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 - Nov., Week Two/2009
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of the Day.
morning I got up to ice frozen out from our shoreline
at least 20 or 30 feet. It was -14C 6.8 degrees Fahrenheit
when Andy got up and was still -12C when I got up. Heavy
frost had coated the ice pure white and mist was rising
up from the surface of the lake. The open water
near the ice was moving very slowly the way oil does because
the temperature of the water was so cold. Eventually
a breeze came up later in the morning and I got to listen
to the klinkers all day. That's the musical sound made
by chunks of ice broken up by the wind klinking against
each other. It's a really pretty sound similar to certain
wind chimes. It was probably fortunate all the ice from
the shore in front broke up by today because my other
half needed to jack up the section of dock connected to
the shore to get the barrels out of the water. That way
once the lake freezes over, the dock won't sustain any
damage when the ice begins to move in the spring. Had
it been yesterday, he would have had a lot tougher time
than just climbing into the water with chest waders.
He would have to have broken up the ice around the dock
first, and that might not have been easy. One chunk of
ice that broke off the ice shelf in front of the house
yesterday was well over an inch thick. That's pretty mighty
for just one night of hard freezing.
This constant freezing of different sections of the lake,
and breaking up of the ice which then melts, all serves
to cool the lake water down just that much faster. All
it would take is a few more nights like the last couple,
and a good bit of Nimpo Lake would be frozen over. It's
already -8C or 17F this evening and it's supposed to get
quite cold tonight. However, there's a Pineapple Express
building out in the Pacific that just may bring some warmer
temperatures. It's also supposed to bring a whole
pile of rain and snow to most of British Columbia.
Won't that be special....
Today was a good day to be outside getting things done.
The sun was shining and though the breeze was cold, it
wasn't that unpleasant outside. Besides, it was the first
day I could spare away from the computer because I'm betwixt
and between on calendar work at the moment, so I'm taking
advantage of it, believe you me!
Aside from the dock raised, we got my composter emptied
and moved back up close to the house and in full sunshine
so it will work through the winter. It's a real heat sink
where I had it down by the greenhouse in the summer, but
the sun no longer goes high enough this time of year to
clear the trees in front of the greenhouse, so very little
sun hits the composter. It's amazing how noticeable
the sun's track is compared to even a month ago.
It's not that high above the horizon right now, and we
still have another five weeks to get through before it's
at its lowest point in the sky at noon and then starts
We split a little firewood as well, mainly because I wanted
a refresher course on the log splitter because Andy's
going to be driving truck down in Bella Coola for a few
days. If it gets cold I can split wood instead of using
up our stacked wood and the hydraulic splitter makes it
pretty easy now. Boy, that's a great investment and worth
its weight in gold! If you heat a lot with wood, it's
well worth the money to get an automatic splitter and
a huge savings on your shoulders when you don't have to
wield an ax or splitting maul every day.
Our last chore was to do a little clean up outside the
basement door where the radial arm saw is located. We
still had lots of pieces of two by four left over from
building the greenhouse and whatever other projects we
were on this summer. So those got cut up for firewood
and the area cleared out a bit. We're eyeing up the space
for a small hot tub. We were going to put one outside
our bedroom door upstairs, but if we're going to get a
hot tub this winter, it's already wired for one downstairs
and would be easier to install there than up on the porch
roof in the middle of winter. We just need to source some
patio doors so we can close the area in to keep it warm
while we're in the tub, but that we can open up for ventilation
the rest of the time. I think we would both benefit from
taking a dip now and then. Or our poor, beat up old bones
would, anyway. Other than that, most of the pre-winter
chores are pretty much done. Now it's just the usual stuff,
like clearing snow off the decks whenever we get some,
as we did this morning.
The birds have gone into full winter mode too.
The chickadees don't even bother to look for seeds in
the wild to eat now. They just spend all day raiding the
feeder for sunflower seeds. I've got a new buddy now.
A little woodpecker that comes several times a day for
seeds. He must have decided that it was way less work
to get seeds at the feeder than to look for bugs under
tree bark. The chickadees weren't too sure what to make
of him at first, but they seem to have gotten used to
him now and he's become a regular fixture throughout the
The immature loon I've seen off and on lately is still
around. You can see from the picture up on the right that
it's an immature from its coloring. It's still grey and
white and just starting to develop its black and white
spots of maturity.
The last couple evenings the view in the dark has been
interesting. Merritt torched some monster piles of slash
over on the Hooch Wednesday and yesterday that are large
enough, you can see the red glow of the flames from here
at night. It's really eerie looking. And
the numerous smoke plumes during the day have been reminiscent
of this summer's forest fire season.
It looks like we made it through another Friday the Thirteenth
again. I hope you all did as well. Have a good weekend,
The Mixed Weather
really, really sorry for not writing, folks. I just
have not had time to write. I probably
still wouldn't except that I was trying to make a deadline
for a shipment to go out tomorrow but it turns out it's
a holiday and I can't ship anything to Williams Lake
for cutting until Friday. I had forgotten about that.
So I'm taking time out to write a quick update on what's
happening in the Chilcotin, and for the most part,
that would be weather.
I've mentioned this before, but really, if we didn't
have weather to talk about, I'm not sure what would
be discussed between people greeting each other in passing.
We must drive people from other cultures crazy. Think
about it. There's a lot of old cultures out there where
the people have long since accepted that there isn't
a damned thing they can do about the weather. Not us
North Americans, and Canadians in particular. For some
reason, we must think we can affect change on Mother
Nature just by talking about it or we wouldn't do it
We've had a real mixed bag for the past few days
varying from rain to heavy frost to snow, to fog and
cold. It's been dropping down as low as -8C
or 17F at night but most days it's made it up above
freezing, although it's often been a long slow climb,
and a short time there before dropping again. Actually,
I shouldn't say that. It got up over 3C yesterday and
turned out to be a really beautiful day by late afternoon,
but by then I had a meeting to go to. Up until then,
it alternated between snow flurries and all out blizzard
right from before daybreak. We ended up with a couple
of inches of snow on the ground and the ground is frozen
pretty hard now, finally.
The lake is starting to freeze up. Just
a few days ago there was only about four feet of ice
out from the shore in the back bay where it's protected,
but this morning the bay was frozen over and all the
docks are frozen in for the winter. The waves beat the
ice back a bit by this afternoon, but that's exactly
what will cool the lake water down is that melting ice.
The Dean River is also frozen on the surface in both
directions after it exits Nimpo Lake and Anahim
Lake froze over completely on Sunday. That seemed
awfully early to me but someone I was talking to in
Anahim that has been in this country for a long time
recollected it being frozen over much sooner back when.
It's true, our falls started earlier and were much cooler
20 years ago than they are now. We had leaves on the
trees well into October this year and that's unbelievable
when you consider I've seen years out here when the
aspen leaves had turned brown and dropped off or been
blown off by wind in the first week of September. In
any case, our lake is in no danger of freezing up any
time soon unless we get a drastic drop in temperature
like we did in 2006 and 2007.
I'm really hoping we get a slow freeze on the lake this
year. I thought I saw something frozen into the
overnight ice in the back bay this morning when
walking the babysit dog, but it was too far for me to
tell what it was. I didn't have the heart to go back
and get binoculars because I really didn't want to know.
The sight of that loon that was frozen in overnight
a couple of years ago still haunts me. I wish now that
we had just shot it.
Today there were a pair of muskrats playing around in
the water right in front of the house with a duck in
the water and a dog on shore. The presence of others
didn't seem to faze these two at all. They acted
like it was spring time! I snuck down to the
shore line to make sure that neither were beaver and
of course once I got close enough, it was obvious what
they were. One guy would just lay still in the water
and sun himself while the other cruised around through
the reeds, then they would start chasing one another.
The fat one would tire of that pretty quickly and go
back to sunbathing. They must have one heck of a warm
winter coat on them!
There's still at least one loon hanging around yet.
I've seen him off and on between here and the island
for the past couple of weeks, and again today. He's
getting bigger so hopefully he'll have the size and
strength he needs to head south before freeze up and
the bald eagles won't get him. There aren't as many
eagles around now as there was in summer, but as evidenced
by the neighbour's picture up on the right, there's
the odd one. We even had a cheeky one hovering in front
of our place the other day.
A long line of geese went over heading south early yesterday
morning and I watched three Trumpeter Swans cruising
around the lake trying to decide whether they wanted
to land and stay here for awhile before heading
down to Lonesome Lake and their wintering grounds. 'Tis
the season, I guess.
Sometimes I'm glad that this is one of my busiest times
of year. I used to really hate fall because it meant
winter was coming. Since moving out into this part of
the country 20 years ago I developed a liking for winters
that I never expected to, only because it really is
beautiful out here. Often almighty cold, but usually
clear and sunny, with fresh, white snow reflecting a
million shiny, sparkly diamonds back at you. But before
you get to that point, you have to get through November.
Throughout the month, you just never know what to expect
and the weather changes from day to day, often to extremes.
This November looks like its starting out with
its usual goodie bag of surprises and that's
why I don't mind being stuck inside on the computer
for a month or two. If I get the time and the weather
like I did today to take the dogs down the road for
a mile or so, great. If not, I can usually blame it
on the weather and just get back to work.
It looks like quite a few places around BC are getting
their bang for the buck this week of November. Mountains
around Whistler have received three feet of snow
which is getting the ski and snowboard buffs all fired
up. But drivers through many of BC's mountain passes
can't be happy with the system that dropped the snow
on Whistler. My favorite meteorologist, Mark, was on
the news tonight (Thank heavens the other yappy loser
is gone for a week and we get a break from him.) showing
pictures from weather cams on some of the passes including
the Coke.Yeeech.... not the nicest looking driving conditions
with snow on the road and nearly a whiteout with the
snow coming down.
Weather wise, we're supposed to catch a break
for one day, and then another low pressure system barrels
in, this one from the Alaskan Panhandle, which
means it will probably be cold as well. It was bound
to happen because eastern Canada, and even the prairies,
have sunshine and way above average temperatures. When
the east gets good weather, we get poor to bad weather
and when they get bad or cold weather, ours is generally
warm and nice. While it doesn't always
hold true, it seems to the majority of the time summer
and winter. I know Andy would argue the theory, but
see for yourself. Watch the weather in general across
Canada and you'll find that east and west are often
opposite, particularly when it comes to temperature.
It's Remembrance Day tomorrow, folks, so even if you
never had a friend or relative in the armed forces,
the best way to support those that have given
us the freedoms we enjoy, is to remember. My
Dad was US career Army while Andy's Dad was Canadian
Air Force and I have a brother in Iraq right now. As
a result, we might be inclined to attach more importance
to Remembrance Day than other people might, but every
one of us that live in Canada and the US enjoy more
freedoms than most countries in the world. And
we have our armed forces to thank for it.
It's the start of a new week, so you can find last week's
articles, such as they are, at November
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!