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 - March, Week 1/2008
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like
'Lake Monsters' - just go into Archives on the lower left side
of this page.
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Check out the Picture
of the Day.
The Ides of March
Ides of March, everyone! Just a quick note for a weather
update. It wasn't much to write home about today. Mixed
sun and cloud, with some hail and a few flurries that
amounted to nothing. It went to -12C or about 10F last
night and the lake moaned and muttered and boomed all
night. It didn't get much above freezing today
and there was a cool breeze, but it wasn't too bad in
the sun if you were dressed warmly.
I made my walk a fast one today because it was
chilly, and didn't see any fresh moose sign for the first
time in days. I'm pretty sure I've been playing accidental
hide and seek with a moose all week. I'll walk up the
road and see super fresh tracks crossing and both dogs
immediately have their heads buried in the tracks. Then
I'll come back on the trail and fresh tracks with muddy
twigs still sliding back in will have crossed the trail,
turned around and then back again. It's almost like the
silly thing sees or hears me coming, dives into
the woods, and then comes back out as soon as
I pass by. It's happened three or four times this week
and I know River has spent a good deal of time with his
nose in the air all week so something has been close by.
No sign today and that could very well have been because
it's chilled down again and hardened things up. The
moose may move elsewhere until it warms up again.
I've hesitated to mention it here though until I was sure
the animal had moved out or wasn't around because a couple
of illegal kills have already occurred behind the Reserve
this winter. So if I report animals being around now it'll
probably be a few days after.
Andy spent a part of today getting scratchers on his machine
so most of them are good to go now. Everyone will probably
be sledding for the next couple of days so I'll start
a new week when I have some pictures. I'm hoping for some
decent weather but another system is moving in, so who
Have a good weekend, folks!
Slash Fire Lunch
bonfire was just about out on the surface this morning
but it was easy enough to kick up some coals for a wiener
roast. It's amazing how well all of those stumps burned.
Actually, fire is amazing in any form, but a slash
burn is the coolest of all. After all, it's just
an over sized campfire. Well, maybe really, really over
sized. There was a lot of dirt (clay in this country)
packed into the roots mixed in with snow under that pile
but after a really hot fire? The clay had the color and
consistency of crumbling pottery. It makes you wonder
if that's how our ancestors discovered pottery making.
Somewhere, somehow, thousands and thousands of years ago,
the ingredients in a fire were consistent with what creates
pottery. Well, it was a happy accident, wherever it first
happened. I mean, what would we all do without those interesting
glazed objects created by our beloved family members caught
up in the pottery making craze back in the late 70's and
early 80's? Remember the gnomes? I still
have a slinky black panther that I've been packing around
for years, and a really ugly green frog that holds my
scrub pads next to the kitchen sink.
The other really amazing quality of fire is its
ability to rest and hide. About all you can see
after a big fire like what we torched off yesterday is
a large ring of white ash and red clay with a few forlorn
blackened stumps sticking up. (They had still been rooted
into the ground on that spot with slash piled on top of
them.) Until you dig in deep and turn the ash over with
a pitchfork. Underneath are twigs and needles that didn't
burn, only baked, because the ash cut off the oxygen.
Once you turn that stuff over and let the air at it, it
crackles and snaps, and then suddenly bursts into a sheet
of flame. Sometimes, given the right conditions
and duff, that fire can run underground and a couple of
months or years later, the fire can flare up again. It
won't happen on our burn spot but it used to happen to
us up home all the time when I was a kid. You would burn
huge windrows created by clearing land and the CAT would
push too much dirt up into the pile so it wouldn't all
burn right away. As a result, you might look out mid-December
and see a tendril of smoke creeping through a three foot
layer of snow. That wasn't bad. It was when you
saw that smoke in the middle of a hot July. Worse if a
Forestry bird dog spotted it before you did. That's
why I know that Forestry people don't have a very good
sense of humour. My father was never, ever
able to convince them that the windrow had been lit on
fire the autumn before after first snow fall, or two years
before, for that matter.
Anyway, to make a long story short, we still raked up
enough fire today for a hot dog lunch and everything has
been pretty much turned over and burned up except for
a few sticks still frozen in around the edges of the burn
pile. The neighbour still has a couple of more trees to
take down and clear up so the slash will start building
again anyway before you know it.
Today was a mixed bag with some sun and cloud and
it looked like it was snowing over the mountains.
The wind switched around and started coming in from the
east at one point today and that should have brought us
some snow for sure, but Andy only counted eight flakes.
A great disappointment to Richard who succumbed to the
inevitable and helped Andy mount scratchers on his and
If you're not a sledder, scratchers are two long
slender spring metal pieces with a coil on one end and
a bend in them. You drill and mount one on each
side of the snowmobile just above the track. When you
don't need them they lift up out of the way but when you
do, you leave the ends dropped into the snow and like
a spring harrow, the tip plows up a line of ice or snow
that lubricates your sliders (track) and cools the machine.
They're a necessity in conditions that you see in the
spring where the snow melts on top during the day, and
then freezes cement hard overnight. Until the sun melts
it again in the early afternoon, there is no way your
track can pick up enough snow for lubrication and cooling
without the help of scratchers. The secret of scratchers
is remembering when you have them down, because
if you back up when they are, you'll rip them off or bend
the steel the wrong way and it can't be bent back. It's
an expensive little lesson.
I would love to give some accurate temperatures, but unfortunately,
I can't. Not day time ones anyway because the sun shines
on our old thermometer outside and my weather station
is kaput for the moment. A power outage the time
before last (the last one took out my computer keyboard)
screwed up the ability to change from setting to setting
on my weather station. We knew that if we shut off the
power to it and did a reset, there was a possibility that
it wouldn't fix itself, and then we would have nothing.
Today, we finally bit the bullet and did just that and
it didn't fix itself so now, as per the seller's instructions,
it's resting without power of any sort for 48 hours and
then we try the reset again. If that doesn't work,
the tool box will be coming out and believe me,
Andy doesn't mess around. Although he does have a more
delicate touch than I. It's my personal belief that the
only three necessary tools in a tool box are a hammer,
a chisel, and a screwdriver. If you can't fix it with
the latter, the first will fix it for good!
In the meanwhile, I had no idea how accustomed to the
weather station I had gotten, nor how much I depended
on its data being there every time I passed through the
kitchen. I would hate to have to replace it because it
and all the sensors were a pretty seriously expensive
Christmas present from Andy. There's nothing wrong with
all the solar powered sensors, but unfortunately, the
rotten manufacturers have changed the new base units and
it doesn't look like there's anything compatible with
all of our sensors. I guess that's how they get
you to buy the whole package over again.
At least our landscape has changed markedly along the
power lines. Wherever it was Crown Land, BC Hydro hired
one of our local logging contractors to clear the beetle
killed trees away from the power line all along Highway
20 and a good portion of our own road. While along Reserve
and private land there are still danger trees, it's still
substantially reduced the number of trees that could blow
over onto the power line. Surprisingly, considering the
size of the machine, the processor operator that
was cutting the trees did a terrific job of clearing out
or beating down the stuff they didn't take for logs.
It won't look great when some of the small green stuff
laying on the ground turns red, but within a year or two,
grass and small brush will grow up and cover most of that
and it won't look bad at all. In the meanwhile, in places
along our road and the highway, there is enough of a set
back now that the sun can actually get to the surface
of the road in winter and help melt ice and snow off of
it, especially on a couple of really shady corners that
could be dangerously icy at times and took forever to
melt out in spring. Now if BC Hydro could just keep its
promise and come back with the hand fellers to clear the
trees along the line on private land. Like most,
I'll believe it when I see it...
Oh yeah. I should explain the new picture up on the top
right. When the guys went snowmobiling a couple of weeks
ago, they spotted this massive spruce that is so thick,
they figure it must have gotten a disease that would cause
it to grow that way. They said there were actually four
or five trees like that in varying sizes, all in that
one area. It would make a magnificent Christmas tree but
it's way too big now. I can only hope my Mom doesn't read
this particular blog or see the picture or we'll be struggling
to bring it in for Christmas next year.
torched off our huge slash pile early this afternoon.
It's good that it's so early in the spring and there's
still lots of snow on the ground or the Forestry
bird dogs would have been circling us for sure today.
And trust me, Forestry people just have no
sense of humour when it comes to fire.
Because the massive pile wasn't just made up of tree
branches and pine needles, but quite a number of stumps
pulled out after we cut down all of last year's red
trees, it turned into quite an inferno and will
still be burning tomorrow. The stumps caused
the fire to stay much bigger and hotter for a lot longer
than normal so it was hours before Andy could get close
to it with the Bobcat to push the edges in. There were
only a few stumps left in charcoal form this evening
when we decided to roast our hot dogs for supper, but
it was still too hot to stay close for long. One burn
pile down. We still have two other neighbours who are
not here right now but who's slash piles need to be
burned before all the snow is gone. But we can't do
that until a little more snow melts from around them.
We were standing around the fire tonight when
lo and behold, I could hear geese. A formation
of twelve to fourteen Canadas flew over us quartering
from north to south, which absolutely blew me away.
I'm almost certain I have never seen them this early
and I sure don't know where they're going to find open
water. I had to go back to a 2006 blog to find an early
mention of geese, and that was on March 17. It
seems highly unlikely that the geese found open water
anywhere to the north of us but to the south the McClinchy
River will be open. I know that last year when
we went to town one day in April, the rivers and streams
running all along Highway 20 were just full of Trumpeter
Swans, Canada geese and ducks, because the lakes were
so late opening up last year.
It's amazing to see how fast our snow goes down every
day and how much more bare ground is exposed in a little
sunlight. Spring always amazes me because things do
change so quickly.
I beetled across the lake today on the fourwheeler and
although still quite safe for a snowmobile or ATV as
I mentioned yesterday, I would certainly hesitate with
a vehicle. On our little stretch of ice road anyway.
I feel badly for our friend that runs the store up in
Nimpo because every time I mention snowmobiling he gets
a very long face. Richard and Leah had a ball
snowmobiling this year and I don't think they're quite
ready for winter to end yet.
We're already seeing the reeds show up in front of the
neighbour's place and the ice is getting that 'black'
look over there which is not a good sign. However, another
neighbour that has a resort is in cutting ice this week
and he says it's excellent compared to the quality of
punky ice he put up last year. Yet another resort owner
will be probably be in next week to put his ice up for
the summer and for sure he'll have good
ice over in front of his place since the Short Arm froze
up early and hard before the first snow.
Just reading over past blogs this time of year to get
a first mention of geese, and I'm reminded of last spring's
ruthless drive to get our red trees down. It's a real
relief to have that job done and not have to face it
this spring. We do have some more pine that have
been hit by beetles but we'll have to wait and see if
they're going to turn color. At this point in
time, they look like they may have fought the beetles
off. All but one of our little neighbourhood at the
end of our road have most of their beetle killed trees
down or are in the process. Unfortunately, the one neighbour
that doesn't has a huge lot and hundreds of red trees,
all of it big timber. He came up for a few weeks last
summer and got a bit of a start on his trees but no
where near enough, so right now his place is our biggest
threat for forest fire.
It's actually pretty noticeable when you're out on the
lake and looking back on our neighbourhood. It looks pretty
good with not much in the way of red trees except for
that one block, and looks a damn sight better than most
shoreline around the lake. A lot of the people around
Nimpo Lake have been working their butts off for the last
couple of years trying to get their places cleaned up
but there's not much you can do about the red trees on
Crown (Government) Land.
I'll be glad when all of the needles have dropped off
these trees. Grey or black forest may be ugly but it
won't be nearly as explosive if a forest fire gets started.
Today it got to about 4C and it only went to -7C or
19F last night, but we had a really cool breeze today
that kept things pretty chilly. I'm not sure what the
predicted weather trend is for us, not that the weather
man is ever right, but there was some high haze and
some messy stuff over the mountains today.
We're certainly not getting hit by the angry weather
that the east is. Another blizzard on the East coast
with sea ice being pushed up on shore and roofs collapsing
under the weight of the snow in Ontario and Quebec.
Poor sods. Their biggest worry is going to be
flooding this spring unless they have a very long, cool
spring with a slow melt. Hmmm. Let's see. If
the normal trends hold and we always get the opposite
weather from what the east gets, then if they have to
worry about flooding we'll probably have a hot, dry
spring and have to worry about forest fires.
There you go folks! My personal scientific long term weather
prediction! Ahem....Now lets see if it turns out true.....
Back in the Saddle Again
Everyone. I think I might have it together and can start
producing a blog again. I finally finished up my latest
project, pretty much hit my deadline, and now I still
have lots of work to do but the pressure's off. Which
means I've actually been able to go walking on the back
trails again for the last few days.
The weather is still glorious and warm,
although it's been a bit windy the last few days, but
today was an exception. If we can get one more still day
we can light the big burn pile up while there's still
snow on the ground. Although the slash pile isn't as long
as it was last year, it's still pretty big, very high,
and loaded with all of the stumps pulled out last year.
It'll burn for awhile so I'll have to pull some hot-dogs
out of the freezer find some weenie sticks.
This is one long warm spell and like the Energizer
Bunny, it just keeps on going. We must have a
small cold front moving through because it was 8C yesterday
but it dropped to -13C or 8F last night and didn't get
more than a couple of degrees above freezing today. But
the sun has some wicked warmth right now and even if the
actual air temperature in the shade isn't that high, there's
still a lot of melting going on every day.
I think the lake ice is pretty much shot in more ways
than one. I don't really know how safe the ice road
is now. It may be fine but we've got a hole on
our section with broken ice in it that you have to thrash
your way through so I've been driving around by the road
rather than chance the ice. We noticed tonight that someone
drove down the boat launch to the ice and then backed
up again rather than chance the ice. I know it was starting
to slush up a bit near shore as it usually does. The lake
is still fine for fourwheeler and snowmobile traffic.
I just don't know about vehicles and Andy hasn't drilled
for ten days or so.
The poker run that was to be held this weekend has
been canceled for now. Because there has been
so much melting during the day, at night a really hard
crust forms on the compressed snow and the lake ice that
doesn't thaw until noon. Later in the shade. As a result,
a poker run would have to be started in the afternoon
and bigger machines still risk heating up if not enough
snow can be thrown up. We'll gun for the Easter weekend
but if we don't get fresh snow, I don't think it will
be happening this year. I think we're going to have to
look at moving it back into February next year.
Andy's been following the Iditerod closely this year as
he does every year, and the dog sledders are having
the same problems with too warm a temperatures in Alaska
as well. They too had extremely cold temperatures
for months just as we did and the competitors were concerned
that they would be running in -40F and -50F below temperatures,
and then suddenly it warmed up to well above freezing.
Their dogs overheat, many won't eat, and trail conditions
were very poor. They've had that problem for two years
in a row and may have to consider moving their dates back
if this is weather trend is going to continue.
We're starting to see some wildlife around and saw
the Nimpo herd of caribou here on our back bay Saturday,
but we were on our way to Wendy's memorial in Anahim and
couldn't go back for a camera. There have been a few moose
hanging around, including a young one that's been sleeping
under the wings of the neighbour's plane. Every once in
awhile our one dog will let out a bellow and I'm pretty
sure it's the moose moving around. Like last year, the
moose are staying in pretty close to human habitation
but it's probably because the snow has crusted up so much
and given the predators a major advantage.
We also had a flock of evening grosbeaks and some blackbirds
move in a couple of days ago. I'll have to go back
to last year's records but that seems awfully early for
red winged blackbirds. Heck, at this rate, the
loons will be back before the ice is even off!
At least Nimpo Lake has started booming again. The snow
on the lake has melted or compressed and hardened up enough
to lose the insulating value. It's when you get the temperature
extremes from the sun on the surface of the ice during
the day to below freezing temps at night, that she starts
talking. I kind of missed that all winter.
There appears to be a lot of interest in the property
for sale on the right so if you're interested, you might
want to check it out. And for those of you that have checked
it on Google, I realize it looks like it's quite a distance
on their map from the lake, but it's actually only a few
hundred yards. (300 hundred maybe? Possibly less.)
A New Residential Property Listing
It's been awhile since I've written anything, hasn't
My heartfelt apologies, everyone, but I really have
had my nose to the grindstone and am now officially overdue
on a project I've been working on. However, it looks like
the clients want to do a major expansion anyway if they
get more funding, so I've chosen to relax on it this morning
and produce a blog. Mainly because I actually got a phone
call from Arizona the other day because folks wanted to
know where the blog was. In fact, I've gotten several
inquiries from people, including my own husband, wanting
to know where the heck the blog is! Understandable,
I guess. Spring is coming and everyone who visits or is
a part time resident wants to know what the weather is
doing.....oh yeah. Did I forget to tell you? Spring is
definitely here and has been for some time. Not that we're
out of the woods yet. We have the potential for full blown
winter weather for at least two more months.
I think looking back in my blogs, it started warming
up around the 9th. of February and it hasn't quit since.
We've had more than three weeks of warm weather with
temperatures well above freezing during the day, sometimes
as high as 8C (about 46F), and varying from just below
freezing to -17C or 0F at night.
This is the longest warm spell I have ever seen
this time of year and naturally, it's taken
the snow down quite a bit, especially in the past week
or so. For the first couple of weeks it got warm during
the day but cold enough at night that a crust formed
on the snow, protecting it from melting much during
the day. But now, enough bare ground has shown up that
it just draws the sun and really speeds up the melt.
That sun has a lot of heat in it now, too.
Last weekend, nearly everyone went out snowmobiling
both Saturday and Sunday, (except me, of course)
because Andy's brother was up from the Okanagan. He
hadn't ridden for a lot of years and wanted to maximize
his time here. It didn't take him long to get back into
the saddle again and I think he really enjoyed himself.
Conditions were much better than they were when
I went out last and there weren't nearly as many stucks.
There was a high wind Sunday so it was impossible for
the crew to get to the top of Trumpeter and see the
view, but they played around quite a bit. There were
fourteen riding on Sunday so that's a pretty good sized
group to keep track of. No one got lost and no one got
hurt, so that's always a good thing, although Andy did
nail a tree pretty hard. Apparently he couldn't get
his sled to turn on the slippery crust coming down a
swale and a big tree jumped out right in front of him.
His machine came to a dead stop, he went flying over
the handle bars taking his windshield with him, his
helmet went flying in the process and all anyone
could see was the top of this tree shaking.
They're all trying to reach him because from a distance
he looked like he might have seriously hurt himself
the way he was flopping around. But he was just flailing
his arms floundering through the snow trying to get
back to his machine, because he hit the reverse button
on his flying exit and it was sitting there beeping.
No injury done but it did break the machine a little
bit. Nothing a new part won't fix, however.
We're trying to decide if we're going to have
enough snow to hold a poker run in the middle of March
this year, but that's really debatable. It was
predicted that we would get colder temperatures and
lots of snow this week. Unfortunately, Prince George
got hit with two feet and lots of other places in the
interior got lots of snow, but we have only had sunshine.
Not a single snowflake to be seen, to
the keen disappointment of our two newest and most avid
snow machine riders. Our trails are still holding up
really well but unless we get a cool down, that may
not last for long.
Yesterday was a very good example of what the weather
has been like. I had come out of my office only to see
our neighbours parked out on the Main Arm of Nimpo Lake
with a snowmobile, lawn chair and fishing rod. It was
an absolutely beautiful day and we couldn't resist walking
out to visit and enjoy a bit of the day ourselves. It
was definitely suntanning weather until a high haze
moved in, which has turned into heavy overcast today.
Lately there's been talk of a group going over
the Itcha and Ilgatchuz Mountains to Pan Phillips Fishing
Camp on the other side and doing an overnighter
at Robbie Phillips' cabins. It's something I wouldn't
mind doing either this year or next, simply because
I've never sledded that way and would like to see the
country. About the only other way is to see it is from
the back of a horse in the summer and that might be
fun too, going out with one of the trailride operators
on a pack trip.
Now for some bad news. Sadly, we've lost an important
member of our community. Wendy Little died last Saturday
morning after being flown out by medivac to Williams
Lake and then Kamloops, leaving family and her husband
Chuck, behind. Our hearts go out to Chuck for she will
be sorely missed. My understanding is that the funeral
is on Saturday at 1:00 in Anahim Lake but if that changes,
I will post the change here.
Last, but not least, we have a humdinger of a
property for sale that is just being posted
today on the residential page and I'll put some pictures
up on the right, simply because the ones on the Property
for Sale page just don't do it justice.
The only thing that might slow this property from going
right out the door is that the owners really
don't want to move before fall so it may have a long
possession date. Other than that, if you want
a spectacular view of Nimpo Lake and the Coast Mountain
Range to the south and Kappan Mountain to the West,
this hilltop beauty is the one for you. The cabin is
log, three bedrooms with a good use of space, nice cabinetry,
and has all glass windows in front and a glass patio
door that goes out onto the front deck which overlooks
the view. The property is not on waterfront, however,
you have legal access to the water and the boat
launch there. In fact the road that goes past
the property leads straight to it and you're in a good
neighbourhood, because that's Mary's end of the lake
and the launch is used by her Nimpo Lake Resort customers.
If you want advantages of being able to see the lake
but not be right on it, there are two. You don't have
to pay the higher taxes by having shore line and the
mosquitoes are not nearly as bad up on the hill as they
are everywhere else. In fact these folks were probably
the only ones that could sit outside on their deck all
Aside from the log house, there are two fully
serviced guest cabins, one on each lot. (This
property actually consists of two separate legal lots
of about two acres apiece so you could purchase both,
keep one, and sell one, if you wanted. At this point
in time, the owners are only selling the whole package.)
For the airplane enthusiast, you have your own hangar
with an apron to the dirt strip next door or to the
lake if your plane is on floats.
From my point of view, the pricing on this property
is excellent and since the owners are cognizant
of the fact that non-waterfront property does not have
the inflated value that waterfront does, they've kept
their price very reasonable. If you're interested at
all, they've left me with copies of the lot plans and
more pictures. Right now all they have for pictures
are winter ones but they will be taking pictures in
the summer that show off their lake and mountain view.
Alrighty then. I think I've covered most of anything
that's happened in the past while. Thank you for your
patience everyone. I really appreciate it since I may
not be able to post again for a week or so. Unless the
weather changes, or something. But generally, as
long as they're getting hit with lousy weather in the
east, we have nice weather here.
This is the start of a new month, and new week of course.
You'll find the last blog issue at February
Week 3 .
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!