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Wilderness Adventures - March, Week 4/2009

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

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.

31/03/2009 8:07 PM

Computer Virus

Tomorrow is April Fool's and according to newscasts, the date that the Conficker computer worm, loaded on millions of computers, is set to look for instructions from the 'Mother' computer. Whether that is instructions to search for and send sensitive passwords or other information on personal and business computers, fry the computers, or something else, experts don't know. Good reason to have your antivirus up to date at all times and of course, Microsoft is suggesting that everyone make sure they have the latest update or patch downloaded from their site. Which is good advice except that this worm is apparently only targeting Windows XP and Vista operating systems. Since I still run 2000 Professional, no patch for me. Yes, I know what you're going to say....I'm still in the dark ages. There's a reason for that. I actually still run one computer with a hopped up Windows 98 operating system on it that I use for the fridge magnet calendars I produce for clients. The software is so old that it will not work on a newer OS. I did try getting an updated version and using it on my newer computer for one client. After weeks of painstaking setup I produced a beautiful finished product for them. Last fall when I went looking for their files for the 2009 calendar season, they were gone. I had accidentally deleted all of their files because I did not realize the new program puts the base files in 'My Documents' on my C drive. I don't use that drive for Data files so in cleaning them up one day.... Needless to say, my comments on the matter cannot be repeated in good company.
A lot of my software may not work on XP and I have many thousands of dollars worth that I don't care to replace if I don't have to. Although I do have XP loaded on a second hard drive on my computer in order to test said hardware, I still haven't had time to get around to doing that. Much to my Brother-in-law's chagrin, I'm sure, since he was the one that installed it and has been trying to drag me into the 21st century ever since.
The second reason I'm still running Windows 2000, which is a beautiful operating system and works without a hitch, is that you couldn't pay me to put Vista on anything I own. Not now, not ever! I told Andy some time ago after having to deal with Vista on a couple of client machines, that if I am ever not given a choice and have to upgrade to that OS, I will throw all of my PC's away and go buy a Mac. And I don't even like Macs.
Apparently I am not the only one that feels that way about Vista, however. It seems now that Microsoft has scrapped Vista and is in the process of putting out a different operating system. Small wonder. Many businesses and corporations have refused to change their computers over because of the problems with Vista. They can't afford downtime because of a screwed up OS but that's a lot of money that Microsoft is losing because they can probably expect most large businesses and corporations to do a complete overhaul of their office computers at least every five years. Apparently too, Dell got on their backs because they were losing so much money when customers refused to buy their new computers. Why? Loaded with the Vista operating system. At least Microsoft has finally seen the light. Maybe those terrific ads between the PC guy and the Mac guy being run on TV made a difference.
It didn't get that cold last night, but it didn't warm up much today, either. There was a wild blustery wind nearly all day and the air temperature never did make it much above freezing. It was really warm in the sun if you were in a sheltered spot, but otherwise, that wind had a seriously chilly bite to it. But hey! The pussy willow buds are out. They're a month late, but they're out. And a huge V of geese went over today.
Forecasters are calling for snow tomorrow so I guess we'll see in the morning what we get. We got quite a bit of sun today, but we had cloud as well. There's another system sliding down the coast and it may or may not spill over on us.
Andy was getting tired of me commenting on it being spring here on the blog so he drove out on the ice and took pictures of the snowbanks on the ice road. Then he insisted I post it here and on pic of the day so that you guys could see we're no where near spring. He's actually right when you consider the weather that we have. In this country we don't really have spring as such. You know... where you have new buds on the trees and small green grass shoots shooting up, flower bulbs peeking up through the soil and then things just gradually green up into summer? Here we just kind of go from mud and ice to mosquitoes. We have such a short growing season that our spring as compared to other areas probably occurs around the first week of June. July is summer, and you're starting into autumn the last two weeks of August. That's why growing stuff here is so much fun. It's a heck of a challenge and a real achievement if you manage it!

30/03/2009 7:58 PM

Our Newest Operators

The temperature rose remarkably fast this morning and you didn't have to look very far to see the disastrous results by this afternoon. It had climbed to at least 7C or 45F at one point when I checked it this afternoon and may have gone higher. I crossed the lake going over to Nimpo just before four and the snow on the ice road was getting pretty mushy so I decided to come home by the gravel road to see what it was like. That wasn't a really great idea at all. The frost is starting to come out of the road bed and I left some good ruts here and there. I think I'll stick to the ice road for the next while. This could end up being a really messy Break Up. That's okay. It makes life more interesting when you never know what to expect from one season to the next! :-)
We had mixed sun and cloud today. The cloud couldn't stay put long because a wind sprang up around noon and gusted on and off all day. Maybe it will help dry things out.
You folks may have noticed that there is a new link on the left for Puntzi Lake. Since it's quite a favorite stop for many people on their way out here to the West Chilcotin, I finally made time to add it to the site. I would like to welcome the Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort to the site, who's owners Merry and Andrew MacMath I've only met on the phone but they sure sound great! Kokanee Bay has a lot to offer with great fishing for Kokanee and Rainbow trout, cabins, camping/RV sites, boat, motor, canoe, kayak or pontoon boat rentals, dining with reservations, horseshoes, playground and sports area as well as endless local hiking trails. You'll find more information on them under a page called Puntzi Accommodations and the Resorts listings.
I also want to welcome Niut Trails Outfitting, another operator that has just listed with this year. Eric Hatch has been living in the Tatla Lake, Tatlayoko Valley area for over 30 years and guiding in the region for 20. He provides professionally guided pack trips and trail rides in the Niut Range, hiking, and horse assisted hiking in the alpine throughout the summer. If you would like something a little easier, then his ranch vacation is just the thing for you! You'll find more about what Eric has to offer under the Resorts listings and under Guide/Outfitting.
Eagle Lake Paradise Resort is located, where else but on Eagle Lake? Which, from the pictures that owner Silvia Geissler has been kind enough to send me, is an absolutely gorgeous lake with that neat aquamarine green you only see in the Chilcotin. With a stunning mountain view and charming cabins, this is a place to kick back, relax, and drink in a little serenity. You can enjoy fishing the incredibly clear waters of the lake or go hiking and look for wildlife. Eagle Lake Paradise Resort works in close association with Niut Trails Outfitting to offer trail riding and the other activities that Eric offers. You'll find Eagle Lake Paradise Resort's listing banner at the top right on the Tatla Lake page.
If you have friends coming to visit or plan a little visit to the West Chilcotin this year, please take a look at what our operators have to offer you in the way of accommodation and activities.

29/03/2009 7:05 PM

The Glorious Day

Boy, this is some ornery weather! Yesterday was like a winter day. Yesterday evening it kept trying to snow and succeeded in dumping an inch or so, then it started getting cold. It was only -7C or 19F when I got home from poker before midnight last night, but the air just had that biting feel, so I let the dogs in just in case. It turned out to be a good decision. The temperature dropped overnight and was sitting at -20C or -4F this morning. That's pretty darned cool for the end of March, no matter where you live!
The day dawned bright and beautiful and that good old March sun started warming things up pretty nicely, although it was still -11C or 12F when Andy left to go snowmobiling with the guys before eleven this morning. It was one of those truly remarkable days with blue skies, bright sunshine, and only the odd wispy breeze passing through. It sure makes it hard to stay in front of this computer. Actually, I couldn't do it if it weren't for the fact that there's a fair bit of snow still on the ground and working outside is well nigh impossible right now. Unless you care to be skittering around on ice or ankle deep in mud when it gets above freezing. Taking the dogs for a walk is hard enough to accomplish in those conditions much less yard work.
Soon though....
Well, maybe not that soon. Every time we get another skiff of snow it just kind of adds to the mud.
Even with the heavy insulating layer of snow on the ice there was enough of a contrast in night and day temperature that Nimpo Lake was grumbling this morning. We were just commenting the other day on how quiet the lake has been, and Andy figures it's because of the snow layer. Once that melts or compresses, we'll be hearing the lake booming again. Mind you, at the rate things are going, Ice off is going to be pretty late this year.
Andy said it was a gorgeous day where they were snowmobiling today, and that there was about six inches of fresh powder, probably dropped at the same time as we got our little snow last night. That's actually a good sign. There wasn't a lot of snow this year, even at higher elevations, so it won't hurt us at all if fresh accumulations are added to the snow pack to keep water levels up this spring. I feel bad saying that when the poor sods in Manitoba are threatened by the Red River flooding and ice jams and are probably praying every moment for anything but more moisture!
Our temperature is hovering just above freezing this evening and what started out being high haze late this afternoon has turned into solid grey cloud. There's a system sliding down the coast and I think we're catching the edge of it. I don't know that it's going to bring us much for moisture but I guess we'll know if there's snow on the ground in the morning. Tomorrow and Tuesday look like really nice days according to the weekend weather forecaster, but it also looks like it's going to get cold again toward the end of the week. Heck, at this rate we might be snowmobiling into May!

28/03/2009 3:24 PM

Last Kick

It looks like Old Man Winter is determined to take a last kick at the cat. Although that particular kick could last weeks or a couple of more months. Spring just isn't quite here yet even if it does feel like it time to time. I think it snowed a bit while we were in town yesterday and it's been trying to blizzard off and on all afternoon since I got back from a walk. It started out with hail, then the temperature dropped and it turned to snow. It was white out conditions again trying to drive across the lake to the boat launch, and throughout it all, the sun keeps trying to break through the clouds.
It was weird going to town yesterday. We've been in snow for so many months that it was a surprise to see even around Tatla that they have very little snow. It's no wonder they couldn't hold a snowmobile Poker Run this year. It was about the same around Alexis Creek but there was still some snow up on Riske Flats. Williams Lake, however, was downright dusty!
It was pretty sunny for a good part of the day and downright balmy temperature wise. I don't know what it got up to but at one point the thermometer on the truck read plus 9 degrees after the sensor had been cooled off. It was actually quite pleasant getting in and out of the truck and running around doing errands without a jacket on.
We didn't see any moose going in or out to Williams Lake but we did see lots of deer along the highway. They're sure looking in fine shape. You can tell they didn't have a hard winter at all. There were a few Canada Geese here and there and the river along Highway 20 around Redstone was just loaded with Trumpeter Swans. It's the only open water in the region right now so I guess they probably have no choice. There were a couple of Canada Geese on a lone pond near Tatla that was frozen solid. It seems to me that it must be highly dangerous this time of year for the birds because without the protection of water, just about any predator like a fox or coyote could sneak up on them.
Temperatures are still getting down at night. It dropped to -14C or 7F last night and was nearly as cold the night before. I have no idea what the temperature was here yesterday but it was right around freezing when we got home at supper time last night so presumably it got much warmer than that. Not so today. It's been sitting right around freezing all day except during that snowstorm when it dropped a couple of degrees, but it's back up again now. It looks like we could get a nice day tomorrow but I'm not going to hold my breath. It's spring after all and you can't count on anything.
26/03/2009 7:22 PM

Deadly Avalanches

It turns out three guys died in those two different avalanches I mentioned yesterday. Actually, that's not strictly true. One of them has not been located yet under the wall of snow that came down so he is presumed to be dead.
There's the odd time when we go snowmobiling that I get a little concerned about avalanche. There aren't that many places where we go that pose a danger but there are a couple. The Cornice Play Hill could be a problem in years with high snow loads and the right conditions. We've seen snow break away from there when machines cut the cornice and I think that's the spot where Duke is said to have outrun an avalanche a few years ago. Other than that, avalanche isn't much of a problem in our snowmobiling area. Probably the biggest danger from avalanche would be if a bunch of us were sitting on Goat Lake when that snow breaks away from the cliffs above as it does every year. The way it busts those ice blocks out of the water, you wouldn't want to be anywhere near there when it happens. It sure would be something to see though. And hear!! I'll bet it would just about deafen you listening to the sound of an avalanche and busting ice reverberating around the cliff walls with nowhere for the sound to go.
Tornado season looks to have started down south again and the flood waters are still rising for Manitoba and North Dakota. Now they're saying the Red River will reach levels not seen in a hundred years. Boy, if you think about the difference a hundred years can make to population levels and development.....
Our weather is downright boring compared to everywhere else. While the temperature bottomed out at only -11.5C or 12F last night , it didn't waste that much time coming up this morning and would have warmed faster had the sun ever made an appearance. It nearly did a couple of times, but not for long. Still, it got up to plus 6Cor 43 degrees Fahrenheit today and amazingly, is still sitting at 3C right now. It looks like it's going to clear off again tonight, but it's expected to be cloudy again tomorrow. Doesn't matter much to me. It's town day tomorrow and I would hate to think I was missing a pretty day for one of my least favorite chores.... shopping.
Incidentally, for anyone that hasn't looked, that new listing at Eagle Lake is up on the property for sale page. Don't forget that there have been some price drops in the last couple of weeks on property listed there. Go check it out!
25/03/2009 6:59 PM

March Spring

There's probably not much that I would change from the description of yesterday's weather today.
It went down to -11C or 12F but that was after it cleared off. Yesterday when I came back from a walk it hailed, then the weather got nice, then it snowed lightly with clouds moving in and out. I went to Anahim Lake at supper time and could see that with the water from melted snow laying on the highway, it was probably going to get pretty slippery once the temperature dropped. Midway through the evening, it started pouring down the snow and I'm thinking to myself just how ruddy wonderful it was going to be to have to drive home on ice covered by a layer of snow. It wasn't.
In fact, it was about eleven when I left Anahim Lake for home and ended up behind a plow truck. He was only going about 35 miles per hour but he was blowing up a lot of loose snow and there was no way I was going to try to pass him. I wasn't particularly interested in going any faster anyway since his were the only tracks in the snow and the only way you could tell there was a highway there, so I stayed tucked in behind him. Rotten bugger though. I could feel my tires lose traction on the ice under the snow here and there but he didn't drop an ounce of sand on the highway. It seems pretty pointless to me to drive up and down the highway throughout your shift on icy surfaces, without dropping any sand. I know that they claim that just driving the highway blows the snow off but I think you would have to be going a lot faster for that to be effective, and it certainly doesn't improve the icy conditions any. About half way home I hit a snow storm and visibility got really lousy so I was at least glad to have the maintenance worker's yellow flashing light to follow. At least he was useful for something. Friends that left before me had the snow storm the whole way so I guess if I had left about five minutes later than I did, I might have missed it completely. As it was, by the time I hit the boat launch at Nimpo to go down onto the ice road, I could see stars in the sky before me.
It was much the mixed bag today as well. It was gorgeous this morning without a breath of wind and only a couple of degrees below zero. The sun was shining on a fresh 1 1/2 inches of snow that we received overnight. By lunch when I headed out with the dogs it was starting to cloud over and a breeze had sprung up. It threatened to snow for part of the afternoon, but by this evening, the skies were clear behind the line of mountains gleaming with a fresh blanket of snow.
I have no idea what's coming tomorrow other than that a big system packing both moisture and wind is barreling in toward the central coast. Whether it's going to slide down the coast along the mountains and miss us all together or come inland a ways is impossible to tell. I guess I'll know when I wake up tomorrow. :-)
The temperature is dropping pretty fast tonight. It got up over 5C today, but shed that by supper and dropped another five degrees within an hour. There are clear skies out there tonight so it might get fairly cold. There is a cold front associated with that system coming in but while temperatures might not come up as much as they have during the day recently, they'll still be above freezing, I think. The sun's just too warm this time of year. Things should start picking up around here. I saw a couple of people out ice fishing on Nimpo by the small island for most of the afternoon and a small group came back from snowmobiling for the day. Our neighbours have returned so I expect the impromptu ice skating parties will start up again and we'll have to see if we can fit in another run to Hotnarko Falls with them.
Life is definitely cool around here.
In contrast, I feel for those poor buggers in Manitoba and the Midwest that are going to be dealing with flood waters for the next while. A state of emergency has been declared for communities north of Winnipeg because of ice jams and North Dakota has been declared a disaster zone. The Red River is predicted to rise 41 feet in the next few days. Can you believe that??? That is going to cause some serious grief.
Then there are the ice storms that have put a thousand homes out of power, and avalanches in two different locations in BC caught up some snowmobilers and one has died. I'll say it again... boy, am I glad I live here and not elsewhere!

24/03/2009 1:31 PM

Wig Wag Weather

I've got a heavy work load today and may not be around this evening so this is going to be very short today.
It's typical spring weather today. It's up in the air as to what it's going to do minute to minute.
It only went down to -6C or 21F last night and it was absolutely gorgeous when I got up with temps only slightly below freezing. The sun was shining and there was nary a breeze first thing so Leah called and asked if she could go for a walk with me but to do it early today. That way the mud would still be frozen and the snow crunchy and less likely to ball up in the chains on our boots. It was a good thing we went when we did.
The wind started picking up while we were out so I took a route down the road that would put our back to the wind and back through the woods where it's never too bad. By the time we got back here it was getting pretty blustery and within about a half hour of being in my office, it started pouring down the hail, and with that wind, most of the time it was coming in side ways. Now it's turned to snow so I guess the weather forecasters are right for a change. They called for snow or rain on Tuesday in central British Columbia and points south. It's hard to say how long it will last, but it looked like a pretty heavy system coming in on the satellite pictures. Around here though, the old saying 'if you don't like the weather wait for five minutes' often holds true. It definitely doesn't pay to get too excited about spring too early in the Chilcotin.

23/03/2009 11:35 AM

The Poker Run

Good morning folks. My apologies. As you've probably noticed, I decided to take the weekend off, and no...not from work, just from the blog. Each day of not writing gives me another hour or two that I can spend on work that needs to be done. Unfortunately, that's piling up.
I rolled out Saturday morning fully intending to go on the Poker Run but finally decided that it would be unproductive and I could just get way more accomplished if I had the place to myself and a whole day to work. Not that going on a fun sled ride with a bunch of people to visit with is not productive, just not so much so as having a full day in the office.
The day started out cold at -16C or 3.2 but it was sunny, although a breeze had started up by the time everyone left Nimpo. Quite a few people met at the boat launch across our bay and once gathered there, went on down to the North Arm where another group had gathered to get their first poker card.
They followed the trails up to Goat Pass and onto Ptarmigan Flats where lunch was planned. Down here the wind was just howling and I felt really sorry for the riders up there where they would be so exposed and probably cold. I couldn't believe it when everyone told me that it was gorgeous up there with just a slight breeze evidenced by one photo I saw where the smoke from their fire was going almost straight up. Down here at this elevation with the wind blowing all day, I suspect you would have had a hard time even starting a fire! It sure was a highly unusual reversal, that's for sure. The only thing I can think of is that the wind started sweeping down on this side of the mountains and picked up speed coming across the lake, which would affect us, but not people up higher.
The group had a great lunch of roasted wieners and smokies and then came back down a different trail to Nimpo Lake, where they had to meet at the car wash for their final card. It was a good group of about 24, which was excellent considering there was only three days notice that there was going to be a poker run. I think given a couple of weeks notice, the number of people that showed up would have been double that.
We fixed everyone some burgers and there were salads, and a good visit before everyone powered out and headed for home. 75 kilometers isn't that long of a ride but if you're not used to riding a lot, you can tire out pretty easily. Oh, and Logan won the ride with a full house while Leah won with the worst hand. Andy bought a hand for me even though I wasn't there and I figured for sure after looking at it and choosing my final card that I had the worst hand. It's definitely typical of the cards I've been getting on poker nights of late.
Yesterday was the first day in a few with little or no wind and it was downright warm out in the sun. The snow is really starting to melt and unfortunately, out on the road and in nearly everyone's yard you're either skittering on ice or knee deep in mud. Actually, not quite knee deep yet because there's frost not that far under the surface, but it's mucky enough.
Welcome to Break Up!
That's the only bad part about a cool winter with little melt, is that when it does decide to warm up, the melt comes all at once and makes a real mess. But on the bright side, it beats having ice everywhere for a solid two months like we did last year because of the warm spells we got midwinter.
The red winged blackbirds arrived in droves today. Where there had only been a few here and there, the flock is in force and full voice out there now and the feeder is swamped. So far the grosbeaks seem to be able to hold their own but it might not be for much longer. I think they're considerably outnumbered. It really is wonderful to have a tree full of blackbirds singing outside your door but it does get noisy and within a couple of weeks, I know from experience that it will get tiresome. They're pretty hard on the seed supply too. Most years when I want them to go away I stop putting seed out but I don't dare this year. Snow is still covering everything so it won't be that easy for chickadees and grosbeaks to find food, and it's still cold enough that they need the extra protein.
Surprisingly, even as warm as it's been getting, it's still really dropping at night with the exception of last night. It only got down to -10C or 14 and was actually warmer than that at dawn because clouds rolled in. It was kind of a mixed bag today with both sun and heavy cloud, and a pretty brisk wind, but it still made it up to a balmy 6C or 41 degrees Fahrenheit. I think we're supposed to get hit with a snowstorm tomorrow so I guess we'll see. It wouldn't be spring without a snowstorm!
As usual, this is the start of a new week and last week's articles can be found at March Week Three

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!
Truck sitting on the ice road.
Red breasted Pine Grosbeak on a branch.
People have lunch around a fire on snowmobile trip.
Snowmobile riders rest.
Poker Run participants clown around for the camera.
Riders on the Poker Run choose cards.
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