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Wilderness Adventures - July, Week One/2008

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 stories like 'Lake Monsters' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


07/07/2008 7:57 PM

Winds

Those howling winds that gave such a good opportunity to go for a walk without bugs also knocked out our power Saturday afternoon, which was one reason why there was no blog. A couple of trees came down on the neighbour's property down the road and took both lines to the ground. For some reason it also kicked the fuse out on the main road, so that meant no one on our road had power. The Hydro guys finally got it back on around nine so that meant figuring out how to broil the cheese and crostini on our onion soup using the rotisserie burner on my new barbecue. Worked like a hot darn!
Yep, I finally broke down and used my new Christmas present for the first time this week. It was hard to do because it was so shiny and new and I really wanted to keep it that way. But Andy threatened to give my new barbecue away if I didn't use it. So I guess the other poor old barbecue is going to be relegated to the cabin for use by our guests.
Today was a good day. I was outside all day and for the first half of it I saw nary a mosquito, probably because it dropped to 5C or 40F last night and it was too cold for the rotten little beggars. By this afternoon it got pretty humid and they were a pain in some spots on the property, but for the most part, I got lots done for a change with minimum bites. Even the dogs were able to spend the day outside instead of all three being crammed into our little porch to keep them away from the bugs.
We even rigged up a screen door for River's dog house which he was not pleased with. Every time we convinced him to go in while we parted the screen, he'd come right back out. Until Andy started up the truck and put the other two in the back for a ride to Nimpo, that is. Then he high tailed it to his dog house, tail and ears down and went straight in. "Hmm.....Which do I hate most? Car sickness or a newfangled screen door?"
From talking to people it sounds like the fishing on Nimpo Lake is still excellent and there has been more than one brave soul out there in a boat even with the winds. At least until it got extreme enough that we actually had whitecaps and rollers coming in to our bay where we're normally pretty protected. I don't think the water has warmed up that much yet, which is probably why the fish are taking bait great guns. And fighters! Wow. Our neighbours commented last night on the very thing we noticed when we went fishing. Every time you get a fish you think it's going to be huge from the way it fights, and then all you bring in is a pan fry. I don't think you could keep a two or three pounder on a line right now.
The same neighbours went to the barrel racing Saturday and were really impressed with the girls wearing Stetsons and hair just a flying as they went around the barrels. No helmets! Nope, not in this country. This is cowboy country. You would probably be laughed out of the Stampede if you showed up on your horse wearing a helmet. We were talking about how parents are so overprotective nowadays and how we're all so over regulated by government.
I know I just about fell over when I first saw a television program with kids riding horses wearing helmets until I realized that they were disabled. Okay....that makes a lot of sense. Then the next time I saw the same thing, it was kids that were learning how to ride horses, and they were not disabled. You kind of think, "What the heck?" But you put it down to maybe the riding stables don't want the liability and do everything they can to protect themselves. Well.....I suppose....
Then you see people of all ages riding horses wearing a bloody helmet. You've got to be kidding me! First of all, the cowboy hat was actually developed hundreds of years ago, first by the Mexicans and then 'redesigned' by the American cowboy. Aside from keeping the sun off their heads, with a high, stiff crown, it's primary purpose was to protect a cowboy's noggin if he got bucked off. That's why they had straps. Of course the American cowboy didn't consider the straps too cool and most did away with them, and rolled and shaped the hat so that when it rained, the water would stream off the front or to the back and away from the back of their neck. But technically, if you have a good fitting hat, it will protect your head if you come off of your horse. But apparently not everyone thinks so.
I suppose if I were a kid nowadays both me and my siblings would have been taken away from our parents and they accused of bad parenting. But back then as an eleven year old, I thought nothing of climbing on my horse bareback and riding for miles up on the mountain. When I was a little older, those rides were often in the middle of the night. In fact for a couple of years, since we had no water source for the horses, every day we had to jump on them and ride them for about a mile to the nearest pond to water them. I think I was about twelve when summer work allowed me to purchase a cow horse that was about as stubborn and muley, as....well...a mule. If she was feeling particularly snarky in a day, she generally bucked. Most of the time I could stay on, but not always since I usually rode bareback. Sliding off usually didn't cause much injury to anything but my pride but if she was running and decided to use an overhanging branch to brush me off, a favorite trick of hers, then I usually got smacked up a bit harder. That usually cost her because I would be madder than a wet hen. I would cut a switch and catch up to her. Finally I got in the habit of carrying one every time I got on her and that pretty much solved the problem. Most of the time....And no, I didn't wear a helmet. Actually, I rarely even wore a cowboy hat.
That was only one of the things for which I'm sure nowadays my parents would have gotten in loads of trouble. No helmet???? Bad parents!!!! Of course they would also have gotten into trouble for giving me a glass cutting kit one Christmas that me and my brothers would use to cut open .22 shells for the powder, and make little bombs. Which my parents didn't know about. Or, Horrors! For sure we would have been taken away and put into a foster home because I was my Dad's powder monkey when we were blowing stumps and I usually got to carry either the caps or dynamite, while my brothers drilled and tamped. I was all of eleven or twelve, they all younger. When we first moved to Canada back into the bush, from the time I was seven, we kids used to wander miles from home in search of interesting frogs and what not, with only our whistles around our necks and matches in our pockets with the strong orders. "If you ever get lost, sit down, light a big fire, and don't move!" We never got lost and learned our stretch of the woods better than most kids know their own city block. Surprise, surprise, we all survived with a sense of independence and self sufficiency I don't see in kids today where natural curiosity is dampened by overprotective mothers. Where kids are fat rather than strong and wouldn't know the meaning of work ethic if you hit them in the head with it.
We saw that back even when we were kids and had moved from back in the bush to a place a little less isolated and nearer to town. Overloaded with chores and long hard summers full of work to do on our homestead, whenever kids stopped in and asked if we could come out to play, they shied away quickly when we suggested their help with our chores would mean we could join them all the sooner. One boy always felt particularly hard done by because he was expected to take the garbage out once a week in exchange for his allowance. Just as most of them did not have work ethic in their vocabulary, we didn't have allowance in ours. In exchange for our work, we got pretty darned good meals and most of us grew up to be strapping big kids that could out work and out eat most adults. Never mind allowance. Or helmets for that matter....Helmets....Sheesh!

04/07/2008 8:59 PM

Happy Independence Day America

Happy July 4th to our American friends. Boy, it's going to be a wild old Friday night in the States tonight! How lucky can you get having a holiday like the Fourth of July on a Friday? Most people will be able to barbeque, watch fireworks and celebrate to their heart's content because they won't have to go to work tomorrow. If you can't avoid a hangover, it sure is nice if you can avoid work!
We had a blustery day today and was it nice!!! No bugs! I was outside off and on all day and didn't see more than a couple of mosquitoes. It alternated between sun and cloud with mostly sun, and although it didn't get super warm, it was still great to be able to mow the lawn and use the weedeater without being mauled for my blood supply.
We sure had a strange night last night, though. Around midnight right out of the blue, it started to hail really hard, then it would stop and rain softly for a few minutes, and then hail, then rain, then hail, and so on. It was strange how it would let up and then suddenly there would be fierce drumming on the roof again. It was great in a way because although it didn't put a huge amount of moisture down, it wet the new lawn enough that I didn't have to run any water today. And that, I suspect, had as much to do as the wind, for the lack of mosquitoes.
I have a new property going up on the sale page that some of you folks might be interested in. It's on the north end of Nimpo Lake in it's own little bay while the house sits almost on the lake itself. There aren't too many steps between the deck that overlooks the lake, and the dock, making it a nice short distance to carry all those fish you'll catch, straight from the boat to the house. Although not winterized, it makes for a great summer retreat and is plenty cozy sporting a beautiful antique wood cook stove to keep you warm on those chilly fall mornings. You can contact the owner at a number in Nimpo or if he's travelling, you can reach him on his cell phone. You'll find all the info you need on the Properties for sale page.
Have a good weekend everyone and Happy July Fourth!

03/07/2008 8:43 PM

Bella Coola Break

We had to drop down to Bella Coola today, something we were actually quite looking forward to since we had heard there were no bugs down there. That was pretty much true too. Both coming and going we stopped for breaks at the rest area at the bottom of the 'Hill' and might have seen all of three mosquitoes.
We let the dogs run for a few minutes down at the Clayton Falls recreational area, which is really beautiful by the way, and nary a mosquito to been seen there or anywhere else we stopped. Since it rained off and on while we were down there, that was remarkable! It sure was a nice break!
The water in the Atnarko, and Bella Coola Rivers is way up, probably from the warmer than usual weather the last few days up in the mountains. Apparently the salmon fishing isn't very good right now and whether that's from high water, or fewer numbers of fish is hard to say. As we understand it the natives have nets across the entrances of the rivers where they enter the inlet, and until they get their quota of salmon trying to get up river, no fish will get through until they do. But I don't know how easy it would be to catch a salmon in such high water anyway.
As usual, it's a real pleasure to see everyone's yards with colorful flowers, blooming shrubs, and huge trees along the highway and through Hagensborg. I admire that the folks down there can grow so much and keep their yards so tidy. Especially in view of the fact that it must take a lot of work to battle back the vegetation every year, since they are in rain forest
Apparently there aren't as many bears, either black or grizzly, this year, which was evidenced by the fact that we saw not one going either way. Unusual to say the least, since about the same time last year we saw eight black bears alone between the foot of the Hill and Hagensborg. One Bella Coola native who knows the country well said that in hunting and fishing, he and others have come across a number of bear carcasses in the bush. He conjectures that there were so many bears that they literally culled themselves. At one point, grizzlies were killing black bears and eating them, which I know does happen, but then a lot of the grizzly disappeared as well. Since they're a very territorial animal, it seems possible that some may have been pushed into a stronger animal's territory.
I know that the massive Lonesome Lake fire in 2004 pushed a lot of bears out of the burned over area. Migration down the Atnarko River valley toward Bella Coola would have been a natural progression and would certainly have resulted in an overpopulation of bears. Eventually a natural culling process would have to have taken place, whether by disease or aggression so perhaps the apparent lack of bears just means a stabilized population now. Or maybe there just aren't enough fish for them to eat and they've moved on elsewhere.
The famous, or rather 'infamous' Anahim Lake Stampede is on this weekend, vying with the Calgary Stampede. I haven't had an opportunity to look at any posters to see what and when events start, but I'll try to remember to check that out tomorrow. I know that there's usually a parade on Saturday but I'm not sure when the bull riding is. I wouldn't mind checking it out this year and take a few pictures, but we'll see what the weather and mosquitoes are like.

02/07/2008 7:19 PM

Clear Skies....Finally!

On the very day that the forecasters previously said it was going to get cloudy, we finally had a pretty clear day with the temperatures nearing 30C or almost 85 degrees and a little less humidity. It sure seemed hot anyway! It's been hot enough for long enough that it's becoming progressively more difficult to cool the house off in the evenings now.
It used to be really nice to have that pine forest stand on the west side of the house which helped to keep the siding and roof cool for the last four or five hours during the height of summer. Since we had to cut nearly all of those beetle killed trees down, there's been a substantial difference in heat and sun coming through the windows to the west. Something we're definitely going to have to address sometime in the near future. It wasn't really necessary last year because it rained or was cloudy for most of the summer but should we get a hot spell later in July or in August, it might get a little miserable.
We ended up with a good dry breeze kicking up this afternoon and it's clouding over here and there. Of course it did that last night too. There were some monster thunderheads building to the east and word has it that they resulted in some fires. There's supposed to be a huge forest fire over in the Itcha Ulgatchuz Range and there was a smoke trail in the Rainbows.
When Andy came home from picking up the mail and told me, we turned on the scanner and I kept an ear out through the afternoon. New fire locations were still being called in and it sounded like there were quite a few around the Blackwater. The Nazko/Kluskas area, west of Quesnel, always seems to blow up first when thunderstorms start building up and when I watched the news, there were some major storm cells blooming on the radar maps around Prince George and Quesnel. Weather forecasters said the PG area was under severe thunderstorm watch but they're expecting thunderstorms all over the province.
The rain is always nice after a hot spell but not if it brings lightning.
Lytton kind of got more than a kettle full of bad luck yesterday. They've been dealing with the smoke from a big fire at Jackass Mountain in the Fraser Canyon. On top of that they got a catastrophic downpour that caused mudslides, closed the highway, and caused the derailment of a train with cars carrying a substance not good for the major river in which the cars landed in or hung up on the bank above.
We're still seeing heavy smoke over the Coast Mountain Range to the south of us and at one point, it was so thick and so white last night that you could barely see the faint outline of mountains behind it. I spoke to my Mom down on the Washington, Oregon coast and they were blanketed by smoke from the California forest fires yesterday. So I guess if the smoke can cross the northern part of California and all of Oregon to Washington, it can make it across one more state and half a province if it follows the mountains up the coast. Who knows?
We just watched one of Mike King's helicopters from White Saddle land over at The Dean. He'll be off loading an Initial Attack crew before heading home to Bluff Lake. Although if he's going back up he'll have to do it quickly. If I recall from working for the Cariboo Fire Center, they have to be back on the ground for the night only so long after sunset and before full dusk. Or he may be staying with the crew for the night in order to be at the ready in case of fires from lightning strikes through the night.
I just learned some sad news tonight and since it occurred on June 20th. it goes to show how behind the times we are. Ken Stranaghan from Bella Coola drowned on that date while floating down the river, probably fishing. He and his partner's craft got caught up in a log jam and both were wearing waders. Sadly, Ken's waders filled up with water before he or his partner could get them off, and he drowned. Some of the grizzly bear pictures on this site were given to me by Ken to use, which was very much appreciated since pictures of grizzlies aren't that easy to come by. However, Ken used to feed them and then take photos of them. I actually always thought that is how he would leave us. Happy Trails, Ken.

01/07/2008 11:54 AM

Canada's Birthday

Happy Canada Day folks! And what a sultry day it is! For us anyway. A heavy haze rolled in over the mountains and it was pretty blue this morning. While not as blue now, I don't think there's any question but that it's forest fire smoke.
There are a few fires burning around the province including one down in the Fraser Canyon that may be the cause, or who knows? Maybe we're getting smoke out of northern California. 420,000 acres burned so far down there with the highest number of fires in June on record as well as the driest March and April since they began keeping records in 1920. That does not bode well for the state at all.
I took a look at the fire situation map for British Columbia, and while the fire danger has increased in the past week, including in our region, it's still nothing to what Alberta and Saskatchewan are showing. Complain as we might about our cool, wet spring in this province, it has still reduced the fire danger substantially.
In any case, the haze and more high overcast as well as some building thunderheads have all contributed to the sultry, humid air outside. Linked to little breeze and our continuous watering program, it is impossible to stay outside for more than a few moments without going crazy. I think we picked a bad year to put in lawn. While common to see skeeters plastered all over the screens in the evening, it's not so common to see it in the middle of the day. Which is why I think I'll just commit to working on the computer for the next few days.
This morning I noticed six loons all grouped together and feeding on Nimpo Lake out between the two islands. It seemed really odd because I didn't think loons would have anything to do with others while nesting but Andy says he noticed the same thing a couple of mornings ago and we wondered if it's because of the change in weather. I know that loons are ferociously territorial while mating, often chasing each other all over the lake until the most exhausted leaves the area defeated. But maybe once they have eggs or little ones on the nest, they aren't quite so antagonistic. Or perhaps this is a group of bachelors from last year that haven't found mates yet. There were definitely distinct differences in their sizes.
I'm pleased to be able to showcase more incredible pictures of this area taken by Heidy Lenz over at Atnarko B&B on Charlotte Lake. Note the green ex-military four wheel drive vehicle on top of Perkins Peak over on the right. I believe Heidy said it was used as a radio truck by the Swiss military. It's quite an interesting vehicle with a loads of clearance and garners a lot of attention from visitors to the area.
You will find the articles for the last week of June at June Week Four .


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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!
Mountains and clouds reflected in blue waters of Charlotte Lake.
 
A moon rises while sun sets over the mountains.
 
Looking back toward Anahim Lake from Perkins Peak.
 
Green ex Swiss military vehicle on top of Perkins Peak.
 
Orange clouds are perfectly reflected in Charlotte Lake.
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