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Wilderness Adventures - Mar., Week 4/2013

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 some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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31/03/2013 8:20 PM

Who Lost Their Cows?

Happy Easter, everyone!
We have to be the luckiest people in the world right now. Our weather is just phenomenal! There is just no other word for it. It is still 6.8C or 44F out there even this late in the evening and the sun long since down. It hit over 12C or 54F today in the shade and in the sun it felt like high summer. I have no idea what the temperatures were out under that hot sun but I was in my short sleeves all day.
I finally got a chance to take the dogs for a walk this afternoon just before supper and literally roasted out there. The main road is starting to dry out nicely so no more dodging mud and jumping from ice patch to ice patch. The back trail is pretty soft late in the day but it is hard packed underneath so you don’t sink into the snow too badly. We went for a walk on the frost one morning and it was great! I would do that more often but after walking three miles first thing in the morning I’m tired working outside the rest of the day. I’ve been bending over saw horses and the tailgate of my truck sanding down kitchen cabinet doors for the past couple of days so it’s been a bit of a back killer. Throw a jerky walk through soft snow in there on top of it and…. I turn into a pathetic weenie dog. Actually, I'm not that bad but my back is not in as good a shape as it is after a summer of working outside on a variety of things including gardening.
We’ve got a long chore list this year with no idea of how much will get done, but this weather is a blessing and lets us get a good start on things without bugs. It’s a joy to be able to work outside this time of year, but we’re kind of limited on what we can do. There’s still a lot of snow everywhere so we have to choose projects that we can bring out onto the driveway. I’ve been doing my doors while Andy and our neighbour have been building a plant starter stand for me. It’s eight feet long, six feet high and has two full length shelves with three inch high sides that the guys have lined with plastic and faced with wood. We got the stand moved into the basement yesterday and today they put together the new eight foot long fluorescent lights that I can run grow lights in. Although for the first round I’m trying a mix of standard warm and cool lights to see how they work for starting plants. It’s the cat’s meow and I'm sure I'll be the envy of many of the local gardening folks. I also think that Andy is looking forward to not having the window sill and half the dining room filled up with tomato and other vegetable plants for the next two months that I start for the greenhouse. Yep, doing the greenhouse thing and veggie garden this year after my hiatus last year. I’m going to try taking on the bugs this season and see what happens. I missed my garden last year but we did go traveling so I didn’t miss it that much. Just the fresh veggies. I’m not sure if we’re going anywhere this year but if we do it won’t be for long and nothing that some water on timers can’t handle.
We saw an interesting thing last week when we went to Williams Lake. We were nearly to Bull Canyon this side of Alexis Creek when Andy asked me if that was an eagle sitting on the ice down on the Chilko River. When I told him it was, he pulled over to the side of the road because he had noticed something in the water. We didn’t have our binoculars in that particular truck but he eventually made out that the black spot in the water was a cow with a white and black head pointed toward us. That’s when I pointed out the brown shape just downstream a few feet caught in an ice jam. I hadn’t been able to figure out what it was until he decided the other was a dead cow, and that’s when I realized that the brown shape was also a cow laying in the water with its back to us and badly bloated. We decided that someone’s cattle had either tried to cross the river on the ice or had been walking along the river on an ice shelf when the ice gave away. You could see a lot of big jumbled ice blocks stacked up against the river bank where the two cows were so our theory made sense.... to us, anyway.
We continued on our way but the next day coming back from Williams Lake we looked for and saw the two cows in the same place. Just above and a little farther along there is a road that takes off of highway 20 and follows the river that used to be the original highway. The road goes past a number of ranches and because it was still early in the day we decided to take that route and see if we could tell where the two cows had broken through the ice and see if there were more. We had to keep a close eye out but eventually we counted another four cows either caught in the river or in the case of one, rolled up onto a gravel bar in the middle of the river. It looks almost like there was a flash flood that raised the height of the river momentarily and was enough to break the ice and sweep a number of cattle into the water and downstream, leaving them caught on the bottom, on sand bars, or along the shore when the water went down. I don’t know how many cattle were killed but if we saw six, then it could easily be quite a large number. They were all full grown animals so we wondered if there were calves lost as well. If there were, we would never have seen them. They would just have been too small. It’s a hefty financial loss to the rancher that owned the cattle, that’s for sure!
We did see one place farther up the river where the cattle might have gone in. There was a large shelf of ice out into the river with a lot of tracks or a trail of tracks melted out so that it was impossible to see what they had been. The trail led across one huge ice shelf that had broken and tipped on its side into the river. It was hard to say how much more ice there was that broke away but the tracks ended on the second sheet. Is this where the cattle were tossed into the water? Or did it happen further up the river?
This may have been a very rare event and the rancher may have been using the river as a boundary that the cattle would normally never cross over. Or maybe a number of them broke through a fence along the river. Ice may have taken a fence out for that matter. Kind of tough on someone and I feel badly for them, especially since the price of cattle has been up for the past couple of years, finally.
We did see a couple of other interesting things along that road. Just up from a cow grounded in the middle of the river, there was a long wide shelf of snow covered ice on both sides lined with hundreds of birds right where you can see the two different colors of the Chilcotin and Chilko rivers after they meet and become one. Nearly all were Canada Geese but there looked to be a few swans in there too. It seemed strange that birds would line up along the river like that because it was rushing by way too fast for them to utilize it for feed, or even safety. But then it occurred to me a day later that the shelf on each side was wide enough for the birds to easily spot a predator coming along from some distance away. As soon as they saw it, whether coyote, fox, or anything else, they could fly over to the other side of the river and there’s no way anything could follow them. It would get a little crowded but as soon as the predator was gone, they could fly back. Still, I have no idea what they were eating because there was virtually nothing there but snow. Maybe it was just a rest stop on the way north and we happened to be lucky enough to see all of them parked there or flying in as we went by. I have no idea but it was cool looking.
The other interesting event was that we had planned to continue on and meet up with Highway 20 farther down the road, but we came to an abrupt end to the road. It looks like a huge chunk of real estate that used to have a road on it got washed out by one of the rivers. I have no idea when that happened but I don’t think it would have been that many years ago. People used to go through that way on a regular basis, but we wondered if it happened when we had all those floods around here two years ago. It made quite a hole in the bank anyway, and although it looked like a few vehicles in the past may have circled around up on the side of the bank where the water has cut it away, it wasn’t plowed beyond the point where we stopped and we weren’t feeling the need to get stuck in snow with a truck full of stuff so we turned around. I’ll have to see if I can find out when the road washed out because that route may still show as open on our tourism maps.
We had to turn around and come all the way back but it was worth it. It’s not something we ever do on a town trip but it was a nice sunny day, there were interesting things to see and a different path to follow so why not?
This fabulous weather is supposed to continue for another day and then I think starting on Tuesday, the high pressure system over BC is going to break down bringing in clouds and cooler temperatures. I would love to see another week or two of this weather because we still have a lot of snow to be melted yet, but I’ll take what we can get. Bella Coola broke a temperature record today and I know records have fallen all over the province over the past couple of days. But that could all change in an instant. We had the same wonderful warm spell last year at about the same time and then the hammer came down in mid April. For the rest of that April, all of May and most of June, we had one of the most miserable cold springs on record and even the bugs held off coming out until mid June, so I’m not holding my breath for anything better this year. That way, if we do end up with a warmer spring, it will be a nice surprise!

24/03/2013 8:30 PM

It's a little cool

We got that cooling trend that the weather people forecast, but we’ve been really lucky because even though the temperature dropped every night to between –17 and –22C or –7F, every day the thermometer has made it up to at least the freezing mark. Last night the cold front tamed down a bit because it only dropped to –13C or 10F and today the thermometer hit a mind blowing 6C or 43F without any sun. Woo Hoo!!! Do you have any idea how exciting that is? Spring might actually be coming, although Mother Nature has her work cut out. That last big snow we got is crusty on top and bright white, so it won’t be melting any time soon. Still, there’s hope for us yet!
Today started out sunny but high haze moved in and by late this afternoon it started to cloud over. Shortly after we got back from walking down to the gun range you could see snow move in over the mountains. Even with cloud, I peeled down to my short sleeves while walking because there was still lots of heat coming from that sun. Just about every day we have had sunshine and it hasn’t taken long for it to warm up even after a night of hard cold. The main road is starting to get pretty greasy on top so walking has become a hop scotch from tracks packed into the snow on the road to icy patches, all to keep from sinking into the mud. As Andy mentioned today, it’s actually good that the ice road is no longer open. That way it’s only us traveling on this section of road so that keeps it from being broken up too badly by vehicles. A few more nights of freeze drying and warming by the sun during the day, and maybe the top surface will start to dry out.
The back trails aren’t that easy to walk on either, because the snow softens up so much on the track during the day that you either sink in or slide back for every foot you go forward. Still, most of it is in the trees and it should hold up for another month before becoming a muddy mess. I’ve been itching to get out on the new snow shoes I got for Christmas but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Soon, however, the snow on the trails will be so soft that the only way we will be walking on them is with snow shoes.
We’re starting to get our spring winds now, which makes the day seem a little cooler than it actually is, but it’s good too. Those winds work pretty well for carrying moisture away as the melt goes on from break up. I think that the wind and the cold at night has gone a long way toward hardening up the snow on the lake and I would love to try cross country skiing, but the snow just gets too soft to fast in the morning. There is nothing like going for a header when your skis suddenly stick to the snow and stop dead while forward momentum keeps your body going forward. I can usually save myself from doing a face plant with my poles but not always so I don’t even try to go out once temperatures hit above freezing.
It looks like we’re in for a big warm up starting today. There is a warm front coming in from the Pacific that is supposed to bring above normal temperatures for the next week. I don’t know if it’s a Pineapple Express but it’s bound to cause some major melting, anyway. It’s still a degree above freezing even this late in the evening so it probably won’t get that cold tonight. I expect our road will be a real mess by morning if it doesn’t freeze much through the night.
Part of me is really looking forward to spring but the other part still has a whole lot of work to do on the computer before I’m done for the summer. It’s pretty easy to stay in my office when all I see out the window is still 18” of snow on the lawn, but once it melts, things start drying out and temps are consistently above freezing, I know that I will be itching to get outside, so I’m busting my butt on the computer now to try and get everything done that needs to be.
So today, I have discovered that America appears to be sliding back into the dark ages. I asked Andy to send me a link to a story that he read to me today because I absolutely could not believe that some moron in this day and age could actually say what he did, and apparently get away with it. For any of you likely to take offense at the rant that follows the excerpt in quotes, I suggest you don't read it.
The following was reported in an online news column:
"A committee of the Republican-dominated Arkansas house overwhelmingly approved a resolution supporting the state's constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which the Supreme Court is set to decide on the constitutionality of soon.
With no discussion or roll call, the resolution passed Friday morning. It was put forth by GOP Rep. Jim Dotson of Bentonville, the home of the Wal-Mart corporation. The Arkansas Times notes that the resolution was in shell form but passed anyway, saying, with snark, that "some things are just instinctive for the legislature, of course. Guns and tax cuts good. Women's rights and homosexuality, bad."

SAY WHAT??????!!!!!!!
I'm going to leave the homosexuality part alone for right now because it’s still a hot potato issue that many people have a strong opinion about one way or the other. But the OTHER statement at the end cannot possibly have been made by an American man, surely. Does this doorknob not have a wife that is going to hit him over the head when he gets home from work? Are there no women in Arkansas to kick butt on the reporter that said …. “Guns and tax cuts good. Women's rights and homosexuality, bad."? Did America just get plopped down in the middle of a Muslim dominated Middle East?
Women’s rights bad? What the Flock???

As Andy pointed out, we were taught in school that America was settled by people trying to escape from religious persecution among other things. People that came from all over Europe and Great Britain wanted a new start with basic freedoms and rights that they were willing to fight for as Americans. And fight they did. Not only in their own country but in other countries around the world so as to preserve those hard won Democratic freedoms.
Early in the last century women suffered for their right to vote, and then their right to continue working after men returned home from the Second World War. Women have fought to work in the same jobs for equal pay for decades, many successfully breaking through the glass ceiling, managing to raise children, run a home, and still bring home a pay check. They have been in the military for years and now have just as much right to go into combat, fight for their country and die on the battlefield as men do. But this dipshit says women’s rights are bad? ARE YOU KIDDING ME????
You know, I used to be pretty conservative and would always have voted Republican in the past, but I have to tell you, the kind of people in that party scare me now. They think nothing of passing a resolution that endorses discrimination without discussion or debate. Gee, sounds more like a dictatorship than a democracy to me and God help us, but that is exactly where some fanatical Republicans seem to be headed given half a chance. It's bad enough that they can't seem to keep church separated from state. Boy, that party really needs to clean up its act, kick out the extremists and give more voice to the moderates because the extreme types just keep on putting their collective feet in their mouths. Women's rights bad? Good grief!
For heaven’s sake, women of Arkansas, go kick butt on that bunch of useless twits that dare to call themselves men before they all have you wearing burqas and forbid you to drive a vehicle or attend school like they do in the Middle East. Do it before you lose your right to vote! As for gay rights, well if there are morons in Arkansas that don’t feel women deserve any rights, then there isn’t much hope there for gays, is there?
That’s my rant for the day, folks, and you men out there can breathe a sigh of relief, now. All I have to say is that even though I was born American, I am really, really glad to have spent a good part of my life in Canada. Bless you land of the cold, the snow, and the free.
You’ll find the last week's of blog at March Week Three.

Anahim Lake Highway cam looking West.

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!
Water in a field with the rugged Coast Mountain Range behind.
Brown cow is in the river next to ice.
Plane flies over the winter wild blue yonder mountains.
Swans huddle on snowy Nimpo Lake.
Lake view showing fog lifting off the lake and blue above.
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