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Wilderness Adventures - July, Week Two/2011

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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19/07/2011 3:05 PM

The Bella Coola Hill Slides

It's still cool and wet and the weather is definitely causing problems on the Bella Coola Hill. Last week a huge rock longer and taller than a pickup truck fell on the Hill just this side of where the two Cats met while building the road in 1953. Every time something like that happens, the GeoTech engineers have to be called in before anything can be done to assess the danger to anyone trying to remove debris from the road. This time it took a little longer than usual because the engineer decided to sleep in that morning after coming in the day before. Nothing like having a highway shut down, and traffic stopped dead over a 300 mile stretch because the important guy that everyone is waiting on is catching some extra zzz's until nine in the morning. That might be taking Chilcotin time just a little too far. :-)
It was decided that the rock had to be blasted rather than pushed over the road because if they tried to push it off, it would probably take part of the road with it. They also had to assess how much damage the rock may have done under the road bed itself. That's a lot of weight to be hitting with any force and it sounds like it came from a ways up the mountain. The road is really narrow there so that's a very small band taking the full force of the impact, unlike wider roadways where the force would be distributed more.
It took a few days of the Hill being closed before the rock was blasted and cleared and it hadn't been open for long when there was a slide that brought a lot more rock down. I don't know if it was in the same place or not but I was told that a lot of rock on the face above the road had been loosened when that big boulder came down so maybe that was it. On Saturday another huge slide came down with an estimated 100 truck loads of rock and debris and it's been closed since. Estimated time of opening is tonight with a 'moderate' confidence level so who knows?
It sure has played hell with folks visiting this part of the country. A number of visitors trying to reach Bella Coola and keep their ferry reservations have been trapped here and in Anahim Lake while several people that were on their way up here are stuck in Bella Coola. Everyone is being pretty patient about it and besides, what are you going to do, go after Mother Nature? We've been caught in the same situation, once when we were on our way to the Yukon and the Dease Lake Road washed out. There isn't much you can do about it except perhaps sit and wait and try to enjoy the country you're in while you wait.
It's no surprise that the Hill is experiencing slides right now. It usually does when we have a lot of rain and we've certainly had more than our share. We had a couple of inches in two days late last week with some sprinkles in between, but the north end of Nimpo Lake got just whacked with a storm Sunday night. We had thunder and lightning in that direction so we watched for a while. I counted the seconds between the thunder and the lightning as it moved away from us but then it stalled over the north end of the lake as we watched. My friend there said she was counting as it moved closer and she barely got to one second before the house shook, so she was right under it. They got one heck of a downpour right after that and it washed gravel out of the road and filled all the ponds.. On Sunday, a pond that had been up to the edge of the road was a little river washing across their road when I went down yesterday. They got a lot of water!
A local pilot I was talking to yesterday said that every depression and hole in this country is full of water and you can see that even here locally. We no longer have the big mature pine trees to soak up the standing water that we used to and throw in a heavy snow year, no heat, sun or wind for evaporation, and a pile of rain on top of it, you're gonna get wet no matter where you go.
I feel so badly for people down in the States, particularly Texas and Oklahoma, who have been suffering with high temperatures and no rain for ages now. What I wouldn't do to trade a little of our rain for a little of their heat! My brother is down in Arkansas on military gun training. He said the temperature is 115 degrees and the humidity is near the top. Man, you could melt in that!
Well, enough complaining about the weather. I predicted that we would get a rainy summer after two hot ones so it's probably my fault anyway. I would take the blame but I sure could do without the bugasaurs. They could take a powder any time now and I wouldn't miss them a bit. They don't seem to be letting up much yet. August maybe....
We had the annual BC Floatplane Association AGM this weekend at Terry's hangar down on the north end of the lake and it turned out better than we expected. The weather was abominable both in Vancouver and Victoria and no great shakes here over the Coast range, so a lot of pilots just couldn't get through until Sunday or Monday.
That put them in too late for the AGM but they could still meet up with other pilots in time to head on to the biannual Yellowknife fly in. We still ended up with not too bad a turn out for the meetings and a really large crowd for the dinner on Saturday night with standing room only for a while. Of course it didn't help that it was raining so no one was doing any visiting outside.
This will be the last AGM held here for a few years. The pilots are being encouraged to move the AGM elsewhere, preferably closer to Victoria or Vancouver, not only to give pilots in the Pacific Northwest an opportunity to attend without having to travel so far and pilots an opportunity to see different country, but also to give organizers here a break. My Mom and Terry take the brunt of the work on their shoulders right from shopping for and bringing in the food and a lot of the silent auction and door prizes, to set up and clean up before and after and a lot of the cooking. I provide a few salads, Mary does some work on it as do a couple of the other ladies down at that end of the lake, but for the few that do the most, it's a big, big job and they're tired of doing it. They've been holding this AGM weekend fly in, lunch, dinner and Sunday morning breakfast for fifteen years now and it's time it went elsewhere. It would all have been much easier if it had been kept to the BCFA members, but it wasn't, so you're looking after a crowd three times larger than you would normally and that takes a lot more work!
I realize that the same group of pilots that attend the AGM in Nimpo Lake every year really like having it here, and I'm sure local operators appreciate the addition to the local economy, but sometimes you need a change.
Thanks to all the pilots that have attended in the past and thanks to all the people that worked hard to make things happen for the last fifteen years.
The photos of the two slides on the Bella Coola Hill were taken from the Internet and sent to me by our coordinator. I don't know who took them so forgive me for reproducing them up here with author unknown, but if you took them, then please contact me so that I can attach your photo credit to them. Thank you!!!
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last month's blog at July Week One..

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!
Guys in hardhats looking at rockslide in the fog.
Road Maintenance pickup parked on one side of the slide.
Rocks and trees on the road.
Rocks and trees on the road from the other side.
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