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Wilderness Adventures - Nov. 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.

09/11/2006 7:04 PM

Seeing The Signs

We're definitely seeing the first signs of winter in earnest now. Temperatures dropped last night to -10 celsius and the lake had frozen over close to shore and out quite a way in the bay adjacent to us. When the fog rolled away from the mountains there was lots of fresh bright white up there and the Dean River has frozen over almost entirely on the surface. I can tell you that the water coming out of our tap is pretty darn cold right now. At least we've gotten over the wicked winds we had for a couple of days. It's a short reprieve though because there's another huge system coming in from the coast tonight that's expected to bring winds between 50 and 70 miles per hour to the central coast. I don't know how far inland that wind warning extends but we're definitely set to get some snow for the next three days as is most of the province.
I spent the better part of the day working with three other community members on an inventory for Nimpo Lake for the Community Development Program. We're looking for financial help and mentoring from programs that exist in British Columbia that could assist us in marketing our area a little better.
I'm fortunate that I know what the area offers to visitors because of the research I did before developing this web site, but it really is remarkable how much we do have and you see that when you start listing all the activities, accommodations, etc. and especially if you take into account what small populations Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake have. Unfortunately, the template we were sent to fill out electronically was repetitive and onerous, so not only did we spend six hours with my laptop working on it today, we'll be spending Sunday as well. Fortunately, two of the members, Richard and Leah from the Nimpo Lake General Store, are young, tireless and enthusiastic and Richard types well, which gave me a break from the laptop.
The day before yesterday, my little net full of suet for the chickadees was being raided by a whiskey jack, which was making really short work of the fat. Meanwhile, the big jay is still zooming in on the birdseed and consuming it at a great rate. While I was watching the whiskey jack I realized that there was no sign of a chickadee anywhere, which was really odd for the time of morning. Just about then I saw the hawk gliding by on the wind so those little chickadees know when he's around. I've let the bird seed run out in the feeder and will leave it now for a few weeks. At least until the big birds clear out and the hawk realizes that the 'All-you- can-eat' buffet is now closed. It's colder now but not so cold that the small birds can't fend for themselves and can do without the seed. Besides, it'll make our neighbour happy. He's fed the chickadees in the area for years and always used it as an excuse to go straight home from snowmobiling rather than going on to someone's house for a beer and a visit. I don't think he's very happy about my feeder and keeps accusing me of stealing his birds. Jokingly, of course... I think. He too is unhappy with the jay, complaining that it's been coming over to his place and stealing the peanut butter he puts out for the chickadees. It is true that the food that fat old jay eats would easily supply ten chickadees. I'm hoping he moves on. The jay that is... not the neighbour....lol.
We went out to supper at the other end of the lake last night and got to visit with an old snowmobiling buddy. Apparently he had found this web site and this blog. He didn't realize there was this kind of resource in the community, "a Nimpo diary," as he called it and seemed quite enthused. He must have been. He read clear back to last year and that's some tough slogging! Anyway, as usual, it was really great to get positive feedback. Now if I could just find the time to write more often this time of year. It'll get better soon.
I just got the CD today as promised by Bill and Anita Miller out of Quesnel. It's loaded with pictures of their adventures out in this country from this summer and fall. I can't believe the effort Anita put into naming every picture by hand on a separate piece of paper so that if I posted one of the images on this blog, I could accurately describe it. Man, that's going the whole mile and then some! I owe someone dinner next time, that's for sure. I'm really looking forward to taking a look at the pictures so if you start seeing some great images up on this blog for the next little while, you folks know who to thank.
Wow, I just had a chance to look through those pictures of Bill and Anita's. They are just awesome and stunning. What to choose... what to choose. Posting the blog for the next while is actually going to be fun with photos like that to play with!!
Don't forget to check out the
Picture of the Day !!
06/11/2006 8:08 PM

Weather Woes

Hope you had a great weekend and one a little less hairy than much of British Columbia has had.
Agassiz, in the Fraser Valley, has beat a 100 year old one day record for rainfall with 150mm or about six inches of rain in less than 24 hours. Streams, creeks and rivers are flooding the lower mainland and in many areas on the Island. Some areas have declared a state of emergency and some residents have been evacuated. The news tonight showed one clip after another of flooded roads, highways, and houses as well as a clip of an eight foot deep mudslide that has closed the highway between Hope and Princeton for probably the next 72 hours.
A pineapple express coming in from Hawaii has made a beeline for our coast with a nasty low to the north. Between the two, it's packed a double punch of rain and snow all over the province and there's more coming tomorrow.
As predicted, our temperatures have been very mild. Yesterday you could literally watch the snow melt off of the Coast Range to the south. Last night it poured the snow down and it turned into slush as it hit the ground. When we woke up this morning the mountains were covered by a fresh blanket of snow bright white in the sunlight. I don't think it ever went below freezing last night and by this afternoon much of the snow had melted in the front yard where the sun could get at it and the mountains were showing bare ridges again.
The wind started early this afternoon and to be honest, I'm not sure I've ever seen rollers that big right on our shore. The wind was out of the WSW at around 25mph whipping spray up out on the Main Arm of Nimpo Lake and bringing whitecaps right to the shore in front of the house. This bay is normally protected by a point and two islands and it's very rare to have the water that wild and wooly right out in front. The wind just happened to be coming in from the right direction I guess. It calmed down later but I noticed the wind has whipped up again and there's a wind warning out for the whole north and central coast. Heaven help anyone out on the water tonight.
November can be a nasty month and probably my least favorite of the year but rarely do you see violent weather. Usually it's just a long, cloudy, dreary, cold month with poor light and not much happening. Just a slow roll to coldsville. So this weather is certainly unusual for the time of year. It just doesn't seem to be quite normal to have rain beating against the window and temperatures well above freezing in November. But hey, the lake level is slowly coming up so that's a great thing. Although I'm not sure the Fraser Valley and Vancouver area populace would agree with me, it's good to have water levels coming up going into winter. Those areas, along with the Island were in drought for much of the fall and without water tables coming up, could be in serious trouble next year if it were another hot, dry summer. Much the same applies to us.
This is supposed to be an El Nino year and I'm hoping warmer temperatures means more moisture. You can't snowmobile worth a darn on the rocks and since Andy bought another snowmobile, we gotta get snow so he can test it out! He's picked up a sweet little Ski-doo Renegade 600 with a 136" x 16" track on the REV platform. That shorter track makes the machine fast and maneuverable going around sharp corners and in tight places. The wider track should translate to a wider footprint and create better floatation on the snow. The sled only weighs 35 pounds more than the fan cooled sleds so it'll be easier to throw it around, turn tight corners in deep snow and dig it out of stuck. That last one is kind of key.
Andy's big Polaris is a great machine for breaking trail and there probably isn't a hill it can't climb, but with a 159" track length, it's a big, long, bear of a machine. He can start it from a stop going up hill in deep snow, but when you bury that thing, it's a horse to get out! He'll keep that snowmobile for the beginning of the season for breaking trail or deep powder, but the Renegade will be much better for later in the season when there's a good, hard base and not much powder and way more fun to play around on. Andy's only worry is that I'll like his new machine so much he won't get it back and he'll have to buy another. I don't think so. I like my Summit and I like the position we're in now with four good mountain machines. It means if we get company or another couple to come riding from a long distance away, they don't have to trailer their sleds and we don't have to borrow machines for them. Hear that Harold and Melinda???
Boy, look at that. At least another month before we can think about going snowmobiling and I'm talking about it already!
Our cheeky blue Jay is still hanging around gobbling up seed like a house 'a fire but I haven't seen that hawk again. Hopefully that means he's pulled out for some place else.
I've got to take a trip down to Tatla Lake tomorrow for a meeting and will lose the whole evening so just to let you all know, it may be Wednesday before I can post another article.

03/11/2006 3:01 PM

There's A Time To Talk

And a time to not.
Today while I was out on the deck clearing it of snow a hawk flew past right in front of me toward the flags. A bird in the tree next to me let out a little squawk and that hawk turned full circle right back toward the bird. Talk about a fighter jet! Those black headed ducks don't have anything on this guy. He had to do some fancy maneuvers through the dried out branches of the beetle killed pine to try and get at the bird. The bird let out another few squawks while he tried to dodge the hawk and then took off across the front of the house, the hawk right behind him and catching up. I almost could have reached out and touched the hawk he was that close as he went zinging past me concentrating fully on his next meal. I was so focused on the hawk that I didn't even notice what kind of bird he was chasing, whether it was a junco, my little blackbird, or even a chickadee. I dove back into the house to grab the camera in case the aerial acrobatics continued but by the time I got back outside, both birds were long gone. I'm assuming the hawk got dinner. I don't think the hawk would even have known that bird was sitting in the tree if it hadn't made noise. It just goes to show you that there's a time when it's prudent to keep your mouth shut. Especially when a hawk has just gone zinging past you.
You don't see hawks around here very often which is why I was so taken by surprise. Nothing like the prairies where you see one sitting on every second fence post. I have no idea what type of hawk the bird was. It was white with bright reddish brown spots on one side with a more solid brown on the other, but that pretty much describes most hawks I think.
It has finally warmed up. Yay! It's just above freezing with a mixture of low cloud and blue sky. The horizon is really murky today. It has been the last couple of days. There seems to be a lot of smoke in the air. At first I thought that since this huge system moved in from the southwest out of the States, it might be carrying smoke from that fire in California. It seems highly unlikely though. We got smoke from the Washington State forest fire this summer at around 350 miles away, but it's doubtful that smoke would travel the distance it would have to from near Palm Springs. Besides, I think that fire is pretty well out now.
Andy said it was really murky looking along Highway 97 and Williams Lake as well and he thinks that it's just all the mills burning slash throughout the province. It makes sense. There's snow on the ground to prevent the spread of fire but the slash piles aren't too wet or cold yet so they burn really well. From what the weatherman said, there's a warm air layer pushing down the cold air that we've had for the past week so it's probably holding down the smoke as well.
I got a call from Bill Miller today from up in Quesnel. We snowmobiled together last spring with he and his wife and look forward to doing it again this year. He said that at around six inches, they've got enough snow on the ground right now to go sledding! His wife, Anita, is putting together a CD of their fourwheeling adventures out this way this summer and I'm pretty excited about being able to post some of their pictures on this blog. In October they tried to make it in to Pan Phillips' Home Ranch on fourwheelers. They didn't get in all the way but they did make it to Kluskus, a place that holds a lot of history for the area. They also made it to Tsacha Lake and nearly to Eliguk Lake, a fly-in lake that has a lodge operated by the Schillers of Nimpo Lake and that have an ad on this site at Resorts. So I very much look forward to seeing what Bill and Anita have for me and I hope you folks do too.
Ho Ho! I see that hawk has come swooping by again. I hope I haven't inadvertently invited him to the dinner table by feeding the birds. Normally that wouldn't be a problem because we have a dog that has a serious hate on for predatory birds and he usually runs them off the property. I know, doesn't sound possible because he doesn't fly, obviously. But trust me, no bird can stand the way he bellows and jumps after them. The noise alone would stun them. The other problem for the small birds now is that they like to hang out in the trees near the house but those trees are now dead and their needles dried up from the pine beetle infestation. So the birds no longer have protection from branches full of big fat green needles and they can be seen a lot easier.
I was just downstairs stoking the fire and heard a thump and rattle on the temporary deck railing and all the chickadees cleared out. I couldn't see what it was but I wonder if it was the hawk hitting the railing while after a bird. Since the cat came pelting through the door when I opened it, it seems likely. He's had his own experiences with eagles and owls and size or not, he knows a bad guy with wings when he sees one. We'll see what happens tomorrow. If the hawk continues to hang around I'll cut off the bird seed for a while. I hate to do it because it's harder for the chickadees to find seeds now with the snow but there's no point in providing an 'All-you- can-eat' buffet for the hawk either.

02/11/2006 10:46 PM

It's Snowing, Again.

Just a quick note, folks because as usual, I'm knee deep in alligators. I keep picking up more clients, and I have a printer that has decided to smear ink on one of my client's Christmas cards. This software on my computer has decided to develop a glitch so it slows down my ability to write articles. And they said computers were supposed to save us all time. Yeah....right.
It's snowing again. Just little tiny flakes but it's building up. A big system has come rolling in from the south and is dumping snow and rain all across the province.
My partner decided to try returning home from the Okanagan today because there was a blizzard there and they were calling for freezing rain in Williams Lake tomorrow afternoon. He only made it a half hour out before having to turn back because the roads were so brutal and there were vehicles all over the road and in the ditches. And that was driving a big dually in four wheel drive with lots of weight in the back! A bus driver stopped coming from the other direction to tell Andy, who was helping a guy out of the ditch, that the road was blocked ahead with stuck cars and the road was extremely icy. Hopefully he'll make it back safely tomorrow.
A blizzard started in Williams Lake this afternoon as well so I don't imagine the roads are much good anywhere along the Highway 97 corridor. Nor the Connector for that matter. Andy said he was listening to the truckers talking on the radio about how bad it was, which is why he tried taking the other route closer to Okanagan Lake. It's a lot higher up on the Connector so it'll be dumping snow in a big way up there.
I was talking to friend in Saskatchewan tonight who was complaining about how bloody cold it was there. I think they've finally gotten that little cold snap that we had. What can I say, winter's here. That happens in Canada.
I think we're going to have a beautiful base for snowmobiling up in the mountains this winter. It looks like it dumped a lot of snow up there and with that few days of really cold weather, it should have frozen down a nice hard base over the rocks. Or it will have turned to sugar, which would be disaster. Then you sink all the way to the bottom and it's a bugger to dig out when you get stuck. Either way, unless we get a pineapple express this winter, there'll be snow up there.
Okay, I'm going back to work. Things might be a little hairy the next few days so I'm not sure when I can write next. Hang in there! Things will get back to normal in the near future
.
01/11/2006 5:41 PM

End Of An Era

Last night was the last one for Chilcotin's Gate operating as a restaurant in Nimpo Lake. It has closed its doors for renovation and I understand it will reopen as a bible school. It will be hard on the community because the Post Office is in the foyer of the restaurant, it was a popular meeting place three times a week for people picking up their mail. Wednesdays were a favorite mail day for those that picked it up only once a week. The folks from Charlotte Lake and Caribou Flats would make the drive into Nimpo, do some shopping and have coffee or a meal while they visited with friends and neigbhours and caught up on the latest news and gossip. The stairs, the parking lot, the foyer and the restaurant were all meeting places to exchange greetings and news in passing. It's understandable that the owner can't keep the restaurant open now that we have lost the motel to fire. The motel directed a lot of business over to Chilcotin's Gate and people staying there through the winter contributed mightily to the restaurant's ability to stay open in the off season.
The Gate has been well known along the Highway 20 corridor, especially when it was known as Mary's Place, for good home cooking and fresh pies. In fact it was so well known as Mary's that it took years for people to start calling it by its new name. Because of its location, it always served as a great place to meet up with someone coming to visit that had never been to your place before. Folks could use the pay phone and wait for their guide in comfort over coffee or if people were traveling in groups over Highway 20 West they could join up again at the restaurant.
It was about ten years ago to the day on Halloween when the original restaurant burned down. A fire started in the garage and tire shop next door and there was just no way it could be prevented from spreading to the restaurant, an historic old log building with a stupendous view of the Coast Mountains and Nimpo Lake. The pines have grown up now to block quite a bit of the view of the lake itself, but that won't be for long with the beetle kill. The owner of the restaurant rebuilt it in a more modern style and after running it for a few years herself through winter and leasing it out through summer, she sold it to the present owner.
Last night was Mexican night and the last hurrah for the Gate. The community turnout was excellent.
Today seemed weird when I drove up to the restaurant for my mail. The sign was coming down and the only soul around was the postmistress. The doors were locked up with closed signs, no one was visiting on the stairs or in the parking lot, no one to pass the time with for a few moments. No laughter or the sound of clinking cups in the restaurant and no smell of fresh brewed coffee. The moment was surreal and really, really sad.
Clean up on the debris from the destroyed motel is coming along nicely. You would hardly know there had ever been a three story building there and it looks like the guys will be done and the excavator will be out of there in the next day or so. I'm really hoping the owners rebuild the motel, perhaps with a small family restaurant or coffee shop but it might not happen. That property is definitely available for anyone that might be interested in such an enterprise, either alone or in partnership with the present owners and there's most certainly a demand for that kind of accommodation. With the owners of Vagabond retiring and the owners of Wilderness Rim Resort selling to private interests, there's going to be a real shortage of accommodation providers in the country.
There you go folks! A prime opportunity for one of you enterprising individuals to move to a place with clean air, awesome views and great fishing!
It's the start of a new week so last week's articles can be found at October Week Three.

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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!
Expansive view from Perkins Peak.
 
Rail line for the mine.
 
Big blue Jay.
 
Winter trees and lake.
 
Excavator and bonfire.
 
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