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Wilderness Adventures - Nov, Week 2/2006

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.

14/11/2006 8:23 PM

More Storm Warnings

Good day all. Much of British Columbia is under a storm warning again of one sort or another. To the north, it's a snowfall warning. To the south, rainfall. And many of those points between including the Cariboo Chilcotin, are under a severe wind warning with winds between 60 and 90km per hour or 40 to 50mph.
The winds were pretty wild this morning. There was a lot of ice on the lake out from the back bay and off our point as well as in the reeds this morning but after the wind started up, it didn't take long for it to push the ice into shore and break it up into noisy klinkers. We watched the snow up on the Hooch and old Nimpo Lake airport across the lake being funneled up into the sky while massive amounts of snow blew out of the trees.
Our beetle killed pine don't rock gently in the wind anymore as they did when they were still green. I don't know if it's because the structural integrity of the roots has changed or the tree is just less supple and limber because it has dried out within the trunk. Now the trees seem almost to 'jerk' slightly and the limbs with the dried up old needles on them no longer sway but just kind of shake. In fact they shake quite a pile of dead needles into the eavestrough every time there's a breeze! We'll see how well they survive the predicted winds tonight. I'm just hoping they stay upright until we can get them cut down this winter since most of them are pretty close to the house.
This next storm coming in off the coast is actually made up of two huge lows that look like they're on a collision course. Even I'm starting to feel really sorry for those poor sods to the south. Western Oregon, Washington State and southern British Columbia are just getting pummeled and they've got to be getting thoroughly sick of it. More flood warnings for all of them and of course if you look at some of the web cams up on the passes such as the Coq and the Connector to Kelowna, the highways are in pretty ugly condition there too. Lots of clips on the newscasts with cars strewn all over highways and ditches.
We watched the American news out of Washington for a few moments tonight. The DOT there is highly concerned about three of their main highway bridges and say they'll probably be closed for a while if the winds clock the speeds they're predicted to. Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself just how lucky we are with no possible flooding here and rarely are we under deluge from rain. The most we ever have to worry about is a big snowfall and just about everyone around here is praying for just exactly that!
Our highway isn't great right now what with the compact snow, so I'm assuming the maintenance boys are waiting for it to warm up tonight and tomorrow before putting sand on the highway. That would be a good time because all the sand has to do is melt into the highway just enough to give grit for traction. Then if it gets cold, as is predicted, it'll be like driving on sandpaper. If they don't get it sanded in the next 24 hours, they'll have lost their opportunity and we'll all be driving on sheer ice for the next while. Sand just blows off if it's put on the highway when it's too cold. At least we got our road plowed today and a good job they did of it too.
Okay folks, that's the update for today. Back to work I go...as usual. I finally sent out the last parcels today with fridge magnet calendars for my clients. I've held off the folks that have ordered websites while I was doing calendars, but the fun's over and I need to get on to that next so I'm not too sure how things look for an article tomorrow. But don't worry, if anything exciting happens, I'll post.
Don't forget to check out the Picture of the Day!

13/11/2006 3:47 PM

Zowee! Snow!

Hi everyone. I hope you all had a good weekend and for those of you that got the extra day because of Remembrance Day, happy long weekend!
Last night it started snowing early in the evening and other than slowing down a bit off and on, it didn't stop all night. We woke up to five inches of snow this morning, which is amazing since these were never big, fat furry snowflakes. No sir. Itty bitty, tiny things that you could barely see and still it managed to build up. It's pretty dense too because it's so dry and it fell over such a long period of time. When you push a shovel full of this stuff, you've got a little weight.
It never got that cold last night and stayed only a degree or two below freezing all day except in the sun where the snow melted slightly on the deck. The lake must be really cold though. If you look at the picture up on the right, in many places close to shore and out in the reed beds, the snow is slushy on the surface of the water and unless we get a breeze, will probably turn to winter ice. As warm as the temperature of the water was with the long, hot summer, you wouldn't think it would have dropped to freezing farther out from shore and this early in the year. It looks like freeze up will be on time after all this year. Ice is extending well out into the back bay now where all the docks are parked for the winter as well.
Those crazy ducks are still diving for goodies in that freezing water but they're no longer able to come in close to shore among the reeds where all the good grits are. They just can't break through that slushy ice that has formed overnight. I expect they'll be leaving soon. There definitely aren't as many around as there was.
We spoke to friends last night that had come in from Vancover, as well as friends that drove the other way yesterday. Snowing hard all the way from the top of the hill at Sheep Creek just out of Williams Lake clear to home. The other folks said they ran into a little of everything on the way down through the Fraser Canyon including icy roads, sleet, rain and snow.
Vancouver and the Fraser Valley are getting pounded by rain again and there's another system coming in tonight. According to the weather channel, it's going to be a little nastier than last night's. It looks like we might get a piece of it but that's okay. The snowmobiles are ready and raring to go! Well, except that I have a lot of work to do. But still....I wonder if anyone would notice if I snuck away for a little ride....lol.
Wouldn't you know it, I've been diligent about carrying my camera the last couple of days up to Nimpo and not a sign of the hawk. Or anything else for that matter. It seems Mother Nature may be conspiring against me. Watch, next time I don't take the camera, I'll see a cougar or saskquatch or something!
Okay folks, I'm sorry but I have to keep this little update short. I'm back to work and hopefully will see you tomorrow. Don't forget to check out the Picture of the Day, I'm posting one of Bill and Anita's pictures of a moose, but the even more spectacular one of it running through the water will be posted tomorrow.

11/11/2006 10:56 PM

The Eleventh Hour

...Of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month has passed by yet again.
Everyone has their own way of observing Remembrance Day and since I'm not wont to public displays, I prefer to observe it at home. The television generally shows ceremonies from all across the country. Just pick one. It doesn't matter which one I watch, it's going to be personal and it's going to be sad. My father spent a lot of years in the Army and fought in two wars, both Korea and the Second World War and I have a brother that just returned from Iraq last spring, as well as a long tradition of family on boths sides that served in wars clear back and beyond the beginning of American history.
Like my partner, who's father was also in the armed forces, it doesn't matter which ceremony we watch, I'm going to get choked up when they start playing the bagpipes, whether "Amazing Grace" or the "Lament". Today, Andy chose to go to the police station in Anahim Lake where they held a Remembrance Day ceremony and as he says, "They didn't do a half bad job of it."
No matter where or how you observe Remembrance Day, it's important to do so and it's good to see so many young people participating as well. Perhaps it's because it's a lot closer to home now. Not something that occurred in the far distant past and before many people were born, but rather war is something that is occurring now, today. So far, Canadian Forces have had the highest number of casualties this year while in Afghanistan, second only to the US, whom we all know to have taken monsterous losses in Iraq. And yet if you listen to soldiers that have been severely injured in either country, or parents of soldiers killed, they all feel there's a need for their presence in those countries. They point out that the rest of Canadians do not understand how deep that need is, or how important they feel their job is.
A young man local to British Columbia, Shawn Hlookoff, wrote an incredible song this past year called, "Soldier". He made it into a video and had a lot of CD's made up and shipped them to the Canadians based in Kandahar because whether what they were doing was considered in future to be right or wrong, he wanted to show the soldiers there that he supports them and believes in them. His words on his website are, "I wrote this song to raise awareness about the men and women who are risking their lives for their country and not receiving the respect they deserve. I am moved to see that so many of you feel the same way about this issue." There is no political comment in this song, it doesn't take sides, it's just about respect. The CD is in huge demand now and I can see why. Hearing him today, and on the news yesterday is some special experience....almost as good as the bagpipes. Actually, his song was played while they showed the pictures and name of each Canadian Soldier killed in the past year. It was very fitting. You can listen to or download the song for free at his website Hlookoff.com,
I think the reason why I feel so strongly about this is because I, like many other people, fear that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will be the next 'Vietnam' and that our soldiers will be treated much like veterans of Vietnam when they returned home. No one deserves that. Blame the government or the politicians if you will but never blame the soldiers.

10/11/2006 7:30 PM

A Day Late

And a dollar short...again. I know I keep saying it but really, I've got to start carrying my camera slung around my neck, all the time. Someday, I'm going to learn my lesson.
This morning I was driving down our road to Anahim Lake and just around the one corner, here's this hawk tearing chunks off of a bird carcass right on the edge of the road. As I got closer the hawk tried to lift up with the bird in his beak and couldn't so then he started pulling the bird backwards trying to get it off the road. Still too heavy and I was getting closer. Finally, regretfully almost, he took flight just as I started to pass him and his meal. I had pulled over to the other side of the road but the vehicle still scared him. It flew back and forth in front of me as I drove slowly down the road and I kept hoping he would veer off and go back to his dinnner. I saw no point in him wasting this dinner and killing another just because he was scared off of it.
I pulled over on one side of the road as far as I could and he finally turned around and flew back past me to the carcass, now about a hundred yards back. Other than the fact that I could easily have gotten several terrific pictures, first of this predator on his kill, and then flying, it's the second hawk I've seen in a week. I don't think I've seen two hawks out in this country twice in a summer! Remarkably, this hawk wasn't colored at all like the one hanging around our feeder. This one was snow white with definite grey spots and markings on it. (And no, it was not a snowy Owl, thank you.)
There are only two hawks in my bird book that even come close to the one I saw today, (and one wasn't even a hawk) making it much easier to identify than the other one. Listed as a Northern Goshawk, "A rare to uncommon hawk of the northern forests, large enough to prey on grouse and squirrels. Recognized by its large size." The one picture of the bird looked very little like the one I saw, but another picture of it looked very similiar to the bird. Strangely enough, the female has the coloring of the one I saw today, but the male and immature has the coloring of the one that's been hanging around the house. Since I saw both birds within a half mile of each other, are they mates? Or is one the offspring of the big white and grey predator I saw today.
The other picture in my bird book that looked very much like my bird of today was of a Gyrfalcon. Listed as, "An Arctic bird, rarely wandering south of Canada. White phase is in Greenland and black phase is in western Canada and the more common grey phase is in between. Preys on birds and rodents. Has a slow wingbeat and fast flight. Note the large size and pale facial markings." Well, we're in western Canada but this bird was most definitely not in the 'black phase'. He also didn't look to be in the 'white phase' according to the picture. He did, however, look just like the bird in the illustration in the 'grey phase' and I would definitely describe his flight as being very fast but with a strangely slow wing beat. It was really unusual looking, in fact.
Unfortunately, I'm not much of a birder and when I see something as fantastic as that unfolding before me, while I'm trying to negotiate an icy road, I tend not to think to take note of things like the, "Broad white eye strip," and, "Note also the fluffy white undertail coverts often present." I'm actually not too sure what a covert is. Underwear? Anyway, I do try to work hard on taking note of as many details as I can while attempting to identify something, but to be honest, the pure fluid beauty of most animals and predatory birds is just magical to me, and I'm just too busy 'watching' to be taking down notes. Which is probably why National Geographic has never called me to go on assignment for them.
I do have to say a sad goodbye to the grouse that lost his life to the hawk (or falcon) today. I don't know how many times I've nearly run over the silly fool this fall. His blunt refusal to move off of the road on that corner has been hilarious. Apparently dangerous and eventually fatal as well. I'm never sure whether grouse are just really, really dumb, or just plain arrogant but I suspect the former. I've just never figured out how they've lasted this long without evolving into something just a little quicker, brighter, or something besides good tasting.
I'm mystified as to why I'm suddenly seeing more hawks. Is it because there are no longer lots of fat, green pine needles on the trees now? Most of our lodgepole pine is in the red stage after being destroyed by the pine beetle. Although the needles are still there, they're dehydrated now and every windstorm sweeps more of them to the ground. Perhaps there isn't as good a cover on the forest floor from the evergreen boughs overhead that there once was. It would be much easier for predatory birds to see their prey and if the pickings were good, they might be sticking around rather than passing through.
Not only are we seeing an increase in woodpeckers, including the uncommon Pileated woodpecker, but if we're also seeing more hawks, what else has or will change? I for one can't wait to see. On the other hand, I may have just bored the heck out of 80% of the readers of this blog. If so, I'm sorry.
A quick update on the weather for those of you coming to the Chilcotin, leaving it, or with summer residences here. It's a little colder and unsettled. In fact it was downright grim looking out earlier this afternoon. We're due to get snow for the next three days and it was definitely snowing enough to have to clear the deck before I barbequed tonight. The side roads are little icy and ice continues to build on the calm parts of Nimpo Lake.
Most of the people that don't stick around for the winter have either left already or will by this weekend. In a way, I suppose it would be nice to go to warmer climes for the winter. But I really like the distinct seasons and the winter recreation. Maybe when I get older...
For anyone that hasn't noticed, I've started a new week. Last week's articles can be found at November, Week One and whatever you do, don't forget to check out the Picture of the Day . If you didn't read last night's article I'll just let you know that I've received some terrific pictures from around the Chilcotin taken by Bill and Anita Miller this summer and trust me, I will be posting as many as I can get away with each day. The fantastic picture up on the right of Muir Lake mirroring the mountains and sky near Chilko should be a postcard.
Last and final note everyone. Tomorrow is Remembrance Day and no matter what your views might be on war, we should never forget. We enjoy the right to speak the language we please, practice the religion or beliefs we choose, and have the undeniable right to vote for our representatives in government. A lot of good young men have died in the past century to give us that right and many men that did come home, came home changed forever. We still have guys at war today and they should have our support, no matter what.
See you tomorrow.

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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!
Early freeze up.
 
Muir Lake near Chilko.
 
Two people on a mountain top.
 
One foot tall rock inukshuk.
 
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