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Wilderness Adventures - Nov, Week 4/2006

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.

30/11/2006 1:42 PM

Traveling In Cold Temperatures And Snow

Extreme cold and snow are not the ideal conditions for traveling in.
We had to pop down to the Okanagan this week, leaving early Monday morning intending to return today. However, a nasty winter storm was forecast for today so we decided to put a rush on our errands and smoke back north last night. Unfortunately, that storm was moving a lot faster than predicted because we had snow flurries for at least fifty percent of the 500 mile trip back and ran into near blizzard conditions the last 100 miles home. There were high winds and blowing snow even though you could often see the moon and stars above. We could only guess that the warm front moving in was sliding over the stagnant cold front and creating localized squalls.
Our entire drive down Monday was on compact snow and ice but at least the cold temperatures helped with traction. When we left Nimpo Lake early in the morning the temperature was -28C or 20 below zero Fahrenheit. Thankfully, it was warmer than that the rest of the way but not by much.
I felt really sorry for our two dogs because we had to take them with us and they had to ride in the back of the truck under the canopy. We had a quilt in there for them and I warmed another at my feet with the truck heater and put that in there for them as well. Still though, it couldn't have been a very pleasant trip for them. They were the other reason we came home early. -22C or -5F is almighty cold for the 'sunny' Okanagan and since they had to be in the truck during the day while we did our running around I couldn't see putting them through that any longer than absolutely necessary.
I had to do a bunch of walking around in the little town of Summerland Tuesday afternoon, and it was just miserable with a bitter wind on top of the cold temperatures. I don't know what it was with the wind chill factored in but I know it wasn't long before most of me, including my well padded behind, was numb! My partner is going to get the short end of the stick when it comes to Christmas presents this year because I valued the skin on my face more than the shopping. Sorry, honey!
I have to say that even though we often get colder temperatures in the winter than most places in British Columbia, it really is a dry cold. Laugh all you want at that old joke, (..but it's a dry cold..) it really does make a difference to one's comfort level once Nimpo Lake is frozen over. But places like the Okanagan with its huge lake, or Vancouver with all that ocean, are just nasty and damp. Throw in cold temps and a little wind and you've got something that will easily beat Siberia for misery so far as I'm concerned.
Vancouver was getting hit again last night with that big system. You do have to feel sorry for them because the people down there just are not equipped at all for snow, freezing rain and power outages. They smashed the all time record for snowfall with 36.6 cm or about 15 inches, last set in 1975. Now, their big concern is for flooding because it's warmed up and the snow has started to melt.
In any case, it's nice to be home. I can't stand all those wall to wall people for long, especially the ones that don't know how to drive in slippery conditions. Not only do you have to look after yourself, you have to watch out for all those other people on the road that still drive like it's summer.
Last night I listened for a few moments to the odd calls that Nimpo Lake makes when freezing up. It's got a pretty good layer of snow on it and the groans of ice growing are muffled, but when it's quiet, you can still hear them.
Today is a bright, sunny beautiful day. I saw the dogs watching something and finally spotted what looked to be a pair of foxes, black as night, bounding through the snow around the edge of the lake. I went for a walk this afternoon and at only about 5 degrees below freezing, it was glorious. I stopped off to talk to our neighbour plowing out his driveway with his fourwheeler. He said that Tuesday morning, the thermometer by his bedroom window registered 43 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, while the one on his deck registered 40 degrees below. A snowmobiling buddy down on the Main Arm registered 40 degrees below F as well while at the other end of Nimpo Lake, Mary's thermometer registered 38 below F, while our thermometer showed that it got down to 39 below. That's pretty darn cold for November!

26/11/2006 4:03 PM

Winter Cold

We definitely have winter temperatures now although we are warmer than some places in the province. Nimpo Lake temperatures have been ranging around -21 or -22C or 8 to 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. But many places in the province are at 40 below F and colder (Celsius is the same at that temperature) with the windchill. So far, we've been lucky. A little breeze kicks up on occasion but none of the winds they've been forecasting with warnings on the television.
Amazingly, the snow just keeps drifting down day after day. It's only a couple of inches each day at most, but it adds up after awhile. We almost never get heavy overcast and snow like this when it gets cold but it's the same for most of British Columbia.
A massive cold front has been pushing down from the north for the past couple of days and has met up with a big low coming in from off the coast of Washington and Oregon. The result has been a good dump of snow on Vancouver and the Okanagan. That means there are a lot of accidents and cars in very odd configurations in ditches throughout the lower mainland. We've been watching some of the newscasts, and when you see transit buses, tow trucks and plow trucks in the ditch besides the requisite number of cars and pickups, you know things are not going to be good.
Temperatures are supposed to continue to drop every day this coming week so it isn't going to be a pleasant one. It's pretty early too when you consider that we've had two cold spells this fall already, and now temperatures that you don't normally see until late December.
The Main Arm of Nimpo Lake has frozen out on the other side of the big island in front of our place in the last couple of days, but I understand that farther down the Arm toward the north, the lake is still open. Although we haven't drilled and measured the ice in our bay in front of the house, with cold temperatures like this, the ice will build fast. It's unfortunate that we have as much snow as we do on the ice because it insulates and slows the freezing, causing poor quality ice and overflow. Already you can see dark channels under the snow where the ice has opened up, let water bubble up and refrozen.
We held a Christmas Bingo at our Nimpo Lake Community Hall yesterday afternoon. We had collected donations from businesses in Williams Lake, Tatla, Anahim and Nimpo Lake in the hopes of raising money for upgrades to the Hall. The turnout was okay but not as many people came as we had hoped for. The most probable reasons were snow, extreme cold and really lousy roads and I doubt that many people from Anahim Lake felt like traveling in those conditions. The same for people from Charlotte Lake and Tatla. However, we got a good number of locals and we made a little over 200 dollars. If nothing else, perhaps we can improve the lighting or put some paint on the exterior of the new addition.
Lots of thanks to those Directors that helped out with the event, and especially to Leah, who organized it all.
We were just watching the news at supper and the roads were definitely nasty and getting worse with Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley receiving about 16 inches of snow. Many sections of highway throughout southern British Columbia were closed, many areas, including some of the islands, are without electricity and it doesn't look like there will be school for the kids tomorrow. Snow day!!! That'll make them happy.
I probably won't be writing for the next three days or so. For those of you in Vancouver and area drive safely and as for the rest of the province, get your toques and mukluks out folks, it's gonna get cold!

24/11/2006 10:36 AM

Town Trip

I missed out on posting the last two days because we went to town. Since it was for dentist appointments we would normally just leave early in the morning and come back the same day. However, they were calling for more snow and generally nasty weather conditions, and deer on the side of the road are hard to see in the dark, so we decided to go into Williams Lake on Wednesday and stay overnight. Besides, the Nimpo Lake Community Association is putting on a Bingo to raise money this Saturday, and we ran around town collecting donations for prizes from the different businesses in town most utilized by the people out West.
It's been snowing for the last three days. Just snow flurries but it's built up to about three or four inches of snow here. Williams Lake got fresh snow the night before we got in and another dump the next morning totaling about six inches all together. The roads were a little slippery going in and no better coming back. But they're utterly disgusting around Tatla. I've heard people complaining about the Tatla Lake highway maintenance area all fall and now I understand why. Our roads aren't bad but you can tell where our maintenance area stops and Tatla's starts. The line is even more obvious on the other side of Tatla where their area stops and Alexis Creek's starts. Most of Tatla Lake's area doesn't look like it's seen much in the way of a snowplow. There was still several inches of snow on the highway all ground up by vehicles both coming and going and I didn't see any sign of sand at all.
Once you hit Alexis Creek's part of the highway maintenance, suddenly there's clear roads. Coming back, even after the little snow, you could see a line thawed down the centerline where the sanding crew had dribbled mag out with their sand to run off the centerline and into both lanes. There, it melts any ice or snow off of the highway. The demarcation between the two maintenance areas was sudden, with Alexis Creek's area ending with a bang in black highway. Trust me, you don't see black highway again in Tatla's area, and won't for the rest of the winter. They're just doing a pathetic job. In fact, ever since Interior Roads got the maintenance contract for the Cariboo Chilcotin area with the lowest bid, the entire road system went from being maintained by the best out of 20 provincial contractors to being the worst. Numerous lawsuits have done little to improve the situation.
Our roads aren't great, but they're much better than Tatla's. That's because the local guys that do these roads really care about the people around here, and they do their best with the equipment they've been given, most of which doesn't work properly, or at all, or is underpowered for the job. Unfortunately, we have another eight years to put up with this maintenance contractor in the Cariboo Chilcotin area. I'm just hoping not too many people are killed on our highways in that period of time because of road conditions. I spoke to some folks from Charlotte Lake that were in Williams Lake while we were. They had a bad accident on their way in this week up around Riske Creek. They rolled their truck and totaled it. I don't think they were hurt too badly but both are in the their late sixties at the very least, and it's a lot easier to get banged up at that age.
I saw a strange looking bird when I looked out the window this morning, hopping around in the snow with what looked like an enormous orange beak. I looked at it through the binoculars and identified the orange beak as a rosehip stuck on a normal sized black beak. The bird was a Bohemian Waxwing, and I have never seen one here before. Besides the crest, soft peachy grey color, bright yellow fringe on the tail and little red points on the wings, it had very distinct yellow, black and white racing stripes on the wing. Like Andy said, Ski-doo colors! He's a pretty big bird but he's awfully brave. We have three cats and I'm a little concerned with the confident way that he's jumping around in the snow after rosehips or sitting on low branches close to the ground. He might not last long.
We're expecting a nasty little deep freeze to come in. The jet stream has dipped way to the south bringing arctic temperatures down from the north. It's a province wide deep freeze and even Vancouver is expected to have well below freezing temperatures. It's not too bad here right now with temps. at around -10C or about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. I think all that's saving us right now is heavy cloud cover. Once that lifts....it's gonna be cold!
Things are going to be haywire around here for the next week so I'm not sure how often I will be able to post articles. We've got the Bingo tomorrow and I'm backed up on web page orders and calendars. If I don't get caught up here, my clients are going to fire me! In the meanwhile, thank you all for your patience. I hope you're busy making preparations for the holidays and won't even notice that articles are few and far between for the next week.
I actually have a number of great images from our friends in Quesnel of their adventure trips this summer to places like Kluskus and Taseko, but I would like to post a little bit of history along with the pictures taken around Kluskus. The old Native Village actually has an interesting background and of course the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail goes right by there. It will probably be the first part of December before I can research the area and post that information here, so hang in there!

22/11/2006 9:35 PM

Still Air and Boiling Water

Today's a really still day with everything covered in a heavy layer of hoarfrost. Not a sound or breath of wind. The prelude to the cold spell we have coming I guess. Last night too was dead silent, everything muffled by that fine sifting of snow we had.
Many people in Vancouver are still under a 'boil water advisory' and have been for a week. I confess, I just don't get the water thing happening down there. Those same people are buying boxes and boxes of bottled water daily and using it for all their household needs, when it's been made clear that the water is perfectly safe to drink, as long as it has been boiled.
It's true that the water looks pretty thick and colorful when they show a glass of it close up on the television, and as straight water, certainly wouldn't be attractive to drink. But I can't see not using it for all other purposes. They're even saying don't let your pets drink the water. Are you kidding me? Have you seen some of those mud puddles or what's in the ditch water that your dog sloshes through lapping all the way on your walks? What comes out of the tap has nothing on what's laying on the ground out there.
Actually, what's really laughable is that for some dogs, their favorite treat is horse manure. Dogs absolutely go AWOL over horse apples and I don't know why, but having owned a horse breeding facility, I can tell you that it doesn't matter what the breed, whether delicate poodles, Jack Russells or Australian, they all love them. You cannot convince me that there is anything in the water coming out of the tap in Vancouver that has nearly the bacteria that those goodies on the ground do. What is this world coming to? I love my dogs but ...I also figure that their immune system is going to be a lot stronger by letting them be dogs.
This is going to be short one today but if you didn't get a chance to read yesterday's post, you'll find it at November, Week Three. Bundle up and stay warm folks!

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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!
Snowy bushes and house.
 
Snowy bird feeder.
 
Bird on the railing.
 
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