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 - Mar., Week One/2011
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Check out the Picture
of the Day.
The Bella Coola Floods
I ran out of time when I posted a blog two days ago and
I didn't want a huge long post for everyone to wade through
so I'm doing a separate post here about the Valley.
We drove down to Bella Coola this past Monday and although
Andy has seen the aftermath of the flooding, I hadn't
prior to this. Wow.... some serious landscape change
happening there! It used to be that in most places
you could not see the Atnarko River until quite some ways
from the bottom of the Hill and just around the Fisheries
Pond. Now there is a very large open area that you can
see coming down the Hill where Young Creek took out a
lot of trees just before meeting up with the Atnarko.
All along Highway 20 going toward the Fisheries Pond,
there are lots of places you can see the Atnarko River
now because it also wiped out trees in many places quite
close to the road. There are great gravel banks now with
huge piles of monstrous logs rolled up by the flood. Bear
viewing from the highway will certainly be improved now
whenever there's a salmon run. Actually, I think
Highways should put in pullouts in a couple of areas where
you can see the river so well, just for that opportunity
to see grizzlies fishing the river. It would be wonderful
for the tourists. There is a bear viewing station that
opened up last fall on the Atnarko River but it looks
like flooding wiped a good bit of it out and it was such
a dark spot, whereas these open areas along the highway
are quite bright and, well.... open.
We lost count of the places where there was new pavement,
where the highway and the bridges or their abutments had
been washed out. The number of spots like that were incredible
and the paving machinery is still parked down in the Valley
so that paving can be continued in the spring.
People have been working on the streams and rivers since
the flood last September and we saw equipment and men
still working on several areas placing rip rap along the
banks to keep the water from changing direction and flooding
out the roads again. We also saw guys trying to
get some of the huge cedar and fir logs on the gravel
bed in the Atnarko River limbed and cut up for salvage
while they piled slash on a monstrous pile on gravel in
the middle. Presumably they will be burning it.
Clean up of the rivers and streams is a momentous job
alone, much less with everything else that needed to be
The town sites of Hagensborg and Bella Coola looked surprisingly
good considering a good part of Hagensborg was under water.
One fellow's large shed was some distance down the highway
and in the ditch where it was deposited after the flood.
I noticed a nice greenhouse parked up against a tree along
the highway and some flotsam here and there and a fair
bit of gravel on one farmer's field, but otherwise, the
folks down there have done a wonderful job of cleaning
While such calamity is awful, if it had to come
it couldn't have come at a better time. Both the
flood east of here that closed the highway for nearly
two weeks, and the massive flooding from the Hill to the
marina in Bella Coola, created much needed jobs. Men and
equipment from Williams Lake to Bella Coola have been
utilized for months and while a great deal of equipment
and drivers came from the outside, at least a lot of locals
still got work as well. Even the small number of owner
operators from Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake that had equipment
were able to work from weeks to months since last September
and some are still working in the Valley. Not only does
it help their bottom line but the offshoot from that is
tremendous. Food, accommodations and fuel providers from
Tatla Lake to Bella Coola all benefited from the floods
and it certainly helped out a lot of businesses struggling
with the economic recession.
We had appointments in Bella Coola but because we got
there a little early we took a cruise down to the marina.
You should have seen all the frozen waterfalls!
Anything from little trickles and rivulets to
full scale waterfalls were frozen in time and only just
beginning to melt when we went down. I've never seen so
much of that before and can only assume that all the rain
that caused the floods last fall saturated the ground
to such an extent that there was still water flowing come
freeze up. The moss covered bank and wall of rock along
the highway on the way to the marina was home to a multitude
of these neat frozen falls and there was no way of getting
a picture of all of them.... but I tried!
On the way back I could see a huge waterfall only
a hundred feet or so off the highway hidden back in the
trees that was also frozen, but even more amazing
were these frozen steps from the foot of the waterfall
right out to the highway. It was cool looking but unfortunately,
the steps just didn't show up that well in the pictures.
It's always that way, isn't it? Real life just never looks
as amazing in photos. Or not when I take them, anyway.
The other thing that made this trip down different from
others was the low tide. This is the first time we've
gone to the marina and seen the tide on the inlet that
low on the pilings of the docks. You could even see the
bottom! It was weird. The Nimpkish Ferry was in
but there was no one around and the gate was chained across.
I wonder if the ferry has to wait for the tide to come
up before going out? Surely tide that low must effect
the ability of some boats to manoeuvre. If we could see
the silt on the bottom of the inlet then I should think
it would be too shallow for those large fishing boats
to move, but what do I know?
In any case, for those of you folks that have visited
Bella Coola before and plan to again this summer, you'll
find some of the scenery quite different now!
Tomorrow is spring and it seems we're going back
into winter. The odd snow flake started coming
down midway through my walk in the back woods today and
by the time I got home it was sifting down fine flakes
at a pretty good rate. No huge snow fall of course and
the snow melted all afternoon as it fell, but it stopped
melting an hour or two ago and is now definitely sticking.
That's actually a good thing. It's been really slippery
around here so if an inch or two of snow falls and sticks
to the ice, walking just might be a little safer. Andy
just jokes that all the snow does is hide the ice so you
don't see it before going for a header, and he's probably
right. Of course he also accused me of being the
reason why we're getting snowed on, because of what I
said in the last blog. He could be right about
that too. It's only fair that I shoulder the blame when
so many other locals have willingly taken the blame for
snowfalls this winter, brought on because they washed
their vehicle or shovelled their driveway or were smug
about finally getting their skating rink into perfect
condition.... all deeds guaranteed to bring on a good
dump of snow. But the redeeming factor is that you know
it can only last for two more months at most and I can
live with that. Although I'm sure I'll start getting more
irritable about it when on trips to Williams Lake or Bella
Coola, (Or Kelowna heaven forbid!) I start seeing green
grass and flowers while we're still under the mud and
the blood and the tears of Break Up.
Just a word of warning to those of you with slow
hookups. The Picture of the Day is a fairly large file
of the Atnarko at 202kb.
The Long Run
I know it's been a long run between blogs, folks and I
thank you for your patience. That doesn't mean it's going
to get any better in the short term. I still have this
tourism publication that has me glued to the computer
chair for far too many hours a day, but I have a lull
right now while I wait for more material to come in and
rather than spend it doing my taxes...... writing
a blog just seemed a lot more fun.
It's been two weeks since the last blog and lots has been
happening with the weather. We had the usual up and down
in temperatures with some nights getting pretty darned
cold, and some days actually getting above freezing. Thankfully
those sneaky snows finally quit. (Mother Nature didn't
hear me say that did she? Knock on wood for me.) You know
how they say the Inuit people have multiple words for
snow, each describing a certain kind of snow? Well
I wonder if they have a word for sneaky snow.
There used to be guarantees of sorts in this part of the
country. Well not guarantees but most of the time our
weather was pretty consistent season to season with little
surprises thrown in here and there just to make things
interesting. But all those consistencies seem to have
gone out the window in the past handful of years and now
we have a new one.
I think I've mentioned many times before that if it clouds
over in winter it usually means you're going to get snow.
If it's cold, you'll have clear skies and it's doubtful
you'll see snow. Not so of late!
We've gotten two to three good dumps of snow this winter,
but that's about it. But we've also gotten little snows
here and there ever since the the first week of January
even while temperatures have been quite cold. A skiff
here, half inch there, here three inches, another skiff
and so on, with it regularly snowing at least three times
a week and often more. And that little bit here and there
just kind of sneaks up on you. One day the driveway
is clear and three days later Andy has to get back on
the Bobcat and clear it again, and yet we didn't actually
get any single measurable snow. We got sneaky
snow and it really built up this year.
Last year a friend down the lake kept strict records on
how much snow we got with a final count of five feet and
three inches. This year I don't know how you would measure
all the little skiffs but we both agreed that we have
more snow on the ground this year than last, which means
all those sneaky snows added up to an excess of five feet.
That's why I want to know if the Eskimos have a word for
it because sneaky snow is definitely a force to be reckoned
Fortunately for all of us that were starting to
go a little stir crazy (or coming down with cabin fever
if you prefer) over what has turned into a lengthy
winter, the sun is finally kicking butt on sneaky snow.
Now if we get a skiff of snow as we did just two mornings
ago, it's gone by noon. (I just know I'm going to be sorry
that I'm talking like this. There is no question in my
mind that I'm inviting a spring snowfall of epic proportions
but I'm hoping Mother Nature is too busy protecting her
shamrocks right now.)
Our snow is actually settling quite a bit because we've
been several degrees above freezing during the day for
a week or so and have even had the odd night where the
mercury barely dipped below freezing. Although it
took a bit of an unexpected dive last night, dropping
to -13C or 8F and stayed that way until after nine this
morning, but that sun just has so much power right
now and all it takes is a reasonably clear day and we're
up to 6C.
This thawing during the day and freezing at night has
crusted over the snow probably making it dangerous for
big game and easy for the predators to chase them, but
only at night. Fortunately during the day the crust won't
hold the weight of our dogs, so it won't hold wolves up
either. At least this freeze thaw cycle has packed the
back trails hard now and it's been great walking in the
past week. I'm not falling through the crust every step
or wading through snow after every snowfall.
We've seen lots of tracks on the trail in the past couple
of weeks. We saw that wolf track again and there's
been the usual fox and coyote tracks, loads of
rabbit tracks and the odd moose passing through. There
are two trumpeter swans down where the Dean River exits
Nimpo Lake on the little bit of open water there but there
are no other birds. This time last year we had all kinds
of spring and summer birds here but we're still at grosbeaks,
chickadees and Whiskey Jacks this year and there are no
water birds anywhere. Even going to Williams Lake last
Friday we didn't see any on the rivers along Highway 20,
I guess because they were still frozen over, but I did
see a couple of Canada geese in Willy's Puddle.
There's definitely been more winter from Tatla Lake
to Williams Lake this year than there was last year.
No difference for us of course since we've had two long
winters in a row so we've gotten used to it, but it is
nice to hear everyone else whine this year that didn't
see Old Man Winter at all last year.
We finally got our daylight savings on Sunday and the
sun doesn't go down until after 7:00 PM now which means
I've been able to tease poor Andy unmercifully because
he's lost his early morning sun, of course. But you don't
need to feel sorry for him because trust me, it's pay
back time in the fall when the clocks go forward again.
It's so nice to have more light cooking supper now and
to be able to go for walk a little later in the day.
It's definitely breaking up now and our road is
a mess. Since we don't have the use of the ice
road this year we actually have to deal with mud on the
road. The frost hasn't come out of the ground yet but
that mud on top is almighty greasy. I was going around
most of the corners on our road sideways Tuesday when
I came back from Anahim. But at least we're starting to
see a little gravel in our driveway and some of the ice
is breaking up a bit which is nice because it's pretty
slippery walking out there in places.
I'm sure everyone has been watching what's happening
in Japan in the past week as have we. Boy, that's
just mind numbing with the way they were hit with earthquake,
tsunami, nuclear plant meltdowns, and yet more aftershocks.
No country deserves that and my heart goes out to the
people there. There is certainly a marked difference in
what you see on the television between the Japanese people
and say those in Haiti after the earthquake or New Orleans
after Katrina. No looting, no rapes, no screaming at the
cameramen demanding to know where the aid is. After receiving
millions and millions of dollars in aid from all over
the world, Haiti has accomplished little with it. In
contrast, the Japanese wait courteously and quietly in
long lines for water, keep close watch over elders
with no medicine, or have picked themselves up and have
started cleaning up their homes so that they can get on
with helping the neighbours clean up theirs. That is one
amazing people and my admiration for them only increases
as each day passes.
Happy Saint Paddy's Day for those of you that like to
You'll find last week's blog at February
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!