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Wilderness Adventures - May, 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. Check out the Picture of the Day.

13/05/2006 8:06 PM

Another Bear Attack

Just saw the report of a bear attack that occurred yesterday. A 41 year old male park employee was walking in on a hiking trail in Banff National Park (in the Rockies) when he was attacked by a black bear. Fellow employees heard his cries for help while out riding their bikes. When they ascertained that the bear was between them and the victim and they couldn't scare the animal away, they rode as fast as they could for 20 minutes back to where they could put in a call for help. They then rode back, got to the attack victim, and tried to keep him warm (as it was getting dark and cooler) and kept talking to him to keep him out of shock while the bear moved around in the bush nearby.
When park wardens arrived, they shot the bear and got the man out of there and shipped to a Calgary hospital.
The warden speaking to the media said that it was pretty obvious that it had been a long, drawn out attack and that the victim had fought off the bear over a period of time. The warden also said that the bear only weighed about 120 pounds and appeared to be starving. They have to do tests to verify that this was indeed the attacking bear, and what's very unusual is that the warden actually admitted that this appeared to be a predator bear. They usually avoid using that term.The trail into the area will remain closed until they can verify that this was the only attacking bear. It sounds like the victim is in good conditon and has not suffered critical injury.
If you would like to know a little more about bear attacks, I've written a series covering the different types of bear attacks and you can find the beginning of that series at
September Week 3 page. Make sure you start at the bottom of the page to start at the beginning of the series.
We haven't seen much in the way of bear sign around here yet, although the odd one has been seen by neighbours. It's still quite cool yet (-5C last night) and some may still be denned up. It would be just as well. There isn't a whole lot for them to eat out there right now. The grasses are only just greening up in the meadows.
Our fighter jets were back yesterday but this time they were overflying Anahim Lake. I guess one was quite low when he broke the sound barrier and just about scared the pants off of everyone in the area that heard the sonic boom.
Lots happening around Anahim and Nimpo Lakes this weekend including the canoe races. I'll cover that tomorrow as soon as I have more info.
12/05/2006 12:49 PM

A Question Of Economics

We attended a meeting last night that directly impacts our area's economic viability.
Our region developed an unusual joint venture in the mid '90s between a lumber mill that had previously operated in the area, the local native indian band, and community members who bought shares in the venture. This three way partnership succeeded very well for a number of years and was very profitable to all three partners. Unfortunately, there was no measure taken to reinvest some of those profits in a maintenance and upgrade fund, nor was either a short term or long term strategic plan ever drawn up. Such a plan is generally not needed when times are good, but when times go bad...it helps to have some vision of where you are going. Particularly when you have three very different partners involved.
A number of factors in the last few years have severely impacted the continued viability of this partnership and the lumber mill. Rising fuel costs, a higher Canadian dollar, and the US tariff on our lumber have all contributed to lower returns. In addition to that, the venture borrowed money for an expansion to the sawmill that not only had a huge cost overrun, but since the expansion was only a partial one, it really didn't contribute much overall to the bottom line. In fact, it took two years to reach pre-expansion production levels. It also put the venture deep in debt at a time when we have all kinds of other problems on our plate. See above.
Now two of the partners want to see massive expansion continue, including building a dry kiln and we will have to borrow millions more to accomplish that when we still owe a sizeable debt for operating expenses and the last expansion. In other words, we're running in the red and these people want us to borrow yet more money! That might make sense if the mill had a viable future for the next 20 years but the trees are turning red out there. That means they are already dying and dead. Although the one 'director' admitted that in wet land our pine is only viable for milling up to 5 years, on high ground it may be viable for up to 15 years after it is dead. Wrong!
Lodgepole pine in this country is notorious for falling down only a very short period of time after the death of the tree. I have 13 years experience working in planer mills as a lumber grader. Even if the wood didn't fall down, if you tried to run that lumber through the planer mill after it has been standing dead for a couple of years, it will explode in the planer. You won't have enough left over from each board to make match sticks! And yet these people seem to think they can convince the shareholders that a huge, entirely unnecessary, and very expensive expansion is the way to go. Unfortunately, they probably can because many of the shareholders from Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake just do not have the intimate knowledge required to make a decision of this nature and so they're boondoggled by fast talking 'used car' salesmen.
This is akin to maxing out your credit card, overspending your income, and then borrowing the money to buy a new car because it will get better fuel economy than your last one. However, the interest payments on that new car you bought will exceed the savings you will see from a more fuel efficient car. Add to that: You're only five years from retirement so your ability to bring in your present level of income will end at that time.
Ideally, you would continue to drive your old car, pay off your debt load, and save the money to put down on the new car in future. But you would only do that if you found another job or source of income after you retire. Otherwise, you have to get a cheaper car or continue to run the one you have. I'm not sure if you see the analogy here, but it sure looks clear to me.
However, if you look at the massive debt load from unnecessary overspending by a huge percentage of the people living in North America now, it would explain why the suggestions in the meeting last night might be considered acceptable. Of course, it also explains why so many people are going broke in North America, are living pay check to pay check and going broke with little equity to show for their efforts.
So one has to take a long hard look at the underlying motive of two out of three of these partners for wanting to run the mill deep into debt.
In the analogy above, the primary reason for going deep into debt for a new car that you can't afford to pay for is 'status symbol'. You can come up with all sorts of sane reasons. Lower maintenance costs, better fuel economy, dependability, etc. But face it, for most people, it's status. Nobody wants to be seen driving around in a beat up old vehicle that's paid for, because it just doesn't look good.
Unfortunately, the underlying motive for putting the mill deep in debt isn't about status. I suspect the reasons are a lot more sinister in nature and there's no question in my mind that the whole thing will be detrimental to the community shareholders in the long run.

11/05/2006 11:29 AM

Seasonal Changes

I'm always amazed at how quickly things change here once the ice comes off of Nimpo Lake. The country really starts hopping. There's always that quiet time between solid ice on the local lakes and ice off when it isn't safe to drive, four wheel or snowmobile on the ice and yet there's no open water. But once there is, out come the boats and planes.
There have been quite a few private float planes that have come in on Nimpo Lake the past week and although Anahim Lake doesn't see the same degree of traffic because it isn't considered a floatplane base on the same scale as Nimpo Lake, I'm sure it has seen some traffic as well.
Tweedsmuir Air is a chartered air service on Nimpo Lake and Duncan has had his Beaver on floats out nearly every day, probably to resupply his outpost cabins before the summer season starts. No matter what resort, motel or campground you stay at when visiting here, you are able to book flightseeing tours with Tweedsmuir Air to take a look at the breathtaking country in this area. You can also charter the service to go into lakes only accessible by floatplane for some premium fishing for the day or for canoeing or hiking in the alpine.
Now is a good time to consider booking your accommodations for your summer vacation and there's lots of variety to choose from here from rustic to luxurious cabins, resort lodging or fully equipped and comfortable motel rooms.
Campgrounds are available with easy parking for large RV's and full hookups both on Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake and all with a view. Most have tent sites as well. If you would like more information on the different types of accommodation available to you, simply use the navigation menu on the left.
If you are a hiking enthusiast, you'll find that the West Chilcotin has lots to offer! There are extensive hiking trails in Tweedsmuir Park that are marked, or you can set out on your own just about anywhere. If you would like to access the alpine, you can drive or fourwheel to your take off point in some cases, or you can charter Tweedsmuir Air to drop you off on a high alpine lake and go from there.
You can explore the activities available to you in the area, check out the transportation options, weather, dining and businesses as well as learn about wildlife here by exploring this site. It has fairly extensive information for the traveller to our area. There's also a great photo gallery with a little of everything. If you have any questions about lodging or the Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake area, feel free to use the contact page and I'll do my best to reply.
I'm still trying to get dates for two popular upcoming events. I was just at the restaurant the other day and a few of us were discussing the lack of info. We really need more posters. The canoe races should be happening soon as well as the water skipping races. If you haven't seen snowmobiles racing on water then you've missed a great event. It's hilarious!!
Don't forget to check out the
Picture of the Day to see some gorgeous hiking country.
10/05/2006 6:58 PM

No Flash After All

Looks like our weather might hold to some resemblance to spring for a while.
It was another really nice day today with warm temperatures. Although not quite as breathtaking as yesterday because we had some thunderheads off and on all day and it was a little breezy sometimes, it was still a great day. We got lots done outside today and at one point when I looked at the lake the fish were jumping like crazy. It was just before two whole drops of rain fell and then things settled down a bit. Two fishing boats were out on Nimpo Lake off and on today but I don't know how the fishermen made out. We're starting to get the summer residents and cabin owners now. They like to sneak in before the summer vacationers and have the lake to themselves for a week or so.
We had some big, high topped clouds for a while this afternoon, but little wind and lots of blue sky. That's when the fighter planes showed up. I'm assuming they're out of Comox military base near Vancouver and every once in a while they'll come in and do manuevers overhead for a short time. They were a little longer today at between 20 and 30 minutes and there were at least two of them and more probably four. It's difficult to say from sound alone because they seem to like to play around above the cloud. You almost never hear them here when it's clear blue skies. I don't know if it's because they don't want people on the ground to see them and perhaps complain because of the noise, see what maneuvers they're doing, or what.
I've noticed that they come up here quite often and I assume it's because the West Chilcotin, and particularly out here, probably has the smallest population and the least development of any place in British Columbia except for the north. When they start screaming around overhead, people aren't likely to complain and they certainly don't have to worry about a busy airspace. We see few contrails from jets here and yet we're well within 230 air miles of Vancouver.
I like hearing the fighters come in. It doesn't happen very often but when it does, you know they're here! They make quite a racket and it's always a challenge to try to spot them between the clouds. I only saw one of the little buggers today and he was high, high, high and showed no contrail at all. I suppose the sound might bother the odd person if they happened to be outside, but I love them. I run around the yard peeking up through the cloud layers trying to catch a glimpse of one of them. But then I was born in Tucson near a huge airforce base where breaking picture windows was a common occurrence when the military tested new warplanes in the early 60's so that probably puts me in the slightly crazy category anyway.
We're starting to get a lot accomplished outside now with the nicer weather. My partner got the back of the garage painted this morning and we both worked the yard over pretty hard today. One of the last things I need to do is get a series of water hoses set up around the place for the summer while we're gone. I would like to make it as convenient as possible for the fellow looking after the place to water plants and to keep the area surrounding the house damp in case of forest fire. They're still predicting a hot, dry summer for central British Columbia this year and like Smoky the Bear says, "Be Prepared." Oh wait a minute. Maybe that was the boy scouts. -:)

09/05/2006 7:05 PM

Flash In A Pan

Today was one of those breathtaking Chilcotin days. It would appear that there's only going to be one of them, but that's okay, I'll take it!
This morning started out absolutely beautiful where the air was completely still, Nimpo Lake was like a mirror, there was every possible bird twittering away, a grouse thumping on a log a ways away and the occasional call of a loon. Little rings would form here and there on the lake from fish surfacing and every once in awhile you could here the 'plop' of one jumping nearby. A small fishing boat plied the far shore and while I watched, a little muskrat came puttering close to shore, his little tail like the rudder on a boat motor. Even though it was only just above freezing, the sun was already warm. It was just one of those mornings that make you ever so glad to be alive and brings home why I love living in this country.
Alas, the weather seems to be changing again with a cloud front moving in over the mountains from the west this evening but it does sound like it's supposed to be a little warmer than it has been.
This morning was so incredible that it just about made you squirm to be outside so I rushed through stuff I needed to do on the computer and then did a fast trip to Anahim Lake and back. We had an enjoyable time getting one side of the garage stained this afternoon accompanied by the fine company of one of our neighbours. He's in his seventies, single, and some would say eccentric. I do know that he's afraid of most women and avoids them wherever possible. He helped me to build my house in the early nineties and though shy, he's very comfortable with the two of us and so we spent the afternoon bantering while we painted, and he sat on a can 'supervising' with the help of the two dogs that were fawning all over him. It made the time go by quickly and that side of the garage looks great. We were a little messy though and I had to take paint thinner to the side of my truck to get all of the paint spots off.
Redneck painters. That's us!
Our neighbour was looking at our trees and noted that a some had not started turning color yet from the Mountain Pine Beetle attack of last summer. I've noticed the same but neither of us are sure if that means that those trees have a chance of surviving or that they were just able to fight off the fungus for longer and will still turn red. I guess it doesn't matter. We're going to leave them standing for the summer anyway and we will know for sure by fall.
Hey, I learned something today that I hadn't heard before but always wondered about. Did you know that the term "booting up" your computer comes from "bootstrap?" Bootstraps help you get your boots on and booting the computer helps it to get its first instructions.
Makes sense, doesn't it?
Check out the
Picture of the Day and it will give you some idea of what it was like here. If you're thinking of travelling to the West Chilcotin for a holiday, book now because I think summer's coming!
08/05/2006 8:06 PM

Woodpecker War

I actually got a picture of the strangest thing today. We were just walking back from the dock when we heard a woodpecker rattling away on a telephone pole in the yard. Just about that time another woodpecker came flitting in lower down the pole. I thought, "This is great, I can actually get a picture of a mating pair because I have my camera with me for a change!" So I'm frantically trying to get the thing out of its case and started up while the second woodpecker works its way up the pole toward the other. All the while we're thinking we're going to see a super mating dance as only seen on National Geographic! The second woodpecker gets to the top and I snap a picture of them doing a kind of stretching up thing across from each other with crests raised, and then, poof! The first guy takes off with a weird screetching noise and the other starts rattling away on the pole trying to call a mate. I guess it was two males and one ran the other off of that premium noise-making, girl attracting, pole. Alas, so much for getting to see a great mating ritual. I guess they weren't gay either. And so much for being a "Photographer at Large".
Someone was out on Nimpo Lake fishing this evening but it must be almighty cold. It's just a little too cool with the water being so close to freezing. We've had a nasty, chilly northwest wind all day and even though sunny, it just hasn't been very pleasant shirt sleeve weather. We're not the only ones with the winter blues though. I was talking to someone on the phone in the interior and they were complaining of the same cold and the fellow told me that they got a blizzard on the Coke highway last night.
I have a great new property listing to put up. I will try to have it on the Properties for Sale page in the next day or so. This is a completely refinished log home on Nimpo Lake with everything new inside including fixtures and appliances, brand new kitchen and bathroom, woodwork and flooring, and landscaping in progress. The property sits on one acre of land with good lake frontage in a quiet cul-de-sac and is very reasonably priced. This particular bay on Nimpo Lake is always full of bird life including ducks, geese, ospreys and eagles and is almost a mini wildlife sanctuary in itself. So if you are looking for waterfront property, hang in there and I'll have the details up as soon as I can.

07/05/2006 7:21 PM

Hail Storms

Wave after wave of hail came rocketing in over Nimpo Lake today and it just would not stop. There would be a white curtain hiding the Coast Range one moment and clear the next. With each wave came a quick hail storm and it happened 15 times today if it happened once. We had some pretty good winds out of the west too. It's not very often you see white caps on Nimpo Lake, which was disappointing considering the number of trout I saw jumping just off of our point this morning before the wind started up. Fishing crossed my mind but it was a short lived thought. Especially after seeing the temperature drop. Old Man Winter is having a last kick at the cat I guess.
The loons last night were absolutely amazing! Once one pair got going with their maniacal laughing at about 10:30 at night, the rest joined in or took turns. What's particularly remarkable is that the loons have several very distinct calls, and they trade around on who gets to do what call...or so it seems. I have no idea if it's a warning signal or just everyone lets everyone else know where they are for the night. Kind of like the Waltons. "Goodnight Billy Bob, Goodnight John Boy." Yes, I know, attributing human mannerisms to animals and birds is a bad thing, but I really don't know how else to guess what they're thinking.
I'll tell you one thing, the redwinged blackbirds are still really, really P.Oed at me! Since we've gotten back I keep trying to lift the blanket off of the bird feeder to allow the little birds a chance at some seed, but it usually isn't very long before the first scout does a fly by and the next thing you know, the whole blackbird flock comes screaming in like a squadron of F14's. I explained why I had shut off the seed in Working Spring and it still seems to be necessary.
I went for a walk with the dogs today and passed by the meadow where the blackbirds usually hang out. They were all singing merrily away until I came by. It didn't sound merry to me anymore. I'm pretty darn sure they were swearing at me.
Unfortunately, they and their young need to learn to get their own food or their babies will grow up too dependant on feeders. I suspect that is what has happened already. Young from last year were brought to the feeder by their parents and that's the first place they headed to this spring and unlike other years, they aren't leaving!
I managed to get a picture of the Beaver flying by just as he'd gone up off of the 'step'. It was tough because the pilot took the plane way down the back bay and then brought up his rpm's coming back up the lake into the wind before taking off. Usually you can hear that deep thrum as he taxis closer but I only just caught a piece of the plane with the camera as he went by today because the wind was blowing and I couldn't tell where he was.
Regardless of the weather, it's nice to look outside and see open water and now this evening, the wind has calmed somewhat and the sun is shining. If the weatherman isn't completely out to lunch, the rest of the week is going to be nice and I can get outside.

06/05/2006 11:41 AM

Back In The Chilcotin!

Wow, am I glad to be home! As most of you probably noticed, there was a severe shortage of articles this past week. I'm really sorry. It wasn't intended to be that way at all.
We had our annual trek back to Saskatchewan to pick up a beef from old neighbours that raise it for us and to visit a lot of really special friends that I only get to see once a year. The only problem is that you sleep in a lot of different beds in the period of one week because each of our friends insist we visit overnight at the very least. However, I won't complain too much because I think that having such super friends is a very good problem to have.
My laptop experiment failed me somewhat. Actually, it didn't. I failed it. The first night we stayed in a hotel that had Ethernet hookup and boom! I was on the Internet. Unfortunately, I was so beat that I just didn't have the energy to write an article and upload it.
The next evening we got into Saskatoon and stayed at a dear friend's place but had so much to catch up on that it was a day or two before I could upload anything. A short stay at another couple of close friends' home resulted in a late night talking and solving all of the world's problems, but no story.
At the last place that we stayed with very good friends north of Saskatoon where I had a farm at one time, I had the time to write articles. Alas, my dear, dear friend could not remember the password needed to use the dial up Internet access. So that article didn't get uploaded until we got home last night and you can read it below. I definitely should have made more effort to drive around the cities and see how the wireless hookup would work on the laptop, but sometimes your friends just have to come first!
It's been an absolute marvel coming home but we missed the most dramatic part of spring here. The fellow looking after our place said the ice went off of Nimpo Lake two days after we left when a 20 mph wind came up. It must have been some wind because I figured it would be another week before ice off. And the loons are back! He said they came in before the ice was out and were all hanging around in the narrow channel of open water just in front of the house.
We were walking down to the cabin this morning and suddenly three loons were talking to each other right in front of the property. Probably males setting up housekeeping rights before the girls arrive.
Just as we came in last night we watched Stewart's Beaver on floats fly over and then land on Nimpo Lake a few minutes later. Duncan seems to be in early this year but perhaps they have early clients for flightseeing or for staying at Stewart's Lodge. I see that the neighbour across the lake has his plane in the water now too.
A quick walk around the place has shown that some of the garden plants are coming up and grass is greening up well, but we won't see leaves on the aspens for another couple of weeks. Usually they come on around the first week of June unless we have an unusually warm spring like last year. In Saskatchewan most poplars and cottonwoods were in full green dress and it's always a bit of a let down when you come back and have to wait for our trees to green up, but that's okay, things will move along nicely now. Spring is a quick season here.
There was someone out fishing on the lake this morning and boy, do I envy them. We were first on the lake last year when ice was still on here and there but this year we don't even have the boat in the water yet.
As you have probably noticed, we are into the first week of May now, (well...the first week is almost over but I will probably double up on the articles for the archives) so if you would like to go see what was happening last week you can go to Wilderness Adventure April Week Four..

5/2/2006 9:30 PM

Is Winter Back?

The weather going across Canada is varied and interesting this week. The jet stream has been doing some very strange things for this time of year. As a result, some areas have been unusually cold while places like the prairies have experienced wildly high temperatures. Until today that is. It has been snowing right across the western provinces with a couple of inches of snow sticking here and there.
Nimpo Lake has opened up a little but is still far behind Alberta and Saskatchewan where farmers are already on their fields either harrowing or seeding. Surprisingly, around the central and northern part of Saskatchewan and Alberta there are many farmers combining last year's crop because they were taken by surprise with lots of rain and early snow during harvest last year.
We noticed that the rivers through the park are quite low and there isn't much low level snow left in the mountains. We noticed the same thing a couple of weeks ago down in the Bella Coola Valley. That doesn't bode well for forest fire season this year. But hey, at least we're not in danger from an earthquake-caused tsunami as Australia and New Zealand are today.
It's always fun to examine people's perceptions regarding weather. When sitting around with people in shorts outside at the end of April sweltering in the heat, everyone talks about how unusual the weather is. Yes...until people begin to reminisce about other years or talk about stories told by parents or relatives in the past. That's when you learn it was just as hot in '95 and hotter in '88, etc. The first term to get tossed about is always 'global warming' and just as I've mentioned before, while I think that we humans have definitely contributed to it, I don't think there is any measurable way to determine by how much. If we are in a naturally occurring long term warming trend anyway, it's doubly difficult to determine how much we humans have contributed, which is why I get highly irritated at the media who are quick to interview the environmentalists whenever there is an 'unusual' weather occurrance. Yes, we have polluted our environment, we should be extremely concerned about it, we should be taking drastic measures to put things right, but lets work at getting accurate facts and figures first. I know that there has been a lot of flak because the new Prime Minister is more inclined to follow in the footsteps of the US and design a package more suited to North America than the Kyoto Protocol was. I'm afraid I'm behind him on that one. As far as I can see, Kyoto is designed to be entirely to the advantage of developing countries and crippling to the industrialized countries. It's a shame that the Liberal government signed on to something that could badly hurt the Canadian economy. I know that factories and manufacturing plants spew a lot of pollution into the air, but I still strongly contend that if you took all of the passenger vehicles off of the roads in North America, you would change the global warming dynamic immediately and drastically. So it stands to reason that if that is the case, we need to look at alternative fuels a lot more seriously than we do now. Why our big three manufacturers are still pumping out gas guzzling SUV's is beyond me. I know that the present fuel prices are just a killer for a lot of people, including us, but I think continued high fuel prices are what it's going to take to convince people to look at more economical vehicles, at busing and at car pooling. We started out with the right mentality during the gas crunch of the '70's but have since gone backwards. Would I give up my highly useful 4x4 pickup in favor of something more economical or using an alternative fuel source? Absolutely. I'm just waiting to see what those dinosaur car manufacturers come up with in the next couple of years. I would like to buy North American and support local manufactering but if they don't get it together soon, I'll go foreign.

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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!
Black bear picture.
 
Girl standing on rock above Chilko.
 
Blue and white floatplane.
 
Woodpeckers.
 
Two ruffed woodpeckers.
 
Floatplane on the step.
 
Nimpo Lake spring of 2006.
 
Deer.
 
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