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 - October, Week 1/2008
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Check out the Picture
of the Day.
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
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
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?
The Big Silence
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.
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
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
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.
Back in The West Chilcotin
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
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
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
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!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!