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Wilderness Adventures - October, Week 1/2008

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' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


10/10/2008 6:13 PM

Haunting Calls

I stepped outside to get some firewood around midnight last night. It was an absolutely spectacular night with a bright half moon reflecting on the water creating a million little diamonds matched by loads of stars in the sky. A low mist was moving in over the lake that actually brightened up the night. All over the lake you could hear the little splashes made by fish plopping back into the water. Through the mist came a long haunting cry of a loon out in our bay. I thought to myself, "Well that's cool. At least we still have one loon left here." He called a couple of times and was finally answered by one in our back bay, and then I could hear another from down on the river. You have to wonder what their reason is for calling like that. Is it to say, "Anyone out there?" or "I'm lonely, brother. Where are you?"
I listened to the loons call back and forth a couple of times thinking to myself that it's nothing like the cackle party they get going in the early spring and summer but it's still beautiful. Right on cue every loon on the lake started their wild laughter, only for a moment, but it was awesome to hear it. Suddenly the mist rolled right in, completely obscuring the island and every light around the lake in moments. The silence was complete. Except for one last, long, drawn out call from my loon. There's just nothing like it. Moments like that are why I live here. I wouldn't trade places with anyone in the world.
This morning dawned clear, sunny, gorgeous, and bloody cold. There was a thick rime of frost on everything and it was like a winter wonderland out there. Felt like it too. It was still -4.5C or 24F at 11:00 this morning and never did get above 5C. A cold breeze came up on occasion but it was still a beautiful day and made for a lot nicer walk in the back woods than it has been for awhile. I managed to get some plants cleaned up for the winter this afternoon. Now if it would just warm up a little bit more I can get some painting done for the greenhouse.
This is going to be short tonight. I'm off to a Thanksgiving supper. It's a little early in the weekend but with another invite on Monday, I think I've scored quite well. Funny how people seem to think you can't stay at home alone on Thanksgiving but that you should be crowding around a turkey with a lot of other people. The gesture and invitation is very thoughtful, but frankly, I don't really notice holidays. I never did celebrate them much, but now with working out of my home, I usually don't even know that it's a holiday unless someone tells me. And no, I try to not look at the calendar any more than I have to either. I manufacture them, so why would I? I'm always producing them for the next year so of course I'm always a year ahead of myself. Maybe that's why I can't keep track of holidays in the year I'm in?

09/10/2008 12:09 PM

The Big Silence

It has suddenly gotten awfully quiet around here. Tweedsmuir Air's Beaver only took off a couple of times yesterday. The last time I thought he might be heading for home and I stood out on the deck and watched him as the plane winged over the mountains. But he took a hard bank to the west rather than to the south, so he's probably here for one more day yet.
It's always sad seeing the last plane head for home at the end of the season. If I'm around I watch until it's gone and say a little good-bye. The floatplanes are such an integral part of Nimpo Lake that the seven months they are gone seems like forever. Not that there aren't still private planes around, especially during hunting season. But most of them don't normally go charging past our point every day, taking out fishermen and sightseeing parties to the mountains.
Even our newest neighbours have quickly adjusted to the noise from the planes. They were chuckling about having to train people that called them to stop talking when a plane was on takeoff because you cannot hear anyone on the phone for a few moments. None of us mind that part at all. It's a small tradeoff.
I watched a beaver take off down the Main Arm of Nimpo Lake yesterday. I think he was coming out of Wilderness Rim and he was some loaded. He took quite a while on taxi, probably to warm the plane up because it had been so cold the night before. When he did rev up for takeoff, that old plane just squatted in the water and there was a lot of spray so judging from that and the length of time it took him to get up, he must have been fully fueled and loaded for bear.
The weather for the last couple of days has definitely been nothing to write home about. It's been going to -6C at night and hasn't warmed up that much above freezing during the day. We've had mixed sun and cloud and a very cool breeze. That lake will be cooling down quickly now. Surprisingly, even as cool as it's been, there have still been a couple of boats out with what I'm assuming are fly fishermen, since they've mostly been standing up to fish. I have to admit, it's hard to resist the constant plopping of trout jumping all over the lake. And they're not just rolling. I'm pretty sure those fish are practicing for the Olympic high jump!
There's no longer just a powdered sugar look to the mountains. In the last few days they've accumulated quite a bit of snow from the storms rolling over them and they're looking pretty white. Testament to our cool summer, the Horse and Rider has been covered with snow again, long before he could lose his shape from melting. We've only received flurries off and on down here for the last few days, but nothing that's stuck so far. The ground is starting to freeze though, so winter's not far off.
A lot of our summer residents are pulling out now, pushed by the advancing snow and colder temperatures. That too has contributed to the quiet around here. I can hardly blame a lot of them. You've really got to love winter to stick around. At dinner last night, we tried to convince our newest neighbours that this country is well worth seeing in winter, with crystal clear skies and the clean blanket of white. And just how great the snowmachining and cross country skiing can be. Couldn't quite do it though.
One thing I look forward to this winter is even clearer skies. The mill that operated between Nimpo and Anahim Lake has shut down for an unknown period of time. While they only had two burners, they were antiquated and belched out more than their share of wood smoke. Anywhere else you would hardly notice it, but in this country where there's little to no pollution, you could see the column of smoke 70 miles out from an airplane on a clear day. And in winter when we got an inversion layer, it would push the smoke down to road level in cold weather. So I won't miss that! However, we're going to miss a lot of the people from the community that will be forced to move to find work elsewhere. Many have left already. The only hold outs now are those that love this country, don't want to leave, and are hoping for something else to come up or for the mill to start up again next year. However, as long as the housing slump continues in the States, and the price of wood is so low, that probably isn't going to happen anytime soon. Lumber mills all over the province of BC are shutting down now.
We were surprised to see that the mill above Lee's Corner east of Alexis Creek had shut down. When we went to the Okanagan two weeks ago, it was going great guns with logs and lumber in the yard. Last Friday when we returned home, there was no lumber at all in the yard, almost all of the logs and most of the equipment were gone and the whole operation was ghostly quiet. They were an extremely successful enterprise so if they had to shut down, then things are dire. The one way that it effects us is that they actually were doing quite a bit of logging on the south side of Nimpo Lake. Not where you could see it from here of course, but in opening up the series of landings that they were, they were actually providing us with an informal firebreak on that side and I would like to have seen it continued. Not to be, though.

06/10/2008 4:33 PM

First Snow

It is snowing at present, although I doubt it will amount to much right now. At least I hope not! It's pretty early yet. I'm hoping the ground is still too warm for it to stay although we did get to -4C or 25F this morning. Everything was coated with a pretty good rime of frost and every time a breeze came up out of the east it got pretty darn chilly. We definitely haven't seen any sign of the sun today.
It was pretty nice on my walk today as long as I was in the woods. Not so pleasant out on the road and I was forced to drag my earmuffs out of winter retirement for this year. I noticed that there was a thin layer of icing sugar on Kappan Mountain and there's a lot more snow on the Itcha Illgatchuz Range than there was yesterday when Andy took that picture on Pic of the Day. Still, the dogs had a great time discovering all the new smells that they had missed in the past week while we were away.
I see from the looks of the markets today that the proposed US bailout plan doesn't seem to have inspired the confidence expected. Oddly, our markets in Canada dropped sharply, even though we're in pretty good shape economically right now. Not that it will last of course. We will be badly impacted by the situation in the States, but at the moment, we still have growth. The biggest difference is that our banking system is totally different than that in the US. But still, Canadians tend to be timid on the stock market and it looks like lots of them were bailing out today and taking their losses. Which is kind of silly because if you're invested in good, solid, stable businesses, they will come back. It might take a long time, but it'll happen.
This financial problem just seems to be building impetus around the world and frankly, although I've been predicting a crash or financial meltdown for some time, I never expected the house of cards to tumble this quickly. I honestly expected the Repulicans to hold it together until after the election and manage to keep the devil under the rug until after the inauguration in January and the fourth quarter reports were out. The fact that they couldn't keep a lid on the meltdown may be indicative of just how bad things are, and how much worse they're going to get. It's sure going to be one heck of a ride!
We are already starting to hear a little rumbling about how the credit crisis in the States may begin affecting us. There's a building being constructed now in Vancouver that's intended for the Olympic athletes I believe. The backing is from the States and if they are unable to raise the rest of the money needed to complete the building, the Vancouver city taxpayers will be on the hook for about 60 million dollars. That's a lot of money in any economy but it's a disasterous amount in a tight one. I know a few months ago it was reported that a really different housing complex using shipping containers set to be built in Whistler was put on hold because financial backing had fallen apart. I think we'll see more and more of that in the case of US backers.
It's alarming to hear old Arnie Schwarzenegger give a speech indicating that the State of California will be out of money by the end of October if either the banks don't start freeing up some credit or the if the Feds refuse to bail the State out. What's alarming about it is what happens when the State of California starts defaulting on it's water and power bills to Canada? Or what if other regions such as the New England States, New York, Upper Midwest, and the Pacific Midwest find that they can't meet their obligations to Canada, which is one of the largest hydroelectricity producers in the world? There are so many ramifications to this crisis that could effect Canada that I don't think there's any possible way to guess at all of them, but just defaulting on energy and water payments could have a profound effect on Canadian citizens. I guess we'll just keep on watching what comes down the pike. Television is certainly a lot more interesting lately.

05/10/2008 8:03 PM

Sunday Quadding

A few people from Nimpo and Charlotte Lake went out quadding today, and it's on days like this that I'm not that unhappy that we only have one fourwheeler. It wasn't exactly Hawaiian weather out there.
It rained until quite late last night so it was pretty damp this morning, especially since it got down to freezing. It never did get above 6C or 42F today with mostly heavy cloud and a stiff wind that blew up periodically. But it sounds like everyone really enjoyed themselves. The Charlotte Lake crew brought some company along while Andy finally got to take our new neighbour up to Lookout Hill. The view up there is spectacular, even on a cloudy day, and unlike reaching the top of Trumpeter mountain, it's not nearly as arduous a ride.
The quad party took quite a few of the back trails to different areas and lakes but still didn't see a lot in the way of fresh moose sign. I'm beginning to really worry about our moose population. A wildlife biologist told someone a couple of weeks ago that our last two winters have been really tough on the wildlife, and I know that we have a huge wolf population right now. Some hunters watched a large pack surround a cow moose in the middle of a pond a few weeks ago. I doubt she made out any better than many of the cattle that have been pulled down by the wolf packs. One pack has 13 members and a wolf pack that size can decimate the wildlife population in a real hurry, especially in deep snow with a crust on top, not to mention the damage they do to livestock.
Andy was saying that there's a big bear hanging around in a meadow not too far from here along the back trails about a mile from where I walk. He said there were several big piles of scat that indicated the bear was eating a lot of berries but that probably also means he isn't moving very far. He'll be conserving energy and stuffing himself with as much food as he can before he dens up. Still, I think I'll keep on carrying my bear spray for a while yet on my walks.
From the looks of the weather forecast on television tonight, we're going to continue to be slammed with one low pressure system after another barreling in from the Pacific. It looks like there's a real humdinger coming in tomorrow set to bring winds up to 60 miles per hour to the coast. I guess that means we'll be losing the leaves off our trees here. Still, even with this weather you should see the fish jumping out on Nimpo Lake! It's just unbelievable! Stand outside for just a few minutes and all you'll hear is a steady 'plop splash' of fish jumping with water rings spreading all over the lake. It might not be great weather for us but the fish are sure liking it. I guess poor weather is a good thing because it keeps me inside and catching up on work, which I really need to do and I find nice weather too hard to resist.
04/10/2008 9:43 PM

Back in The West Chilcotin

Hi Folks. I apologize for the long absence. Unfortunately, it couldn't be helped. For those of you that read the last blog, you'll know that our modem crashed after the last power outage. Surprisingly, we got awesome service from both our satellite Internet provider and their reps in Williams Lake who fired a new modem out on a truck. Andy had it up and working by late Wednesday evening, but there was no time for articles after that. We had to get ready to leave for Kelowna Friday morning a week ago and since we were taking the travel trailer and all three dogs, it took more organization than usual.
I'll tell you one thing...you cannot possibly imagine how glad I am to be back in God's country. Boy, you can keep that city life! Traffic, and people and people and traffic. Oh...and noise. It's all about noise. That was brought home to me this afternoon while walking in the back woods for the first time since we got back. There was a soft layer of yellow aspen leaves carpeting the trail and since it rained all yesterday, everything was still, damp, and quiet. Only the odd twitter of a Whiskey Jack or the tiny chirp of grouse hiding in the trees could be heard the whole way. It was absolutely wonderful! I honestly don't know how city people maintain their sanity.
I have decided that taking three dogs, including a pup, on a trip of 500 miles, and then lay over in a city for a week, is not something I'm keen to do again any time soon. It used to be okay with two adult dogs that are reasonably well mannered and actually loved by all. Heaven knows why. But a third dog that is an ill mannered pup somehow seems to make things about 50 times harder. Now I know why a lot of people never liked to go camping with their kids.....go figure.
In all fairness to Cat, she actually did fairly well considering that everything was new to her but where taking two calm adult dogs for a walk on leashes around strange people and strange dogs was easy before, taking a rambunctious third was well nigh impossible. Which meant the dogs had to be taken out in turns, never leaving Cat alone, because otherwise she would whine like crazy, which would clearly bother anyone nearby.
We were ever so fortunate to have friends allow us to park in their driveway in a very private, quiet and shady spot in Mission, near where we had to attend appointments and look after business. We could actually take the dogs up onto the side of the mountain where there was a fairly extensive walking path. However, a lot of it went along the back side of fenced properties. Walking along the path on the weekend was sheer bedlam as dogs held indoors all week slammed into their fences or bellowed hysterically as we passed by on the other side of the barrier. I'm glad our dogs are so well adjusted as they simply sauntered on by, politely acknowledging the property rights of whatever beast was frothing at the mouth over their mere existence. I admired their aplomb because personally, the noise, heat and possessive dogs just plain gave me a gut busting headache everyday.
While Andy does a better job of maintaining his cool than I, he too was getting pretty fed up with the hustle and bustle by the time we headed home. We've both lived in cities before but we still prefer the Chilcotin to the extent that when we do leave here, we pile too much on our plate on each trip out in order to get back here sooner. What made the whole trip harder for me was the beautiful weather. While it was sunny and stifling hot in the Okanagan, it was gorgeous here and I hated missing such nice weather this late in the season. I have to admit though, this is one of the few times that we've been down there when so much vegetation was still in full bloom or turning color. I spent all of my time admiring gardens full of roses and other flowers that I could never hope to grow here.
We were visiting friends of ours the final night in the Okanagan, this time in a Summerland trailer park. As we drove up the road toward their place well after dark, we saw an animal that looked like a large black dog come out of a homeowner's tiny front yard, cross the road in front of us and dive over a steep bank. We caught enough of its face in the light to see that it was a black bear. Probably a two year old. He may have come down from the fruit orchard perched above the court and was checking out the owner's garbage cans. To us it was hilarious. We hadn't seen a bear on our entire trip and here we see one right in the middle of a densely packed trailer park. At least it was refreshing to see some real wildlife.
Actually, I should take that back. The place where we stayed in Kelowna had the biggest raccoons I have ever seen in my life! I don't know what those birds are eating but they're definitely on steroids. For that matter, we saw a huge grey squirrel in the yard as well, so maybe all those pesticides down there supersize the wildlife somehow. I know our dogs were a little wary of the oversized wildlife. I swear that our black lab, who loves to chase our little red squirrels, saw that big grey squirrel and you could just see her thinking...."That's just not normal, Man...."
One thing that our strange fall has given us are some absolutely stunning autumn colors that we rarely see. As I mentioned before, normally by the first week of September, the leaves on the aspens are turning color and drop off within a week or two. Not so this year. The weather has been nice and the frosts gentle enough that we've had an unending kaleidoscope of pastels, blazing yellows as well as florescent reds, purples and oranges.
Our color here is fading fast but coming back from Kelowna and right to Tatla Lake, it was one 'ooh' after another. Loads of the aspens were yellow but colored peach and red at the tops and some well protected aspen were still a brilliant lime green. It certainly brightened up the trip home.
It rained a soft mist most of Thursday night and all of yesterday. Today it was heavily clouded over but wasn't too bad for rain until late tonight. It's coming down pretty good now. In a way though, that's okay. I noticed that the forest fire signs at Alexis Creek went up from moderate to high fire danger in the week we were gone and there was a pretty good fire burning at Big Creek just west of Williams Lake when we rolled back into town. This rain will have dampened that fire down and will reduce the fire danger to pretty much zero now. The other upside is that all the vegetation will be well watered in before freeze up.
There were only two articles from a week ago but you can find them at September Week Four.

Brand new search engine. Check it out!!



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!
Several people sit on their fourwheelers eating their lunch.
 
Orange and yellow trees with mountains behind.
 
Fields and ranch buildings dressed in autumn colors.
 
Bright orange autumn colors light an aspen tree along the highway.
 
Yellow aspen among green trees along highway 20.
 
Brooding mountains overlook the field at Tatla Lake.
 
Yellow leaved bushes frame Nimpo Lake and the mountains.
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