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 3/2007
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
of the Day.
Burn, Baby, Burn
finally got to set that huge brush pile on fire. For a
change there was no wind first thing this morning, the
air had a still and humid quality to it and it looked
like it was going to snow.
Even better, the pile went up fast and furious but
along the length of it in the order we wanted it to so
as to preserve the big, green spruces trees standing behind
it. We stood around drinking coffee and watching
the flames reach for the sky while visiting with a good
friend of mine out here on business. That may not have
been quite what Darrell expected when he said he would
drop over for coffee before returning to Williams Lake
this morning, but you've got to admit, it's more interesting
than sitting around the kitchen table.
In any case, I got to play around with fire for about
five hours today while Andy and Mazy went flying. I ended
up smelling much like smoked salmon and looking like a
chimney sweep. I also got sore enough heaving half burned
logs back onto the pile that this is going to be a really
short article tonight.
Andy's flight instructor drove the length of Nimpo Lake
from the north end this morning and said she saw
a couple of caribou on the way down. We've got
good solid ice on the surface now that all the snow has
melted, but it isn't of great quality. We drilled a couple
of holes last night in the front of our place and found
we had 26 inches of ice, but it's not the clear black
ice you could normally expect. Heavy snow loads on the
thin ice right from the beginning meant overflow throughout
the winter. That would freeze, then more snow, more overflow,
more freezing. I think that what you get is a crusty white
or grey ice, not known for the strength that clear ice
has. Perhaps that means it will break up and melt sooner
The lake was certainly rumbling all yesterday into
evening. There were no temperature extremes by
any means so that should not have been the cause. By the
same token, it was so loud and so constant this morning
that I could hear it from daybreak until I got up, not
something that you can normally do from our loft. Although
there is no longer snow on the lake to muffle the sound
it seems odd for it to go on when we have such stable
temperatures and not enough sun to make much of a difference
to the surface of the ice. The only thing I can think
of is perhaps the warmer melt water from the streams entering
either end are disrupting the water temperature in the
lake. It's nice to hear her grumble again, anyway. We
missed the sound of Nimpo all winter.
The bird feeder is being mobbed by the red winged blackbirds
now, and we counted five Trumpeter Swans winging over
the Dean River last night. It means spring is on the way
and it can't be stopped now! Which is why it seems a little
late in the year for a snowmobile Poker Run. However,
for anyone in the area that would like to participate,
starting time is 11:00 a.m. Saturday at the Nimpo Community
Hall. Everyone welcome. Hot dogs on the trail
and burgers up at the Nimpo Carwash when it's all done.
To Lichen Or Not To Lichen
walk on the back trails today yielded me an interesting
little specimen of something... I'm just
not sure what.
I waited around for a good bit of the day hoping the weather
would sort itself out. I finally gave up and went for
a walk later this afternoon. The sun was shining off and
on with squall after squall rushing in on the wind. Yep,
the wind was blowing again. In fact, it was blowing
at daybreak today so there was no way our monster brush
pile could be torched this morning. Maybe tomorrow. As
you can see from the picture up on the right, the huge
brush pile and some stumps are the only sad reminder of
the beautiful grove of big pines on our friend's and neighbour's
land that used to guard the entrance to our driveway.
Not far from our place I came across the tracks
of a small herd of caribou made sometime after
our little snow last night and before the hail squall
of this afternoon. They meandered across the trail here
and there, and then the tracks disappeared.
Down another trail the tracks showed up again, this time
about a day old, meandering for quite a distance down
the middle of a snowmobile track I walk on. One set was
of a really big animal, presumably a bull. At one point
I came across a couple little branchlets near the tracks
and on the snow that I assume are pieces of lichen. I
looked all over the place and couldn't see any sign that
they came off a tree or from what little open ground there
is around a few trees. I can only assume they fell out
of the sides of a caribou's mouth, or off of his hide
They're fat little yellow green things and seem
really rubbery. I've had them in the house for
awhile now and they're no longer the bright color they
were. There are several branchlets on the stem with little
nodes along the length of each, ending in a little clump
of 'fingers' at the end.
I've looked in my plant book about lichens in British
Columbia and discovered two possible candidates. One is
called Reindeer lichen and indicates it's
the favorite food, especially in winter, of our caribou.
The other is called Wolf lichen and is listed
as an important source of dye for BC natives because of
its bright sulpher yellow color. It's also poisonous and
was commonly used in Europe in wolf bait. However, I wasn't
satisfied with the pictures at all since neither showed
enough of a close-up to be really sure it was the plant
and the accompanying drawings just didn't look quite right.
So I decided to go on the Internet.
Do not try this at home folks!
Seriously. Not if you value your time anyway.
Seeing some of these pictures in full color on your computer
screen is a whole different thing from seeing them in
a book. Boy, looking at some of those things kind of went
like this. "Yikes!", "Whoa! Look
at that thing!" "Holy Cow! Is that ever gross
looking!" "Oh cool." "Too weird!"
There is also some seriously cool stuff about lichens
on the Net besides pictures.
Yeah, I know, everyone's rolling their eyes now going,
"Okay, you're really hitting bottom on stuff
to write about here." But I really am serious.
Even if you aren't particularly interested in lichens,
and I never thought I was, it really gets fascinating
when you start reading about them. It's also why I'm so
late getting this article written tonight.
Right, where was I? Oh, yeah, I never did find a picture
of the little thing I picked up today. Either this has
just grown and is 'spring green' which seems highly unlikely
with about two feet of snow still in the woods, or this
is what it looks like all the time. Lichen can survive
without water at all, it just dries up. Then when
there is moisture, it uncurls, plumps up or whatever each
type does. I can only assume I'm seeing a picture of my
little specimen, but all dried up, which is why none of
the pictures match with what I have. Of course my little
prize might not be a lichen at all, in which case, we're
back to the question of where it came from.
Or, I've discovered a new lichen, which
is about as likely as me shaking Elvis Presley's hand.
Not gonna happen, no matter what the National Enquirer
Okay, enough of that subject. From the looks of it, the
small herd of caribou wandered all over our part of the
country for the last couple of days, including walking
down the middle of the road for about a mile, which makes
them impressively fearless. More to the point, it seems
obvious that they are sticking to packed trails and roadways,
which must mean the predators can outrun them on
the snow now. I watched the dogs closely today
to see how they made out on the snow whenever they checked
out the tracks. They were able to stay on top in places,
but in other spots they sank fast and seemed to be reluctant
to go farther. I suspect the crusty snow was cutting up
the pads of their feet. Many of the tracks must have been
pretty fresh because the dogs were pretty excitable today
and for a good distance, River never got his nose out
of the air. I'm assuming the caribou were nearby at some
point although probably not for long. They don't stand
around very much. Oop, I'm out of time. Don't you just
hate it when that happens? Not a few of you are probably
extremely glad of it tonight, I'll bet.
Admit it, you're not lichen it...!
Oh, I'm sorry. That was really, really bad... :-)
Our Federal Budget
Feds sent down the annual budget today and disappointingly,
it was a bit of a joke. First of all, the Finance Minister
sang on about what a great country Canada is from the
Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
It seems he forgot the province of British Columbia,
which happens to be on the west side of
the Rockies. It might not be a hard mistake to make if
it weren't that BC is a reasonably well off province with
a booming economy, a fairly large city well known throughout
North America, or even the world, and has a significant
percentage of Canada's population. It would be akin
to the Americans forgetting California. You can
imagine how old Arnie would like that!
Needless to say, it offended one or two British Columbians.
More offensive is the Fed Government's need to
buy off Quebec...again. I think that everyone
in the western provinces saw Stephen Harper as a champion
of the west, a nice change from Prime Ministers of the
last hundred years or so, and we were all looking forward
to having an equal voice with the rest of Canada. Why
not? British Columbia and Alberta are the two fastest
growing provinces in Canada both in terms of economy and
population, drawing people from all over the country trying
to get in on the boom. The 2006 Census showed both provinces
as being significantly underrepresented in both the House
and Senate, but both the sitting Government and
Opposition have tidily swept that little fact under the
It would seem that regardless of whether the sitting Government
is Conservative or Liberal (equiv. of Republican or Democrat
if you're American) it always feels the need to pander
to the province of Quebec. In the case of Stephen Harper's
minority Government, I guess he figured the only way he
could continue to stay in power was to hand all
the goodies over to the French.
One thing that really upset British Columbians is that
absolutely no mention was made in the budget about the
Mountain Pine Beetle. This epidemic is devastating
the BC economy and is going to have a huge environmental
impact on the province, both short term and long term.
In the short term, massive flooding is expected this spring
because of the large snow pack in the mountains and no
trees to absorb the meltwater as would normally have been
the case. Add to that the loss of such a large forest
with the same environmental benefit provided by the Amazon
Rain Forest, and you have a serious problem. Am
I cynical in thinking that if we were Quebec it would
be a whole different matter? Perhaps, if it weren't
for the fact that most western Canadians agree with my
opinion that they're getting the short end of the stick.
Ontario and Quebec need some Mountain Pine beetles over
in their forests, just to even up the playing field.
The only good thing about the budget that I've seen so
far are the incentives put in place to encourage people
to buy fuel efficient vehicles. You get a $2,000 dollar
rebate on your taxes if you do so. On the other side of
the coin, you can be penalized up to $4,000 if you buy
a 'gas guzzler'. I wouldn't have an argument with
that if it weren't fact that the Finance Minister doesn't
seem to have made allowance for those people that require
large pickups, etc. for their business. Whether
an oversight on the part of the 'planning committee' or
simply that no one has been able to find that information
in the budget papers yet, is unknown. If an oversight,
it needs to be addressed. A large percentage of
the Canadian rural population require pickup trucks
whether to haul machinery, feed to animals, equipment
to a job site, going to job sites that can only be accessed
by a pickup, or any number of other legitimate reasons.
If you are a contractor or own a business, that's going
to show up on your income tax return anyway, so it should
be an easy matter to determine those people that require
pickups for their jobs.
It isn't going to help people at all that don't own a
business but still need a pickup. There's a whole
lot of rural Canada that is inaccessible to people without
four wheel drive and not a few of us rely on our
trucks for hauling in firewood for the winter, soil, building
materials, groceries from town, etc. So where do you draw
the line? Penalize the person that lives in the country
and requires four wheel drive and a vehicle that has more
than a six inch clearance from the bumper to the road?
That's hardly fair.
So perhaps the penalty should be based on address. Really,
you don't need a Hummer to drive in the city.
I would be all for that as well, if it weren't for the
fact that many people live in the city but like to pull
a trailer or fifth wheel with their pickup when they go
traveling. While going by address would work far better
than having a blanket policy, I think the Feds' ideas
on encouraging people to purchase a more environmentally
friendly vehicle needs some more work. However,
I don't expect some moron in Ottawa who has never been
off a paved street or highway, (most of the self-centered
twits don't even know life exists beyond the borders of
Ontario) to come up with a realistic solution.
That is far beyond the scope of most Canadian Federal
It would seem that some things just never change.
To more important matters.
The winds continue to start up in the morning and
howl until supper and our snow continues to melt.
The sun did shine for a good part of the day, and we got
some flurries, some rain and some hail. Just a little
bit of everything to keep things interesting. Tomorrow
at around five in the evening is supposed to be the first
day of spring. Hmmmm.
We cut down some more beetle killed trees out at the entrance
of our drive today and moved more brush onto the burn
pile. Tomorrow morning early, provided the wind isn't
blowing, that little beauty gets torched!
Andy will take the fire pump and hose with him tomorrow
and get a hole cut in the ice on the lake before he sets
the fire, just as a precaution. It should not be a problem
at all, because there's still up to a couple feet of snow
surrounding the burn pile, but much better to be safe
Do You Want To Be A Rancher?
of the nicest ranches in the area is now listed on the
Properties for Sale page.
You cannot help but notice the Kleena Kleene Ranch along
Highway 20 West about halfway between Tatla Lake and Nimpo
Lake with its lush, green hayfields and sassy looking
In existence since 1933, this ranch has been an
important part of West Chilcotin heritage for years.
I remember seeing a Canada Post outlet sign there from
the day I first hit this country (it may still be one)
and a payphone, which was kind of handy. I think a lot
of tow trucks have been called from that phone over the
The ranch straddles the Kliniklini River and sits
down in a protected valley, with the Coast Mountain Range
rearing above it. Although it does seem to pick
up some moisture tunneling through the mountains from
the ocean, that same air flow combined with the river
seems also to have a moderating influence on temperatures
in the little valley. It seems to 'spring' up there long
before we see green at Nimpo and the glorious colors of
fall often stay long after we've lost our leaves.
The toes of the rolling foothills that sneak into the
valley look like they provide protected areas for feeding
cattle and we often admire newborn calves when we drive
by on our way to town.
This ranch can also be subdivided so there's a whole
lot of potential there for an investor. Check
it out on the For Sale page and from there you will find
a link to the website giving all the information you need
and a little bit of fun history.
Today dawned still with some pretty low clouds that moved
out before noon. We cut down and burned the branches of
a few more beetle killed pine. Thirty-five stumps in the
yard now and a whole lot more trees than that to come
Some of our still green trees were attacked by mountain
pine beetle last summer so we'll probably have
to get those cut down and burned as soon as possible since
many have live larvae in them. Besides our trees we're
also taking down the neighbour's that are at the entrance
to our driveway. He cut a lot of trees down
on his property last summer and disposed of the branches
in a pile up there for burning this spring. We need to
get that bonfire over with before the snow melts because
it's going to be a doozy, but we can't set the
fire until the trees nearby are cut down. Everything in
order I guess....
The wind started kicking up again just before noon so
while Andy took off to to go flying, I decided to stick
around outside to watch our fire, continue to add dead
branches loaded with pinecones and red needles, and do
a little raking. There's something positively Zen-like
about having a fire out in the yard while doing cleanup.
I don't know if it's poking around in the coals with a
pitchfork or getting to dump more stuff on a fire that
makes you feel like you're accomplishing something, but
it seems a lot like a 'purification' thing, if that makes
any sense. Don't anyone start looking at me funny now,
and no, you don't need to call the guys in white suits
I suppose the pollution police would have a fit if they
knew we were burning branches and pine needles and felt
we were polluting the atmosphere but since forest
fires have been doing the same for millennia, I don't
think I'm going to worry about it too much. It seems a
lot better to do that than throw truck loads of such stuff
into the landfill. I would dearly love to have one of
those huge shredders that reduce even big branches into
sawdust because it's wonderful stuff to put on a garden
path or mulch around plants with. Unfortunately, I think
they're pretty expensive to buy and I haven't figured
out how to build one yet.
One last note; Highway One through the Fraser
Canyon has opened one lane to alternating traffic from
Spence's Bridge to Lytton but I don't know if you can
make it all the way through the Canyon yet or not. I haven't
heard anything about the other closure on that section
of highway. I think there was yet another closure around
Golden to the east, but those slides get cleared fairly
quickly. I think because they consist more of either snow
or rock rather than mud and you don't tend to lose a whole
mountain over there as much.
All Dawns Bright And Beautiful
had a ferocious wind that kicked up late last night bringing
well above freezing temperatures but this morning dawned
with one of those still after-the-storm mornings
and very warm. It's wonderful to see a day without wind,
although how long that will last is anyone's guess.
My apologies for no article yesterday. Every time I change
to a new week there is a whole lot of things that have
to be done to archive the past week, change title and
description for the archived page, add the old week's
link to every page for the year and change the links on
the rss feed among other things. Unfortunately, this isn't
set up like your standard blog where all that is done
for you because I wanted this blog to look like the rest
of the pages in the website and have control over the
images I add, etc. I suspect 'control' is the operative
word here and my ultimate downfall, in time management
anyway. I'm sure there's a better, easier way
to do this. I just haven't found it yet. Nor do I have
the time to look for a better way. As a result, unless
I have a little time I can't start a new week, and yesterday
I didn't have time.
We have not been able to ride with our friends down from
Quesnel the entire week they have been here, so the least
we could do was have them over for supper and find out
how their snowmobiling went for them. However, we also
had Andy's flight instructor over so most of the conversation
centered on flying. A wonderful neighbour of ours made
the mistake of stopping over for a visit so he got pulled
in for supper as well. We had a super evening with good
friends and great conversation, but the long and the short
of it is...I never did get to find out in detail how the
snowmobiling was for the Millers.
They managed to get up to Wilderness Lake this week,
a place that I have always wanted to go... just haven't
gotten there. Inaccessible except by plane or a very long
hike over from Chris Czajkowski's cabin (She wrote Diary
of a Wilderness Dweller and other books.) in summer, or
by snowmobile in winter, this remote lake high in
the Coast Mountain range features some of the most beautiful
scenery around. In fact, many of the stunning
pictures in the Alpine
Flower Gallery are from
the valley above Wilderness Lake and were kindly provided
by Mary, the owner of Nimpo Lake Resort, who built a cabin
there. That was done with the help of many pilot friends
who hauled all of the building materials up in floatplanes,
strapped onto floats, and hanging from a helicopter.
Bill and Anita also made it into Fish Lake, which is more
or less on the way to Wilderness, another beautiful spot.
Although I haven't snowmobiled into there, I have landed
there. My Mom and I were flown in to go hunting back in
the early 90's and we were way overloaded
with gear. The lake is very small and very high, sitting
up in a little bowl between peaks and unless the wind
is just right, you can't get off the water. I still
remember bouncing up and down on the seat of the plane
praying with all my might that it was going to be able
to lift off of the water before hitting the rocks on the
other end. It did after a couple of taxis back
and forth but it was a bit hairy. Especially since that
was probably only my second trip ever in floatplane. But,
I digress. As usual.
Bill and Anita have promised to send me down some photos
of their adventures this week while snowmobiling in the
Chilcotin and I look forward to seeing them. It seems
to be Murphy's Law that we finally have a really gorgeous
day for snowmobiling and they had to return home this
morning. About all we can hope is that we have better
weather for them the next time they come down to do some
For some reason or other, our weather has been really,
really terrible this year. We can usually expect
sunny calm days here, compensating for the fact that we
do have long winters. An unusual amount of wind has really
put a damper on outdoor activities, whether that's flying,
snowmobiling or even cutting down trees. I'm sure hoping
that isn't going to become the norm. However, I think
that our lousy weather, as well as that all over the west
coast of North America can probably be attributed to it
being an El Nino year. According to climatologists, that
was only supposed to affect us for the first part of the
winter and we would return to seasonal temperatures for
the latter part. As usual, they're wrong.
I think it's a fair bet that spring is here for us. It's
also sudden. When you look out and see only pine
needles and bare ground under at least one snowmobile,
it's kind of a, "Oops, should have gotten that moved!"
Until yesterday, we kept getting little overnight snowfalls
that lull you into thinking you might have some winter
left, but last night we had a moth trying to get into
the house and today there are flies buzzing around on
the deck where it's warm. While most people might not
think much of seeing insects, for us it's the first sign
of spring. Although who knows, they may have been here
for some time but the wind hasn't let up enough for them
to stay in one place for any length of time! :-)
Ah, I see the wind is starting to roar again. So much
for our reprieve. Feels just like Saskatchewan!
Last week's articles can be found at March,
Week Two and just a reminder
about the Hangar Fire Photos on the separate
page that was set up for friends and family of the owners
of the hangar. That is now a dead link and will
remain so. If you have a reason to see it, you
can contact my Mom for the new link.
Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!
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!