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 2/2009
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of the Day.
Friday The Thirteenth Round Two
you go....another Friday the Thirteenth for the second
month in a row and nothing bad happened today. So far....
I had to go to a client meeting today and my truck didn't
even get stuck in his driveway, no flat tires when I went
to Nimpo, and no grizzly bear ate me or the dogs on my
walk today. It was a lucky day after all!
It was kind of a sullen day weather wise, though. It was
only a few degrees below freezing when I got up and it
warmed up quickly. I think it got to between three and
four degrees above freezing and that was without the sun
because we certainly didn't see any. We've had heavy,
low cloud all day and the later it got in the day, the
lower and blacker the clouds got. It never did do anything
down here though. It's been snowing all day in the
mountains so that big weather system must be running
right along the mountain range and it's just missed us.
Although we got lots of wind out of it all last night
I noticed watching the weather at supper that the forecasters
had revised their radar map some. Last night it showed
us in the middle of some pretty heavy moisture while tonight
it showed us just outside of it. It looks like that low
pressure system slid down the coast more than it came
Apparently it was absolutely horrendous down in
Bella Coola today with blowing snow, rain and
high winds. The Pacific Coastal sked didn't even land
in Bella Coola so that meant anyone on the plane for Bella
Coola had to bus down the 'Hill'. The weather must
have been bad because a long time top flight pilot from
down in the Valley put his plane into the Saltchuck this
morning with one passenger on board. They're both
okay but I guess a helicopter had to fish them out of
the water where they had been hanging onto a wing.
Apparently the pilot of the downed plane was madder than
a wet hen. You can't blame him. He probably just got caught
in a sudden downdraft and couldn't keep from tipping her
into the water. I'll bet you he doesn't
fly on Friday the Thirteenth ever again.
It looks like our weather is going to continue to be unsettled
for the next few days. But hey! It's warm! And even if
it's windy, if it's warm, I can still walk the back trails
and it's infinitely better than risking frostbite with
a -20 windchill on top of cold temperatures like we had
earlier this week.
Have a good weekend, folks!
The Spot Thingie
Logan's term. He's our neighbour from down at the other
end of the lake and a great flying and snowmobiling enthusiast.
He bought himself a SPOT this winter and has finally decided
to subscribe to the emergency service and check it out.
For anyone that's not familiar with the SPOT, it's
a satellite GPS messenger and tracking device.
If you are out in the bush and are carrying one, you can
hit a button on it and it will check in through email
to your contacts that you specify. If you hit another
button, it will say 'Help' instead of 'Check In' on it,
sends the coordinates of the person with the SPOT, and
a link to a Google map showing exactly where that person
is so that you know where to send help, or help them yourself.
The last button is for 911. If you hit that button, then
the information automatically goes to an emergency service
that you subscribe to which calls phone numbers that you
have specified, to let you know that the person is in
The beauty of the device is that it works anywhere
in the world and where cell phones won't. It also
works even if you aren't working so well.
For an example, you can set the device to do automatic
check ins at specified intervals. If the contact person
notices that a check in has been missed, then they can
assume that there is a problem and using the coordinates
the SPOT sends each time, they can judge whether the person
is still moving or not. In the case of a guy in Alaska,
he wasn't and his life was saved where otherwise, he would
You can set the interval in which the SPOT sends coordinates
to the satellite so that a contact person, or anyone that
has been given a password and link, can follow your route
on Google Maps. That would be kind of fun when you
think about it.
I really like the safety aspect of it, so I was curious
to see how well it worked and I finally got my chance.
Logan asked if I would be one of the email contact people
because I'm always on the computer. (It's sad when everyone
knows what you do with your life all day.) I'm more than
happy to be because checking my emails is no big deal,
especially if I know he's out somewhere. So tonight he's
fired up his SPOT and he's doing some testing. Boy,
it's certainly accurate! He's exactly where he should
be on Google maps so I can see how it would be a very
simple matter to find someone in trouble. It's
just that so far there seems to be a time lag of several
minutes between the time he sends a message and when I
I find it really strange whenever we watch something on
the news about a person rescued from a mountain, or wilderness,
or plane crash because they called out on their cell phone.
It just seems so out of the ordinary because you don't
expect people to be able to get reception in isolated
areas, but that must have been improved a great deal over
the years. Although I shouldn't be surprised. We were
stunned to find that nearly everywhere in Alaska that
we traveled we could get cell phone service, even if we
hadn't seen another person or vehicle in miles of driving.
Out here we must be just about the only place left
with no cell phone coverage for the entire distance
from Williams Lake to the Bella Coola Valley, which is
why I gave a SPOT to Andy for Christmas. But we haven't
subscribed to the service yet because you have to do that
in American dollars and in case anyone hasn't noticed,
our Canadian dollar is definitely in the doldrums! I've
been waiting for it to come up a bit but no luck so far.
Last night the temperature only went down to -10C or 14F
and then not until early this morning. Once the temperature
rose above freezing it ranged around 5C or slightly less
all day but we sure didn't see much sun! We had really
heavy grey cloud all day until late this afternoon when
a wind came up and moved some of it out. Andy went
snowmobiling with the guys up on the mountain today and
he said visibility was really bad, especially
since he was breaking trail most of the day. It's not
bad when you have flat light if you have a snowmobile
track to follow. It creates shadow in a shadowless landscape
and at least you can tell which end is up. When you're
the one making the first track it's not so good and Andy
said his back is going to be paying tonight for some of
the bumps that he didn't see until he'd hit them.
A couple of fellows followed the guys' tracks up the mountain
today and they finally caught up with Andy and the group
this afternoon. It turns out the guy and his son are snowmobiling
buddies of our friends Bill and Anita from Quesnel. Small
world, I tell you! I hope they enjoy their time
out here. Our snow conditions aren't great right now because
the snow has hardened up, but I guess the guys still found
powder today, and it might just get better.
Looking at the radar on the weather tonight, it looks
like we're going to get some really messy stuff tomorrow.
We're definitely in the dark green so even if it skims
by us it will still drop snow in the mountains. Sadly,
the forecasters are calling for wind as well. I could
really do without that.
warming up! And if you don't think that's not a welcome
relief, you've got another thought coming! I think
everyone's getting just a little tired of the cold. For
me it's not the cold so much as the cold and
the wind. It just makes it too tough being outside.
Today the sun was shining again all day but we had some
high haze this morning and it's thickened up in spots
by this afternoon, but at least the sun has warmed things
up before real cloud starts to move in. That way we won't
be stuck under an inversion layer where the cold air is
held down by warmer air above....hopefully.
It got down to -28C or -18F last night but had climbed
to -4C or 25F with very little breeze when I went for
my walk shortly after lunch. By the time I came
home the thermometer at the back was registering 4 degrees
above freezing. I figured the digital one was in the sun
which is why it was reading so high, but another on the
side of the house read the same, so it must be so. It
sure is nice out there, anyway, and a very welcome change.
The walls of the house were cracking so loudly last night
that I thought this place was going to fall down around
our ears. It'll be nice if warmer weather means that will
It looks like we're in for a serious warm up in
the next few days and I'm glad to see it coming
in sooner than expected. Unfortunately, the weather change
is supposed to bring snow for the next couple of days,
but I guess you can't always have your cake and eat it
too. Besides, snow will make the die hard snowmobile enthusiasts
ever so happy. Although I'm not so sure it will make Andy
so happy. He's taken it upon himself to spend the last
few days clearing the neighbour's skating rink before
it snows again, and he said this afternoon that he should
have gotten to it before the snow crusted up so much in
the cold. That's okay. They say shoveling is good for
the soul. :-)
Things are waking up in the woods again. Since that
fresh snow last weekend there are numerous rabbit, grouse,
and squirrel tracks dotting the snowscape. A fox
has meandered all over the trail and I'm sure the coyotes
as well but it's harder to tell their tracks from those
left by the dogs. Still no lynx tracks this year which
really surprises me, but perhaps there's just too much
competition from the coyote pack down here. Although I
was just talking to a lynx hunter this afternoon and he
says the lack of lynx at this elevation may be because
of the beetle kill. I guess rabbits feed on fallen green
pine boughs, (I didn't know that.) and since so much of
our woods have been devastated by the pine beetle, there's
limited feed for them here. Which explains why I
saw so many lynx and rabbit tracks at higher elevations
where the pine beetle hasn't reached, and there's lots
of young pine trees from past logging.
There's no sign of our resident moose lately either. I
hope that doesn't mean it's been knocked off. The lack
of tracks anywhere seems to prove the animals are in trouble
in this area. Probably it's as the biologists have suggested,
wolf and grizzly bear predation has really taken down
the numbers as does native hunting. Soon there won't be
any moose left in this country and that will be a sad
day indeed compared to the days of Pan Phillips and Rich
Hobson when they reported seeing herds of them over in
the Blackwater. Mind you, Pan was prone
Audrey King over at White Saddle Air sent me some
photos today of some folks from England and New York that
they took out heli-skiing near Doran Creek on the north
side of the Homathko Ice field yesterday. Because
the pictures don't show well when reduced too much if
I put them on the right, I'll put one here. That cobalt
sky is exactly what I mean when I try to describe the
incredible blue we see in winter.
remember folks, we've got a lot of cool things to do here
both in summer and winter! In summer, White
Saddle can take you up heli-hiking into country that is
absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful and inaccessible
otherwise. Their most popular tours are in the
Pantheon Range, Queen Bess, Homathko and the Niut Ranges,
and they often take mountaineering parties up to Mt. Waddington.
You may want to look them up if you come visiting this
year. I think you'll love the adventure they have to offer.
still in the deep freeze up here, just hangin' out with
the tube steaks and pork chops. Actually, a lot
of people in warmer climes have no idea how much we use
our great Canadian deep freeze to keep things cold, or
to cool things off. Unlike in the summer when I use the
chest freezer, in this weather if I wanted to freeze fat
on hot broth so that I could skim it off, it would only
be a matter of a minute or two outside and the two would
be separated. Works great..
It went down to -35C or 31 below zero Fahrenheit
last night and took its own sweet time warming
up again today. It made it up to -9C at one point but
I think the sun was shining on the thermometer at the
back by then. We had anything from a breeze to a brisk
wind again today, making it extremely cold with the winchill.
I stepped outside during the warmest part of the day to
see if going for a walk was feasible. Just about then
a heavy wind started soughing through the trees and I
decided that there wasn't a chance in Hades I going for
a walk in that! Brrrr! I got lots of work done on the
computer as a result.
It was clear again all day today, but some high fluffy
cloud moved in toward late afternoon and we thought it
might be bringing warmer temperatures with it. But it
had mostly moved on out again by early evening and it's
completely clear again out there.
Andy found some interesting cracks on the property
this morning caused by the cold. We sit out on
a peninsula with water (or in this case, ice) on three
sides of us. I don't know if that makes a difference or
not, but Andy plowed our driveway Sunday, and when he
went out this morning, cracks had developed in the ice
on the driveway during the cold last night, going from
one side of the road to the other and then disappearing
under the snow. He figures that exposing the roadway to
cold air versus the surrounding ground under snow caused
some stress that caused the cracks. It's probably very
similar to keeping a skating rink clear. The ice will
grow and bulge in the center because it is exposed to
more cold air than the ice under the snow. Eventually
the stress will cause cracks in the ice. But I'm a romantic.
I would rather believe that massive tons of ice on either
side of our peninsula is causing the ground to bulge up,
thus creating the cracks. Some imagination, huh?
Actually, really strange things can happen in the
cold. Andy was talking to a guy today who lives
in a house that is at least half a century and probably
closer to a century old. So you would think that the logs
in the walls will have done pretty much all the shrinking
and expanding they will ever do over that period of time.
Apparently not.... He and his wife heard a loud, explosive
crack!! When they ran outside to investigate, they found
that one of the huge house logs had split wide open on
one side from the cold. It seems strange considering that
the weather was much colder in this country 50 years ago
than it is now. But cold weather in March is more unusual
and the sun is way warmer so the contrast between wood
heating up in the day time and cooling at night is going
to be so much greater than it would be in say... December
or January. Our sun now probably has the equivalent in
heat to what you would see in mid-October and you can
get some pretty darn warm days then. Anyway, that's my
theory..... not that it's worth any more than a plugged
It looks like cold temperature records for March
were set all over BC today. I think Fort Nelson
or Dawson Creek recorded the coldest temperatures in the
province for March at -36C, only a degree below us. Although
the weather forecaster that gave that number tonight is
always one degree lower than anyone else on his temperatures.
According to the Weather Office online, it was 35.3, only
a hair colder than we were. But since we're traditionally
colder than most of the province other than the far north,
that's not that unusual. March can be a nasty month
here. If you're not up to your heinie in cold and snow,
you're up to it mud!
The temperature isn't plummeting nearly as quickly as
it was last evening so maybe the warm up that's due toward
the end of the week is coming to us a little early. We
should be so lucky. It actually looks like we're in for
at least one more day of cool before the high starts to
break down and lets a little snow come in from the northwest.
I'm not sure if we're in for yet another breezy day but
I guess we'll know tomorrow.
I know one thing, I am sure loving Daylight Saving
Time although I've only had Sunday to take advantage
of it and go out walking later in the day. It is so
nice to have supper with the sun not yet down
and not have to squint over your plate. When we get such
brilliant sunlight shining through the windows all day
in winter, when it does get dark outside,
it seems pretty dim inside too, and you just can't seem
to get enough lights turned on to brighten things up.
It's ten to eight and there's still faint light in the
west and a big old, fat, full moon rising over the horizon
in the east. It just gets better and better from here
on in to spring.
we are truly in the deep freeze and it isn't going away!
It got down to -32C or -26F last night and that wouldn't
necessarily be all that notable if it weren't for the
wind-chill. It has been colder this winter
but this time we've got just enough of a little breeze
out of the north to make it feel a lot colder than it
It didn't warm up above -12C or 10 degrees Fahrenheit
today and if you throw in that breeze I suspect with wind-chill
it was at least -20C out there. I know that's about what
the air felt like on my walk yesterday at -9C so I chickened
out today and didn't go.
They're calling for arctic outflow winds for quite
a few parts of the province with our area having high
enough wind-chill values to warrant a warning.
You don't have to tell me more than once! All I have to
do is stick my nose out the door on the wrong side of
the house. Unfortunately with tomorrow, that will be three
days with a wind-chill which kind of puts a kink into
enjoying our clear blue skies, sunshine and cold temperatures
and definitely throws a wrench into getting some skiing
in. The upside is that I guess I get more work done.
Today brought a bit of a shocker to the Lower Mainland
with snow making a mess of the roads for the morning commute.
I didn't see a lot of that part of the news other than
a bus driver kicking his passengers off because he couldn't
get up a hill, and a woman doing a 180, then sliding backwards
down a sloping street in her SUV. Did anyone say 4x4?
I'm sorry. I don't mean to be mean but sometimes it's
a bit of a chuckle watching the bumper cars and predicaments
some Lower Mainland drivers get themselves into after
a snowfall. Admittedly, the higher temperatures probably
make for much nastier road conditions because the snow
is wet and ices up under the tires, but it's amazing what
winter or studded tires can do for traction. Unfortunately,
many people living down on the coast just refuse to believe
that it snows down there sometimes.
I often wonder if people even watch the news or the weather.
They were commenting on the news tonight that it was such
a shock to Vancouverites to get the snow and the cold
this morning after the spring like weather over the weekend.
Maybe it's us....maybe we're the weird ones.
We had spring like weather too, but we also knew this
cold snap was coming. We didn't know the duration. Other
than from watching the weather it looks like it may break
on Thursday or a little later, and I'm guessing it's going
to get a lot colder before it gets warmer, but we knew
it was coming. I don't know....maybe city people have
better things to do than watch the weather. Me? I like
to be dressed for it.
In any case, I'm thinking some people down on the coast
are not happy about what's happening in
their gardens right now. I admit, I feel bad for any gardener
that may lose plants to surprise cold snaps, but that's
because I'm a gardener. At least here absolutely nothing
but a few wild willows have even considered
it to be spring, (and even they're late popping pussy
willow puffs this year) but I think flowering bulbs have
been out for a while on the coast already and I expect
some bloom has already come out on trees and shrubs. They
won't be liking the cold temperatures if it drops much
more down there.
Right now the temperature is dropping pretty fast
here this evening and has been since the sun went down.
It's -18.5C or -1F already and the house walls are making
loud cracks, probably because there's such a tremendous
difference from when they are warmed on the outside by
sun all day, and then exposed to plummeting temperatures
in the evening. Andy said the house was cracking pretty
good this morning too just after the sun came up.
When I put that one twisted bonsai up on the right yesterday
I didn't realize that it was going to be almost impossible
to tell what it was, so I put it on today's pic of the
day. Check it out! I truly would love to know how old
that thing is....it is so cool.
Perkin's Peak Ride
We went on our ride to Perkin's Peak today. By some
miracle we didn't forget much when we packed up the trailer
and we beat everyone else to the Miner Lake parking lot
which made it nice for getting backed in. It's a good
thing Andy was a truck driver because if it had been left
up to me, that bloody big trailer would still be parked
crosswise in the middle of the highway.
It actually looked like our day was going to start out
quite well considering the weather forecast and the blizzard
we had last night. Coming home from poker in the middle
of the night, all I had to do was manage to cross the
lake but with the wind whistling drifts on the ice road
in front of me and the wind swirling falling snow about,
it wasn't easy. I really felt for the guys that had to
drive farther to get home.
In any case, it was a nice surprise to wake up to half
decent weather this morning and we were floored to see
that the snow quit at Cariboo Flats last night. The road
was dry and bare beyond that. Everyone finally arrived
at the parking lot with only one guy blowing past the
turnoff and getting lost for awhile. Just before
we left on snowmobiles to start up the hill we could see
some weather moving in behind us. Still, it stayed
clear long enough as we climbed to see some of the fantastic
The road up is actually really good. No one had been on
it so we were in good snow all of the way up and since
it was sugar snow, it wasn't packing under the tracks
of all the machines. We ran into a couple of trees across
the road on our way up but Richard made short work of
them with his trusty saw.
We didn't start having problems until we got above
natural tree line and into windblown bonsai trees.
That's also when we started to run over rocks on the trail
because of the lack of snow this year. I guess last year
there was loads of snow and that wasn't a problem, but
warm weather this past month and high winds left very
little covering the shale and by the time several machines
had been over it, it was downright painful listening to
my skis clatter over them. I cringed whenever I hit a
rock that didn't move wondering how much damage I had
done to the scags on the bottom of the skis.
We pulled into what we thought was a sheltered spot at
the foot of a pretty steep face to have lunch. It started
out nice with sun but before long we had a cold wind driving
right at us and it was time to move on. A couple
of the guys did some highmarking on the face but you could
see the snow was icy and hear them hit rocks as they came
back down. I'm sure it's great any other time
of year but it definitely wasn't this year.
Unfortunately, our erstwhile leaders didn't seem to know
where they were going because after we sidehilled over
a hump in the face we ended up in a draw, and the start
of true alpine where nothing but rocks and lichen grow.
Three or four of the guys had gotten ahead of the rest
of us and were wandering around higher up in the rocks
and I don't think they were very sure on how to reach
the top of the mountain. The weather started changing
really fast and suddenly we had no sun and were in the
middle of blowing snow with the cloud so low that visibility
was deteriorating fast. Everywhere we looked all we could
see was that we were going to be leaving a lot of plastic
from our skis on rocks if we continued to climb. Aside
from that, this wasn't Trumpeter. Most of us can
find our way off the mountain if the weather really changes
because we've been up there so much, but none of us was
familiar with the Perkin's Peak area and I had no interest
in staying up there with the weather turning on us so
quickly. Most of us headed back down to the lunch spot
and once we could see the rest coming, we headed on down
It's funny, but we didn't have to drop in elevation that
much and we started to get back into some sun again so
the storm must have just been hanging around the peaks.
We tried going down to Miner Lake to see if there was
snow to play in but there was only about four inches of
sugar on the ice at most. We decided to turn off and go
down the Hidden Valley trail to see if there were meadows
in there, but our friend Henry had developed engine troubles
so three of us rode back down to the parking lot with
him while the rest checked out the other road. They said
they could see the 'Thumb' (a single needle like, jagged
peak) behind Kleena Kleene Ranch as they rode but they
would have had to go for quite a long way to get in behind
the ranch so they turned back.
Even though it seemed a short ride, we were still
out for four hours and when you add nearly an
hour travel time on each side, it turns into a long enough
day. We got into another storm heading home as we neared
Nimpo Lake and by the time we stopped to drop off one
of the machines, you could hardly see what you were doing
the snow was coming in so hard. The weather was definitely
a mixed bag all day.
I think had it been a nice, clear day, we could
have gotten to the top of Perkin's Peak, or at
least near enough to get some good pictures, even if we
had hiked a ways instead of scraping up our skis. But
without seeing the fantastic views that I know are there
from pictures I've seen, I don't know that I would bother
going up there on a snow machine again. I would very much
like to go up on a fourwheeler in the fall though after
bug season has wound down. It would be nice to just take
your time going up and see more of the country. Just
the fantastically twisted bonsai trees would be well worth
the trip! I expect you could get some good pics
of wildlife too since there was a lot of sign in the snow
It looks like our cold front is moving in slowly. It's
starting to clear out and the temperature is slowly dropping.
Forecasters are calling for clear, cold weather for about
the next three days so that might be nice. Maybe I can
get a ski in. I know one thing. I'm sure glad we weren't
trying to drive down to Kelowna or to the coast this weekend.
They showed the highway cams on the Coke and the Connector
today and what a bunch of dreck!! It was a lot worse than
anything we experienced today!!
It cleared off last night and dropped to -25.3C or -13F
this morning. When I went for my walk today it was -9C
at two and only got up to -7C or 19F by the time I got
back. That wouldn't be bad in the face of the brilliant
sunshine today if there hadn't been an 8mph breeze.
That's not much of a wind but when the temperature is
cold, it feels pretty bitter, and it made for some pretty
wicked walking where you were facing into the wind. Our
friends came over to do some ice fishing off our point
before lunch and they ran into the same thing. Even with
a fire, once that breeze sprang up it wasn't particularly
pleasant out on the ice. I think today was the only one
that the forecasters were calling for wind chill though,
so the next few days should be better. It's probably just
the weather systems mixing it up as the low that brought
snow is moved out by the high coming down from Alaska.
This is the start of a new week so you'll find March's
first week at March
Week One .
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!