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Wilderness Adventures - Nov, Week 3/2006

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.

21/11/2006 7:03 PM

Power Outage

As you probably noticed, there was no article yesterday. I had just finished a long proposal and email and with only a few seconds away from sending it off and starting on an article for the blog ...boom, my battery backup started squealing, the power flickered off and on three times in a matter of seconds, then gone. I managed to get everything saved and my computer shut off, then looked around at a very dark place that was quickly getting darker as daylight faded. I got the candles lit, hunted up a couple of flashlights, and called a neighbour at the other end of the lake to verify the power was out all over.
Supper was a simple affair with homemade soup out of the freezer, crackers and a jar of pickled asparagus. We can cook quite easily because our stove is gas but cooking a big meal is a lot more complicated when you can't see well, you don't want to be opening the fridge door up, and you can't use the water. I think a good generator is the next major purchase on the agenda. Power outages are going to become more and more common for us so we might as well get set up so that it just doesn't matter.
One example of that is how technologically dependent we have all become. I am always on the computer while Andy usually watches television or is on his computer when not working outside. So when the power goes out, for a few moments you're usually left wondering what else there is to do. I love reading but get to do it so seldomly anymore that a power outage actually offers the only opportunity that I can sit down and read a book.
But, last night after supper, Andy suggested we take a drive and see what had taken the power out because if it was off that long it must be something major. So we loaded up a pop for him, ice tea for me, heavy gloves, jackets and our two big spotlights and away we went.
The perfect definition of a romantic evening in the Chilcotin? Driving up and down the highway hanging out the windows of the truck in -12C temperatures shining a spotlight up on the power lines and fine snow dust dancing in the spotlight beams. Romantic, I tell you. The only thing that could have made it better is that we should have brought some nice, hot chocolate in insulated mugs with us rather than the cold drinks.
We ran across the Hydro guys from Bella Coola when we hit Anahim Lake, also slowly driving up and down the roads with their spotlight on the hydro lines. The electricity had just been turned back on, but they'd isolated everything east of Anahim, including Nimpo Lake, until they could figure out what knocked out the power.
We turned around and went back, toured the mill yard and then headed south of Nimpo Lake toward Towdystan. We had been talking on the radio to a highway's guy and friend of Andy's that was also out driving around looking at hydro lines with his girlfriend. You can tell there's a lot of nightlife on a Monday night in this area, can't you?
We were out for well over two hours when finally, just as we were driving back through Nimpo Lake the lights came back on. That meant getting back to work on the computer when we got home doing stuff I was now five hours behind on. Which also meant I had no time to get an article written for yesterday. Long story to describe such a little thing, eh?
The ice had been broken back to our shore in the last few days but this morning we woke up to cold temperatures and Nimpo Lake frozen clear out past the island in one night! Andy surmised that all that broken ice had to melt into the water, chilling it quickly. As soon as the wind and temperature dropped, the water was going to freeze immediately, and boy, did it ever!
It's been sifting down really fine snow all day. It's only built up an inch or so but I guess that's an inch we didn't have before! A small group of Trumpeter Swans circled the open water out on the Main Arm a few times before finally landing. It was hard to see at that distance in the grim light, but there were two distinctly grey/black swans with the group that have to be this year's offspring.
Even colder temperatures are predicted for the next week for the entire province so I guess we're going into the deep freeze for awhile. The lake should freeze up good and solid though.

19/11/2006 6:46 PM

GreyCup Winners

Happy GreyCup Sunday, everyone. For you BC fans, bringing home the GreyCup has to make you pretty darn happy. For the Americans that like football but aren't too sure about the CFL, our GreyCup is the equivalent to your Superbowl. To us, anyway.
The big storm expected to come rolling in today materialized but not in nearly the devastating manner the weathermen have been predicting for the past week. Vancouver got far less rain than predicted and although winds were high and most of the ferries were cancelled again, the damage wasn't that bad. There were a few more downed trees and power outages for some areas, but all in all, the storm sailed through quickly.
We got some very mild temperatures this morning and a hard rain. That certainly didn't help the conditions of the side roads or highway and since I had to get out and about on business today, I was not impressed. Warmer temperatures at Nimpo Lake and the hard rain turned our road into a slushy, slippery soup. The highway was a real mess until about half way to Anahim Lake when cooler temperatures started tightening up the road a bit but fresh snow made it difficult to see whether there was ice underneath. Anahim Lake itself had knee deep snow pushed up into the center line and slush in the tracks, making for difficult driving. I'm not sure what was up with that. I assume the highways boys were concentrating on the highway to the top of the Bella Coola Hill since that road is a really rotten stretch to keep up on and often sees a lot of snow.
One little storm after another swung through, alternating between rain and driving snow making it very unpleasant for anyone working outside today, but at least we didn't get too harsh a winds. I had to stop at a friend's and deliver calendars. There was a big spruce that had snapped off part way up the trunk in the last wind. It was lying right across their driveway and exactly where both their vehicles are normally parked. It would have crushed both trucks had they not been at work that morning.
We lost some snow to our the Pinapple Express today but that big Alaskan low is moving down along the coast of British Columbia and temperatures are supposed to drop, so maybe we'll keep what snow that hasn't already melted. We also lost most of the ice in front of our place as the winds whipping up on Nimpo Lake last night and today kept breaking up the ice that had grown nearly out to the island and crushed it against the shore. The ducks are happy though. They can feed close to shore again now.
Nothing else new around here other than that I am listing a house on the lake about mid week so you may wish to take a look at that. A girl from Germany staying over at Escott Bay in Anahim Lake has generously offered to loan me some pictures for this site. She's assisted the owners of the resort with their trailriding and pack trips for the last couple of summers and has taken lots of pictures. That will round out Bill and Anita's pictures very nicely and make for great variety on the site.

17/11/2006 7:43 PM

Bad Water

As a result of that last storm about two million people in the Vancouver region are under a 'boil water advisory'. I guess a number of mudslides have put a considerable amount of mud and debris in the water reservoirs, increasing turbidity to up to 90%. In other words, the water's just a little muddy, folks! It just makes better coffee to my mind but I guess they figure it's possible that some people might be at risk and have told people to boil their water as a precautionary measure. Of course there were stampedes on the stores for bottled water and many stores down on the mainland ran out of it early this morning. I guess most of them wouldn't approve much of what we drink. Our water comes out of Nimpo Lake, a very clean lake but with the usual beaver and fish reproduction stuff happening, not to mention fishing boats, fishermen and runoff. But as Andy mentioned today, that's probably exactly why we don't get colds or flu or sick in any way. Perhaps because our bodies are exposed to bacteria on a daily basis, we've built up a strong immune system.
I still remember when we were kids growing up at the 'old log house' (our name for our first Canadian homestead) we drew water from a spring near a meadow. After breakup you'd often notice little creatures swimming around in the water buckets, most of them tiny see-through things. You really didn't start to complain until you got creatures big enough that they stuck between your teeth...lol.
Most power customers have had their electricity restored down south now but a few are still doing without. It sounds like the Bella Coola Valley had its fair share of troubles after this last storm as well with many people doing without electricity for some time. Power was finally restored at the other end of Nimpo Lake at about 8:00 last night but there is still no power up to tv hill, so no television or radio for those without satellite. There's probably a tree across the line or heavily weighted lines snapped together and shorted out. The cause will have to be found before replacing the breaker for that line or it will blow the power out for the residences in the area again. If it's not fixed before the CFL football final GreyCup game on Sunday there'll be a few extremely upset people around.
The breeze has pounded back the ice in front now so that there is only a small area that's frozen out from our shore. There's still ice right over to the eastern shore but high winds are expected in the next two days and that may well disappear as well. The sun came out for a little while today and it warmed up above freezing. That was of huge benefit to the trees, causing a lot of the heavy snow to finally fall off of the boughs and make them less likely to snap.
We've definitely got a Pineapple Express coming in so the temperature will go up and our snow will probably go down. Too bad. It would have been an awesome base for snowmobiling this winter.

16/11/2006 1:30 PM

Wild November

Our weather hasn't improved much. We only got about 12 or 13 inches of snow in total yesterday, although there was a little more toward Anahim Lake. Unfortunately it got pretty cold last night and has frozen the heavy snow onto the tree boughs. Sadly, we lost 12 or 15 feet of the top of one of our pines that was still green and hadn't been attacked by beetles yet and could easily lose many more now that the wind has started up. These are just the perfect conditions for bringing down both trees and power lines.
At the other end of Nimpo Lake, my mother is melting snow for water and using coal oil lamps for light because they're still out of power down that way. Three fuses blew simultaneously on the power line and they're waiting for a lineman to come from Williams Lake. He's had to make stops all the way out to repair downed lines, including a long section at Kleena Kleene. Apparently the lineman from Bella Coola couldn't make it up because they have their own set of problems with extensive damage to the power lines from heavy snow, freezing rain and downed trees.
We are in much better shape than many other places in the province. All the way from Prince George south, power is out and BC Hydro is even calling guys out of retirement to repair lines. Vancouver Island, West Vancouver and the Fraser Valley areas had devastating weather yesterday. High winds of 60mph and gusting to hurricane force knocked down trees all over highways and onto houses and power lines. The highway to Squamish was closed for most of the day because so many old growth trees had fallen on the highway and most ferries were cancelled because of high winds and waves. Apparently there was a tsunami warning for the coast because of the earthquake off the coast of Russia but they said if there was a tsunami swell, it wasn't noticeable in the waves being whipped up in the wind at high tide.
An emergency worker was just in the process of being interviewed when a huge tree came crashing down on a house up on the hill behind him and sheared off the deck on the front of the house and took out part of the roof. It looked just like a knife slashing down, falling with a lot of speed and force. A good part of the news hour last night was spent on footage showing debris and trees all over the streets and hanging in the power lines. A huge framework of steel girders of a building under construction blew down and crushed several cars, power poles and took down power lines. Fortunately, all the construction workers were on coffee break in a cement underground parking lot.
There was a tremendous amount of rain with the storm and if streets weren't blocked because of downed trees, they were blocked because of flooding. About 250,000 homes were without electricity yesterday and many would still be without power today. A lot of people, including emergency coordinators admitted that they had never seen a storm like that in the Vancouver area.
I felt sorry for one poor fellow in Chilliwack. His home had been completely flooded and badly damaged last week when the river overflowed its banks. I think the news reporter and camera man were on site to do a short story on the man's misfortune when two trees came crashing down on his roof. Sometimes, you just can't win.
After watching the news last night and seeing all the flattened cars, including a police car that had two officers inside when a tree came crashing down on it, damaged houses, downed power lines, flooded streets, breached sea walls, and a suburb that had to be evacuated because of the trees being blown over, I really have to be glad I'm living where I am.
The big low off the coast of Alaska is still sitting there churning more storms on to the coast of British Columbia. We're supposed to get hit again on Saturday, and our temperatures are noticeably cooler, but otherwise, we're in pretty good shape.
Yesterdays big slush floe has frozen hard and definitely become a permanent part of our shore and the lake was frozen several hundred feet out from our place this morning. Past the floe the ice was much thinner though because you could see it undulating with the ripples of water being pushed under it by the waves. To our east the lake is frozen right to the other shore and is glassy smooth past the flags as you can see in the picture taken this morning up on the right. Our back bay, right to the Dean channel, looks to be completely frozen over as well. How long it will last with this wind kicking up is hard to tell. Already, quite a bit of the ice farther out has broken up into klinkers and you can hear the musical sound of the pieces rocking against the more solid ice.
As you can see, I've finally gotten into a new week. If you would like to read last week's articles, you will find them at November, Week Two and of course yesterday's weather is posted below.

15/11/2006 12:10 PM

Chilcotin Weather Forecast

Just a quick little update from the informal weather center in the Chilcotin. (That's me..lol.)
I woke up to about 11 inches of fresh snow this morning and it's still snowing hard. Probably at a rate of an inch or more an hour. It's really strange snow though. Heavy, heavy stuff that when you push it up with a shovel, just stays there in whatever form it landed. Great for building snowmen and snowballs!
Andy went out at about 6:00 this morning and he said that whoever went out before him was pushing snow with the undercarriage of his pickup truck. I guess it's a good thing our road was plowed yesterday or with about a foot and a half of snow on it no one would be going anywhere. That heavy stuff doesn't push worth a darn with a bumper.
I finally relented and put some seed back in the bird feeder today. I was going to wait until well into December until the thieving Jay and killer hawk were gone, but to heck with it. Those chickadees are going to have a hard time finding food under all of this snow right now.
We were having a late breakfast today and slowly into view comes this massive sheet of slush floating from across Nimpo Lake toward our shore. I couldn't believe it because I've never seen that before. I don't know if an ice sheet broke away from someone else's shore or if the slush formed over a cold water pocket in the lake. It took a while to get here but it's landed against our shore now. It'll chill the water quickly and may be a permanent fixture for the rest of the winter if there's no wind. The ducks have had to move outside of it and can no longer dive among our reeds so maybe they know something I don't.
The power has been off down at the other end of the lake since early this morning and has effected places like Nimpo Lake Resort. When I got up this morning the warning beeper on my battery backup for my computers was squealing so we must have gotten a power surge when their power went out. With the high winds last night it could either have been a tree fallen across the line, or even a heavy, snow laden branch might have shorted the electricity out. Unfortunately, there's well over a foot and a half of snow up on top of Heckman Pass so I don't know how long it will take the linemen to come up from Bella Coola to make repairs.
There's a definite advantage to heating with wood stoves, and having cooler weather when the power goes out. If it's off for any length of time you can always gather up foodstuffs from out of the fridges and freezers, stuff them into coolers and stick them outside in the snow. And with wood heat you never have to worry about freezing as many other places do. The only hardship might be finding your wood pile which I did experience once after that four feet of snow we had in 24 hours back in 1990. Just about this time of year in fact.
Getting two good dumps of snow two days in a row is unusual in this part of the country but they are calling for another two feet of snow in the Coast Mountains tonight. That's us! I kind of wondered when I saw the satellite shots with dopplar radar on the news last night. It's not very often we're in the 'yellow' and Vancouver was definitely in the 'red' so I thought we might be in for it. That's okay. I don't have to go anywhere for the next month or two and other than breaking my windshield wiper clearing snow off of my truck this morning, I'm in way better shape than those that have to travel in this stuff. Or worse yet, those that have to work in it.
I don't envy the guys on highways right now. One of their trucks was flopped over in the ditch up at the top of the hill last night and a grader was going to try to make it up from Bella Coola today to help get it pulled out. The only thing working on the local grader is the wing plow and with a wing plow on only one other truck, those guys are going to have a heck of a time keeping up on this snow. The Bella Coola 'Hill' itself might be of great concern to those trying to keep it clear. This is just the kind of weather that brings mud and snow slides down on the road.
A storm like this is kind of cool, if you don't have to drive in it, that is. It's almost silent outside and all you can hear is the steady thumping of snow falling off the trees and every once in a while huge clumps go whizzing past my office window from off the roof. Which reminds me, I probably better get this posted if I still have satellite (the dish may be full of snow) because with this heavily saturated snow, I don't expect us to have electricity for long.

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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!
Pink sun reflecting off water.
 
Ice road on Nimpo Lake.
 
Pink tinted snow.
 
Newly frozen ice.
 
Snow covered trees.
 
Heavy snowfall.
 
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