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 2/2008
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
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Check out the Picture
of the Day.
The First Day of Spring
I'll bet there were a lot of people across the
country praying for the first day of spring this year....
And look at what happened. Roofs still collapsing
in the east. People are trying to clear several feet of
snow off of their houses as rain slowly makes it heavier.
There's no room left to put snow piled up on the sides
of the streets which are now one lane, and the snow banks
are too high and the streets too narrow for snow blower
equipment and trucks to come in. They're waiting for spring
because that is all they can do. The real
spring that is. The one where things actually melt. I've
always thought the calendar spring is a bunch of Hooey!!
I've never lived in Canada a day in my life where
spring actually came now. The exception may be
this year where spring has come long before normal, but
snow and cold right into April is the norm. Nor is it
a rarity in May.
The poor buggers on the East Coast have been hit yet again
and broken records for the biggest snowfall in years,
while the poor saps in the States are getting flooded
out. Me thinks the gopher.... no.... the groundhog, was
wrong about when spring was going to come to North America.
Really wrong. That's what you get for relying on
a rodent for your weather, I guess. Mind you,
the climatologists didn't do a whole lot better. They
were predicting a cold February and March with above average
snow for us and the Pacific Northwest and we've had spring
for six weeks now and haven't seen more than two snowflakes
in I don't know how long!
I'm sitting here now at my desk and am delighted to see
the sun shining in the window of my office as the sun
prepares to set. It's after 7:00 the sun is still up and
moved this far around on the horizon. I love it! I don't
have to plug in my little SAD light anymore. The
days are long enough and there's enough sun this time
of year to perk a person right up. I was looking
through my image bank for pictures for a project today
and came across one of our view. A small green patch of
grass surrounded by green bushes down to the shoreline
of Nimpo Lake which was just as blue as could be, with
purple mountains as a backdrop. That versus white, more
shades of white, and the grey gleam of bare ice which
is pretty much what colours our world this time of year.
I think I'm ready for the green. Even Andy said
he's ready for spring now because the snowmobiling is
about done unless we get some snow, or we start trailering.
And that's a taboo word in this country, even though we
own a brand new one. But everyone gets spoiled being able
to snowmobile from their front door.
The neighbour from across the lake called us up today
and asked us if we wanted to join friends and neighbours
for an ice fishing party on the lake this afternoon. We
had things to do but went over on the fourwheeler for
a little while later on. They had a nice fire, some lawn
chairs, and a few fishing poles hanging over some holes
in the ice. There was even a real nice rainbow trout
that someone had caught. It was a tiny bit blustery
and the clouds hid the sun most of the time, but when
the sun did come out, it was really pleasant. Of course
I guess that's why you have a fire and liquid refreshments....
for those moments when it cools down. :-) It's nice to
see everyone using the lake this year compared to last
when the overflow and spider holes pretty much kept everyone,
including the sledders, off of it.
It didn't really get more than a couple of degrees above
freezing today and it still snuck down to -10C or 14F
last night with the lake singing the whole time. Actually,
it was doing some rumbling while we were out on the ice
Driving down the ice road is a bit of a challenge
now, even on an ATV. It has melted between the
snowbanks, of course, and has become a skating rink. It's
so slippery that you don't dare go very fast and even
then you can feel the fourwheeler drifting with every
shift in your weight. Most of the surface of the lake
is passible because the snow has melted down on it so
much, but it's a bit rough.
I actually had some work to do so I left the ice
party fire and started to walk back to our side of the
lake because Andy wanted to visit a little longer
and I didn't get a chance for a walk today. On my way
home, quite near the big island, I found two halves of
a large egg melted deep into the snow on the ice. Both
shells were empty of all but the lining, the open ends
facing up. I suppose it's quite possible that someone
was eating a boiled egg at some point out on the ice early
this winter, but it seems highly unlikely. But any
other explanation is a little weird too. I suppose
it's possible that a bird laid an egg on the island or
the snow and something like ravens got to it. Or was it
laid last spring or summer and floated in the lake until
ice up when it might have floated to the surfac?. But
then it should be frozen in ice, not snow. Although it
did snow just as the ice was freezing last
fall in that spot. Could an egg have popped up on the
water and been frozen in snow? Naw...that doesn't seem
likely. Maybe we'll go back to the 'person eating
a boiled egg on the lake ice this winter' theory.
It didn't look like a store bought or farm egg though.
It was a funny buff color and large and either there were
two eggs with the tops broken off, or one egg broken in
half and the shell kept intact. And the lining had still
been liquid before exposed to weather, which doesn't seem
likely with a boiled egg. I don't know folks. It's
kind of like spending ages on that silly piece of lichen
last year that turned out to be dwarf mistletoe.
I wasn't even in the right plant genus and that
opened up a whole new world. Now I see our poor little
pine trees in a whole different light and in a fight for
I guess I'll never know about the mystery egg, but it
is near Easter ....? Yes, I know. I too am always amazed
at how much time I can waste pondering the small details
in life and I'm certain most people reading this shake
their heads at times. But what the heck, it's my version
of stopping and smelling the roses.
Tomorrow is Easter Friday and I imagine most people will
be going away for the first long weekend of the year.
So for those of you that are traveling on the nation's
roads, drive carefully and if I don't have a chance to
write before Sunday, Happy Easter everyone!
The Last Day
was the last day of snowmobiling for our friends' family.
I opted out because of some work that came up and a joint
that went out, but everyone else went. It sounds like
they had a rocking good day although only one machine
had one single scratcher left on it by the time they came
in. I don't know what they're making the steel
from nowadays but they must be overhardening it or something.
The lake has been booming for the last few days but at
night is incredible, especially with the moon. I know
that the moon effects the tides but I wonder if it has
any effect on the lake because it sure seems to make more
noise the bigger the moon gets, even though our temperatures
are much the same as they have been for weeks.
For the last couple of nights I've stood outside for a
few moments listening and there's just no let up
in what sounds like far off mortar fire and the crunching
sound of the ice cracking and settling. That actually
happened to us out on the ice on Sunday. We had just come
back onto the lake after our ride and stopped our machines
before heading home. There was a crunch and I felt my
machine shake. I just assumed that a large chunk of ice
had fallen off of my track when I noticed the looks on
Richard and Leah's faces and one of them said, "Did
the lake just drop?!" That's when we realized
that the lake had just cracked under us and the ice sheet
dropped a bit. That's common close to shore because the
ice rises in the middle. I wish I had taken some pictures
of Goat Lake that day. It was a good example of how the
ice acts when it is pressured upward. There were a few
places where blue ice bulged up several feet around rocks
in the lake, and then fissured from the stress.
John sent me a little story last night - some of it about
this area and some pertaining more to later in his career,
but since it's close to Easter, it's probably a very appropriate
time to post it. Besides, I don't have much else for you
and Andy didn't take the camera today, so John's piece
will fill in nicely here.
INTERVENTION OR FLUKE - YOU DECIDE Over the years a few
things have occurred to me that give me pause to think
Many years ago Lester DORSEY and D'Arcy CHRISTENSEN entered
into a partnership for a time and bought a small sawmill.
They had also purchased a very old David BROWNE Caterpillar
tractor. I think they worked together for a winter or
two. I know the old Tractor Shed at the Corkscrew Creek
Ranch was constructed from rough lumber the two of them
milled. No doubt Lester erected a few building also.
I think I was about 14 years of age at the time. I remember
accompanying D'Arcy to Anahim Lake this one time and he
was going to have to change the rollers on this old David
Brown Caterpillar tractor. They were forever wearing out
and resulted in them getting rid of this machine soon
Anyways….Here we were in beautiful downtown Anahim Lake
and near where Andy & Dorothy CHRISTENSEN lived in their
small log house. This was about across the road from the
Old Frontier Cafe. D'Arcy had jacked the back end of this
cat off the ground and crawled underneath to undo some
bolts on the inside of the track to this machine. I was
just kind of standing around and handing him some tools
when he needed them and stuff.
Now I'm looking at this small hydraulic jack that is holding
up this caterpillar and I'm thinking that looks like too
small a jack to hold up that much machinery and looked
kind of dangerous. I go through the gate to Andy's place
and borrow a block of stove length firewood about 10 inches
around. There was a hitch at the back of this cat and
I place the block of wood under the hitch. Now my choice
of length of log was perfect to say the least. It was
simply a perfect fit under the hitch. I no sooner had
the log under the hitch and the jack lets go! The cat
dropped maybe a quarter inch before it hit the log. Startled
the hell out of D'Arcy. "What the hell!", he says. I informed
him that the jack just let go but that I had put a piece
of firewood under the hitch. He as much as accused me
of tinkering with the jack and I had not even been close
to it. No more cause for concern than that and he continues
to work on the cat. When he's done and crawls out from
under the cat he takes the jack out and go figure. The
hydraulic jack is Kaput!
Now when I say I had just got the piece of wood under
the hitch of that caterpillar, I mean just! Not a second
had gone by when the jack collapsed. Now I just saved
the life of my Brother-in-law and he barely acknowledges
the fact. Did not even give him cause to comment. Just
continued on with his business. I am willing to bet if
you asked him; he would not even recall the incident.
So was life in the Chilcotin.
A good number of similar incidents followed me throughout
my career in the RCMP. Enough to give me reason to believe
that there is a higher power that intercedes from time
to time. I would like to tell you about one such incident
that occurred a whole long time ago at a posting that
shall remain unidentified.
About noon one spring day I was summoned to the local
Hospital whereupon I was met by a Doctor who had summoned
me. He informed me that he had just treated a patient
who was very near death and in his opinion had given birth
to a full term fetus. He advised that the patient was
in "Hypovolemic Shock" (loss of blood) and "not out of
the woods" so to speak. His concern was that she was uncommunicative
and that out there somewhere was a baby in dire straits.
Within short order we were able to determine where this
young lady resided and began to conduct an investigation
into the matter. The circumstances surrounding the investigation
were unique to say the least. Nowhere could we find or
locate a baby.
Without going into a ton of detail with respect to the
investigation; I can tell you that my search for the baby
led me to a snow covered field bordering a small town
in northern Alberta. Now my first call with respect to
this matter came in just past noon. We were searching
for the baby and conducting our investigation from this
time on. We had done some tracking to no avail. I called
in the Police Service Dog to assist in the search and
also to no avail. Now it was getting dark and a blizzard
had started to blow. We were sure we were in the right
area and several policemen and a Police Service Dog could
not locate this baby. By this time my investigation had
led me to believe that this baby had been wrapped in a
large red bathroom towel and buried in the snow in the
bush very near to our search area.
We continued to search with flash lights and our hopes
were growing dimmer by the minute. Howling winds and blowing
snow made search conditions near impossible.
Quite suddenly, a piece of red "Christmas Wrapping Paper"
blows by me and continues some 25 yards past me where
it becomes snagged in some low bushes. To this day I don't
know what possessed me to follow the Christmas wrapping
paper. Within a meter of the "Wrapping paper" I virtually
stumble upon the smallest amount of "Red Towel" showing
through the snow. The purpose of our Search was over!
Now this case was very unique for a variety of reasons
and one I shall never forget. It became a very controversial
case and subject to a great deal of study on the part
of the RCMP and the Attorney General of Alberta.
Now in my later years, I reflect on matters such as these
and give pause to wonder. One or two of these types of
things might just be a fluke. Some might say perseverance
is what led to success. All I can say is this sort of
thing occurred to me all too often. Most Career Police
Officers do develop a sixth sense and can attest to similar
occurrences. Maybe, just maybe we have some help from
time to time!
John D. BRECKNOCK
and our friends and two members of their family went out
to find some powder yesterday. It sounds like they found
some too. They went up on the mountain and played around
a bit up there and spent quite a bit of time over at the
Cornice Play Hill. As you can see on the right, they were
hitting the cornice where it's nearly vertical for a short
bit. And the picture below shows that sometimes
you just don't quite make it.
From there they all moseyed down to the Telegraph Creek
trail that has a bunch of deep deactivation ditches on
it. That makes it fun for doing jumps and they found lots
of powder in that area to play around in.
By this morning, there were only two of the most determined
left to go out snowmobiling. It sounds like they had a
great time and went into country looking for powder that
we normally avoid, because it can be real deep, real soft
and a real jackpot. Sometimes you can get down the hill
and play around in among the trees where the snow stays
soft all right, but getting back up often involves
a lot of stucks. Apparently they only had about
eight apiece today, so they considered it a good day :-)
Tomorrow is another family day and we'll all go out then.
It will just be a challenge trying to find good trails
that everyone can make but that the 'extreme' riders can
still find powder to play around in.
Our bird life just got a lot more interesting and it must
truly be spring now. I came out out of my office at one
point yesterday to see what I was almost certain were
two Trumpeter Swans feeding on bugs or something
on the ice. The next time I looked, there was
only one and while I studied it in the binoculars I noticed
it seemed to be calling every once in awhile. The bachelor,
or bachelorette, (How would you know?) stayed within a
small area on the ice for the whole afternoon, mostly
just standing there and looking around. It was close to
supper time before I noticed it was gone, probably figuring
it had better get off the ice and find some water before
dark set in, and the predators came knocking.
I don't know if its partner ever returned, if indeed I
had seen two, or if it went looking for it. They sure
are huge birds. Even though white themselves, they're
still pretty easy to spot on the lake ice.
I finally got my weather center back today. Fortunately
for me, Andy has no fear about taking things apart, even
when faced with a computer circuit board inside. It turns
out that besides being a carpenter, mechanic, welder,
electrician, fix it, and plumber among other things, he's
also pretty good at electronics. Though not working perfectly,
the parts that I want working, are. So, on that note,
I can tell you that it's -4C or 25F right now and it didn't
get much above +4C today. We had a bit of breeze
that kept things cool on my walk but it sure sucks the
moisture away as the snow melts. I can't believe
how much it's going down every day. Today I actually discovered
a columbine in my garden that had been uncovered by the
sun that was as green as could be. The leaves will freeze
tonight, of course, but it just goes to show you that
we got snow before we got a hard enough frost to kill
the hardy plants last fall.
Hopefully tomorrow will be a nice day. It will be the
last riding day for our friends' visitors and we'll all
probably go. After that, unless we get some fresh snow,
I think I'll be parking my machine for the year. It's
time to start thinking of spring things and getting some
work done during Break up.
St. Patrick's Day everyone. It looks like most
parades occurred yesterday but I expect there'll be a
few bottoms tipped up today. St. Patrick's Day is one
of those friendly happy days that everyone, no matter
what their cultural background, seems to get into. Andy
was telling me that Vancouver holds one of the most multi-cultural
events in North America where all cultures are invited
to join in the parade wearing ethnic costume and set up
cultural displays. I kind of wondered when
we saw tidbits of the parade on the news and something
didn't look quite right. I think it might have been the
Indian saris and the Chinese silk robes that tipped me
We went snowmobiling yesterday with family of our friends
which included two little tiny tikes and
their mother who had only ever been on a machine once
before, and their grandmother who had not been on a sled
for over 20 years and then it was low horsepower and the
old style. However, after having been put on one of the
biggest machines and newest style yesterday, she hung
right in there.
It's a good time of year for inexperienced people to ride
because the snow is so hard crusted that you can go anywhere
and not get stuck. Unfortunately, that hard crust
also caused overheating worries all day yesterday because
it never got above freezing. It was -12C or 10F
when we left here yesterday and the lake ice and bit of
snow on it was rock hard. Most of us had scratchers, but
not all, but only one machine, an older one, actually
overheated. We were fortunate to hit about an inch of
fresh snow on Charlotte Main and more the higher we got,
so that helped a tremendous amount.
Andy had just gotten a brand new set of scratchers on
his newer machine the night before and when he pulled
them out of the package, he showed the packaging to me.
"When was the last time you saw that?" he said.
Woo Hoo!! Made in the USA! "Not in
a long, long time." I said. I was impressed to not
see a made in China sticker on it. I shouldn't have been.
We had only gotten about half way up Charlotte Main riding
side by side when I heard a metallic 'ping' sound. I slowed
to look at my scratchers and they were there, but the
one on Andy's machine had broken off. The sound
I heard must have been the piece hitting my machine when
it flew off. We went back and found it laying
in the middle of the trail. It was broken on the bend
which is hard to believe. It's supposed to be made up
of spring steel, the same as what you would find on an
old fashioned harrow or a hay rake. We pulled harrows
through compacted dirt and clay and rocks for years before
we would have to replace a piece. And this thing
couldn't make it 10 miles scraping on snow. $80
dollars for two little rods of metal that you bolt to
your machine, and it can't do the job? Small wonder all
the American manufacturing has gone to China and Mexico
if they can produce a much cheaper product that works
as well or better. It was disappointing to say the least
and of course warranty won't work. The retailer will just
claim Andy backed up with the scratchers down, which I
can attest he did not. But as usual, it's a lose, lose
situation for the consumer.
We weren't blessed with good weather yesterday at
all. It was a little windy and kept trying to
snow all day as you'll see from the pics on the right,
making it a little bit tough to see, so we didn't even
try to get up on Trumpeter.
We decided to go over to the Play Hill because it's normally
protected from the wind, and it was quite pleasant for
awhile when the sun came out. But after everyone did a
bunch of playing around on the hill, (including the kids
riding with their Dad and our friends) the snow really
started driving sideways and it was time to leave. I always
worry that it will get too cold for kids up on the mountain
because they're actually not doing anything to keep warm.
We wound our way back down to Goat Pass through driving
snow and wind and then Andy pulled up next to the kids'
Dad to see if he wanted Andy to take the little guy riding
with him, so that his Dad could go play in the snow. The
little boy was sound asleep on the machine with the visor
on his helmet through the mountain bar keeping him propped
upright. It was really cute but I have no idea
how a kid could go sound to sleep bouncing over bumps
on a snowmobile. He slept all the way down the mountain
though to kilometer 24.
We deked off into Gus's Meadow where deep powder usually
makes for great fun playing around, especially for visitors.
But it too was rock hard and even the creek is open in
spots there. Conditions are not nearly as bad today because
it didn't get as cold last night and it's a lot warmer
with some sun today. Andy and a few have gone back out
without the kids this time so that they can see if they
can find powder in the trees up on the mountain. You can
get into a real jackpot with a lot of inexperienced riders
going into the trees but it makes it a lot more fun for
the better riders. Since it's not nearly so blustery
and much clearer, I'm hoping the crew can get to to the
top of Trumpeter too. That view is what makes
the whole trip worthwhile.
I decided to stay home and work today in the hopes of
going out Wednesday. But if I keep writing this article,
that won't happen either!
Oh, and don't pay attention to the time this was supposed
to be posted above, and when it actually will be. I just
realized that the pictures that I was going to post of
yesterday's trip are still on the camera, which is riding
with Andy up on the mountain right now. So it will be
this evening before this is up at the soonest.
As you can see, I've started a new week so you'll find
last week's articles, though few, at March
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!