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Wilderness Adventures - March, Week 1/2006

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' - 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.

12/03/2006 6:19 PM

The Snowmobilers Return

Well, 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.
12/03/2006 11:46 AM

Trumpeter Swans

A 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'.

11/03/2006 9:41 PM

Catch All Saturday

I 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 kids.
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!

10/03/2006 7:09 PM

Remarkable Winter Day In March

Like 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 rates again.
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!

09/03/2006 2:01 PM

Wolverine On Charlotte Lake

I 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 Lake.
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 like teeth.
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 animal.
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 looks like!

08/03/2006 9:01 PM

We're Back In The Chilcotin

The 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.

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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!
Trumpeter Swans flying off Nimpo
 
White swans
 
Nimpo Lake winter
 
Winter sunset
 
Wolverine on Charlotte Lake.
 
Wolverine photo.
 
Fearless wolverine.
 
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