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Wilderness Adventures - March, Week 2/2007

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' - just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

You can search this site for a subject of interest to you at the bottom of this page. Check out the Picture of the Day.

15/03/2007 7:01 PM

A New Page

Hi Everyone. This should be the start of a new week but this is going to be short so that will probably happen tomorrow or Saturday.
I'm sure everyone is just as depressed as I am at looking at those poor planes so it will be time to start a new page.
For those people, whether friends and family or just plane lovers, who have visited the
Hangar-Fire Photos gallery, I hope you found it helpful. Hopefully, it saved having to email a lot of pictures around. However, I'm removing that particular page now so all you will find is a dead link in its place.
While the page was intended for friends and family, it's not intended to be pored over by the ghouls, nor do I wish it to make the email, UTube type rounds or end up in Google's image bank.
For those relatives or friends of the owner of the hangar, please contact my Mom for the new link to that page should you need it.
Not much has changed today. It started out with sun and cool temperatures but ended up with cloud and wind this afternoon and it even tried to snow a little during supper.
The weatherman is predicting a lot of rain for the Lower Mainland for the next few days and from the looks of that funnel of cloud coming in at us from the Pacific, we're all going to get something.
Flooding is still a concern for a good bit of the province and Highway one still isn't going to be open for quite a while.
We didn't get to go snowmobiling today but Andy did get to fly, so that's a good thing.
Nimpo Lake was rumbling steadily last night so that's a definite sign of vast changes between day time and night time temperatures. Oh yeah...and I did hear a red winged blackbird again today! Spring must be coming.
Okay, gotta go!
14/03/2007 6:21 PM

Road Closures

So far we have escaped the road closures that warm weather or rain can bring but the rest of British Columbia has not been so fortunate.
It started with over a dozen mudslides at Bridal Falls near Hope. Since that's pretty common in that area there is an alternate route and it didn't take Highways too long to get one lane open. However, a couple of mountainsides let go in the Fraser Canyon, the only main north/south artery in British Columbia, and that part of Highway 1 is expected to take another ten days or two weeks before it will be re-opened. You can still get to central and northern BC by going the long way through Princeton or to Merritt, then Kamloops but it's not the shortest way by any means and can be downright nasty in winter.
The Fraser Canyon didn't just suffer rock or mud slides this time. In both places the entire highway was washed away completely, with a very large ravine and creek taking its place. In one spot, a good section of the railway is hanging in midair like a suspension bridge with its railroad bed long gone and nothing but a whole lot of airspace beneath it.
The problem with two sections of Highway 97 washing out is that all the little communities in between are trapped and isolated. Without transport there has been no way to get groceries and what not into the little towns. The washed out rail line is now using CN's line and I'm assuming goods are coming in that way now. I'm not sure which side of the river CN's rail line is on. One community near a washout has been without power or water since the weekend with many homes flooded or nearly so, yet their plight wasn't even reported on the news until yesterday. The media and government officials seemed to be far more concerned with the flooding on the Lower Mainland over the weekend. Far less serious than the predicament Fraser Canyon residents are in but par for the course.
Watching the news, we both felt most sorry for the poor truckers trapped on the highway between the two washouts. The B-trains can't turn around on that stretch, so if the highway won't be re-opened for upward of two weeks, what are the drivers supposed to do? Wait with their trucks? And if the trucks are full of perishables, then what?
The Trans Canada Highway, the main east/west artery for all of Canada, was closed today near Golden because of a mud and rock slide. The only alternate route to get east is to go through Kamloops, the back way up to Valemont and through to Edmonton on Highway 16. Quite a few hundred miles out of your way if you were on your way to Calgary and points east.
Several Ministries have been expressing concern for flooding and mudslides in the Lower Mainland and throughout British Columbia for some time now. There's a record snow pack in the mountains and if it's a warm spring with a sudden melt, everyone's going to be swimming with the fishes.
We had a gorgeous day today, at least until noon, with the sun shining and not a breeze. Then the wind started up again. It took a little while to warm up this morning though. It dropped to nearly -18C or about 4 below zero Fahrenheit last night and was still -14 at nine this morning. Our friends from Quesnel went out snowmobiling about that time this morning and I think they were wondering why it was so cold until I told them what the temperature had been this morning.
At least Andy and his instructor Mazy got a little flying in today until gusting winds forced them back down. Logan was out flying over the lake today taking advantage of the calmer weather and it was really nice to see a Supercub in the sky where it should be rather than looking like those to the right.
Last night was the first time I've heard Nimpo Lake in quite a while and you could tell it was getting cold quickly because the ice was setting up quite a rumble. It was nice to hear all the grumbling and the periodic 'Whumfp!' from one section of ice breaking off from another. It's been pretty quiet this year under all the snow we've had this winter. The coyotes must have liked the temperature as well because they were howling off and on just over on the shore in our back bay last night and this morning, setting our dog off as usual.
He didn't seem quite so overreactive or brave this afternoon when I went skiing across the lake. I had taken a break after stumbling up a bank in deep snow looking for a dry log to sit on. After having a quick snack I got back down to the ice and was trying to get my skis on when I heard one heck of a sound! It sounded like a moose but not one I've ever heard during their mating season. This one sounded a bit like the way a cow moose sounds but really, really mad. Even though the grunt/bellow had an echo, it was close enough for me to hear branches snapping. Not a good feeling when you are lower, can't see up into the trees, and your biggest dog has his ears pinned back like an elephant and his nose pointed toward home. The noise stopped when I started swearing at my skis and once I had them on I didn't bother to stick around long enough to see if it would commence. I headed toward home along the lakeshore with the wind behind me and my 'ever so brave' dogs looking back over their shoulders periodically. I don't think they knew what those sounds were either but they weren't hanging around to find out.
I can only assume it was a moose that was either mad because I was in its space or didn't know I was there and I had surprised it. It may also have been a cow moose warning her calf but I've heard that sound before and this one sounded a lot more agitated. Or just PO'd. In any case, it can have the lake if it wants it. I'm not about to argue.

13/03/2007 7:05 PM

Spring?

It's beginning to feel a lot like spring around here. Even though I really, really don't want it to. You should have seen the stares I got when I mentioned today that I'd really like to see colder temperatures and snow for a while longer. Their looks said it all... My sanity was definitely in question.
It went to -14C or about 5 degrees Fahrenheit last night, and warmed up to just above freezing today. That sun has a lot of heat in it so even if the air temperature isn't all that warm, the snow still melts in the sun.
Our fresh snow Sunday night went a long ways to freshening things up around here. It was nice to see it on the trees and covering the ground where there had been only ice, mud and red pine needles since things started to warm up a week or so ago. Everything looks grubby during a long Breakup.
We were supposed to be getting cooler temperatures this week and I figured we would stop losing snow. Unfortunately, the weatherman seems to be wrong again. We're still getting nailed with wind that just seems to get progressively worse as each day wears on. That's been making it extremely difficult for Andy and his Instructor to get up in the plane and today was the first in some time that they actually got to fly.
One of our Directors would like to put on a poker run for Anahim and Nimpo Lake community members next weekend that would cross Nimpo Lake and go out to Charlotte Lake. Whether we will have enough snow or not ten days from now seems really debatable. Unfortunately, most of us run liquid cooled snowmachines so we have to have enough snow being swept up on the tunnel to keep from overheating the motor. There is enough snow on Nimpo Lake and Charlotte right now after this most recent snowfall to allow such a ride. By tomorrow there may not be. Another week of the kind of weather we've been having, and there may not be enough snow left in anyone's yard to make a snowman much less a 50 or 60 mile snowmobile run. However, we can always hope.
I saw the first harbinger of spring today while coming back from Nimpo on the road. A lone Trumpeter Swan was paddling around in the open water on the Dean River where it leaves Nimpo Lake, looking a little wary but not lost. Andy saw a coyote hanging around there this morning so maybe it's looking to have Swan for supper.
I'm also sure I heard a single blackbird trill over in our meadow but it seems awfully early for them so it must have been something else. Although we did have a single immature or female blackbird hanging around until early winter this year, that it made it through the entire winter by itself would seem highly unlikely. Although I suppose stranger things have happened.
I went for a walk in the woods yesterday and then back on the road. With the exception of rabbit tracks and flushing one grouse, there wasn't a single fresh track in the new snow. I have no idea where our moose are but it's sure looking like they grew wings!
Our friends from Quesnel went up into the Rainbows yesterday and followed some of our trails up around Trumpeter today. They've had sun and that fresh snow both days so at least the weather has been in their favor for snowmobiling. They are running into some pretty nasty winds up high that chase them down the mountain, but if you stick to trails in the trees or protected areas, the riding can still be pretty nice. They've been doing surprisingly well icefishing here and there while out riding. Perhaps we should get in the habit of carrying fishing rods as well. It certainly would add interest to some of our snowmobiling trips and where we might fish could be a suprise indeed!

12/03/2007 10:34 AM

Weather Day Yesterday

Just a note about the Hangar Fire at Nimpo Lake last week. March, Week One. As mentioned before, the gallery was intended to be up for only a short time. It has been removed now so Hangar-Fire Photos will be a dead link.
We went out snowmobiling yesterday and the weather was brutal to say the least. I'm not sure we could have picked a nastier day if we had tried. Crossing Nimpo Lake with little snow on it required circling around by the shoreline until we met up with the guys over at Dot Island. There we could see a few caribou standing across the lake watching us in the cold, grey light. The snow had the consistency of corn starch going up Charlotte Main to Goat Lake so it wasn't too bad that early in the day, but the wind was blowing and it kept trying to spit snow.
Lloyd spotted a mountain goat high up in a rock gully above Goat Lake standing there out of the wind watching us sitting down below freezing our hineys off in the wind. When you see that barren rock up high and the drift coated rocks down where we were, you really have to wonder what they find to eat in the winter.
We finally found a somewhat sheltered place to sit and have our lunch after we went through the Pass, and although there was a faint indication of a sun up there trying to shine through low clouds, it never did make an appearance.
We rode up on one naked hilltop where the guys wanted to show us an inukshuk they had built last fall but getting there was not nice. The wind was howling across the face of the hill driving snow low to the ground and the light was so flat, you honestly could not tell whether you were going up, down or sidehilling. Nor could you tell when you were going to hit a drift. Snowmobiling in light like that is one of the strangest sensations there is because you have no trees or landmarks to give you a sense of direction and no way of knowing what's up and what's down. We got to the top, I quickly took pictures of the inukshuk and it was a race to get back down and out of the wind.
We came off the mountain the back way through the Lonesome Lake Burn above the Atnarko river on a trail the guys cleared out last fall, and it was actually a really nice ride. Interesting too to see the burned and twisted trees on that side of the mountain.
The temperature had climbed considerably and the snow was starting to mush up. By the time we hit the bottom and started back around to 24 Kilometer, it was beginning to spit rain. We took another trail opened up only last fall back into Gus's Meadow that only Andy had been over this winter. There was a stuck or two in there because the snow was so mushy and your snowmachine would just drop out from under you. A few small trees had to be cut out of the way in order for us to get through and we finally reached the meadow. I think we all would have liked windshield wipers on our visors because the rain was beading up and flying off whenever you ran at any speed.
The creek in the meadow has opened up again in places but we were still able to cross in one spot where it's still frozen over. I don't know how long that will last though.
We definitely went up on the wrong day. By contrast, today dawned sunny and bright with four inches of fresh snow on the ground. A bit of a wind has kicked up now but it's still good to see a little sun. Hopefully our friends from Quesnel will find the next few days to be good snowmobiling. Their trip yesterday to Miner Lake was not great at all. Where we were getting spitting rain while out riding, they got poured on.

10/03/2007 12:37 PM

The Investigators - Nimpo Lake Hangar Fire

Insurance Adjusters arrived in our part of the country yesterday, admittedly a little exhausted after the early morning wake up call and long drive from Williams Lake. Aside from looking a little worse for wear, the one I met seemed genuinely concerned with the situation and was pretty down to earth while taking statements.
Though there was no insurance on the hangar or any but one plane, there was a vehicle in the hangar with insurance on it as well as many personal items stored there, so it was necessary for the Adjusters to check everything out. A fire investigator arrived today to do the same. Immediately upon their arrival yesterday, the Adjusters sealed the hangar, allowing no one to go in there, so hopefully our idiot 'friend' of the other day didn't compromise the site when he insisted on entering the hangar regardless of Mazy's admonitions that he not do so.
The arrival of the fire investigator is a welcome one. Terry has another hangar near the one destroyed Tuesday night and would like to know more than anyone what caused the fire, since the second hangar uses the same system of heating as the first. However, in the face of the complete destruction of the large hangar, determining the cause of the fire is going to be difficult, if not impossible without a team of experts with a whole lot of time on their hands.
We've all thrown out numerous theories, striving to understand from what we saw what may have caused the fire. One interesting theory posed to Terry by someone from down in Nevada was that the regulator on the wall of the hangar may have malfunctioned. Apparently there have been several hangars around Tahoe destroyed by fire when a high snow load covering the regulator impairs its ability to read atmospheric pressure. Since we had a very unusual amount of snow this year, and the regulator on the side of the hangar is buried under tons of cement-like snow, that theory is probably as valid as any other posed by we 'amateur investigators'.
Peering through the doorway of the hangar with Duke the other day, we tried to identify which planes were which from what little was left of each. Pointing out one, I, in all my blondness, asked what kind of plane would have such a short prop on it. Duke answered that it was Terry's 185 that he had picked up brand new from the factory many years ago and the reason the aluminum props were so short was because the ends had melted off. All that was left of each were 12 inch stubs.
No artist could reproduce that sad sculpture.
Of the seven aircraft lost in the fire, four were Terry's, three of which were irreplaceable SuperCubs. You'll see the highly depressing pictures to the right.
After the suits are done, (Actually the Adjusters aren't wearing suits but between them and the Investigator it's easier to lump them all under that inglorious term. What a casual world we live in today.) there will be the nasty process of cleaning up. It isn't going to be easy to dispose of 10,000 square feet of metal hangar and the twisted remains of all the machinary inside. Although as ghoulish as it may seem, I contend that the remains of the planes should be set up in a row on the cement as museum pieces for the BC Floatplane fly in and AGM that occurs here every July. It would be a dire reminder to the attending pilots and I expect every man jack of them would quickly be checking his Not In Motion insurance policy.
Chilcotin Artwork.
I know....sick humour, and it certainly is not meant to undermine the sadness of the situation, but I don't know how else you face that kind of tragedy. Besides, it seems to be a prerequisite of living in the Chilcotin to have a very strange sense of humour.
I would like to thank each and every person that called or emailed to offer their thoughts and prayers and I have done my best to pass them on to Mom and Terry. I realize that many of you were not able to get through on their phone because the lines have been burning up and they've been very busy with the suits obviously, or you simply have not wanted to bother them. Thanks to all of you.
Last night the wind finally stopped for the first time in I don't know how long. In fact, it's been blowing for so long now that the quiet was downright eerie and felt strange. It's our windy time of year and the cool temperatures and unsettled weather have made it somewhat unpleasant to be outside. It's just sitting above freezing right now with some snow off and on all afternoon. I would really like to see about six inches of snow fall right now since we have friends down from Quesnel that would like to go snowmobiling and Henry is in. Actually, we all need a good day out on sleds in clean air to do a little relaxing. Whether we get the weather to do that is highly debatable. The cloud deck is pretty low right now and our weather isn't expected to improve any time soon. You never know though. Miracles sometimes do happen!
I have finally started a new week so if you would like to check out all about the Nimpo Lake Hangar Fire and what's been happening since the first of March, you can go to March, 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!
Blue SuperCub in the sky.
 
Red and white plane.
 
Invaluable plane destroyed.
 
Supercub aircraft destroyed.
 
Third Supercub.
 
Burned aircraft with melted prop.
 
Burned radial engine.
 
Aeronca Champ.
 
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