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 3/2007
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Check out the Picture
of the Day.
got our first thunder and lightning of 2007 for our area
today. That I know of anyway. One boomer shook
things up a bit. I didn't think it would be warm enough
for a thunderstorm, but I guess I was wrong. Wouldn't
be the first time.
Our temperature hovered around 12C or 14C or mid
50's this afternoon, although the thunderstorm
did cool things down a bit. It dropped down around freezing
again last night so it always takes a little while for
things to warm up in the morning as a result.
We got a short, but good hard rain last night and another
today, and since we actually need the moisture, I don't
mind a bit. The last few days have exhibited typical spring
weather where you just don't know what you're going to
get but at least today was a winner compared to the last
two. Little storms aside, we actually got quite a bit
of sun today and man, was it warm! We're just not used
to that. I decided I was working outside today and when
that sun comes out you can't peel the layers off fast
We're doing okay for bugs so far. I haven't seen much
of anything around but the neighbour did say a mosquito
was chasing him around today. I expect the frosts at night
are keeping them down and we probably won't see them much
until the leaves start coming on the trees. And this year
that probably won't happen until the first week of June.
We've got some new and some old birds back this year.
That interesting looking Surf Scoter is back on Nimpo
Lake this year, but this time he's got a mate. We've got
an orange Grebe that's been cruising back and forth in
front of our place and I'm pretty sure he's teasing the
cats. I'm telling you, one day one of those ninnies are
going to fall into the water and I'm going to laugh my
rosy red off when it happens.
We've got a tiny little yellow bird hanging around that
I would swear was a goldfinch, or what they used
to call yellow canaries on the prairies. But if
it is, I think it's really pushing its borders because
they aren't normally supposed to be around here. Not according
to the bird book anyway and although I would have to go
back and check past blogs, I don't recall seeing one before.
The chickadees are still sneaking into the tree swallows'
house and we've now got enough hummingbirds around for
there to be arguments over the feeders. Things are picking
up around here!
I was delighted to see that our guests that have been
staying for the weekend caught some nice trout yesterday
and today. I had hoped for much nicer weather
for them but it probably won't turn really nice until
they leave tomorrow, which is really disappointing. However,
it doesn't look as though our weather was nearly as savage
as Vancouver's was this long weekend. Most campers that
dared to go tenting were drowned out, which apparently
happens every year. I think if I knew the weather was
going to be that 'dependably' bad every
Victoria long weekend, I'd be choosing something different
than camping to do. But then that's me. My Daddy taught
me to come in out of the rain when I was
a kid but I don't imagine you can think that way when
you live in a place like Vancouver. Some weeks, you'd
never get outside if you were waiting for the rain to
Well, it turns out the French are at it again. Our
French, not the ones the Europeans are stuck with.
It sure seems that no one in the province of Quebec can
agree on anything. Most of us across Canada understand
and agree that the May long weekend came about to celebrate
Queen Victoria's birthday. It probably doesn't make a
lot of sense to continue to celebrate it as I mentioned
yesterday, but a long weekend in May is nice and it's
a long standing tradition, so why not?
We were watching the news tonight and apparently,
in Quebec, they've had a beef against the Queen for a
long time. Who knows why. Because she was British,
maybe? Anyway, it appears that the French don't mind having
the holiday at the same time as the rest of Canada, they
just don't want it to be a celebration of Queen Victoria's
birthday or called Victoria Day. I guess that's cool but
no one can agree what they want the day to celebrate.
Some call it Patriot Day, or by several other names,
all celebrating a different person or event, some going
back hundreds of years. You'd kind of think they
would just pick one and run with it, but nope, that's
not how things happen in Quebec. So throughout the province
and even in Montreal, they have different parades with
people dressed in different costumes from different eras,
flying different flags all celebrating a different historical
event or person. Veerrry interesting....
Well, folks, I've shoveled a lot of manure today, literally,
and I'm a little burned out so this is as long as this
article gets tonight. I'm afraid the picture of the day
is not going to change from yesterday for the same reason.
Victoria Long Weekend
a long weekend for us here in Canada. Well, it
is for most people. When you're working out of your home,
you really don't notice weekends so a holiday weekend
is much like any other. I'm really not sure why Canada
celebrates a Queen's birthday since we really don't have
one of our own and technically, we're no longer British
subjects, but it's a holiday nonetheless and most working
folks appreciate that part.
It's also the weekend that most people in central British
Columbia mark as the time to put out their bedding plants,
whether that be annual flowers or vegetables. That,
of course, is absolutely not possible in the Chilcotin.
Leaving the poker game immediately after on Friday night
was out of the question because when I started up the
truck there was such a thick layer of frost on my windshield
I couldn't see out of it. Which is why I chuckled to myself
when four flats of beautiful flowers arrived Saturday
morning courtesy of my Mom's shopping trip in Williams
Lake. Yeah, those are going into the ground right away.
Those and the humungous hanging pot of flowers that she
brought back the previous weekend are both safely tucked
away in the garage where they will remain for at least
two more weeks if not longer. The best we can do is open
the garage door every day to let a little light in on
them and hope for warmer weather.
Even in Williams Lake where the weather is considerably
warmer it's not safe to set out annuals on the May long
weekend. Although everyone tried. I used to work
at a greenhouse as a teenager and it would be packed with
throngs of people picking and choosing their plants. Out
the door they would march, loaded down with annuals in
all the colors of the rainbow eager to get their prizes
planted into the ground. Invariably, the same people
would be back the next weekend or the one after with their
tales of woe. All their pretty flowers will have
withered and turned to mush in a sudden hard frost and
they were back to replace them.
I learned my lesson then and there and though I may not
be Scottish, I'm too tight with my money to pay out twice
for the same product. The selection on flowers and vegetables
may not be as good by June, but the chances of survival
for what's still available is certainly better.
Sadly, our weather is nothing to write home about. It's
not very nice for those people eager to get outdoors for
the first decent long weekend of the year. Yesterday
I watched several fishing boats come scooting off of Nimpo
Lake when a blustery wind rose. There was some
sun yesterday but being blown off your feet was a very
real possibility. Thankfully, there's only a breeze today
but heavy overcast and periodic rain showers have been
sweeping in over the mountains. Hopefully the fishing
will be good. Otherwise the day would be best
spent relaxing with a book.
There must be lots of bugs out there because there are
loads of tree swallows zipping over the surface of the
lake and my count of just a few pairs hanging around the
nesting house is way off. There must be 15 or 20 swallows
taking turns swooping out over the lake, then returning
to the house and knocking each other off of the tree limbs
nearby. I sure would like to know their social system.
The barn swallows have arrived as well and it takes some
vigilance to make sure they don't start building mud nests
in the eaves of the house, cabin or garage. We've even
caught a couple trying to set up house inside the garage
because we've been leaving the doors open for the plants.
The cool weather continues throughout much of the
province with the exception of the Okanagan where
I learned this morning they are having glorious weather.
According to the news, snow is still building in the mountains
and although the spring melt is starting, the river levels
are climbing only very slowly. If the places in danger
of flooding are really, really fortunate, the cool weather
will continue until the end of June, keeping the melt
a slow one. If not....head to high ground folks!
Our lake level is definitely dropping, albeit slowly,
so no risk of flooding there. I assume Anahim Lake is
the same since the two often mirror one another.
For those of you in Canada, enjoy your long weekend, and
for those of you elsewhere, have a great Sunday!
Profiling Mackenzie Trail Lodge
Trail Lodge is 1 1/4 hours from Vancouver and can only
be accessed by plane so it offers a remote wilderness
experience hard to find elsewhere. Located on Tsacha Lake,
(pronounced sasha), you can enjoy fly fishing or spin
casting there or a short hike or boat ride will take you
to the famous Blackwater River that offers spectacular
fishing and is renowned for its dry fly rainbow trout
The lodge offers cozy cabins with maid service, and gourmet
meals are prepared for you at the main lodge. After fishing
all day, you can choose from several activities in the
evening including sitting around a big bonfire, hiking,
horseshoes, fly tying or just relaxing in the sauna.
The Blackwater Lodge is listed as a, "Do it yourself
" fishing resort five miles up the lake from full
service Mackenzie Trail Lodge. There you'll find several
cabins as well as a fully equipped lodge where you can
have groceries flown in prior to your arrival and manage
your vacation on your own schedule. From there you can
fish the Blackwater River, Tsacha Lake, hike to several
nearby lakes and streams or fish several other fly-out
lakes and rivers in the area.
As their website clearly states, "There are
no resorts on our 14-mile lake, no roads, tourist boats
or other floatplanes." So if you're looking
for an intimate wilderness experience where you can truly
get away from it all, this is the place for you. If you
would like more information you can find it under their
listing at Resorts
where you will also find a direct link to their website.
Today's one of those 'weird' days with heavy overcast,
very little wind, (no wind...fancy that!) and nary a ripple
on Nimpo Lake. I've seen a few rings on the water
from fish rising and they do seem to be more active now
than they were a week ago. I thought the water would still
be too cold for the trout but I guess some guests that
are in have already been doing okay on the fishing and
the fish have been a really nice size.
It went below freezing last night and has only warmed
up to 6C or about 41F so far today. Things must be heating
up a bit for the operators now though. The floatplanes
from Tweedsmuir Air are starting to shuttle in and out
more and more, which tees the loons off as usual.
I see the small plane they use is back in now. That's
the one with a really different prop on it and to me it
sounds like a deranged bumble bee when it's coming past
our point. Although I doubt Duncan would be impressed
with that description of his plane.
There's still some really serious condo wars happening
just off our front deck. I don't know how many
tree swallow pairs are still out there arguing over that
single nesting house, but there's a pile of them. I'm
beginning to think they have some sort of system, but
I can't figure out what. You only usually see one pair
at a time and you think all is cool with the world. But
if a different bird cruises too near the nesting house,
suddenly there's a whole squadron of swallow bombers
out there zipping all over the place. It's hard
to keep count but I think there's at least three and possibly
four, pair out there. So what are they doing? Is there
some hierarchy where only one pair can nest if there's
only one house and the rest just hang around and protect
the nest? Or are they waiting in line? That's certainly
what I've thought in previous years. Sometimes it looks
like after the first pair is done with the house the second
pair move in. Kind of like time sharing a condo in Miami.
Unfortunately, since I don't have a lot of time to sit
and study the little buggers, I'm not really sure what
they're up to.
Time always seems to be the most precious of commodities,
especially around here. Just when you think you've got
chores lined up and knocking them off as quickly as possible
in order to try and get done what has to
be done in the nick of time, a monkey comes along
and tosses in a wrench.
Yesterday's bonus trees that fell over in the wind is
a very good example of that. Here you are, stretched to
the limit on things that have to be done, and two trees
fall over in your yard. Now you could just
let them stay right where they fell, but this place
is already beginning to take on a bit of a hillbilly homestead
aura because of the way we've been tearing up
the pea patch. It's not Andy's way to just let things
be and I've always got an eye on how something can be
scrounged for another use.
Since we want to put a rail fence along the inside of
the driveway, and those two trees were just the right
size for rails and posts, they had to be peeled. Now the
secret of skinning posts is to do it as soon
as the tree is knocked down. You use a draw knife that
has a handle on either end and about a 15" blade
in the middle. Sit on a post, cut through the outer bark,
and draw the knife toward you holding it in both hands.
That peels long strips of bark right off the inner layer
leaving bright, clean, yellow pine wood underneath. Set
it aside for drying and then the posts can be put into
a solution that will cure them and prevent them from rotting
once they're in the ground.
Back to the problem of time. Neither of us had time to
step away from the other things we were doing to cut and
peel unexpectedly downed trees, but if they were going
to be peeled, they had to be done then and there. And
once I finished peeling those, I decided I wanted to see
if I could peel a huge log over by the cabin. It had been
a magnificent tree that had faithfully shaded and protected
the cabin for years and neither of us had the heart to
burn the entire log. So the butt end had been saved to
use as a seat over by the cabin on the assumption that
someday, we would do something with it.
Peeling a tree that has been dead for a couple of years
is nigh impossible and we expended the last of our energy
before supper getting most of the bark off of it. But
we still accomplished something you see, even if Mother
Nature did force us to shuffle low priority
chore #6347 up to #1 spot. Besides, I think it's her way
of saying, "Slow down and smell the roses or
I'll knock some more trees over!"
We've had a couple of hail storms today, both leaving
the ground quite white. This last one came down hard and
fast and there was nothing small or soft
about those hailstones. It seems a little early in the
year to have summer type weather blow through, but then
again, the temperature has definitely dropped to a more
spring like clime. Moisture in any form is nice for settling
the dust right now. Just as long as we don't get six inches
of snow over the long weekend. We've company coming in
tomorrow from the lower mainland and I don't imagine they'll
appreciate a dump of snow at all.
I don't really have time to throw up a new Picture
of the Day
so I'm going to leave the one of the black bears there
for another day. I like that one anyway and you don't
see a sow with three cubs all that often.
had really nice weather the last few days with the exception
of the wind. Our temperatures have ranged between 10C
and 18C or 50F to 70F in the warmest part of the day.
Saturday was a stunning one and even Sunday was pretty
nice but the last three days have been blustery with fierce
winds all day today.
We had a few lonely pine trees standing in our yard on
the West side of the house, and I wondered how they
would stand up to a good wind without the protection of
the trees we had to take down this winter. I had
just stepped inside the house this morning when I heard
a muffled whoomfp! Thinking something might have happened
to Andy I stepped back outside where he stood laughing.
One of the still green trees had been blown over with
the top barely missing him where he had been standing
at the back of the pickup truck.
Another tree nearby blew over shortly after he got
home this afternoon and we watched a third bend
way over in the wind, its roots moving under the soil.
None of the trees are big ones and we peeled them this
afternoon for rails and posts but it will be interesting
to see how many more come down. We figure that the roots
on some of them may have been disturbed when Andy pulled
nearby stumps out of the ground and it's possible that
putting water on the soil will help them to settle a bit.
I would just as soon see the rocking ones cut down or
pushed over so they don't land on someone or something
when least expected but Andy's determined to save them.
I'm hoping that means I'll get to exercise the
rare right of expressing an, "I told you so."
If they continue to come crashing down on their own.
Andy's waiting for the wind to die down enough to go spray
the few still green pines with beetles in them. We need
to see if we can kill them before they fly this summer.
Otherwise, we have to get the trees cut down and off the
property prior to that time.
It's pretty darn dusty around here. Besides disturbing
the ground by pulling stumps, there has been no moisture
since our little surprise snowstorm a week ago and the
ground is getting really crunchy. The water level
in Nimpo Lake is definitely no longer climbing and seemed
to have slowed about the same day as Anahim Lake.
The water is still really high though, and Mary from the
other end of the lake declared today that she had never
seen it that high since she came to this country back
in the 70's. All the sloughs and meadows are full up and
the mosquitoes are going to have a heyday this year. There's
already a few buzzing around and they should arrive in
force fairly quickly if this warm weather keeps up.
Speaking of which....one just flew in front of my computer
screen. My, they make them big this time of year.
A few of us trundled down to Eagle's Nest Resort
for lunch today and to check out the new dining room they've
built there. It's a real beauty and of course like Pilot's
at The Dean on Nimpo, you're there for the atmosphere
as much as for the food or service. Even more interesting
to me was the sun porch attached to the new dining room.
With screen overhead and in the top part of the windows,
while the lower part was glass to provide protection from
the wind, you felt like you were suspended over
the lake. Three sitting areas with soft padded
chairs each had their own fireplace and a water feature
trickled quietly against one wall, providing a great place
to go for drinks or a meal in the evening. Using both
screen and glass to keep bugs and the wind at bay is a
really good idea, and would provide a super space for
entertaining if you could incorporate such a design into
your own home.
Alas, I'm not allowed any additions to the
Although I haven't had much opportunity to write I have
gotten to take a moment here and there to watch the goings
on that occur every spring. There's a chickadee
that's been teasing the heck out of the tree swallows.
It's probably one of the chickadees that tried nesting
in the swallows' box and got run off so he's getting his
revenge by getting as close as he can to the house until
one of the swallows comes after him. After they do some
aerial acrobatics and the swallow lands on a tree limb,
the chickadee will land above him and then hop from limb
to limb closer and closer to the swallow until the tree
swallow starts hurling insults at him. The chickadee just
hurls them back with a 'chicka-dee-dee-dee'
that sounds like he's laughing.
We had an unusual visitor yesterday for only a moment.
A yellow headed blackbird came in with a redwinged
blackbird that I presume was his guide because
both came straight to the bird feeder. Unfortunately,
it's as empty as could be and is going to stay that way
until the blackbirds quit stopping by for the 'all
you can eat buffet'. In any case, I was lucky
enough to be sitting right at the kitchen table when the
birds stopped by and got the picture up on the right.
Kind of a pretty thing.
Another dock went by our peninsula yesterday being pulled
by a motorboat with a friend of mine helping her Sweetie
along by pulling hard on a set of oars and singing, "Row,
Row, Row your boat!" at the top of her lungs.
They only have one dock left to move and then I think
that leaves the back bay with only one or two smaller,
personal docks. The pair of loons that usually nest back
there will be mightily pleased about that, I'm sure!
As you will have noticed, this is the start of a new week.
You can find last week's articles at May,
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!