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Wilderness Adventures - May, Week 3/2007

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.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.

21/05/2007 10:10 PM

First Thunder

We 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 enough.
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 stop.
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.

20/05/2007 1:05 PM

Victoria Long Weekend

It's 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. Not!
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!

17/05/2007 11:07 AM

Profiling Mackenzie Trail Lodge

Mackenzie 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 fishing.
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.
16/05/2007 8:26 PM

Wind Blown

We've 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 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 house....
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, 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!
Cabin and men with morning coffee.
Man sitting on the lake shore.
Near the Blackwater River.
Blackbird with a bright yellow head.
Moving a big dock on Nimpo Lake.
Two pine trees laying on the ground.
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