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Wilderness Adventures - March, Week 3/2006

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.

31/03/2006 9:12 AM

The Last Day Of March

And a pretty one it is too! Another calm, sunny morning. It won't last of course. By afternoon the wind will be gusting which is a good thing this time of year.
Well, spring is nearly upon us, and no, I do not go by the usual day in March because in the Chilcotin you could have a howling blizzard, so that date means little. Tomorrow is the first of April and tomorrow night we turn our clocks forward. Now that I get excited about! Being the night person that I am, I always like it lighter later in the evening, and of course, darker later in the morning doesn't break my heart at all. Not that it'll last long anyway before it's light at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. Personally, I would like to see Daylight Savings Time a year round thing in British Columbia but I've expressed my opinion pretty strongly on that point elsewhere in this blog so I won't rehash it here.
Being off Daylight Savings Time is most noticeable in the dead of winter when the days are the shortest, and you're eating supper in the dark. But once you get past that 'break' point at about the middle of January when you really start to notice the longer days, it all seems down hill after that.
By this time of year, it's light way later than you're likely to be outside simply because of temperature. The sun might still be up after 6:00 in the evening, but it doesn't have a lot of strength at that height right now. On the other hand, 5:00 to 6:00 in the evening in July can be the hottest time of day in a real scorcher of a summer with the sun still not down after 10:00 at night.
In any case, I always look forward this time of year and the time change, it's just that then I have to rely on clocks because otherwise, you'll look outside to see that it's still light at 8:00 at night but you haven't eaten yet!
I heard that little screee you get just before looking up in time to see a pair of mature bald eagles fly across in front of the house over Nimpo Lake, doing acrobatics as they went. I actually think they must have been scared up from where they were by some people that were walking on the lake. Needless to say, I couldn't get the camera out and started up in time for what should have been a real close up shot, even with the warning of that funny little screee sound.
Does it ever seem odd to anyone that a bird that is supposed to be one of the proudest symbols of anything in flight has one of the most pathetic, wimpy sounding calls of anything I've ever heard? On the other hand, take a gull or raven, what we consider to be strictly garbage or scavenger birds and for which we have little respect hereabouts, and they have clarion calls that you can hear for what seems miles! How right is that?
Sorry, it's Friday. My nonsensical pondering day. Must be left over from the Friday-is-the-last-day-of-the-work-week and a generally useless day production wise. Even if I haven't been in the rut for awhile. Oh well, sometimes all you have is bits and bites.
The guys were going to go sledding up to Wilderness Lake today. Unfortunately, no one called until late last evening and with trailering required, it was just too short a notice for us. I would really like to have gone because I understand from so many of our buddies that it is an awesome ride, and because this year is probably pretty close to done for sledding for us. But that always leaves next year, doesn't it?
Besides, I'm starting to get that 'spring' itch! I started looking out at the garden today trying to estimate how long it will take for it to be out from under the ice and snow. This is such a hard time of year. The fun, winter stuff is just about done but it's much too early for the fun, spring stuff.
Anyway, tomorrow is going to be the start of a new week, so maybe I can put some different pictures up. Our friends from Quesnel, Bill and Anita are sending down some pics of their ride here and I look forward to seeing what they look like.

29/03/2006 5:50 PM

Playing In The Air

Someone was doing some flying today even though it was pretty blustery out. Someone landed on Nimpo Lake in a pretty little blue and white plane on skiis but I noticed they really had to power up once landed to get turned out of the wind. It must have been a bit of rock and roll flying up there today, but they looked like they were having fun and it was fairly sunny most of the day. Yes, I know there's an American flag in the picture. There's a Canadian one next to it. I just didn't get it all.
Wind is not my favorite thing at all. If it was, I would have stayed in Saskatchewan. But the advantage of having a lot of wind during breakup is that it starts to dry up the mud and carries the moisture away.
Last night at about midnight, a whole flock of Canada Geese winged over the lake. I have no idea where they were going but they sure were travelling late at night. They must have some built in compass!
We probably only have a week left to snowmobile right from the front door here, but snowmobiling up in the Rainbows is still just excellent and probably will be for a couple of more months. So if you are thinking of coming up for a little sledding holiday this spring, you can do that as well as cross-country ski and I think that the down hill skiing is open as well.
Both the Anahim Lake Inn as well as the Country Inn in Nimpo Lake provide year round accommodation as well as The Dean on Nimpo and Wilderness Rim Resort I believe that Escott Bay Resort also has rooms available or will soon. Nimpo Lake Resort isn't technically open for business yet but I know that Mary can always find you a place to lay your head for a little winter vacation and The Timber House Bed & Breakfast offers lovely year round accommodation right on Nimpo Lake.
So bring yourself and your sun tan lotion along with your favorite winter toy for a super, late winter, vacation!

28/03/2006 5:25 PM

Evening

I think that my favorite time of day in the Chilcotin is an evening such as this.
Although many 'morning' people would probably disagree with me vociferously, but being a night person, I rarely see dawn in this country. When the temperature is above freezing, the flags are barely curling in the breeze, and the snow on the mountains is a bright white from the last rays of the sun, I don't think there's a better place in the world to be.
The Chickadees have taken to invading the feeder for their supper over an hour later than in the dead of winter now, probably because of the longer days. The Juncos are in their favored spot, picking through grass seeds on the ground. There are birds playing in the meltwater over under a big spruce tree and there's a crowd of Chickadees twittering in the pine trees.
I like the noise of evening just before everything settles in for the night, and this time of year it's as though everything waits in quiet expectation for spring to come.
I was down at the other end of Nimpo Lake today and Mary and Logan of Nimpo Lake Resort had just come in from dropping a couple of beetle killed trees, doing some clean up and burning the branches. She said she'd been working in a tee shirt all day so it must have been warm! It was a little cooler and breezier on our end of the lake today because the wind was out of the west.
The lake was doing a lot of grumbling last night and a little this morning as the snow on top started to warm up in the sun. The ice road is still in pretty good shape until you get down toward Mary's end. It drifted pretty badly there in spots and there's some fairly good ruts to negotiate. The ramps up to dry land are still holding but the pools of water and soil are growing larger on both ends of Nimpo Lake. Freezing temperatures at night are helping to hold the snow and ice so far.
The guys were talking about some of the snowmobile trails and getting back out to improve on them this spring before they become impassible. We haven't put a work party together yet but I think we'd better be getting to it pretty soon or we'll be out of luck until next year.

27/03/2006 8:30 PM

A Sad Day

I learned of terrible news today. A good neighbour's Mom was badly injured at the mill Saturday. As I understand it, she was on weekend cleanup when her arm was caught in a conveyor and a massive shoulder and arm injury resulted. I guess it goes to show you that even with the modern emphasis on observing safety procedures, a lumber mill is still a very dangerous place to work. Our hearts go out to her and her family.
I was told that the medi-vac (plane) arrived here very quickly so that's a positive, and hopefully the fast transport to hospital will have helped.
The Dutchman Restaurant in Anahim Lake has been taken over by new management. Dawn over at Marg's Takeout is running it now and I can attest from my meal this evening that the cooking is great. The place was pretty crowded so other people obviously think the same.
Lots of mud around now, (you should see my poor truck) so breakup must be here. We're starting to get a pretty good pool of water just before you ramp up off of the ice road on this end of Nimpo Lake. I can hear the red-winged blackbirds singing like crazy over in the meadow now too, but they haven't invaded the bird feeder yet. Still though, I could see lots of fresh snow up on the Ulgatchuz and Itcha Mountains on my way to Anahim Lake today.
This article is going to be short and sweet because I've been pretty busy all day. Back tomorrow!

26/03/2006 7:47 PM

Life Is Good!

Hey, we scored two fish this weekend! Our new found friends from Quesnel, Bill and Anita, stopped by to say goodbye this morning before heading back home. Aside from the gift of nice gloves (I'm going to score those when someone's not looking!) they kindly left two beautiful cutthroat trout for us that they caught while out snowmobiling this weekend. I guess the ice fishing was pretty good, which was probably a blessing since the weather hasn't been too co-operative.
Bill, Anita, and the rest of their group went back up to the Rainbows yesterday but it sounds like the mountains were socked in with cloud a good part of the day. Bill was telling me that while waiting in the parking lot for their group, other people from Quesnel showed up to go snowmobiling. He said by the time they got headed up the trail there was a long line of machines behind. I guess he and the guys got to go do a bit of riding into some pretty rugged country with little sign that anyone had been there before them and eventually the weather cleared up in the afternoon making it a little nicer for everyone riding up there.
We watched the bunch go across Nimpo Lake toward Trumpeter Mountain on Friday with Bill in the lead. I figured he was doing pretty darn good since he'd only been up there the once with us and here he was already leading a wagon train of his own! It sounds like the weather socked in on them up there as well around the Play Bowl so they didn't go right to the top of Trumpeter itself. But Bill did find the Telegraph Creek trail that we came down last time without finding the entrance to it, so he was doing really good. I wish now that we had ridden more of the trails up there with he and Anita last week so that he could have taken his party to more places. It would have been nice to take them over the Cutoff to Kappan tower or down the Charlotte Lake trail.
Maybe next time.
Bill and Anita said they've left something up there for us on the trail before Goat Lake, so now I'm really curious! Especially since Friday is the soonest we can go up there now. They're also going to be sending me a cd with some pictures of their snowmobiling on it, among others, so I look forward to posting some of those on this site. Look for 'em.
Hope you guys had a good time because Nimpo Lake sure enjoyed having you here!
25/03/2006 6:16 PM

Unpredictable

Our weather changes so quickly from minute to minute right now that you just don't know what's going to happen!
One moment it will be nice, the next, hail will be just pouring down. A minute or two after that, the sun is shining through. We went from watching a system move across Nimpo Lake at us today where almost everything was obscured, to having quite a nice evening. The Coast Range is standing out quite clearly now and there's lots of blue sky. We got quite a bit of hail last night and some again today, which is weird for this time of year.
Temperatures were so warm yesterday that our ice road is starting to fall apart. If this keeps up, I don't know how much longer we'll be able to drive on it. We did test the ice depth both in front of the house and out on the ice road yesterday. 21" thick in the front bay and fully 31" thick on the ice road in the back bay. It just goes to show you how much the snow cover on the rest of the lake insulates the ice. The biggest problem with the ice road is that it starts to deteriorate where you ramp up off the lake onto land. Invariably, when it warms up, dirt begins to show and drain down onto the lake. Since the darker color quickly draws the heat of the sun, it isn't long before the lake begins to slush in that spot.
There's been record setting temperatures all over the province of British Columbia for the last couple of days, so I guess it isn't just us. At least our snow held better this year and for a lot longer into spring making for some pretty nice snowmobiling. It may still be good for a while if it cools down again. Of course the Rainbows will be good for snowmobiling for some time yet..

24/03/2006 4:15 PM

Connie King's Grizzly

As mentioned yesterday, I have corrections to make to the story of Connie King's attack by a Grizzly. In my discussion last fall about bear attacks on people called Predator Bears , I mentioned the story of a hockey player that lived out here for years and in 1968, he was badly mauled by a grizzly.
Yesterday I received an email from a very nice gentleman who is Connie's son, Dave. I called him and he indicated that the story I had written about the attack was not quite correct and related the actual happenings to me.
I had written the story that had been told by many of the local residents, and interestingly enough, although their relation of events all sounded much alike, it appeared that Connie King's mauling may have been mixed up with an attack on a woman named Mattie Jack down on the Dean River years ago where she was apparently buried by the bear more than once. I will try to find out more about that event and hopefully, get it right.
In the meanwhile, I would like to relate what actually happened to Connie King as per his son, and of course I will correct the tale on the other article as well.
Dave said his Dad was feeding the weaker of his cattle with pellets and would haul them out to the animals by saddle horse. It was spring and although there was snow on the ground, there was water from snow melt on the ice of the lake he crossed to get to the cattle.
He heard noises just over a ridge full of willow and thought perhaps a calf or cow was trapped in there. He dismounted, went over the ridge and saw instead a grizzly sow eating on the remains of a moose or moose hide. When the animal charged, Connie tried to climb a spruce but of course the branches of our spruce here were too weak, so he climbed a poplar tree instead. The grizzly pulled him out of the tree and proceeded to maul him as Connie tried to fight the animal off. Dave said his Dad lost his nose and an eye, and the animal took a strip of meat off his arm and out of his thigh, but the whole time Connie never lost his footing as he wrestled with the bear.
Eventually the bear backed off and looked at him. Connie started backing toward the lake with the bear staring at him the whole time. He backed across the lake, one bootless foot in the water until he reached his cabin on the other side, where the native lady staying with him got him to Pelican Lake. From there he was taken by team to Anahim Lake where the Catholic Nuns tried to patch him up as best as possible before he was taken down to Bella Coola.
Dave was working down in Vancouver at the time, and said his Dad was in hospital there for quite awhile. Connie King was 58 years old at the time of the bear attack and yet he and the animal fought to a standstill. Just goes to show you how tough some people in the Chilcotin are!
Hope I got this right Dave. If I've missed anything, let me know! Although I sat with Connie and others at the coffee shop in Anahim Lake more than once in the late eighties, I never considered it polite to ask him what had happened to him. I'm sorry now that I didn't. Not only would it have been nice to have that tale from the horse's mouth, so to speak, but I'm sure he had lots of other good stories to tell. Connie King died in about 1997, so I regret that the opportunity is lost forever, as it has been with many of the old timers that settled this country.
23/03/2006 7:14 PM

Rainbow Mountain Ride

Wow, our new friends from Quesnel had quite a snowmobiling experience today. They, and several other friends gathered from around the province, trailered up early this morning to the Rainbow Mountains. Apparently the ride was going quite well and they were nearly to Mackenzie Cabin when Randy, their leader and the only one that knows the area well, fell into a deep hole when the snow gave away beneath him. I guess he was riding along and saw a depression, but was on top of it before realizing there was a hole there that had been filled up with snow. The snowmachine landed, settled and hit the bank of this hole (probably a creek bottom) on the other side. The hole was about ten feet deep from the look of it and filled with water at the bottom. Snowmobile sitting in a deep creek bottom.
It took some serious pulling both with another snowmobile and manpower (Bill said they were fortunate to have big husky ex-NHL hockey players for friends) pulling on the skiis to eventually hoist the machine out. Their efforts were not aided by several extra pounds of wet slush packed into the track from out of the bottom of the hole. After getting the machine out, they chose to head back to the trail head as quickly as possible. Randy was soaking wet and the weather had rapidly deteriorated. The wind was howling and low lying clouds were moving in fast. The biggest concern was for Randy's well being because he had gotten so wet and hypothermia is always a risk at this time of year. And, In view of this, everyone was especially concerned since he was the only one that knew the way back home.
Bill said that on the way back, both he and Randy rode over a low lying rock but his wife, who was following, tried to dodge it. Her one ski dropped into the snow against the rock, and the whole front end on her snowmobile was twisted out of line by about five inches, and of course Anita was thrown off the machine. When Bill realized she wasn't behind him, he turned back to find his wife a little bruised and shaken up, and the machine damaged to the extent that it would only travel in a straight line and couldn't be turned very easily.
Bill traded machines with his wife and babied the snowmobile the rest of the way down the mountain, and they got back to Nimpo Lake before lunch.
He came over to our place to borrow some come-alongs to try and straighten the front end of Anita's machine out so that it could be ridden tomorrow. He returned a little later with three pictures for me to scan in and put on this blog and gave me permission to write about their adventure today. I hope I got everything right and I'm really glad that no one was badly hurt.
And Randy... if you ever read this...you're not allowed to shoot the messenger! LOL!
I guess everyone is hoping to go back up to the Rainbows again tomorrow. I wish them much better weather than we had today, and sincerely hope they have a wonderful ride.
Just a note to anyone that read this article yesterday, I dropped one Trumpeter pic off the right to make room for the Rainbow Ride, because those pictures are just too good to not be seen. If the page turns out to be too slow loading as a result, I may have to drop more pictures yet.
Also, tomorrow I will be writing about Connie King, a fellow that was attacked in this area by a grizzly bear a few years ago. I need to make a correction in the story.
22/03/2006 11:49 AM

Merry Christmas In March!

We haven't seen snow for awhile, so our little storm is a bit of a surprise. The snowy picture of Andy B. on his bobcat trying to clear snow off of Nimpo Lake belies the bright sun of just a few days before. Duncan Stewart of Stewart's Lodge and Camps needed a large area cleared off in front of the lodge for ice cutting in the next few days and I'm pretty sure I can hear chainsaws over at Richard's resort where he'll be cutting ice as well.
Ice cutting is still critical for some of the local resort owners because they rely on their ice houses being full to preserve fish caught by their clients as well as providing extra refrigeration space throughout the summer. A well packed ice house, especially one utilizing sawdust, will provide refrigeration well into fall before the ice melts. While resorts such as Wilderness Rim cut ice in February and only down to a certain depth, other lodges cut in March right down to water, providing blocks 24" thick and sometimes up to three feet in a really cold year.
As a result of modern refrigeration many of the resorts no longer cut ice for their ice houses, probably because it's such brutally hard work.
Even though the weather outside doesn't much look like it, spring must be in the air. I noticed Juncos at the bird feeder today and they're a sure sign of spring. However, a small flock of four Trumpeter Swans are still hanging around on Nimpo Lake, probably because the only open water right now is at the outlet of the lake where the Dean River exits. I don't expect that to be the case for long. We have very warm temperatures right now and they're expected to continue for a few days, so the lake will start opening up from the Dean into the back bay.
Hopefully, it will be snowing up in the Rainbows today. Where we get only a skiff, the Rainbow Mountains can get a huge snowfall, and that should make for some terrific snowmobiling for the folks down from Quesne. I know that they were considering joining the guys from the The Dean on Nimpo out on the lake for some ice fishing today. The weather at present wouldn't make that a very fun proposition but it will probably clear up by this afternoon.
That reminds me, one of the guys staying at The Dean is Jimmie Rodgers, a celebrity song writer and singer from the U.S. Apparently he had quite a few gold records at one time. Remember "Kisses Sweeter than Wine"? Or "Honeycomb", one of my personal favorites from when I was a kid. Yes, I know, I just dated myself. What can I say? My parents liked that stuff! Anyway, If you would like to get a little background on the fellow, I did find an interview done with him at Gary Jame's Interview with Jimmie Rodgers . It seems as forthright as the fellow himself and his is a very interesting life story. We got to talk to him for a bit up on Trumpeter Mountain the other day and he was fun and personable, and up for anything. Even though he wasn't the least bit familiar with a snowmobile, this tall dude did a good job of it and was more than willing to laugh at himself when he fell off!

21/03/2006 2:33 PM

Snowmobiling With New Friends

We had a terrific day yesterday snowmobiling with new friends.
Bill and Anita called us a little while back from Quesnel, BC after seeing pictures of themselves on this blog, playing hockey and skating on Nimpo Lake at Christmas time.
Apparently they've been reading the blog every day for some time and after seeing their pics, decided to talk to the person doing the writing. We've had several great conversations and they decided they would like to come out this week to go snowmobiling both on Trumpeter Mountain and to the Rainbows.
They left Quesnel early yesterday morning and arrived in plenty of time for us to meet up shortly after ten and head out for a day's riding.
The weather was absolutely magnificent! We couldn't have asked for a nicer day to take new people up the mountain and show off the view from up there. The sun was shining all day, warm enough for us all to be sporting burns, not a cloud in the sky and no wind, which was really nice. Especially at the cairn on top of Trumpeter where wind can sometimes be whipping snow dead sideways and at high speed. Instead, we had one of those rare days on top of the world where you just didn't want to leave.
Some guys staying at the The Dean on Nimpo joined us up there. They were all riding old, old machines and most of the five had ridden little before, but they did a good job of getting up on top, nonetheless.
Our friends from Naramata were up again showing the country off to a friend of theirs from Switzerland, so it was pretty noisy at the cairn for a little while.
The beauty of being able to reach that height of land with a snowmobile is that you can point out all the landmarks and mountain ranges in this part of the Chilcotin. It's even better than flying the country with an airplane because you're stationary and have a 360 degree view all at once.
While up on top of Trumpeter we could hear some guys talking on the radio and recognized the voices of our regular sledding buddies. They had trailered over to the Remarko in the morning and had snowmobiled up to Wilderness Lake. (You can see pictures of this beautiful area at the Alpine Flower Gallery and at The Mountain Gallery.) Or at least most of them had. One of them got off on the wrong trail and was trying to find his way back using the radio, and coordinates on his GPS. He eventually caught up to them and today they said it was just an unbelievable ride. The country is just prime for snowmobiling with lots of rolling alpine and lots of snow. I guess we're going to have to bite the trailering bullet one day and check it out up there.
What was neat about the whole thing was that we were talking to people many miles and several mountains away but we were at about the same elevation and on a line of sight for the radio. It definitely helps to have a radio and GPS along on a snowmobile ride for safety's sake if nothing else.
Coming down off of Trumpeter Mountain over to the Cornice, we came across a long lonely set of tracks coming over the hill. It definitely didn't seem set up right for wolf tracks and the pad wasn't big enough or furry enough to be lynx. I think Bill was correct when he suggested they were wolverine tracks, and since we were sitting just above Charlotte Lake, we wondered if they didn't belong to the wolverine from March Week One Wilderness Adventures .
Although we were riding really sedately yesterday, it became pretty obvious that Bill and Anita are expert riders and are very comfortable in any terrain. That means no one was stuck yesterday and that's always a bonus! They kindly let us try out one of their fan cooled Ski-Doos on the REV platform after I did a flying whip-lash-causing endo off my machine trying to bring it up on its side, and man, was that some impressive! What tremendous maneuverability! The machine is light, easy to turn on its side, and I can see cornering on tight trails would be pretty relaxing. I expect they're also a lot easier to get out of a bad spot if you got stuck than these big, heavy liquid cooled machines we're riding. I'm most impressed with that REV design. You sit up higher and further forward, completely changing your centre of gravity and the whole front end steering design allows you to rock the machine from side to side very easily.
We finished off a really wonderful day with supper up at Chilcotin's Gate courtesy of our new found friends and I suspect they hit the hay as quickly as we did last night. I believe they were going to head up into the Rainbows today and try some ice fishing on a little lake up there. Although the weather kind of deteriorated overnight, I hope they had a great day!
This is the start of a new week, so you can find all of last week's good stuff at Wilderness Adventure March Week Two.
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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!
Ski plane landing.
 
Men pulling a snowmobile up out of a deep hole.
 
Snowmobile is out of the hole.
 
Bobcat on Nimpo Lake.
 
On top of Trumpeter Mountain.
 
Coastal Mountains.
 
People standing on the mountain.
 
Cornice with Coastal Range behind.
 
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