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 1/2006
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
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The Snowmobilers Return
it's evening and everyone is back from snowmobiling. It
doesn't sound like it was an entirely successful day.
Although some of the new people got to see the
breathtaking view from the top of Trumpeter Mountain,
named for the very swans that occupy Lonesome Lake below
it, it sounds like there was a whole lot of digging out
today. Maybe I didn't miss much after all.
Sometimes you really have to watch who is leading your
group. If it's someone that knows better than to get everyone,
especially the less experienced riders, into a jackpot,
then you usually don't have to horse the machines out
of holes too much. If you have someone that goes
where they please with little regard for those following,
it can be a long, hard day. Especially frustrating
is when the guy that's led everyone into a bad spot doesn't
bother to help get anyone back out. A no-no in my books,
and in that of many others'.
Nimpo Lake was doing a lot of groaning and bellowing
today. The extreme temperature differences between
the cold at night and a warm sun on snow during the day
causes a lot of stress on the ice. On the plus side, the
snow is holding up really well on the lake, and although
scratchers are a necessity early in the morning, it means
that we won't have to trailer our snowmobiles anywhere
soon ... barring a real warm spell, of course.
It sure is nice to see a Sunday in March like this, though.
The odd person was tooling around on a snowmobile on the
lake today and a little blue and white plane landed
on Nimpo to b.s. with some locals for awhile.
A few people were walking and much as I would have liked
to go out cross country skiing today, I chose to go for
a walk in the woods instead. That way I could keep my
time away from work to an hour. If I go skiing, I just
have to stay out there for a few hours
on a nice day.
flock of the huge birds landed on Nimpo Lake this morning
as we went by on machines. Trumpeter Swans are usually
the very earliest herald of spring in this area. There
is almost always ice on the lake when they first come,
but our cold temperatures must be a bit of a surprise.
It was -24C or about 12 below zero Fahrenheit this morning,
and although it warms up fast through the day, it's damned
difficult to get snowmachines started for a 10:30 meet
at Dot Island. We used to meet at later in the morning
or at noon if overnight temps were really cold because
this time of year you can ride so much later in the day.
Otherwise you're dealing with the gut wrenching
job of pulling on a cold machine, or in the case
of one fellow, you can't even get your machine started
and so miss the ride.
I'm not sure why the program changed, but since I have
a lot of work to do, I turned back. I'll go riding with
my old friends when there's less of a 'crowd'.
Catch All Saturday
just about didn't get to this article today. As usual,
there's lots to do around here, not least of which was
to listen to a friend groan over the phone about
the horrendous blizzard happening at that very moment
in Saskatchewan. While I looked out of my window at a
glorious, sunny day with not a whisper of wind or cloud
in the sky, he was regaling me with a clear description
of high winds, snow blowing sideways, cold temperatures,
and no visibility. He had just finished digging
four foot drifts away from the doors of his dog team's
individual dog houses because they were otherwise
stuck sleeping out in the snow.
In the meanwhile, the southwestern states don't look like
they were having a very happy Saturday. Cold temperatures
and snow seem to have taken southern and northern California
as well as Nevada and Arizona by surprise. A little snow
sitting on a cactis is enough to warm the very cockles
of my heart. Not so warming for those trying to drive
on the icy and snow covered roads. At least the
Californians seem to handle the surprise weather with
much better humour than our Vancouverites. I just
hope my brother in Reno doesn't get fed up and move back
to Florida. He hates the cold and always used to wear
longjohns and a down jacket in mid summer when we were
We're supposed to be going snowmobiling tomorrow and since
it looks like another glorious day in the Chilcotin, I'm
looking forward to it mightily. It might be a little cold
in the morning but that sun packs a lot of punch this
time of year and it won't take long to warm up. Hopefully
Logan will bring his magical camera with him since he
sure seems to get the great wildlife pics.
Two of our long time snowmobiling buddies are back
in the country. I mentioned Henry before who is
in his eighties and used to race Motor Cross bikes. He's
a tough act to keep up to and you better go fast or get
out of his way! Frank and his wife have come in from Nevada
to their summer home on Nimpo Lake for just a few weeks
but he'll be riding tomorrow as well. These are the guys
I rode with when I first came back to this area and was
learning to ride a snowmobile. Frank stayed faithfully
in the rear to make sure the greenhorn didn't get stuck
or hung up in a tree. Which I did on about the first ride
out. It took Frank's winch and a bunch of husky
guys to get the ruddy snowmobile out of a stand of stunted
alpine trees and that was only the first time.
These guys have all seen me hit trees more than once.
I did have the honour of being top tree magnet one year,
but I've since been replaced. Thank heavens! At least
I was never a creek magnet. Trust me, that's way worse!
Remarkable Winter Day In March
anywhere else, March in the Anahim and Nimpo Lake
area can be beautiful or brutal. In our case,
the last few days we have been back has been pretty nice.
There was not a cloud this morning and the sky was that
impossibly deep blue that you see in late fall and deep
winter. However, that was not the case for the Vancouver
area this morning 300 miles south of us. The news
anchors were complaining bitterly about their crocus and
daffodils being buried in the snow. It looks like
the streets were icy and there were a few vehicles in
the ditches and wrapped around telephone poles. Of course
it would help if those people would purchase winter or
all season tires rather than hoping every year that they
can get by with bald summer tires. There go our insurance
We took a walk around the property today to see
if we could see any sign yet of the Mountain Pine Beetles
having caused the death of our trees. There are
a couple big mature pines that have new-growth needles
turning a pale yellow, which is not a good sign. I realize
the pine beetle had gotten into all of our trees last
summer but I keep hoping our proactive approach of spraying
for the last three years may have helped the trees fight
off the infestation. I'm almost certain the beetles
and larvae inside are dead because whenever woodpeckers
land they take right off again while many groves
of trees elsewhere are almost stripped of their bark.
I'm more concerned that the fungus released by the beetle
on entering the tree will have stalled the tree's abilitiy
to move sap and feed itself. We won't know until spring
or fall, but I keep hoping our spraying and injection
program was enough to help the trees fight off the fungus.
This afternoon brought up some really glorious clouds
more like summer thunderheads than what you normally see
in winter. The weatherman commented that it was
just those formations that brought the surprise snow to
Vancouver this morning. I've thrown up some pics on your
right showing the sunset and clouds unusual for this time
of year. And I couldn't resist adding a picture
of our glorious morning on Nimpo Lake!
The last couple of nights the mercury has dropped and
quickly! It got down to -22C or about 8F
below zero and never did really warm up above freezing
today. That's a bit cool for this time of year, but only
in the past ten years or so. Cold was common place in
March and it's always been an unpredictable month weather
wise, but I guess we've just gotten spoiled with these
early springs the last few years. Either way, I'll take
those clear, clear, blue skies any day!
Wolverine On Charlotte Lake
have the most amazing photos to show you. A couple
of weeks ago, Logan from down at Nimpo Lake Resort
took these photos from the back of a snowmobile on Charlotte
Apparently, when the guys came down onto the lake, they
saw what they thought was a coyote or wolf chasing something
across the huge, frozen body of water. When they got closer,
they realized that the animal being chased was a Mule
Deer. They got much closer yet to the predator because
it just didn't look right for a coyote. Lo and behold,
they were seeing something few people ever see
in broad daylight and out in the open. The wolverine
is a secretive animal with long, upcurved paws packing
impressive claws, and a nasty little jaw full of needle
Men in the bush have long feared the wolverine, and even
the trappers exercise caution around them. It's said that
even grizzly bears fear this animal and will go out of
their way to avoid them. This creature has been called
'evil incarnate' for centuries by men in
the bush because of its nature.
The animal is lightning fast and it would seem has a very
unreasonable disposition. It's also said that the animal
will attack anything, regardless of size, with no
logical reason for doing so other than it's in
a perpetually bad mood. I don't know how much said or
written about them over the centuries is true, but I
don't think I've ever read an article that stated the
wolverine was a cute, cuddly, and highly misunderstood
There is absolutely nothing pretty about a wolverine other
than their pelt, which in years past was highly prized
for fur coats. The coat on this one would indicate he's
warm, fat and sassy although I would never have thought
a wolverine would try to run down a deer unless he was
starving. Not many things in this country can outrun a
mule deer, especially in the open in soft snow.
I was very fortunate that Logan was willing to send me
the full sized photos that he took of the wolverine, so
that I could post pics with as much detail as is possible
considering it's for the web. If the pics are too dark
for detail on a monitor, someone write and let me know.
I run a pretty light monitor so it's hard to judge just
how dark the images are for most people's computer monitors.
In any case, I just had to share Logan's pictures with
you. This is a rare, rare sight indeed, and many
people in North America will live and die without ever
even knowing what this 'beautiful' but nasty creature
We're Back In The Chilcotin
last week has been a bit of a whirlwind. We've sold an
orchard down in the Okanagan and since possession by the
new owners is in the first week of April, there has been
a great deal to do. This was the third of probably four
trips to clear out the property and garage of many years
accumulation of 'stuff'. Equipment and a '33 Plymouth
sedan had to be stored, lots of stuff garbaged or given
away, the rest to be hauled up to Nimpo Lake,
and lots of clean up. We finally got lucky with roads
coming home with a trailer load and didn't have to battle
any snow, ice or rain at all. It looks like we just made
it though. The weather definitely took a turn for the
worse today. High winds and warm temperatures left the
snow pretty soggy.
Coquitlam and the North Island down Vancouver way got
hit with a surprise snowstorm today that left drivers
spinning their wheels. All the fresh snow made the ski
hill operators pretty happy though.
Some of the guys are going out snowmobiling tomorrow
morning as long as it's not as windy as it was today.
We got the phone call to go but I expect we'll still be
unpacking 'stuff' and I'm not sure conditions will be
picture perfect. When it's this warm the snow gets soggy
and where it does when the snow is deep you can expect
to get stuck often. Apparently a few of the locals went
out a couple of days ago and got stuck quite a bit because
of too warm conditons. There's supposed to be a clearing
trend by the weekend so hopefully it will get colder and
the snow will tighten up a bit.
I realize this is a pretty short blog tonite and I hope
you all understand, but a 1000 mile round trip with
all the things that accompany a major move is tiresome
at best. We'll see if I can't do better tomorrow.
For those of you that are new here, last week's articles
can be found at Wilderness
Adventures Feb4 most of which are about
Rich Hobson's adventures in the Chilcotin. "The Rancher
Takes A Wife" is his third book on the subject. There's
also some local antidotes on snowmobiling.
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!