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Wilderness Adventures - Jan., Week Four/2012

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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29/01/2012 12:05 PM

Mother Nature's Party Bag

Yesterday in Williams Lake, we woke up to several inches of fresh snow on the ground and spent the morning running around doing our shop in nasty, sideways snow. There are not many things more miserable than trying to load and secure groceries in the back of a pickup in a mini-blizzard driven by a damp, cold, wind. We were pushing slush leaving town and could only hope that my sister was right when she said it looked to her on radar like the weather system was a narrow band extending north to south and wouldn't extend too far west. We broke out of the storm around Sheep Creek and by Lee's Corner, there was very little indication of any fresh snow. It was great! Our old truck has brand new winter tires on it but the new truck has new all seasons, they're just not winters, so lots of snow on the road wasn't something to look forward to. Still, the truck sticks to the road and it has four wheel drive of course, so it wasn't a problem. We just weren't expecting to wake up to those conditions.
For the past week Mother Nature has thrown us a real mixed bag of weather. The temperatures certainly have not been extreme but there's been a lot of stuff coming in from the Pacific and hanging over the mountains. Since our sun is still pretty low in the sky, that haze tends to obscure the sun most days so you don't get those bright winter days. We've also had wind day after day, with snow squalls coming through periodically so it hasn't even been pleasant enough to go walking. But we still can't complain. The temperatures have often been near freezing during the day and we haven't had any more really cold weather. In fact everyone I talk to has been quite happy with the winter so far, even realizing that you've got to accept the odd cold spell. Probably the biggest complaint has been the wind. We've all noted the increasing wind in the past ten years and no one, including me, likes it. Particularly in winter.
After we got home last night and unloaded our groceries, we could hear the wind start up in the dark.
We turned on the outer lights to see a blizzard of mixed rain and sleet driving right into our windows. It actually lasted for several hours but didn't build up to as much as it should have because it was melting as it fell. Although it did keep freezing onto both our satellite dishes knocking out both TV and Internet. No loss there. Later in the evening after it slowed down Andy decided to go out and clear off the front deck and all he was pushing up was saturated snow. The temperature was pretty stable last night although it climbed to two degrees above freezing before I went to bed.
This morning I woke up to a glorious day! There's a breeze blowing but it's three degrees above freezing and the sun is shining. Getting a taste of spring like this is like sneaking a taste of icing off your wedding cake. You know it's only for the day but it's wonderful and to be enjoyed!
We went for a walk with the dogs today but ended up coming back out to the road again instead of continuing on the back trail. The snow was slippery and it was tough going anywhere you walked. So once we got back we jumped on the snowmobiles and ran trails right to the gun range. With any luck it was warm enough that they'll set up overnight tonight and give us a decent walking surface tomorrow.
At least this new little snow/rain mix didn't create a bunch of ice everywhere. Unless we get freezing rain in the next few days or a big melt, which is quite possible, we should be okay for a while. The lake has drifted quite a bit so there's not so much in the way of icy spots like there was earlier in the month. Remember that plane on skis that was doing wildlife counts out here that I mentioned was always rattling over the ice when he landed? Well, I guess it moved east to continue the counts and the plane crashed last Saturday. I don't know if he was the pilot at the time, but I guess there were wicked winds, swirling snow and very poor visibility the day the plane went down. In other words, no one had any business being out on a day like that but we saw the pilot of the same plane taking similar risks here. In any case, at least no one was killed in the crash.
We were really surprised both going and coming back from town just how dry Alexis Creek is. There's knee high dried grass and weeds all along the highway with only a small amount of snow at the roots. I figure if they don't more snow or a lot of rain this spring and summer, they're really going to have a problem with fires this year. Maybe if forestry can get in there and do a controlled burn along the highway from Lee's Corner to Puntzi it might hold off a grass fire from starting, but they don't have a good reputation for their controlled burns, which often end up out of control.
I have a fellow that sent an email regarding an old friend of his that used to work the Chilanko fire lookout which I have written about before here. While forest fires aren't exactly a problem right now, this email hit a note and I thought it might be cool to pass it on with the writer's permission.

From Fred Wilson:
My sig for life is "Chilanko Bye" Everyone close to me knows why.
I'ts the radio sign off for the most influential man in my life:
BC Forest Service's Chilanko Lookout Fire Warden, Past Texas Ranger, Lloyd McGee.
Bless his everlasting soul!
As a 20 some year old, I was a problem child. Period.
My parents, after the Cdn Army kick me out for misbehavior, pushed me into employment with BCFS Fire Suppression Crews.
Big family names in the BC Gov't ensured my way in... there was no way a misfit like me would have got in any other way.
To get to the point of the story, during my tenure with BCFS, including years at BCFS's Williams Lake HQ, I had many, many occasions to visit Lloyd McGee at his isolated Chilanko Forestry Lookout Tower.
He was an extremely impressive man. Like all Police Departments, only the best of the best of personalities are selected. His was truly exceptional.
But years later, while I was in Williams Lake, I was completely surprised (and overwhelmed) by the news of his passing away.
You see, the whole time I knew him, he was dying from Cancer.
He had chosen to reject hopeless medical treatment (as it was at the time) choosing instead to enjoy the privacy and privilege and spectacular view offered by the Chilanko Lookout.
I remember every so clearly (not having a clue as to the reason) that a wave of pain would pass over his face and body whilst we visited, delivering supplies or whatever.
His response to that pain wave? Ever so clearly, I remember, every single day of my life, like it was yesterday, that he would, every single last time, turn and say something like:
OH LOOK! There's a WhiskeyJack! :-)
He was and is to this day, still, THE most influential person in my life.
I am an ENTIRELY different personna, entirely due to him and him alone.

My Sig, for life, is "Chilanko Bye."

Thank you Fred.

We met some pretty cool folks from the Island this fall staying down at Nimpo Lake Resort. Maria Horsfall took a bunch of wonderful photos and was kind enough to give me permission to use them. This is the first chance I've had to put them together and get them up on the right. Enjoy a little ray of sunshine because in this world of white right now, I certainly am! Thank you, Maria!
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last week's posts at January Week Three

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!
Great Gray Owl on fence post.
Whiskey Jack on a womans hand.
Bird on hand.
Whiskey Jack.
Fall colours, Nimpo Creek Road.
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