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Wilderness Adventures - Jan., Week 3/2014

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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25/01/2014 7:30 PM

The Amazing January Continues

First off, I was reminded a couple of weeks ago that I should mention the following and then proceeded to forget about it, which is what happens when you’re blonde, busy and getting over the hill. Corey Price of Anahim Lake has been named as second goal tender behind Roberto Luongo for the men’s Olympic Team going to Sochi in February. Our congratulations go out to him. He has every right to be proud of his accomplishment as is this community. If nothing else, maybe the odd person across Canada has looked up Anahim Lake on the map just to see where it is.
Our incredible, amazing, glorious weather continues. If I sound smug, I am. At first I felt really, really sorry for the people in Ontario for the way they have been whacked this winter with repeated winter blasts of cold, wind, snow and freezing rain. But then I remembered…. That was them rubbing our noses in it when they were golfing in 20 degree temperatures midwinter a couple of years ago while we dug out from under snowfall after snowfall and were constantly hit with minus 30 temps. What goes round comes round, people!
On the other hand, I do feel terrible for the folks on the eastern seaboard both in Canada and the US. The poor people in the Atlantic provinces have just been brutalized by the weather this winter, particularly with their wild winds and major snowfalls. Nobody deserves that. And then of course, those poor buggers down in the south that rarely see freezing temperatures much less snowfall are just way out of their element. In fact, it said on the news tonight that every single state in the US had a city that was below freezing. I’m assuming that didn’t include Hawaii. That’s a little chilly for folks in the southern states like Louisiana and Texas, although Texas has been getting a bit of a butt kicking in the last few years when it comes to winter weather so who knows, those folks might be used to it by now. It comes down to this. We had better all get used to weather extremes. Climatologists have been saying for some time that climate change means more extreme weather events, whether cold or hot, which may increase exponentially over this next century, or next decade, for that matter. Scary, but totally fascinating. To me, anyway. I’m sure not everyone would agree.
I still can’t get over the display of natural history in the BC Royal Museum in Victoria. Even though we saw it last year, I still pulled Andy into the room for a few moments that shows the climate timeline for earth. There have only been two periods in earth’s history since critters (including dinosaurs) walked the earth that were as cool or colder than our mean temperature now. 10,000 years ago when we had the last ice age, and about 4000 years ago the line dips slightly below today’s temperature line. Otherwise, the temperature line soars way above our modern temperature line. To explain it better, there is a line along the length of one whole wall and wraps around another wall that indicates our modern average temperature. Then there is another line that indicates real temperatures from millions of years ago to now. That line rides well above our own along the entire wall except for the two points that I mentioned above when the temperature was either slightly below or well below our present day temps. That means that earth’s surface has been steamy jungle for most of millennia and that humans and animals evolved in a much warmer environment. There is no question that humans can be blamed for wiping out or nearly wiping out numerous species either through greed or ignorance. Whales and prairie bison come to mind. But I have read that many species are going extinct every day and scientists don’t know why in many cases. Is it maybe because it’s just too cold for them? It makes sense that you would have a far more diverse species in warm tropical like climes than in temperate right from the smallest plant cell or insect to the largest mammal. Are we actually in the most barren stage of Earth’s life cycles because of our climate?
I know that everyone on earth seems worried about the increasing temperatures that many are trying to blame on man. Some of it probably can be but every time I see those two lines on the wall of that museum, I really have to wonder what the natural state of earth’s surface actually is.
We have a friend who’s daughter seems suddenly to have developed a deep and unforgiving hatred for big oil. I don’t have a problem with that, but turn that hatred into something productive. Railing against everyone for using oil isn’t going to help. Joining the conversation for sustainable energy would be far more productive and useful. Our girl uses social media extensively to rail on about the environmental impacts of oil, but doesn’t seem to realize that the very instruments she uses to do that, her computer, her tablet, her android/iphone appliances are all by products of the oil or natural gas refining process. I know she drives her vehicle as little as possible but I don’t see her giving up texting on her hand held devices, or her hair blower, or toaster, or anything else, for that matter. I don’t see anyone giving up electricity even though many power plants in the states still use massive quantities of coal. Everyone sounds so concerned and bitter about humans having been a major contributor to Earth’s slow rise in temperature, but no one is giving up their creature comforts to change that, and no one that I can see, is about to start.
Making other people aware of the effects of pollution caused by our chosen lifestyle is all well and good except that I think everyone knows already. Bitching about it on social media doesn’t help. Exploring different concepts, different ideas, and bouncing those around until someone creative grabs one of those ideas and says, hey, I think I can invent something here! That seems a lot more productive to me.
In the meanwhile, I’m inclined to trust Mother Earth to do a lot more butt kicking than we will ever be capable of. In the big picture, I really wonder how much of an impact we actually can have on our atmosphere when that bag lady can let one big old volcano blow and boom!....We’re in the dark for a few years with sun being reflected back into the atmosphere by volcanic dust particles, temperatures plummeting, numerous plant material wiped out by sulphur dioxide that turns into acid rain, not to mention the immediate effects of massive tsunamis and pyroclastic flows. This has happened on a regular basis in the past few centuries but most notably in 1815 when Mount Tambora in Indonesia blew and caused worldwide crop failure and starvation in the summer of 1816. Krakatoa in 1883 was also thought to have had a similar though not so devastating effect. The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Phillipines caused a world wide drop in temperature for several years even though by some standards, it wasn’t that big a volcano. And hey, I still remember seeing ash accumulate on my vehicle windshield from hundreds of miles away after Mt. St. Helens blew in 1980 and I drove through eastern Washington a few months later only to see miles of fields buried deep in ash and that was a much smaller event. According to scientists, there are several super volcanoes located around the world including at least three in the US that have the potential to change life on the planet forever when they blow again. And in fact, the Siberian Traps which are thought to have been the cause of a massive extinction event 251 million years ago, are blamed for wiping out 90% of all living species on earth. I’m really not sure how we can compete with that. In fact we humans and our pollution look kind of inconsequential in comparison.
Are we messing up the earth? Perhaps. Can Mother Nature do a whole lot better job of it? You betcha!
In the meanwhile, I think I’ll just continue enjoying what Mother Nature has thrown our way these past few weeks. A winter that’s memorable in a good way for a change. Yesterday the temperature hit 8.9C or 48F and today I saw it at 7.6C or 46F but the max on our thermometer showed a high of 9C. By the way, the sensor for our thermometer is located at the back of our garage where it never, ever gets sun except very, very early in the morning at the height of summer. So I can’t imagine what the temperature was in the sun but yesterday I took the dogs for a walk in my short sleeved T shirt and today we got wood and I was wearing the same, even in the shade.
On Thursday I skied down the lake and at one point it was bloody hot out on that ice!
I borrowed our neighbour’s track setter and ran it down the lake late in the afternoon earlier in the week. Because it was so late I didn't travel as slowly as I probably should have so the track wasn’t the greatest, but it was getting dark and I didn’t have a lot of time. I hit some nasty overflow at the other end of the lake and I’ll tell you, coming back through it at one point I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. The weight of that track setter was really bogging it down and it was probably fortunate that I was wearing a helmet because otherwise everyone on the lake would have heard me screaming, “C’mon baby, you can make it! C’mon! C’mon! You can do it!” Freaky. Damn I hate overflow. It just sucks the life right out of your machine. Because of it, I can ski most of the way down the lake and back but not all the way into our friends’ place. You get that mush stuck on the bottom of your skis and you’re going down. It just freezes there instantly.
Down at the north end of the lake seems to be the only place that the overflow is bad now, anyway. Little spots of it show up here and there but nothing major. I’m hoping we don’t get snow anytime soon because the skiing is just wonderful. It’s a little rough on snow machines though. What snow there is left on the ice is pretty crusty. Andy hit something coming back a few days ago and he bailed off his machine when it flipped end for end. He bruised himself up pretty good but he bruised the snowmobile even more. He got most of it repaired but he had to use the Bobcat to bend the rear end of the machine back into place lined up over the track where it was supposed to be instead of several inches off center.
The ice was doing a lot of grumbling when I was skiing out on the lake the other day, mainly because it has been really cold at night and at least 20 degrees warmer during the day. It’s been pretty quiet this winter up to now but last night I was out getting wood when I heard a great whumpf just off our shoreline and ran across several huge cracks in the ice out on the lake. Actually, I heard a coyote howling at the same time last night so that was kind of cool.
We’ve had yet another strange bird event here this winter besides the duck down on the Dean. About six days ago we looked out and there was a Trumpeter Swan sitting on the ice in our bay. I ran into him again when I went skiing that afternoon, this time out on the Main Arm. My skis were making an atrocious amount of noise on the crusty snow but he still let me get to within about 100 feet of him before he couldn’t handle it anymore and he took off down to the bay in front of Wilderness Rim. He never rose more than three feet above the ice so I don’t know if he was injured or just flying low for safety but he cannot possibly last long by himself. With no other Swans to help keep watch, he could never sleep for long before something would get him. I saw a fox on the ice the next day and a coyote the day after so his chances of surviving for long would be slim. I can only assume he stopped for a rest but where the heck was he going? This is way too early for Swans to be here. Admittedly they’re usually the first birds in but that’s two months from now.
Things sure are strange this winter and getting stranger. Out on walks I’m not seeing hardly anything for tracks. No big game, little squirrel sign, and not a single rabbit track all winter. Just fox and probably coyote. There’s a fox screeching out there tonight fairly close in, so it must be breeding season. I think the foxes have cleaned up on all the small critters because otherwise, as warm as it is, there should just be an explosion of sign everywhere if there was anything around to make tracks.
Right now our mountains are the blackest I have ever seen them before June of any year caused by the crazy weather inversion that we have enjoyed for most of the winter and that's been giving us much higher temperatures than places like Williams Lake or the Okanagan Valley. However, all good things come to an end. There is a weather change coming and while this next week temperatures are supposed to remain mild, by next Friday we’re going to see a significant drop into the negative during the day and double digit minuses at night. That’s okay. The good stuff couldn’t last forever but it has lasted long enough to shorten this winter considerably. The days are noticeably longer and this afternoon was the first day that I saw the sun in my office window before it set. Yahoo!
As you have probably noticed, this is one long blog post. I’m up to my neck in work right now and will be for a little while so I’ve decided to take the time out to do longer posts but not as often. I’m sorry about that but I will try to continue to update the Facebook page on a regular basis.

Last week's blog is at January Week Two.

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!

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A red fox on Nimpo Lake.
Bright white Trumpeter Swan sits on bright white ice of Nimpo Lake.
Trees frame a rich red January sunset.
Mountains are lacking snow for this time of year.
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