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
Wilderness Adventures - Jan., Week Four/2011
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The Cold Spell
You know that cold spell I mentioned a couple of days
ago? Well it came but I was wrong about thinking it might
make it to 30 below. The temperature actually dropped
to -32.6C or -27F yesterday morning. It didn't
warm up much through the day either. I don't think it
made it up above -13C yesterday even though the sun shone
all day. It dropped again fairly quickly yesterday evening
but then stopped at just below -24C or -11F and stayed
there through the night.
The temperature actually got up to -7C or 19F in the sun
today, but though there was barely a breeze, it was really
chilly out on the lake.
Andy talked me into leaving the computer for a little
while and taking a walk out on the ice road because he
wanted to show me something.
Yesterday I watched as he crossed the lake with his dually
for the first time in a few days. Because the ice
road had overflow on it, he stayed off of it during the
warm weather to keep from rutting it up but he figured
after Saturday's frigid night, it would be well frozen.
Well, it wasn't. I wondered what was happening as he crossed
because he was going really, really slowly. Once it looked
like he stopped for a moment and then surged forward again.
I finally glimpsed water splashing up onto the banks on
either side. Turns out it wasn't just water!
We walked out there today and the farther along the ice
road, the worse it got. Big ice pans were tossed
all over the place, many up to two inches thick.
Farther along, they were three and more inches thick!
When Andy drove across on the road he realized too late
that the water that had been on the road during the warm
spell had frozen on top. That layer varied from one to
over three inches thick the farther along he went. Under
that was a layer of water that looks like it was six to
eight inches deep, and then under that was the lake ice.
Since the truck is a one ton diesel, a lot of the
weight is on the front and he broke through that layer
of ice to the water underneath. His tires couldn't
climb back up on the ice and he couldn't go backwards.
That meant he had to keep breaking ice in front of him
shifting down as he lost power. He finally made it to
the other side but boy, did he mess up that road! There
are huge chunks of ice piled up all over the road, frozen
into the water that had been underneath, some pointed
upward like teeth. The way all that ice is jumbled up
in piles frozen into the surface, I don't think the ice
road is going to be passable to anyone for most of the
rest of winter. If it really warms up and melts some of
that ice so it's not sticking up so much, then maybe it
can be used again. Otherwise.....
Of course Andy would never have gone on the ice
road had he known that would happen, but you figure with
a -33 night, any water should be well and truly frozen
through. Apparently not and I don't expect we'll
be any too popular with the neighbours. :-)
That water under the double layer of ice isn't the only
surprising thing with the lake. Even after two very cold
nights, step off the ice road a couple of inches into
snow, and you'll sink into slushy water. Now keep in mind
it hasn't been anywhere close to above freezing for three
days now, and there's still a tremendous amount of water
on top of the lake ice under the snow. It's definitely
a very unusual year! Yet more spider holes have opened
up right in front of our place so I think caution on the
lake is in order.
Our warming trend looks like it may hit tonight
or early tomorrow. Right now we're at -11C but
Prince George is at -20C and Williams Lake is -17C when
both should be warmer than we are. But the jet stream
is going way up north into the Yukon and then dips back
down well west of the central Cariboo. That means for
now, we'll be much warmer than the Cariboo and possibly
even the Okanagan. Suits me! I like a little change up
now and then.
And anything beats those poor beggars getting it
in the east. Wow! That's a storm that's packing
a wicked punch! It looks like quite a few States will
be affected by this storm, but Ontario and the Maritimes
are going to get their share of snow, freezing rain and
wind. I feel sorry for the folks in the Maritimes for
getting hit yet again but the people in Ontario? They
could use some winter. They had waaay too nice a winter
Spring has come and gone
Hi Everyone! I know it's been a week since I posted a
blog and there's been a couple of reasons for that. I've
been really busy with the property assessment stuff for
locals in the area on top of a large job that I have to
do that will take most of the winter and spring. Unfortunately
my hip has really started acting up again which means
I try to reduce the time spent on the computer as much
as possible, saving the time I do have to
be on for paid work and deadlines. So thank you ever so
much for your patience. I would like to say the blogs
will be posted more regularly, but until my hip gets better,
We have enjoyed absolutely fantastic weather for
the past week. Our days have been sunny and warm
and some nights the temperature has even stayed above
freezing. While we got the tiniest bit of rain, more like
a mist, really, we got no snow, so it was a week to be
enjoyed. Of course all good things have to come to an
end, as we all know. Yesterday it snowed most of the day
but very fine flakes, so it only built up to about 4 inches
of super fluffy snow. Still, it has to be shoveled or
The weathermen have been forecasting a high pressure
system moving in which as usual, will bring colder temperatures.
I mentioned to Andy that it would be nice if it snowed
just a skiff before it turned cold to provide traction.
Because there had been so much melt over the past week,
everything everywhere was super slippery, including our
pathways and driveway. When walking up the hill
with the dogs our chances of falling down or sliding backwards
were much better than not. If it snows when the
ice pack on the ground is still relatively warm, the new
snow will stick and provide traction for walking or driving,
kind of like sand paper. I asked for a skiff of snow but
somebody forgot to turn the faucet off and we ended up
with four inches instead. Of course Andy had to tell everyone
at a large birthday party last night that it was my fault
it had snowed. Trust me, I took some grief for that. But
that's okay. I found out who's fault it was that
we got that 20 inches prior to that!
The warm weather of the past week pretty much completely
screwed any chance of using the lake until spring, if
at all, for the rest of the winter. The overflow is just
terrible all over the lake and getting stuck with an under-powered
machine is a real possibility. Unfortunately, that happened
to one of our neighbours when he ended up in overflow
along the shore. He and his wife walked home but
I understand the snowmobile is now frozen into a block
of frozen slush. It'll be fun getting that out!
Quite a few people have mentioned nearly getting stuck
on the lake and Andy was shocked at how much water there
is under the snow when he went across on his machine to
get the mail the other day. As a result, most people are
avoiding riding on the lake except the guys that go riding
across the lake to Dot Island where they can pick up trails
into the mountains. Can't walk on it, can't ski on it,
and difficult to ride on kind of ruins the winter part
of the lake. Hopefully, this coming cold spell will change
that. The warm weather will have settled the snow on the
ice some. Hopefully that has knocked some of the insulation
out of the snow and the water between it and the lake
ice will freeze up. Hopefully....
Andy just drilled some holes and checked the ice
and shockingly, it hasn't grown at all! We had
12 inches of ice pretty much everywhere for the New Year's
Party and that's all there is out there now. Just.
So in a month, it hasn't even grown and inch and may have
lost ice in places. The only thing we can think of is
that so much runoff came into the lake this fall that
it's actually warming up and degrading the ice from underneath.
One sign of that is how high the Dean River has stayed
all winter and how much water is still flowing out of
the lake. Andy has suggested that we may have ice on for
as long as ever, but it may start getting rotten a lot
sooner this spring. As it is, we've avoided the
ice road for the past day or so because all this melt
was breaking it up. It should be fine again after
one good, cold night and I think tonight is going to be
that night! It's already down to -16C or 3F and
I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see it drop to 30 below
in the next couple of days. It's supposed to be
cold until at least next Thursday which doesn't thrill
me terribly. On the other hand, just having warm weather
was such a break that it made the last of this month fly
by, and makes more cold weather a lot easier to take.
Besides, if it's cold it's usually clear and if it's clear,
it's pretty out. To look at anyway. :-)
We have seen such an unusual phenomenon on the lake
this year. I noted a few weeks ago that there
were a lot of spider holes out on the lake when I was
skiing. Our neighbours ended up unable to use their skating
rink recently or even go down on the lake in that area
because of spider holes that opened up nearby. We've never
had spider holes off our point before but Andy noticed
four in a row a week or so ago. Then this morning when
I took my first look out over the lake from the breakfast
table, lo and behold, there was a mother of a spider
hole right in line of sight and not that far off our shore.
That's the first time we've ever seen one like that in
front of the house! An hour or so later while out cleaning
off the deck, I noticed another four had opened up farther
out. That's just weird! It was down to -14C last night,
and yet those holes opened up and there was water in them.
The one in front was plenty large enough to swallow
a dog, the front end of a sled or a cross country skier
for that matter, so I think a lot of caution is
going to have to be used on the lake this winter. We just
can't figure out what's causing so many to be on the lake
this year and in places we've never seen them before.
What I wouldn't do to talk to an expert on it! Everyone
has a theory as to the cause of a spider hole, but we
can't really make any of them fit all the circumstances.
Oh, and for those of you that might be new to the blog,
a spider hole is a hole through the lake ice to
water below with arms radiating out from the center hole
making the whole thing look like a black cartoon sun in
the ice. Water bubbles up through the hole and the arms
and melts any snow over top, which is how you know one
is open. They can vary in size from just a few inches
across to several feet across. Once the snow is melted
over top, they often skim back over, but you never know
how much ice is covering the hole. Those you can avoid.
The ones that I really watch when skiing are ones that
have skimmed back over and then there's been a skiff of
snow on them. You don't see them until you're almost on
top of them, but you still don't know how thick the ice
is under that snow. I took some pictures of spider holes
from the deck but unless you're right over top of them
or flying over them, their star shape doesn't really show
Oddly, we noticed that nearly all the ponds that
we passed along the highway when we went to Williams Lake
had spider holes in them including Williams Lake
itself. So there had to be a widespread environmental
cause, and late fall runoff fits the bill for that but
it would be nice to know the mechanics. If fall runoff
is the reason for so many spider holes, then how does
the runoff cause them?
Changes in Properties for Sale
I've had reason to contact people on the properties for
sale pages because of our outlandish property assessments
this year. It turns out that pretty much everyone on the
lake has had their assessed values go up by around 22%,
which is utterly ridiculous. It isn't just our assessments.
Folks on Anahim Lake and Charlotte Lake had their values
go up as well. It wouldn't be so bad if the mill rate
was going to go down and our taxes not move much. But
everywhere else, including in the city centres of Williams
Lake, Quesnel and 100 Mile, either the assessments have
gone down or if they have gone up, it's only been by about
4%. So that means if we see a 22% increase in our
property assessments, then we will see a corresponding
rise in our property taxes. If there were a lot
of sales in our area to warrant that rise, I could see
it, but there hasn't been. So..... we're all going to
submit our complaints and do battle with the Assessment
Authority. I suspect their view is if you can afford to
live on waterfront, then you can afford to pay higher
taxes than anywhere else. Sounds a little childish
doesn't it? But after talking to people who have
had to deal with the two Assessors for our area, both
women, childish doesn't begin to describe what we may
be dealing with here. Especially with regard to the Assessor
handling the Charlotte Lake properties. She sounds like
a real winner, winner. So we'll see what happens.
Because I had to speak to quite a few people with
properties for sale on the website, I also got new prices
from a few of them. Many folks lower their prices
on their properties but forget to tell me, so my site
ends up reflecting a higher price than it should. So if
you're interested in buying in the area, go check it out.
One resort (Vagabond) has dropped substantially in pricing
as has a cabin on a lot and a house and property on the
Dean River. I also have a new listing as you can see below.
This property was listed a while back but I took it off
when I thought the property had sold. It's back
on now and reduced to sell at $40,000. It includes a house
and over 5 acres of land. The owner has other
properties and just wants to get rid of it. It's a handyman
special but a heck of a deal for anyone that would like
to be just a couple of hundred yards away from Nimpo Lake,
but not pay the waterfront taxes like the rest of us poor
slobs. :-) About $20,000 worth of work would fix the house
up nicely. It needs a new roof and the electrical wiring
to be upgraded and some cosmetic work. The sun deck
overlooks a pond at the back and lots of wilderness privacy
you can call your own. There are also other building
sites on the property. It's selling for $85,000 under
this year's assessed value. The owner wants serious inquiries
Our weather has been terrific the last few days.
We've been well above freezing during the day and it hasn't
been too bad at night, around -8 to -11. Today we got
up to 4.7C or 40F in the shade, and you should have felt
how warm it was in the sunshine. It was incredible! At
least until the wind kicked up making it feel a little
chilly and bringing in some nasty clouds. We watched the
storm move over the mountains this afternoon and make
its way over the lake. By supper there was a blizzard
coming in sideways. Thankfully, it only lasted
for a short time and dropped only a skiff of snow.
I'm not sure how things will be for the next few days.
The jet stream is way to the north of us so it will definitely
continue to be warm but it also looks like there will
be storms running along the coast until Wednesday. It
seems like we'll just be on the edge of it so we could
catch a lot of snow, or nothing. I guess we'll see when
we see. In the meantime, I am enjoying the warmth! Yes,
water is dripping everywhere and it does make things extremely
slippery, but it's worth it and I'm going to enjoy every
moment that I can!
I love the brilliant blue skies that we have in winter
here when we do see the sun. And the snow is so white
that with the sun shining on it, it's nearly blinding.
Trying to get a good picture of the lake when the sun
is out is nearly impossible as you can see up on the right.
There's so much light bouncing around that everything
in shadow just looks black, while everything else except
for the sky is stark white. Still, you throw some warm
temperatures in on top of all that bright white and light
and life is good.
On the other hand.... not so good for those poor
buggers on the East coast. They're getting hammered
by yet another storm that brought high winds, freezing
rain and snow. They've been averaging about one nasty
storm a week for the past seven weeks and it's no wonder
that everyone wielding shovels on camera look so resigned.
The States have not fared much better. Right now it looks
like my brother in Ohio is freezing his butt off with
temperatures actually much colder than ours.
You'll find last week's blog at January
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!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!