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Wilderness Adventures - June, Week Two/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.


15/06/2008 7:49 PM

Block Party

The weather was actually half decent today with mixed sun and cloud. The temperature finally made it up to about 20C or 70F in the sun but a hefty breeze helped to keep down the bugs a bit until this evening.
Yesterday was an absolutely magnificent day with clear blue sky, albeit a chilly wind. But that helped to keep down the bugs too which was a good thing because we attended a block party over at the neighbour's and he has grass right up to his big covered verandah. The mosquitoes and black flies were really bad on the deck so quite a few of us moved our chairs out onto the grass. As long as you were in the sun, the bugs were bearable.
The get-together was actually a farewell party for a family that's leaving the lake to move back to Rocky Mountain House. The work has pretty much dried up here for him, she has family there, and the schooling opportunities are, admittedly, much better there for the kids than here. That only leaves one family with one child left living here on the lake now. It's going to be awfully quiet around here with the Webb gang gone. No boys and girls roaring around on snowmobiles, quads, motorbikes or doing 360's out on the ice in beat up old vehicles. We'll all miss them.
Even for such a sad reason it's really nice for so many people around Nimpo Lake to be able to get together. Actually, even Charlotte Lake was represented last night. As usual, there was more food than you could shake a stick at including loads of dessert as well as drinks, good conversation and good company. Until our neighbour and his wife moved here, none of us got together much except maybe down at Mary's on the other end of the lake. We're all hermits in a way and no one really thinks much about putting a little outdoor block party on, but it's become a little more common in our neighbourhood, and it's really very nice. We've a good mix of folks in the area making for lively and interesting conversations. I hope these little get-togethers become more of a tradition and it's certainly our turn to host one, but I've had hopes of pounding the yard into some sort of area for entertaining in before inviting a bunch of people over. And inviting anyone before we're past bug season is out of the question! They're just brutal here. In the meanwhile, and fortunately for us, those neighbours are pretty gracious about letting the locals congregate at their house for a party, at least until the rest of us can get our act together.
I've received an email from a fellow that came up with his wife to Nimpo Lake for a week and although we missed him because we were in Saskatchewan, he was kind enough to write a bit about their holiday. He also sent me four pictures but said he sent quite a few more. I just haven't gotten them yet. When I do, I'll post them up here, perhaps tomorrow.
I hope all the men had a great Father's Day and were treated with loads of super ties, colognes, aftershaves and what not. I don't know, do families still give their Dad's that kind of stuff? I know ours did. I remember our gifts were pretty lame. My Dad probably had enough Old Spice to stock a drugstore, and enough wool socks to stock a department store. The chocolate covered cherries were always a hit, though probably left over from Christmas stocks and stale. I remember when we kids got older and could afford to go together on a bottle of Crown Royal.....now that was a hit! It used to last the Old Man for at least a couple of years. Only once or twice did we get together and buy him a bottle of good Courvoisier Cognac and I think my Mom had to help out with that one because it was so expensive. I remember to this day how furious my father was the first time he pulled it out for a visitor and the person drank it like it was water. After that, if he had Courvoisier, it only came out for very special people with discerning tastes, and then only rarely.
Happy Father's Day, Dads!

13/06/2008 7:16 PM

Friday The Thirteenth

It's everyone's favorite Friday today. Hope you all made it through the superstitious day okay. Personally, I had a fairly useless day today. I'm attempting to renew my passport, which is a US one, and it would seem it's a lot more difficult than it was when I first applied for it ten years ago.
I've pretty much got everything together, but I need to know where to send it and you wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find something as simple as that out. I'm an American in Canada. I have three addresses. One for Canada and two for the States. Since I have to send the original copy of my marriage certificate I would like to make damned sure I have the right address. How difficult is that?
Well....apparently damned difficult.
I downloaded the passport renewal form from the US Consulate site in Vancouver which has an address on it, but the information on parts of the form is out of date so it can be assumed that the address information might be as well. I found the same downloadable form at a different embassy site, with a different address to send to.
The Consulate General in Vancouver is not taking calls, from anyone. Nada. Not a soul. You could be Jesus Christ himself and you would be put through the most circuitous, tortuous route of computer generated answering machines and numbers to press of any I have ever had the misfortune to deal with. Even Telus wasn't as bad.
Finally, after winding your way through a series of computer instructions, one of the digital voices admits that no one at the Consulate will take a phone call. If you want to make an appointment, you have to use the website to do so. If you want any other information, you have to find it on the website and if you can't, tough! That's pretty much the impression you get anyway. I did finally reach a real human being on a switchboard who after listening to me ask for someone that could answer my simple question, promptly put me through to the next round of computer generated 'press this number' voices.
I found a number that I could call at the National Passport Center, presumably in the States, but it cannot be called from Canada. So what it comes down to is the governments of Canada and the US want everyone to have a valid, up-to-date passport to secure their respective borders from terrorism, but the two bit bastards are too cheap or too lazy to have actual human beings manning the phones, directing calls, and actually answering questions.
I don't just get frustrated but fed up with our bureaucracy. It's huge, ponderous, and inefficient at best, but when it gets to the point that the body is there, but it's not doing anything, then why does it exist? I'm sick of these morons that make laws but have no clue of the effects. These bottom feeders sit there and collect huge pay checks and liberal pensions to have their secretaries do all their work for them all their lives. They have no idea what the real world is, and that our reality is having to deal with the monster they have created. I have a lot better things to do than spend a good portion of my day sitting on the phone listening to computer generated voices, punching numbers as instructed hoping that this time it will take me to where I want to go, only to have to hang up and start all over again. You can bet the dirt bag sitting in his office that dreamed up that roundabout computer bullshit has never had to do the same himself. His secretary always did it. In the meanwhile, I am in exactly the same place these many hours later as I was when I first picked up the phone this morning to find out if I mail my passport renewal to Philadelphia, or to Pittsburgh, PA. or to Vancouver, B.C.
I'm pretty sure that our race will not go out with a bang, but rather with a whimper under the crushing weight of our bureaucracy.
We had some mixed sun and cloud today, but it wasn't a great day to be outside, simply because it was so chilly. The wind is still blowing out of the north and west bringing a real chill to the air and white caps out on the main arm of Nimpo Lake all day. Several days, actually. It never did get much above 14C or 58F in the sun today, while it got pretty close to freezing last night. I keep waiting for that high to move in that the weathermen keep talking about, hopefully bringing some sunshine and warmer temperatures. My veggies are doing the same. I don't think they have much longer to live. They're all scrunched up in the cold and looking awfully unhappy. I don't blame them.
The only advantage to a cool, brisk, wind was that I was able to go for a walk for the first time in days without any repellent on and saw no mosquitoes in the back woods at all. Even the dogs were enjoying not losing several ounces of blood as they sniffed their way along the trail. I met some natives in a pickup truck cruising slowly along the trail looking for Morel mushrooms. There are quite a few around this year from what I understand. I spotted a big one along the trail last week but left it there not thinking much of it. However, it's long since gone after a few locals have discovered the mushrooms are out and I guess a few boxes have already been shipped out on the plane. I suppose there's a benefit to our cool, moist weather after all.
In case I don't get a chance to write before then, the second coat of paint will be going on the floor of the Nimpo Lake Community Hall on Sunday for anyone interested in helping with that. Oh, and Henry got all of the red trees down on the Hall grounds and rather than take the branches off, he put them into a big pile. Everyone is welcome to use the pile for firewood until this winter. Then around Christmas or New Year's we'll make it a community event and have the mother of all bonfires! That'll be fun. Maybe someone can bring fireworks and we'll put together some food. Party time!

12/06/2008 7:22 PM

The Very Long Day

I'm sorry I didn't write yesterday, folks. It turned out to be a very, very long day. When it was done I was too pooped to pop and way too tired to write an article!
I was out murdering dandelions and picking the flowers off of them before they went to seed all morning, and then when Andy came home around noon, made the mistake of suggesting we put the lawn in. I didn't exactly expect to get the whole lawn in yesterday, but I thought it would be nice if we could at least get a start on it. Not only did we get a start on it, we finished it. Rocks and sticks raked off of the ground where stumps had been removed. Manure piled on and spread out with the Bobcat and by rake. Seeded, rolled, and some of it even watered. It was last night after supper before we even went up to Nimpo to get the roller so as you can imagine, it was a long, long day by the time we were completely finished. But that's one huge job off the list. There are still some smaller areas that need to be fixed up and seeded but I'm pretty darn happy with what we have so far. Hopefully it will cut the dust down a bit.
We couldn't have asked for a better day to work outside yesterday. In fact, for a whole second or two, we discussed going fishing instead of working. It was hot and sunny and actually kept the bugs down pretty good. It could get bad if you got into the trees or grass, or even raking some of the damp manure, but still much, much better than it has been for days. It turned out to be just a one day wonder though. Today was back to being overcast and buggy, and periodically spitting rain. Actually, now that we have grass seed down, it would be nice to see rain every day so I'm not constantly moving sprinklers, but I can't imagine that being our luck. I'm sure it will turn hot as Hades instead.
One of the biggest challenges now will be to keep the new pup from destroying the new lawn. Or bringing prizes onto it. She's found where the roots from our stumps are stashed and periodically grabs the hairiest one she can find and makes a mad dash up onto the lawn with it where she chews it into submission. I've found more interesting junk on the little bit of green grass we actually have in the past week than I've seen on there in years. The pup is also fond of chewing on rocks, which is the worse thing there is for a dog's teeth. Raking rocks and sticks while preparing the ground yesterday meant a lot of time chasing her down to retrieve a stone prize from her jaws.
All of the fresh snow that showed up on the mountains the other morning is pretty much melted now and our temperatures are finally coming up a bit. It got down to 3C or around 35F last night but up to 16 or 17C (65F) today. It was much warmer yesterday with the sun of course, but I never looked at the thermometer so I have no idea where it maxed out. We got nearly a half inch of rain when the mountains got snow so it's a bit damp out yet, but the breeze from the last few days will dry it out in a hurry.
I saw a really awesome thing yesterday morning while committing murder on dandelions. I was down by the cabin when I heard this loud kerplunk, like a big person jumping into a pool. I looked up and could see this bird splashing out in the reed bed, then go under water, then back up again with its wings outstretched. At first I thought it was a loon dancing on the water the way they do, when I realized that the bird was trying to get out of the water. Finally it made it a few feet off of the surface of the water and it had a really big fish in its claws. It started out over the lake and after just a few feet dropped like a stone almost into the water again, then back up. It bumbled its way across the lake to the far shore, finally climbing up out over the trees there, still hanging onto its fish. I couldn't tell for sure what it was because its back was the dark brown of an immature eagle and it was big! But most probably it was an osprey. Andy was pretty sure that a bald eagle can't be drug down under the surface of the water and still manage to make its way back up again. What I wouldn't have done to have my camera in my hands. I've seen the odd osprey before with a fish but I've not actually seen one catch a fish big enough to drag it under! Wow. It was sure something to see.
There are a few cool sights around lately. Andy saw a big doe on the road on the way to Nimpo the other day and quite a few people have reported spotting some tiny black bear cubs between Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake that don't seem to have a momma around. Bad news for them. Even worse news for the woman that was stopped along the highway, down in the ditch trying to encourage them to eat from her hand, I guess while her husband took pictures. If there was a sow around, one could end up dead or dog meat awfully fast. If there wasn't, encouraging cubs to become familiar with humans and their food is a good way to have them get shot when they grow up. I can only assume these people were tourists. One of the locals is supposed to be contacting Fish & Game so that they can determine if there is a sow tending the cubs. If not, I'm not sure what they can do about it other than trap them and put them with a rescue group.
We're finally seeing a little sun this evening so I have strong hopes that we'll see a nice day tomorrow and if that's the case, I need to get as much computer work done tonight as I can. See you tomorrow.

10/06/2008 9:11 PM

Things Improved

Sort of....We had a mixed bag of sun and cloud today, leaning heavily toward the cloud. Every time I took a shot at getting something accomplished outside, it would start spitting hail or rain so we ended up working in the cabin for a good part of the day.
Happily, the trim is down now all around the edge of the new flooring, the beds and furniture put back in place, and the fridge and stove are in their new spot, having replaced the old wood cook stove Andy donned his electrician hat and rewired the 220 plug in for the electric stove so now all we need is a new plug for the fridge. The appliances were in an awkward spot before located more in what you would term the 'living area' and will now be replaced by a beautiful baby Blaze King. All we need to get now is the tile to go under it and new insulated chimney and the cabin will be ready to go for the summer.
Oh....well....and a new roof.
That will go up some time this summer, but for now I would really like to concentrate on getting a lawn in. If it's going to keep raining like this, we might as well get some grass seed in, even if all we can use is the single load of manure we got last fall. We're running out of time on that score.
The bugs are still brutal, of course, and not only has our black fly season started, it would appear to be in full swing. But it looks like we might actually get some sun and warmer temperatures in the next couple of days. If that's the case, then it might burn off some of the bugs during the day and we can get outside and get some work done. I got an email from the folks that just took over Rich Hobson's ranch on the other side of the mountains to the east, and it doesn't look like they've got much in the way of bugs yet. Hopefully, it stays that way. I sure look forward to hearing more from them.
I'm pretty excited about a project that Heidy from over at Charlotte Lake's Atnarko B&B is doing for me. My first German translated page. Yoo hoo! I've always wanted the site translated into German for the European folks but have never trusted the sites online that will convert a web site from one language to another to be accurate or natural sounding. Heidy has already done the home page for me and you can see it at Resorts BC/Deutsch . I can only understand a bit of it but it sure looks beautiful to me! So once I get caught up on some other stuff I'll set up a new navigation button on the site so that people that would prefer to read it in the German language can.
I have some other plans for this site, including installing some downloadable maps, both detailed hiking/biking/quadding trail maps, but also some overview maps of our regions with lots of geological detail. One of those I have nearly built already. I just need to finish adding the names to lakes and waterways. But we still have to go out on the fourwheeler and with the truck sometime this summer and use the GPS to map trails and roads in the West Chilcotin. Just gotta find the time. Too many projects. Too little time.
Nothing else new on the home front here so I'm on to other work. Here's wishing you a bug free night, folks!

09/06/2008 7:41 PM

Bleech!

I really can't think of a better term to describe our weather today. When I got up this morning it looked like it was snowing over the mountains and there were mosquitoes plastered all over the screen outside of the windows. That pretty much determined for me what I was going to be doing for the day. I have a lot of work to catch up on the computer and I wasn't up to fighting bugs and put up with the chill outside at the same time.
It clouded over and got darker and darker until late this afternoon when the thunder started. The temperature only ever managed to creep up to a little over 10C or 50F so I don't know how it could have been warm enough for a thunderstorm. We got some really good boomers, one of them making us all jump it was so close. Then came the hail, and then came the rain. We never did get snow but I was expecting it at any moment.
Our temperature right now is 5C or only a scant 40 degrees but I expect it will get colder yet with a wind out of the north. We were within one degree of frost last night and away from the lake I guess it did freeze. Although I did pull the plastic off of the zucchini plants today, I expect that hard hail pretty much did them in. I never did pull the plastic off of the rest of the vegetables so I have no idea what's happening under there. I don't want to know either.
The weathermen are calling for snow up on the mountain passes throughout the province tonight, including 5 to 10 cm up on the Coke. I guess there was a blizzard up there last week so I suppose snow this week won't be anything new. While we freeze, they're still baking back east, although not quite as much as yesterday, and they're getting their share of thunderstorms. We watched a huge house float away on a flooding river down in Iowa on the news tonight. That water must have some power. It picked up that whole monster house and just floated it away like it was made up of matchsticks. Which is all it will be by now of course. What a shame.
I watched a marathon of one hour shows called 'Naked Science' last night and it was really interesting. The first was about the causes of ice ages and when we might expect the next one, which is what caught my attention initially. It was really interesting and really informative. Did you know that the earth has been caught up in a period of calm termed 'boring' for the last 10,000 years and that's actually not the norm? In fact, according to the scientists on the show, 'normal' climate on earth for the last four billion years has been in a constantly changing state of flux with rapid heating and cooling periods in its history. The drilling and study of ice cores all over earth, some up to two miles deep, has shown scientists that the earth does not slowly slide into ice ages, and slowly slide out of them. In fact, different geological or asteroid occurrences have brought on ice ages within ten years that can last for the short term or long, some of them so sudden that up to 95% of the species on earth at the time have been wiped out.
Of course there was speculation toward the end of the show that we may be the cause of the next ice age with global warming, but it sounds like a huge volcanic eruption can be just as much at fault. It's nice to see a program that gives in-depth explanations for theories and that can show just how complicated earth's climate really is. The next few hours that I watched all had different subjects, all equally interesting, including one about the sun and its imminent collapse. The line up certainly beat 'Dancing with the Stars' by a long shot, anyway.
Sadly, shows such as the first one I watched last night always seem to have to get overly melodramatic when talking about humans and global warming, taking away some of the credibility in my opinion. The narrator talked about what would happen if earth was plummeted into an ice age over a ten year period, and used London, England as an example city. He said that temperatures could drop to -30, roads and highways would be covered with ice and snow and not only could you not navigate them, but vehicles would not start in the cold and buildings would collapse under the weight of snow. People would die of cold unless they bundled up in arctic cold weather gear and if their vehicle died on the road, they would perish at -30 inside their car. It sounded just like home to me. Welcome to Canada!
I really kind of had to laugh. Talk about over dramatization! In most places in Canada, that's our winter and we've adapted just fine. Obviously if you didn't have a summer, then without crops to feed domestic animals and ourselves, survival of the majority of the human population would definitely be questionable. But I think that you could trust good old human ingenuity and the instinct for survival to maintain some remnant of our species. Face it, with a smaller number of humans populating the planet, there would be plenty of fuel resources to power the lights and heat needed to grow food and keep domestic animals. You would just have to get past the initial wipe out of a good bit of the human race. Those populations closer to the equator would definitely have an advantage but just think how quiet it would be around here.
Interestingly, many of the significant events that led up to an eventual ice age on the first show I watched had some striking similarities to some of the climate we're seeing globally today. Extreme weather events were expected to become more and more common. I don't think my memory is failing me when I say that the weather definitely seems to have become more violent in the past few years. Witness the barrage of tornadoes across the Midwest, and in states and provinces where they are rarely, if ever, seen. Flooding throughout North America is becoming more and more common and although cyclones, tsunami and hurricanes have always been around, they too seem to be increasing in number and violence.
Although it's too easy and too glib to blame every day weather on global warming, I do have to admit that we're definitely seeing a trend in our area that I've never seen before. Two out of three rainy summers is unheard of out in this country, normally considered a high, arid plateau in the rain shadow of the Coast Mountain Range. Like everyone else, I'm hoping that our cool, rainy spring is not setting us up for yet another wet summer. That would be three out of four years and definitely not our weather pattern. The unusually cold spring has also broken low temperature records down on the lower mainland, and yet our flash in the pan hot weather we had for about three days a couple of weeks ago broke 79 high temperature records all over the province. Is the planet seeing gradually more extreme weather and more violent storms that on a small scale replicate earth's wild climatic swings over millennia? Or are we just more aware of global weather because the media is reporting it more and because climate change is a term that has intruded into every conversation, and one that we hear every day, day in and day out, everywhere we go. Face it, the media is going to report what sells, and right now, climate change sells. I might buy that as the cause except that climate has always been of personal interest to me, and I'm sure ours is changing. But who knows for certain? Sometimes I'm sure of where I left an item, and I'm wrong 50% of the time!
08/06/2008 7:11 PM

The List

It seems that every time I consult my list of things to do, it just gets longer. I'm sure that's the case for everyone but around here it really does seem to be the 'Never-ending Story', and frankly, for the second day in a row, I'm beat.
The AGM for our local tourism association was a success, I think. Everyone ended up using my laptop for their presentations which was a new one on me.
I have never used one of those projectors before on my own laptop but it sure works like a hot darn. I want one of those! It looks like it would be a great tool for our community and we could actually hold movie nights at the Hall. That would be cool. Unfortunately, the average price seems to be about a $1000 or more which is a lot of money. I'm not sure the amount we would use such a thing would warrant paying that kind of money. I'll have to keep an eye out and see if a projector could be purchased used.
In any case, the AGM pretty much shot down my whole Friday while pouring concrete for the church/school yesterday shot down Andy's right until two in the morning when he did the final finishing on the cement floor. Then he was back at the community hall today getting it ready for painting this week.
I've spent the last two days outside fighting bugs trying to get stuff done, including finishing transplanting the vegetables to their home outside. Unfortunately, it just doesn't look like most of them are going to make it. I don't know if my soil is too rich (horse manure several years old, so it shouldn't be), the plants were too mature, if it's just too cold, or if too much moisture is collecting under the plastic I have to throw over them every night. Regardless of the cause, it's going to be a tremendous waste of time and energy if nothing survives. I should have waited for the greenhouse to be built, I guess. There are a lot of other things I could have accomplished in the time I've spent on those vegetable plants...like going fishing! Either way, it will be a shame to lose them since most of the tomato and cucumber plants were already bearing fruit.
Today was mostly mixed sun and cloud with a cool breeze and temperatures maxed out at 13C in the sun, or about 54F. The bugs were absolutely ferocious, especially whenever clouds blocked the sun. In some spots where I was working I would have to set up two mosquito coils on either side of me just to make it bearable. It doesn't help when you're working with moist soil and there's lots of water standing around. Heaven for bugs. Hell for me.
For two days in a row people have stopped by to visit and have been driven away by the mosquitos. Courtesy would suggest that I invite folks inside so we could have a visit away from the bugs but I have so much stuff to do right now that I really can't stop for visitors.
Everyone is horrified at the thought that this year is going to be as bad for mosquitoes as it was last year, but it's certainly looking that way. I realize that this site is intended to encourage people to come and visit our area, but in all honesty, I really think folks are better off waiting until July to visit our region after the bugs have slacked off a bit. It really wouldn't be pleasant for most tourists right now and I couldn't in good conscience assure anyone that this time of year would be a good time to come to Nimpo Lake for a visit.
A combination of lots of snow in the winter, lots of rain in the spring, and a lot of standing water because so many pines are dead, are probably the main contributors to the large mosquito population for the past three years running. I have to admit that if this is going to become a trend, I think I'll be planning holidays away from here during the month of June in future. My patience is running pretty thin, as is my blood supply.
I feel most sorry for our dogs, two of which are black, because they just get eaten alive. It's not too bad for them in the yard because if they lay on the gravel where it's dry they aren't bothered too much by mosquitoes and we try to keep some non deet repellent on them. But when we go for a walk, the bugs are just brutal. We'll get about half way through the woods and when I find I'm doing the Chilcotin Wave full time, I'll look around at the dogs and their faces and backs will just be covered in mosquitoes. We'll pop out of the woods onto the road where it's open and it's not much better there. We're usually doing a half walk, half run by the time we hit our driveway. I can certainly see how the old timers could be driven half mad by the little pests. I can't imagine what it would be like for the wildlife but I expect they're pretty scarce down low right now. Most of the animals, if they're smart, will have moved to higher elevations where it's still freezing at night. Not that it isn't close here. What we need is Ontario's present temperatures to burn off some of those bugs.
As usual, my theory that when we have one extreme here, Ontario will have the opposite weather extreme and it certainly seems true this week. Their temperatures have been in the thirties with humidity making it feel like it's over 40C or well over a 100 degrees. While we could certainly use some heat, that is a little high. Although the people in Vancouver may not be feeling that way. Their temperatures were no higher than ours today and with their humidity, it will feel much colder and damper than it does here. All I know is that we've had to start a fire for the last few nights and the heat from that wood stove has felt awfully good!
This is the start of a new week so last week's articles, including me expressing my usual opinionated self can be found at June Week One.


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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!
Hummingbird hovers over a feeder.
 
Sunset mountains above Nimpo Lake.
 
Pink snow on a mountain.
 
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