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Wilderness Adventures - March, Week 1/2009

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.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.


06/03/2009 4:03 PM

Loading Up

We're getting loaded up for our trip to Perkin's Peak tomorrow. This time, going snowmobiling is a little more complicated than usual. We've left from our front door for so many winters that everything is by rote and you don't tend to forget anything. But this will be the first time that we're trailering the snowmobiles so it should be interesting to see how much stuff we forget.
It's kind of silly when you think about it. We've had this monstrous snowmobile trailer sitting in the yard since purchasing it last winter, and we haven't used it. Although it does provide excellent storage for the four machines that otherwise would be scattered around the yard. But at least we're finally getting the opportunity to use it. We've dumped two of our machines out of it in order take two that we'll ride and two friends' machines down to Perkin's Peak. I'm just hoping that the weather will be half decent but it's already degrading.
It was a spectacular day today getting up over 5C or 41F with very little breeze and blue, blue sky. Unfortunately, that mess that the weather forecasters predicted has started moving in this afternoon bringing first high haze, and then heavy, grey cloud with it.
I'm not too sure what the temperature is supposed to do. It went down to -20C or -4F last night and you would think if it's going to cloud over it wouldn't drop so much, but they are predicting that the high pressure system coming in from Alaska will bring both cold temperatures and snow, so who knows. It will be disappointing if we can't see much from the top of the mountain tomorrow but we'll wait and see. If it turns out to be too nasty tomorrow, I don't see us going. I think we all learned our lesson a bit from Lloyd's last ride over a week ago. While some of the guys only suffered mild frostbite, one of them ended up suffering some pretty severe frostbite on his thumbs and they've turned black. Since snowmobiling is supposed to be fun, I don't see us needing to do that again!
One cool thing about temperature extremes this time of year between cold temps at night and a warm sun during the day is the sound of the lake. I took the dogs for a walk late last night and the moon was bright enough on the snow that you sure didn't need a flashlight! The stars were just twinkling away when all of a sudden I heard that low rumble of the lake and then a sharp chuff! of the snow on the surface cracking along with the ice. It sounded like a good one! Back inside, all evening I could hear the lake rumbling, even over the sound of the television. We sure have good ice this year. Oh, and I should take this opportunity to thank our neighbour, Rob, for doing such a wonderful job on the ice road this year. We wouldn't have one if it wasn't for him.
05/03/2009 6:55 PM

Coolness

We've had some cool weather move in overnight. It actually wasn't too bad early this morning but it dropped to -12C or 10F as it cleared off. It took its time warming up until around noon when it finally popped up to -5C or 23F and by the time I got back from my walk, it was up to -3C.
We had a tiny skiff of snow last night, just enough to show off new tracks. There were some fox tracks on the trail and oddly, loads of squirrel tracks on the road. I'm not sure what that was about! There were a few rabbit tracks around but no fresh moose tracks or caribou, for that matter. That's one thing that's really been surprising me this year is the lack of big game down low. There's still sign up higher so maybe the lack of deep snow has allowed moose to stay at higher elevations. Boy, the last couple of times we've been up snowmobiling there are some spots I've noticed that are just laced with rabbit and lynx tracks. I even found one set of tracks where the lynx had very obviously been chasing a rabbit through the snow. I don't know whether he caught his prey or not because their tracks disappeared through the trees and the snow was too deep for me to wade through. There are definitely more rabbit tracks up high now than down here. I think that our pack of coyotes and neighbourhood fox have cleaned them out pretty good.
Today was another gloriously sunny day with not a cloud in the sky, but there was definitely a chilly wind out of the northwest. Andy and a few of the guys went out to widen a snowmobile trail today but he said it was so nice they spent a lot of time just lounging on their machines in the sun, although I guess they got a little work done. Sounds like they did more playing than working as they rediscovered old trails that haven't been broken out yet this year.
I think we're only going to get one more good day, if that, and then our weather is supposed to break down for a couple of days. There's a high pressure system coming down from Alaska but besides bringing cold air it's also bringing moisture and cloud to the north and central coast. I had hoped our weather would hold through Saturday since we've all decided we want to do a trip up Perkin's Peak way. I've never been up there but I've seen enough pictures taken by friends to see that it's really pretty with a spectacular view.
Well, it's seven in the evening and it's not quite pitch black outside. There's still just a touch of light in the sky. That means that on Sunday evening it will still be a little light at eight at night. I'm so excited! Man, I love Daylight Savings Time! That's the first sign of spring! It also means I can get more work done during the day and can go out for my walk or a ski a little later in the afternoon because it will still be warm.
One other thing. I don't know if I mentioned it before but there's been a major price reduction on a home on Nimpo Lake of over $100,000 on the Property for Sale page. For those of you looking for property, you may want to go in and take a second look at it.
04/03/2009 11:44 AM

Weather Downturn

We were just commenting this morning on our heavily clouded day, something we actually haven't seen a lot of this year. I just realized last night that somehow this winter has just flown by. January usually seems to drag on forever but this year, it's gone, February's gone and we're already speeding through the first week of March at a great rate. Although Andy figures the fact that I've had so much work to do on the computer that I rarely come up for air may have something to do with the winter going by so fast.
I haven't had to pull out my little SAD light once this year because it's been such a sunny winter and I think that's why it's sped by so fast. It's simply because I've been enjoying all the sunshine, which is why a heavy day like today's is unusual enough to be noted. Yesterday started out similarly but it quickly cleared out and turned absolutely beautiful. For a change I could go for a walk on the back trails without so many layers of clothing on I can barely walk and I left long before lunch in the hopes the snow wouldn't be too soft. Too late, though. It already was.
Today is going to be a different matter. While it got up over 5C yesterday, the temperature has only just now climbed a degree above zero and a breeze from out of the north has started up. We've got an arctic high moving down from the north so I think we can kiss our warm weather goodbye for a few days. That's okay. It means we'll keep our snow for a little longer and I'll be more likely to get work done on the computer rather than lingering too long outside. It's hard being stuck inside when it's so gorgeous outdoors and I could be helping bring in wood or just wandering around in the yard mapping the 6, 543 things that need to be done during our short summer season.
Chain saws were going pretty steadily for about three days at the resort in our bay while they cut ice for their summer ice house. That's two resorts down with only one more operator due in to cut his ice. He usually leaves his until pretty late in the spring, though. Andy got a couple of slash piles burned up yesterday, one of them on the lake, from beetle killed trees that he's cut down. We've still got a huge community burn pile just outside our gate that we and a couple of neighbours put slash on year round, and then we burn it in March or April, depending on how much snow is on the ground. And it looks like someone is burning slash up on the east side of the highway so things are picking up around here. Once the snow is nearly gone all the fun stuff will stop and the work begins until ice off.
You know, I have to laugh. People always comment how nice it must be to live on a lake year round on a perpetual holiday. Except that it's not. There's just as much stuff to do here as there is on a lot in the city, except there's a lot more acreage here, so more work. Geez, I just realized we haven't even tried ice fishing yet this year!

02/03/2009 6:57 PM

Lloyd's Last Ride

It's been a fast paced week with lots happening including a deadline for a project. Thanks for your patience folks.
Last Friday a week ago I got handed a project that had a nasty short deadline attached and a pile of work to do. It might not have been so hectic if I didn't have an all day meeting on Thursday, and a tourist rep from Williams Lake that asked to be taken up on the mountain snowmobiling Friday and Saturday. Mind you, we were more than delighted to do that in repayment for her bringing a truckload of our chairs for the Hall up from the Coast. Last but not least, there was the all important ride on Wednesday.
We had been planning the ride since last fall after our good friend and neighbour, Lloyd Wilson, died of Lou Gehrig's disease.... a last ride to the mountain where we could all say good-bye.
Initially, we had been waiting for Lloyd's closest friends to arrive back in the country and once they did, we had intended to simply pick a really nice day to go snowmobiling. However, so many of his friends and snowmobiling buddies over the years wanted the opportunity to go on that final ride that scheduling turned into a major problem.
We finally had no choice but to pick a date for the out of area folks, regardless of what the weather brought. Unfortunately, last Wednesday Mother Nature chose to bring some damned cold weather. Midweek we had temperatures down to -35C or -31F one night and -30C or 22 below zero Fahrenheit the next.
Wednesday morning rolled around and at -20C at 10:30 a.m., we debated even continuing with our plans, but as Andy said, he had no idea who all was coming on the ride and so probably could not contact everyone. That would mean that some people would end up sitting down at the meeting place wondering where everyone was, so away we went. It was probably just as well that it was cold because we still ended up with 19 people and we knew of close to 10 more that chose not to come because of the temperature. I think they were smarter than we were by a long shot.
It started out sunny and since the sun has so much heat in it, we figured it would warm up pretty fast. We got up to Ptarmigan Flats and all joked that we had to stop and eat there because Mr. Wilson would haunt us if we didn't. Often by 11:45 he was reminding us that it was getting close to lunch and would mutiny if we didn't stop by shortly after twelve. While having lunch on the flats you could see weather moving in over Trumpeter and we decided to pack up and get going. It wasn't all that pleasant sitting there anyway because a brisk wind was starting up and the sun had virtually disappeared. So much for a warm up from the sun.
We all made it to the top of Trumpeter but three or four guys had developed some frostbite on their faces. It was so cold that our face shields kept freezing up so you had to run with them partially open in order to see. We were driving right into the teeth of a freezing north wind going to the top and the wind-chill was horrendous. We could only joke about Lloyd some more because in the past, if we had a new person riding with us he always insisted on taking them to the top of Trumpeter. It didn't matter if the fog was thicker than pea soup and you couldn't see your hand in front of your face when you got there, much less the view, to Lloyd, it was the getting there that was important.
I expect most of the people that have ever gotten to the top of Trumpeter Mountain in the past 20 years got there by following Lloyd's machine. He was certainly the reason I got there the first time. We all said our quick good-byes and got the heck off the mountain and it's as the guys joked.... none of them will ever get to the top before Lloyd again.
We got back down below Goat Pass to where it was slightly warmer and sat for a while waiting for the remainder of our huge group to show up. Richard from the store had planned to come up but because he had to work until after lunch, figured he would be late. But he showed up from down at Nimpo an hour later than expected. It turns out that two guys that stayed behind us that morning on the Hooch & Main so that they could play around before catching up with us actually ended up breaking down not far from where we left them. What's the chances of both their machines breaking down at the same time? Richard ended up towing them back to Nimpo before coming back up to where we were sitting below Goat Lake. Finally, we three women came on down and headed for home. I was tired of being cold and so were they. What we didn't know was that we had managed to lose some of the group along the way coming down so the guys went back up posting a rider along the way near the entrance to a different route. They eventually got everyone rounded up and back down but I think everyone was pretty cold and tired.
I know that it was so cold up higher that I thought my hand warmers had stopped working. It wasn't until I got down to kilometer 24 that I could actually feel them again. Leah had the same problem and ended up with a touch of frostbite in her fingers. That's one reason why we left the others. She just could not feel her hands anymore. Once we got down to Nimpo, it felt positively balmy at -16C or 3F.
I think that after the sun was hidden by cloud, it just got colder and colder as the afternoon wore on up on the mountain. There had been severe wind-chill warnings out for our area and Andy figured that between the low temperature, the wind, and the wind-chill we created riding our machines, we were exposed to somewhere between -40 and -78 degrees below zero. We all agreed that was probably the coldest ride we had ever been on, and I can tell you that it's the last one I'll go on when the temperatures are that cold, there's a wind-chill warning, and no sun! I'm pretty sure that Mr. Wilson was lounging back in the Happy Hunting grounds chuckling his butt off at all of us.
We've had quite a mixed bag when it comes to weather ever since. Thursday was absolutely glorious and I resented being stuck inside for a meeting the whole day looking out at crystal clear skies, mountains, sun, and warm temperatures with only glass between me and a wonderful day. So close, yet so far.
Friday dawned clear but unfortunately, we got a late start snowmobiling so taking our friend up on Trumpeter was okay, but by then weather had moved in and the view was pretty hazy. But, at least she got to see it. We took her out again Saturday in the hopes of a better day but it still hadn't cleared off enough to get great pictures. But we did get her around to some other spots with great mountain views and I think she enjoyed the ride. It was actually quite a pretty day with mixed sun and cloud, no wind, and pretty decent temperatures with only a couple of stucks.
Yesterday a south wind blew in bringing super warm air and lots of sunshine and it got up to 8C or 46F. It was unbelievable! It sure was tough walking in the back woods though because the snow was just mushy, especially with the extra four or five inches of fresh snow we got last week. When I got home from my walk, Andy was actually sitting out on the deck suntanning.
Today was just as nice, although a cold wind kicked up later this afternoon. Still, it got up to 5C or 41 degrees again today and I felt like I was dying of heat exhaustion in the sun on my walk today. I have to try to remember not to wear so many clothes when it's that warm.
It's hard to say what the weather is going to do this week. Apparently there's a high pressure system coming in off the Pacific. The weather forecasters say that if it comes in over the province we'll enjoy warm, sunny weather but that if it stalls over the coast, we'll get cold temperatures and snow and that it's going to get awfully messy for the Lower Mainland. It doesn't really matter to me which way it goes. I would rather have the former for the sunshine, but none of us want to lose our snow either. It shortens the snowmobiling season and really extends Breakup, and in this country, no one wants Breakup to be any longer than it has to be.
This is the start of a new week so you'll find February's third week at February Week Three
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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!
Ice sculpture created by lake ice being melted by sun and scoured by wind.
 
Rider doing turns in powder on green and black snowmobile.
 
Rider carving turns in powder snow on red snowmobile.
 
Group of snowmachines on frozen lake.
 
Looking at the Atnarko Valley below mountains.
 
Resting on a mountain at the Inukshuk.
 
A snowmobile rider jumps off a steep snow cornice.
 
Two riders in powder.
 
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