam looking West.

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!
Large snow covered lake and mountains.
Snow covered banks and lake with mountains in the background.
Snow and icicles hang from the greenhouse roof.
Red and white flags barely show through snowflakes.
Vague lake ice and island through the snow.
The trees are nearly obliterated by driving snow.
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