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Wilderness Adventures - Oct. 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.

07/10/2006 7:03 PM

Snow Rolling In?

That's been some pretty white looking cloud hanging over the mountains all afternoon and evening. There's no question that it's snowing over the mountains. It's just a matter of whether we're going to get it tonight or not. That isn't necessarily a good thing when your cement footings are drying and you're trying to get the pony walls up on the porch we're building. One thing about bad weather coming in, you're certainly encouraged to get a move on when it comes to building projects and winterizing.
It's already dipping toward freezing tonight, even though we have some pretty heavy cloud out there and we've kept a wood fire going all day.
I know I haven't had much time to write lately, so... I have to tell you a story from last winter and I'll post it below just as it was initially written. However, after getting a call from a fellow named Shawn down in Vancouver, who denied all, I agreed to withdraw the story in the first week of December of last year when I first wrote the article. It turns out however, that our 'community intuition' was true, and this guy pulled the wool over my eyes. So, I'm a sucker. But that only happens once Shawn.
Read on.
06/12/2005 Interesting Story
Sometimes you hear some interesting things in this country. Goes kind of like the Ballad of Sam McGee. Or many of the stories of the past did.
This is a more modern story that fits with our day and age and our unfortunate reputation throughout North America as being prime producers of top grade marijuana, better known as BC Bud. British Columbia, particularly the lower mainland, is known for it anyway. To the best of my knowledge, that was never something that was in production in this part of the country. Until, possibly, now.
The only reason I might give this rumour any kind of weight is because I know the party involved very well, and that party is a pretty sleazy and questionable individual and stands out because we just don't have many people like that here. This person operates a tourist based business in the area and supposedly sold out to a Vancouver based concern that was going to utilize the operation as a private 'school'. Supposedly, the previous owner was going to stay on for a few more months and one of the reasons was to put up a large building for the 'school'. Interestingly, said building purportedly has no windows, a combination lock, and no one is allowed to go in there. And the power has been blown several times down at that end of the lake.
Nothing unusual, especially for a bunch of backwoods types like us, if we all didn't watch a lot of news televised out of Vancouver. Repeatedly, people living on a block are asked if they had any suspicions about their neighbours before the cops busted a grow-op in a house in the neighbourhood. The answer used to be no, but most people have wised up down on the Coast and spot the tell tale signs of a marijuana grow-op or meth lab in their neighbourhood a lot more easily.
Logistically, this would be a lot different area for that sort of thing than Vancouver would be. We have a very small police force, many of which are not trained in that area of expertise and with little equipment, no judge to issue a search warrant (nearest is 200 miles away so any suspicious material is long gone by then), no nosy neighbours (most places are pretty private here) and a couple of properties are near the main highway with private drives so the comings and goings of vehicles strange to the area are not as noticeable. Prime pickings for Asian influence possibly?
I kind of wonder what we've got cooking out here.
But it's all conjecture, and the magical thing is that nothing can go unnoticed for too long in this country. Especially since the property across from the one in question has just gone up for sale and lot lines laid for a subdivision.
Darn! Here come the nosy neighbours!
07/12/2005 Better & Better!
This time there are some facts to accompany the rumour mill. This goes with the Interesting Rumours story from yesterday. One of our local pilots flew over that long building about which we are all suspicious and said every building had snow on the roof except for that one. Normally that only happens if you have a lot of heat escaping a building, either because the building is heated but has little or no insulation in the ceiling, or has insulation but the building is producing an abnormal amount of heat.
I did want to track down the rumour that the electricity had been blown several times at that end of the lake. I spoke to our local meter reader today on another matter pertaining to that area and asked him about the perceived problems there. All he said was that the transformer had been blown and was replaced. That's a primary hydro line at that end of the lake but only two people are utilizing it during the winter so you wouldn't think there would normally be a problem with overload. It's too bad that they have a law under the Privacy Act that means BC Hydro can no longer report abnormal electrical usage to the RCMP.
I was talking to a friend today who not only already knew all about these 'suspicions' but had passed them on to our RCMP Members posted here so I guess we'll see if they go check things out.
Okay, we're back to October 2006...titillated yet? Our little community finally has a pretty good idea of what actually happened over at that end of the lake with the strange building and the sleaze that owned the lodge has since lost it to the bank and the previous owner. So the rest of the story comes tomorrow. Oh, and I also got some more pictures of the Country Inn Motel from Oscar at the restaurant which I will post tomorrow. See you then, I hope.

05/10/2006 10:37 PM

Chilcotin Thursday

Well today was certainly a varied one.
Weather first...
It was well below freezing last night and cloudy all day today and we found that our water pump suctioning out of the lake for watering and emergencies had frozen. The cast is cracked and it's had the bird so we kind of screwed up there. At least it was really old and wasn't a big monetary loss.
We had to mix cement and pour it for porch footings this morning. We were very fortunate to have our neighbour over helping and he loaned us his cement mixer, which was bonus. We have had quite a deep hole in front of the door for the past week, (which makes getting in and out of the house a bit of a challenge) and wanted to pour footings in the bottom for our porch frame to sit on. Because of the depth of the hole, we had to mix the cement, wheelbarrow it over, pour it down a plywood ramp onto some boards. From there you had to shovel the cement into the footings. Like I said, thank heavens for the neighbour! I managed to get covered with cement from head to toe. Much more and I would have looked like a cement statue.
That done, I still had to go to Nimpo for a little while and on my return, cleaned up some emergency computer work I hadn't finished before pouring this morning, and then started cleaning smoked rainbow trout off the bones for canning this evening. Thanks to Mary down at Nimpo Lake Resort who did the smoking, we now have our smoked trout treats for the winter. It just took us a long time to accumulate our measly seven or eight fish this year not because the fishing was ever bad, we just didn't have the time. But that's okay, it's all we need.
We have a couple of boxes of tomatoes and peppers that need canning so that has to be fit in somewhere between pie baking for the benefit dinner on Sunday and calendar orders of which I have many. Right now, I feel like I'm up to my behind in alligators, and just about when I think I can see some horizon, I get another order, a scream for help, someone wants a web page built or a client wants a complete redesign on their calendars. I think I am going to start charging setup fees for redesigns, especially for the 'habitual' clients. The ones that want changes every year. Actually, there's only one that's bad for that but I'm starting to lose patience with doing things for free in my business. There's just the very rare time that I actually miss having a job where you just work for eight hours a day, five days a week and the rest of the time, your time is your own. But, then again, I like the freedom that working for myself brings. Like when you want to go fishing...except that we have no time to do that right now. Oh yeah, see the car up on the right? Anyone want to buy a car? Besides getting the porch built, we have to build something over our holiday trailer and get that car under some kind of cover before winter hits.
There were some guys on the lake this morning in a flat bottomed river boat dragging a gang line dripping with more jewelry than Elizabeth Taylor. They used absolutely no finesse when fishing but rather just yarded trout in, one after another without even playing them. Just meat fishermen rather than sport fishermen. I'm glad we don't see many of those or this lake wouldn't have trout for long. You get the odd bunch that have three guys in a boat, haul in fish, go back to shore to dump their limit and back out again. Our Conservation Officers have a monster region to cover and there's just no hope of them being out here enough to prevent that kind of thing happening. Unfortunately, the fishing here is excellent right now so 'meat' fishermen can easily take advantage of that and of the good weather.
It looks like we may be losing the Chilcotin's Gate Restaurant by the end of the month. That, on top of losing the motel is going to be devastating to our little community. Cindy, the owner, may be selling to a church group that wants to set up the building as a bible school. It's really too bad. There's been a restaurant there for a lot of years that also acts as our post office. It's been a meeting place 'forever', whether inside at a table over a cup of coffee, out on the step or down in the parking lot. We'll miss it a lot.
Okay, I really have to get back to work. As I mentioned before, there may be a day or two between posts, simply because this is my busiest time of year, so thank you all ye' faithful, for your patience!

04/10/2006 11:14 PM

Loss

I think the entire community would like to express their condolences to the Simons of Nimpo Lake for the loss of husband, and father, Tom. Reported missing a week ago, Tom and his truck were found by a parks person on the Eagle Lake Road. I think very highly of Tom's family and can only wish them the best.
We had our community meeting tonight. I'm not sure that our local RCMP Corporal really understood the seriousness of his actions on the night the motel in Nimpo Lake burned down. A breath of wind, and most of the businesses in Nimpo on both sides of the highway would have been gone and the possibility of a massive forest fire would have been a very real one. However, he insists that his concern for everyone's safety regarding power lines came first, never mind that many people and homes and businesses could easily have been wiped out because no one, including the four water tankers standing by, were allowed to put water on adjoining structures. Fortunately, a pretty sharp cookie from Anahim arrived eventually and vociferously convinced said Corporal that water could be put on the store and fuel tanks on the hot side of the motel fire without any danger from power lines.
I'm still very unhappy at the RCMP Corporal's attitude and lack of knowledge but to do him credit, when pressed, (mostly by me) he did agree to go with our Community Association Chairman to BC Hydro and see if something can't be done to speed up the process for shutting off electrical power to structures on fire. I guess if we get nothing else but cooperation from the local constabulary, it's better than a kick in the butt.
There was a good turnout from the community tonight. Some people directly involved in the fire last week didn't show up but I suspect that's because they were still PO'ed at what occurred and I frankly don't blame them. Our new 911 system doesn't help us a bit if it impairs our ability to fight fire. Surprisingly, our community preparedness is unbelievable in view of the fact that we have never really organized as a fire fighting community. And if nothing else, this meeting, as well as the last, brought home how important a good communication system is.
We went to dinner at my mother's and Terry B's last night and of course the subject of the fire came up. It's amazing how you can brainstorm on a full stomach and good spirits with people that have a whole lot more smarts than I'll ever have. The most critical suggestion that came out of that dinner party was brought up at the meeting tonight and will probably be adopted.
We have three radio stations sponsored and run by Terry B. We have a person that knows how to break in on those stations so that we can broadcast emergency information from handheld radios. (Told you we had smart people here.) Set up two old fashioned fire station sirens, one in Anahim and one in Nimpo. You would hear them for miles. Once everyone hears the sirens, they know to tune into one of the radio stations to get the emergency announcement, whether that's about a structural fire or a forest fire, or evacuation notice, etc.
We are also working on a phone tree or emergency PHAN where everyone has so many people that they have to call in case of an emergency so that no one gets missed next time in case of an evacuation notice such as occurred this summer during the Dean forest fire.
We are also going to list everyone that has fire fighting equipment, (which is pretty much all of us) and Henry down at the other end of the lake suggested a good light on a boat that we could use to load up equipment to take to any fire on the lakeshore of Nimpo Lake.
The Corporal did make one suggestion that I think is very valuable. As he stated, Anahim Lake is a short term posting for the RCMP members, and usually is two years or less. It's very difficult for the police to get to know the country, the people, and their emergency preparedness when they are constantly changing out RCMP members. He suggested that each community, Anahim Lake, Charlotte Lake, and Nimpo Lake set up Safety Committees that have guidelines in place for their respective communities. They could pass these guidelines on to incoming RCMP and it would provide some continuity and be an immediate and comprehensive source of information for the police regarding emergency preparedness of each community.
The sad part about the whole thing is that we have all moved out here because we value our independence, self sufficiency and general lack of smothering laws and bylaws and over governance by Federal, Provincial, Municipal, Regional and God knows what other kind of governance. Now we must self govern and organize just to keep from being controlled by outsiders that don't know what the hell they're doing and who by their very 'well intentioned' actions are putting us in danger.
Ironic, isn't it?....welcome to the 21st century.
Oh yeah. Last note of the day. I guess we don't have to worry about running into our black bear on the back trail anymore. Someone with a bear tag shot it. Too bad. He seemed awfully well mannered. The bear, that is.
Such is life.
02/10/2006 7:17 PM

This Fall Day

Well, the end of our warm Fall weather may well be near. The last couple of nights the temperature has dropped well below freezing and even though the sun has been shining, it never really gets that warm outside. In fact, any breeze and it's darn right nippy. Many of our autumn colored leaves on the aspen and low bushes are starting to drop and things are just beginning to look a little bare.
I've been hearing an unusual number of chainsaws since the Country Inn burned down. Of course this is firewood cutting season, but I'm more inclined to believe that the motel fire may have been a huge wake up call for us all. Like us, many people have been waiting for our beetle killed pine to dry before cutting it down because otherwise, it makes lousy firewood. However, watching that fire Thursday night certainly clarifies how deadly volatile the red pine is. We've all dodged yet another bullet but I think it best to have as many of the dead trees downed as possible by the time next spring hits.
Richard over at the Waterfront was moving his docks today and Tweedsmuir Air will be pulling their planes out and shutting down Stewarts Lodge within the next ten days. It never occurred to me how really critical the Country Inn was until now. There are lots of resorts with cabins open in the summer and into fall in the Chilcotin but the majority of them shut down now because the cabins aren't winterized against water pipes freezing. Many people have relied on the motel in Nimpo throughout the winter for years and that just came home to me today.
A gentleman called me asking about local accommodation and he was actually looking at this site while we spoke. I gathered that he comes out here at least twice a year and has always stayed at the Country Inn. Now he's stuck trying to find alternate accommodations and it's much harder than you would think because there are so many seasonal cabins. Many business people relied heavily on the motel because it was convenient to both the store and restaurant and had phones, fax, television and internet hookup. Just a reminder that the Anahim Lake Inn does offer many of those same conveniences as does the Dean on Nimpo. I sympathize with everyone in the position of having to look for a new home away from home when they travel here. I am going to try to call everyone that remains open through the winter here to see just exactly what they offer and will either put up another page listing winter accommodation or I'll add a blurb onto exisiting listings.
I wanted to add that three of the properties for sale on this web site will have changed because of the fire. Obviously the motel building no longer exists but the property may be for sale. The restaurant has damaged siding which is probably covered by insurance but that should be taken into account if you're reading the ad. The commericially zoned property along Highway 20 listed at $120,000 under the
Properties for Sale page no longer has a water source since it shared water with the motel and those water lines are out of order. The owner is entertaining all thoughtful offers. This is still an excellent property on which to build a business and one might want to consider the possibilities that exist with the adjoining motel property.
We are starting to get more and more clarification from community members as to just exactly what occurred on Thursday night and why community members were not allowed to put water on and protect businesses adjacent to the fire. I believe that the meeting on Wednesday will be a very interesting one and I will be taking my laptop and keeping a record of all conversation. I suspect we'll need that record down the road. It is my hope that we all walk away from that meeting with some clear guidelines of what can and cannot be done, what needs to be done immediately upon a fire being called in, who has what authority and so on. I am already getting the impression that our only local authority overstepped his bounds but since I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt until after the meeting, I won't say anymore here for right now.

01/10/2006 6:11 PM

Heroes Of The Chilcotin

The owner of the Country Inn, Ted Hlokoff, has asked me to print the following letter for him and post the picture on the right that shows all that is left of the multi story building.
Heroes of the Chilcotin
Catastrophic loss for the West Chilcotin. A fire started in an unused storage room of the Country Inn Motel about 8:30 pm on Sept 28th. Although efforts were made to stop the fire, it was out of control within minutes of discovery. The three story building collapsed in on itself within a few hours.
Located on Hwy 20 The Country Inn Motel was the newest and largest accommodation within a hundred miles. The motel has served the Anahim/Nimpo Lake community for the last 30 years.
Ted, Deana & Kendra of the Country Inn Motel wish to thank everyone for their support during and after the fire that consumed the Motel
. Our sincerest thanks to the motel managers, Art & Mary Myra for their heroic efforts and attempts to extinguish the fire, and in risking their lives and health to ensure that every single customer in the nearly full motel got out safely. Thank you to Russ Lewis from Van-Com, a customer staying at the motel, for his efforts in alerting Art & Mary to the smoke and his attempts to extinguish the fire. Thanks to the fellow from forestry and Art who helped Ted with rescuing bits and pieces from the motel shop even though the front of the building was engulfed in flames. Thank you to the Anahim Lake RCMP, the Ulkatcho Indian Band for sending their Fire Truck and the many Band members who came with it to help with the fire. Thanks also to Jim Lowry, West Chilcotin Forest Products and Interior Roads for sending Water Trucks and community members. There were so many who came to help that all names cannot be rememberedů..we thank you all.
Thank you to our staff at Anahim Lake Trading who make things easier for us by keeping the store running smoothly while we deal with our loss. Although the motel and a few outbuildings were destroyed the Nimpo General Store and the Chilcotin's Gate Restaurant sustained only minimal damage.
Please remember Art & Mary, their unselfish actions during the fire meant that they lost everything they owned. They survived with nothing but their car and the clothes on their backs. They need your support. Donation containers are set up in many local businesses and Chilcotin's Gate will hold a benefit Turkey Dinner on Sunday October 8 at 5 p.m.. Donations can also be mailed to Art & Mary Myra, General Delivery, Anahim Lake, V0L 1C0.
It is at times like this that we are grateful that we live in this amazing Community.
Thank you Ted, for the letter. We all wish you the best.

As you will have noticed, we've moved to a new week. If you would like to read last week's articles or read more about the fire, go to September Week Four.
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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!
Old Pontiac.
 
Sunrise on frozen leaves.
 
Multi story motel.
 
Vinyl siding melted.
 
Black ash.
 
Smoking ruins of motel.
 
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