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Wilderness Adventures - March Week Two

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!
3/14/05 4:11 PM

The Canada Geese Are Here - But There Ain't No Water!

Canada geese started arriving in the area last night, all dressed up and no place to go. Two formations went over just before sunset last night heading north. Probably to the mouth of the Dean River on the north end of Nimpo Lake. Two lonely swans went over looking for water as well, and finally settled on a tiny patch of open water off the point on the lake. Today, a formation of geese circled every bay on the lake looking for water. The Dean is probably getting pretty crowded with migratory birds that have already arrived. Too crowded for a flock of geese this size. They too finally settled on the water off the point this afternoon, huddled together on the ice and water, because there isn't that much room. Unfortunately, it will make them a prime target for predators such as coyotes and Bald Eagles.
3/13/05 3:26 PM

Still Melting - More Swans

Early spring is still causing local flooding. Surrounding forest is still standing in meltwater wherever there isn't enough of a grade for it to run off because the ground is still frozen. There are several places along Highway 20 where the water is starting to run across the highway or is very nearly up to the pavement. One spot just before Alexis Creek has major mud sliding across the highway and into the Chilko River from property that was recently cleared of trees. The Chilko and Fraser rivers both appear to be up much higher than is the norm for this time of year. And apparently Highway 20 west of Anahim Lake to Bella Coola is one giant mud hole. Normally it isn't that bad in spring, but this is a very unusual spring.
A few more Trumpeter Swans flew over this afternoon. No sign of any other water birds yet though. Which is a good thing. There is still lots of time yet for winter!
3/12/05 2:21 PM

Trumpeter Swans Are Here But No Geese

Trip to town yesterday which entails 200 miles to Williams Lake turned up a number of Trumpeter Swans along the way. The odd pot hole here and there as well as Williams Lake itself had about four Swans per. Just to show you how much this early spring has taken migrant birds by surprise though, there were no Canada Geese, ducks, anything besides the swans. Usually there are hundreds of geese standing on ice and snow in the fields at Tatla Lake just waiting for the first thaw. But not this year. Did see six Trumpeter Swans at the mouth of the Dean River at Nimpo Lake last week which is very early. It's the only open water on the lake at this point in time. Thursday, a bald eagle sat at a small bit of open water off the point on Nimpo all day, waiting for some unsuspecting fish to rise to the surface I guess. Saw one moose and many, many mule deer both going into town and back out right along the road. Then proceeded to kick myself all afternoon because I had the camera with me and didn't think to take any pictures of the deer. I don't have much for pics and missed great opportunities for close ups yesterday. I guess they're just so common that I just don't think to pull out the camera!
3/11/05 10:42 AM

Rock Slides on The Bella Coola Hill

As a sign of things to come, the Bella Coola Hill was shut down until Wednesday morning due to a rock slide. Hwy. 20 West of Anahim Lake was closed due to a rock slide that occurred shortly after midnight. The highways guys got it open to single lane traffic the next morning by taking down a loader and clearing the boulders off the road, but it will stay to one lane until the Geo-Tech boys can fly in and assess future slide danger.
The Hill in Tweedsmuir Park has been plagued by slides all winter and in view of the early spring melt (see story below) the problem may only get worse. The 'Hill', as it's called, on Highway 20 through Heckman Pass and down to the inlet is the only road route to Bella Coola. So when it's closed, groceries get a little scarce down in the valley. The Hill has a long history to go with its 18% grade, the steepest on any highway in Canada. The highway was actually built by locals from the Bella Coola valley, Anahim and Nimpo Lake area after the government refused to help. Putting together their resources of cats, loaders, tractors and other equipment, as well as some stump blowing expertise with dynamite, and a lot of back breaking work, locals from on top worked to meet those coming up from the bottom. The two groups met in the middle in 1953 with their respective newly completed roads. It was an incredible engineering feat and a marvelous example of several communities working together to achieve an end.

3/10/05 10:52 AM

Early Spring Could Have Serious Consequences

Flooding and Fire could be of disasterous consequence to the region if what looks to be an early spring melt continues. Right now the West Chilcotin is enjoying unheard of high temperatures for this time of year as is the rest of the province. However, because of previous cold weather, the ground is still frozen, so there is no place for all the melting snow and ice to go. Where there is some sort of grade, it melts into lakes and swamps but it is not melting into the ground. Which is a huge loss, because normally we would see melt dissolving into the ground in late April to late May. This means the forest floor and flora would not start drying out until well into June or July. That would normally mean little or low forest fire danger before August. This year, we may easily go to extreme fire danger by June. At the same time, the snow pack is melting so quickly as well as lower level snow that flooding is going to be a real problem throughout British Columbia this spring.
3/9/05 10:26 AM

Good Things Do Come Out Of Fire

Even though devastating, the massive fires in our region can be a boon to wildlife and the forest. Although the forest fires in the region the last two years have displaced a lot of wildlife it will in the end expand usable habitat. Almost nothing can eat what is in our vast pine forests. But once that is burned over, a different flora will grow up to take its place. Aspen, birch, willow, low bushes, buckbrush, rose bush, kinnickinick, berry bushes and a myriad of others will grow quickly to replace the lost pine and spruce. All of it a better food source and providing better cover for birds and wildlife in the area. In the meanwhile, wildlife forced to move out of the burns and into non burned areas increase tenfold the opportunity to see an incredible array of wildlife from moose, caribou, black bear, grizzly bear, cougar, deer to lynx, coyote and wolf. What was already a photographer's paradise has just become more so! See the Wildlife page for more info on what our area has to offer.

Lonesome Lake Fire Continued

More information pertaining to the largest fire in British Columbia in 2004. The fire started in the last week of June while the Forestry Service was fighting a large fire at McClinchy just south of Nimpo Lake. There were numerous lightning strikes in the space of a couple of days and Intitial Attack crews were run ragged trying to keep up on the strikes. Three bolts struck just behind Lonesome Lake high up in the alpine on a shale slide that would have been dangerous for initial attack crews to access. Since it was inside the Tweedsmuir Park boundary, the Park heads chose to let it burn as they have priority over Forestry unless a forest fire threatens homes, etc. The fire quietly trundled along for a month until July, when it broke loose with high winds and extremely dry conditions. The fire burned pretty much out of control until the end of August when Mother Nature and her rain put it back under control. Which was really fortunate since we rarely get rain of any consequence in August. Crazy Bear Lake, Charlotte Lake residents and John Edwards of Lonesome Lake were evacuated and the communities of Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake were on evacuation notice for several weeks. The fire eventually burned about 20,000 hectares and cost around $10,000,000 dollars to get under control and put out. A fire camp was set up at the Anahim Lake airport to fight both the Lonesome Lake fire and several other fires in the surrounding area. There were upward of 500 firefighters and Forestry personnel at the camp as well as 22 helicopters ranging from lights to heavies bucketing because smoke and steepness of the country prevented planes from being used.
3/7/05 12:57 PM

Body Found in Burned out Hotel

CBC News
Fire Investigators have discovered a body in the burned out remains of the old Lakeview Hotel in Williams Lake. Four tenants had been reported missing after a fire swept through the landmark hotel early Sunday morning. RCMP Sgt. Dan Fitzpatrick says that while firefighters haven't been able to get into the building yet because of hot spots, they managed to spot the body overnight. "Some of the firemen were examining the building through the windows, as we're not able to gain any access the building," he says. "And they've located one body in one of the windows. And we're currently in the planning stages of removing that body from the scene." Three other tenants of the hoteL which was a home for low-income people. are still missing. But Fitzpatrick says police are following up on a tip about one of them. He says someone reported seeing the tenant in town. The cause of the fire is still not known.
3/7/05 10:25 AM

A Landmark Burns - Four People Missing

An old Landmark in Williams Lake burned in the early hours of Sunday, four people are believed dead. The Lakeview Hotel on Mackenzie Avenue in Williams Lake burned down early Sunday. There were 17 people living there. Four are still unaccounted for and it is believed they died in the building. Since it is still burning, officials won't know until they can get in to clean up. One woman jumped from the third story and sustained serious injury. Another was carried out unconscious. The building went up pretty fast as the wood was old and dry. The Lakeview has been around as long as I can remember. I believe it was one of the original buildings in Williams Lake. It has fallen into a state of disrepair over the years and the pub section downstairs has not always drawn the best cliental. Apparently, however, the Hotel just underwent renovation under new management.
3/6/05 1:37 PM

Extent of The Lonesome Lake Burn a Surprise

The extent of the burn caused by the Lonesome Lake Fire from this past summer came as quite a surprise. I had never really gotten an opportunity to see the full extent of the burned area caused by the Lonesome Lake fire in 2004 which was the largest fire in British Columbia this past summer. Not until I went up on Trumpeter snowmobiling. The fire burned right up to the edge of the alpine where we snowmobile in winter. It also burned around the base of that range right up to the firebreaks on the Nimpo Lake side of the mountain. We were under evacuation notice for a period of time in July 2004, and Charlotte Lake residents were evacuated. John Edwards lost his homestead on Lonesome Lake at the foot of that steep hill going down to the lake in the picture at the right. Although I flew over the fire while it was still burning in a helicopter, you really couldn't see the extent of the damage for the smoke. Well, you can sure see it now very clearly against the snow in winter. Everything behind the snowmobiler in the picture on the right, has been burned up to the alpine. Had the fire come over the mountain, it would only have had about 15 miles to go to my house. Since it burned 12 miles in a two day period at one point, that wouldn't have been hard.




Please be patient with this site. It's still under construction!
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 aim 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. Which is why it's taking so long to complete the site! :)


Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Helicopter bucketing water courtesy of Lise St. Gelais
 
Crew Moves courtesy of Lise St. Gelais
 
Hotel Fire courtesy of CBC News
 
Lonesome Lake Fire in full force
 
Burned out side hill just above Lonesome Lake
 
Lonesome Lake Burn in Winter
 
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