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 - May, Week One/2010
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of the Day.
Winter in May
winter just won't go away. We got the first hint at her
stubbornness on Sunday.
We had been invited down to what's called Weldon's Park
for a wienie roast in the afternoon. This is a gorgeous
place in the woods along a fast running creek that drains
into Nimpo Lake with a little open spot big enough for
a few people in lawn chairs and a small campfire.
Normally we would get there after a long run along the
highway on the ATV's and then over a nice trail in the
woods that Weldon and friends fixed up a couple of years
We kept looking out at the weather and the temperature
all Sunday morning thinking, it might be a cold ride over
there but it could end up being an even colder ride back.
The other problem we have with the whole thing is that
in most places you can ride alongside the highway from
our main road but in some places you have to cross it
or ride on the shoulder for short distances, something
neither Andy nor I like to do.
In the end, Andy came up with a great solution. He said,
"Why don't I load up the bobcat trailer, throw the
two machines on there and we'll drive to the jumping off
point, offload and ride the fourwheelers through the woods
from there?" I was keen! It didn't
take long for him to strap the two machines to the trailer
and away we went. Once parked it started hailing
but we were less than 10 minutes away from the campfire
and the same distance from the truck if the weather got
miserable and we wanted to go home. , Believe you me,
we were congratulating ourselves on our solution as the
mixed hail and sleet came down while we were unloading.
I would not have wanted to be running along the highway
in that. Nasty weather isn't too bad if you can be on
a trail in the woods because you've got some protection,
but with the direction we were coming from, we would just
be out in the open too much. Still, considering
how far everyone else had to come on fourwheelers it was
kind of cheating. I don't care. I was warm and
dry. And when we came back and reloaded after getting
a bit of a chill (too many people and not a big enough
campfire) it was nice to climb into the truck and drive
home rather than have at least another half hour to forty
minutes of cold riding.
It never did warm up much that day and an absent sun didn't
help much. Still, it was a wonderful picnic with people
and kids and dogs, and lots of laughter. But at least
it was too cold for the mosquitoes! I only saw two. That
won't be the case in the same place about three weeks
from now, although if this weather keeps up, we might
never see any....yeah, right. :-) We didn't see any grizzly
this time either, which was not the case last year when
a few of the guys saw one hanging around in the vicinity
a couple of times. It was probably fishing since that
creek is full of rainbow.
Sunday night it started snowing in earnest and it
peppered it down fairly hard for several hours.
Fortunately, the surface of everything, including the
ground, was already holding enough heat that a lot of
snow melted as it hit. Still, by yesterday morning we
had a couple of inches of the white stuff everywhere.
Most of it has melted by today but there's still spots
here and there in the shade where it's still white.
Yesterday there were birds coming back to the feeder for
the first time in a while. I had cut them off of seed
some time ago because of the voracious and noisy black
birds, but I guess once it snowed, their little
programmed minds said there should be seed in that feeder.
We put out a handful because we felt sorry for the small
birds, but it wasn't long before a red winged blackbird
showed up so that's enough of that. The ground is clear
enough that the birds shouldn't have any problem finding
seeds and the chickadees are the most self sufficient
of all when they want to be. Right now a pair of them
have taken up nesting in the tree swallow house, which
won't please that pair at all.
We put up a hummingbird feeder this morning and
already I've watched one visit it outside my office window.
Heaven knows how the little buggers keep warm when we
have snow and the drops in temperature that we've had
the last couple of days.
It was -8C or about 17F this morning and all the water
along the shoreline of Nimpo Lake froze up solid. Fortunately,
the water farther out stayed open or I think some birds
would have been in serious trouble, especially since I
saw four mature eagles all at one time cruising over the
lake yesterday. It's not warming up very fast today either.
As usual, we had bright blue skies and sunshine this morning,
but it's already clouded over so it won't warm up much
We did see the water on Nimpo Lake advance over the ice
quite a bit yesterday. We had really high winds all day
long and that helped the water break up the ice. Yesterday
alone the water out from the shoreline doubled in size
and a large finger of water from over in the reed bed
has advanced into our line of vision and grown substantially
in size. The lines of open water between the islands have
widened considerably as well but we're a far cry from
two weeks after Clearwater Lake ice off. So much for May
4th being our ice off. It's just cooled down too much
from a couple of weeks ago.
It was awesome to hear the loons calling back and
forth yesterday evening, some of them almost cooing
the way that they do. That's when it starts to feel like
it's spring for real, is when you start hearing them.
Not that Mother Nature is agreeing with me, obviously.
But hopefully she'll keep her snow to herself from here
It's a Waiting Game....
we're still waiting impatiently for the ice to come off
of Nimpo Lake. I don't know why we're impatient. It's
the same every year. We know it's going
to take a certain amount of time, heat and movement in
the ice before it will come off the lake. And since this
has been such a cold winter with some cool temperatures
off and on throughout the spring, we know it's going to
be a while before that ice is going to go. But still,
you hope by some hope that a wondrous miracle will happen
and that ice will suddenly just disappear and there will
be nothing but open water blue as blue can be. Which is
exactly what will happen. Just not today.....
It's trying. It really is. The lake ice is going through
all the moves we've seen over the years with it opening
up first in this place and then in that, although admittedly,
there are some strange differences here and there. The
slush that froze in the whole Short Arm and formed our
ice for the winter is definitely reacting differently
this spring than good, hard lake ice normally would. As
Andy pointed out, this ice has a lot of air bubbles in
it and that could be making quite a difference.
There's been a wide swath of open water between the point
and the big island and widening since Friday. Today there's
clear water between the big island and small island that
started to open up yesterday evening. The open pond over
in the reed bed just gets bigger and bigger and will meet
up soon with the open water over in front of our neighbours,
as it does every year. The line of open water from the
shoreline out is still not very wide, but it is getting
wider every day.
It all just requires patience, or that's what I keep telling
myself, anyway. Not that it makes any difference. I can
talk to myself until I'm blue in the face but that isn't
going to make me any more patient.
It would help if our weather would smarten up.
With the exception of this morning, most mornings start
out with glorious sunshine determined to bring those temperatures
to above freezing. About the time it makes it to about
5C the clouds roll in and you're either experiencing hail
spitting at you or a snow storm by afternoon. That's what
happened on Friday. The temperatures had climbed up to
a lovely, balmy 10C or 50F by shortly after noon, when
they started falling again. By four it was only barely
above freezing and we had a full blown blizzard that lasted
for quite a little while. Fortunately the ground was warm
enough that most of the snow melted by yesterday, but
those cold temperatures did set the lake
back a bit.
This is not boding well for the long, hot summer
I've been hoping for. While forecasters have been
predicting a warmer, dryer spring for most of Canada,
just ask Albertan residents how they feel about that after
digging themselves out of ditches because they've skidded
off of icy snow covered roads recently. I think it was
Regina's turn yesterday where temperatures were going
to be barely above freezing and they were expecting blizzard
conditions. I would sympathize but it hasn't been much
better here. The warm temperatures that cleared
the snow out of my garden a week or so ago have been scarce
Heaven only knows why I would even want the lake open.
That's one reason why it's been colder and damper in the
past week. The wind howling over what open water there
is picks up a lot of cold air on its way to my house.
It's amazing but you get away from the lake or the point
we live on and the air temperature goes up about five
degrees. But that's okay. In the fall we'll be five degrees
warmer than anyone else.
The snow melted off of the back trail and with little
frost in the ground, Andy was able to go in with
his Bobcat and bury that moose carcass Friday for which
I'm thankful. A few people have been seeing black
bear or grizzly here and there and though we haven't seen
any sign around here yet, it was only a matter of time.
I was not looking forward to coming on a bear on the carcass
by surprise. I doubt the reaction would have been a happy
Yesterday evening we went for a walk to see if there was
any sign around where the carcass was buried and on our
return we stopped to check the state of the lake ice from
a neighbour's place that sits much higher than we do.
There was a whole flock of white birds nestled on the
ice and we couldn't figure out what they were from that
distance. When we got home they were still there so we
eyed them up through a spotting scope and I took some
pictures. They were snow geese. 105 of them!
Actually, 104 snow geese with one Canada Goose tucked
in among them. While I've seen huge flocks fly over the
prairies, I don't recall ever seeing a flock here on its
way north before. And it was funny because some folks
that are new to the area were asking everyone at dinner
last Sunday about an oddly colored goose she saw among
some Canada Geese. We all assured her that it must be
a Trumpeter Swan but she was sure it was a goose. Well,
she was right and we were all wrong. Apparently,
we are now on a snow goose fly way. Weird.
You know, a lot of people are talking about global warming
as though it's a bad thing. If it's caused by humans,
then it certainly is but its effects on the bird population
so far seems favorable. Just in the past eight years that
I've been back in this part of the country, I've seen
a marked increase in the numbers of Trumpeter Swans, Bald
Eagles, hawks, woodpeckers, song birds of all kinds, and
now we're seeing snow geese. And not just a small flock
of them. Are they being pushed farther west on their northerly
migration than they normally would be? Changing air currents?
Adapting to a new set of circumstance? Why not?
Yesterday they showed a news item on television
showing how hungry polar bears forced into new areas because
of melting ice are raiding guillemot and puffin nests.
Polar bears were around long before the last ice age so
it has to be assumed that they are a highly adaptable
species because they have also coped with a series of
global warmings periods in the past that were pretty severe
according to ice core records. If there is a noticeable
shift in the movements of large species such as polar
bears, it follows that we will be seeing a shift in all
species, birds included. But, since I'm not an ornithologist,
or a scientist in any other field, I can only conjecture.
I was just watching the loons out in the puddle
of water in front of our place. It must finally
have gotten big enough for them to take it over. Earlier
this morning, they were swimming around in the water that
just opened up between the big island and the small one,
studiously avoiding the pair that were occupying the open
water between the point and the big island. A slow ice
off must be tough on the loons because they're so territorial
and each pair needs to be almost out of sight of the other.
In any case, we noticed that they arrived in this newly
enlarged pond only a couple of hours ago, but I have no
idea how they got there. I don't think they flew
so I wonder if they came under the ice. That would
be a long trip underwater but they are amazing creatures
for their ability to swim for long periods under the surface.
This is the start of a new week, (And new month, for that
matter. Hallelujah! It's about time!) so you'll find last
week's tidbits at April
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!