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Wilderness Adventures - Oct., Week 2/2007

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.

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


14/10/2007 8:46 PM

Nailed Again

That Son of A Beaver nailed us again last night, taking three more aspen, this time from in front of the cabin on the opposite shore of our peninsula. One of the trees was a really nice one and it only leaves one tree left in that area. I don't know if the beaver heard us thrashing around on the other side of our peninsula all morning when we were putting chicken wire around the trunks of some of the aspen, or if we just left a lot of scent that he didn't like. I'm assuming there's a reason he switched places, although on a walkabout on the property today we discovered a large willow branch that had been chopped down just behind the garage and that's in a totally different spot again. I'm expecting the rotten little bugger to go after the aspen in front of the house or on the east side now, since he hasn't been there yet. We got hold of more wire but it was too late to put it on so we'll try to do that tomorrow.
I'm really starting to get cheesed off at this oversized rat. Most of the aspen that we have are only a few years old because the beaver cleaned out a lot of aspen and willow a few years ago when Nimpo Lake and the creeks and river were really overpopulated with them. There's only about one really large aspen on the entire place and that's only because Andy got it well wrapped with chicken wire just in time when a huge beaver got everyone's trees a few years back. In the last two years there didn't seem to be that many beaver around and we figured disease from the huge population may have knocked them back. Careful vigilance every fall has given our little aspen trees a chance to grow. Apparently not for long. At the rate this bugger is going, he'll have us cleaned out of trees in no time. It wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't already lost most of our pine trees to beetles, we definitely can't afford to lose our aspen and willows too. Unfortunately, this beaver isn't coming around at dusk and dawn as most do. It's nocturnal all the way so I'm not sure how we're going to catch up to him. But I can tell you that my dog is extremely disgruntled right now.
River is the laziest goof on the planet. He's also scared of the dark. I know, a Rottweiler breed scared of the dark would appear to be a contradiction in terms, but sadly, it's true.
This overgrown meathead goes and hides in his doghouse as soon as it gets dark and he doesn't come out until after it lightens up fully in the morning. River's one and only concern in life is his food dish. Oh, and getting as much attention as he can possibly muster from us.... the cat.... visitors....it doesn't matter as long as someone pets him.
Since Mocha seems to be the only one on guard duty at night, I have decided that the pathetic Rotty has to start earning the huge quantities of food that he consumes. After all, man's best friend was first brought into the fold for a purpose, not just to be spoiled, and has spent millennia as working dogs for mankind. So I kicked River out of his doghouse. Yep, blocked off the door. It's lots warm enough at night and he can always go sleep under the deck with Mocha or curl up in the leaves under the bushes where it's cozy and comfortable. Most likely though he'll sleep where the cats can protect him. Hopefully, he won't sleep well and will actually make an effort to chase a beaver if it comes onto shore. I threatened to stake him out on a line over where the trees were cut down night before last but he looked so horrified at the thought that I figured we would try this first.
The day started out gloomy and spitting rain but it turned into a pretty nice day shortly after noon. The sun was shining and there was very little breeze, so we decided to go out fishing. I had planned on going for a walk but after discovering those trees down and surveying the rest of the property looking for more, we both decided a pick-me-up like fishing would be just the ticket.
We caught four nice ones, of which only one was mine, and Andy caught a big beauty. They're definitely strong fighters right now and good for lots of action if that's what you're into. There were fish jumping all around the boat today, some of them jumping easily four feet into the air. I don't know if they were jumping for food, shaking lice, or trying to get clear of the algae on the lake. There's a pretty bad bloom right now. I would have thought it too cold, but apparently not. I know that while sitting along the lake shore last night the fish were plopping steadily into dusk in the back bay. It's pretty green back there with algae but there's quite a few bugs on the surface of the water too so the fish are getting their fill of grits before ice on.
We've got a young loon that has taken up residence in the back bay now, as well as several more scattered over Nimpo Lake. While out in the boat today an adult paired with a baby started with that sickly panic call they make when an eagle is around. Sure enough, a bald eagle was flying fairly low and straight as an arrow toward these loons but was probably half a mile away when the adult started calling. They must have wicked eyesight and an unbelievable instinct. There's no way that loon would have any reason to think the eagle was coming for it, yet in the end it did and the baby loon had to dive. It's nice to see such a good crop of baby loons this year, even though it seems several didn't survive. But it's getting awfully late in the year for them and you would think they would be heading out by now. The young ones all seem to be pretty small though and still mostly grey. I didn't think adults hung around this late but it looks like the odd one does. Perhaps that's to protect their young for as long as possible.
There was a bad car accident on Highway 20 between Alexis Creek and Williams Lake this weekend that shut down the highway for several hours. A head on crash so bad that both vehicles, a pickup truck and a Honda Civic, burst into flame. Five people killed and two critically injured. According to the newscast alcohol and speed were a factor with the driver of the Honda and everyone involved were from Quesnel or Williams Lake. I can only hope that it didn't involve anyone that we know and that our friends from Quesnel are okay. Drop us an email and let us know, guys!
Oh, and I realize two articles in one day is probably a real shocker for those of you that waited patiently for over a week just for one, but I've got a reprieve from manufacturing my calendars. I have to take them to the printers for cutting and they couldn't do it until next week. That means I can catch up on other stuff and this blog for a few days. Check out some of the sunrise pics up on the right. Andy was up at five and out looking for beaver this morning when he got a picture of this spectacular dawning of the morn.

14/10/2007 12:53 PM

The Nazko Cone

Heard an interesting little tidbit about this interesting little cone on the news yesterday. Actually, Andy told me about it so we tried to look up some information on it but couldn't find anything recent. According to the news item Andy saw on television, scientists have been recording earthquake tremors in the vicinity of the Nazko Cone very recently. Strong enough that folks above ground could feel them and reported them.
I'll try to give a little history about the Nazko Cone. I think that I've mentioned this before when talking about Anahim Peak and what a rich trade commodity it provided in the form of flint for native Indian tribes in the area. Our region sits on what's known as the Anahim Volcanic Belt, a 400 mile long volcanic belt stretching from Vancouver to Quesnel in central British Columbia.
According to Wikipedia;
'The volcanoes in the Anahim Belt were most likely a result of the North American Plate sliding westward over a small hotspot, similar to the one feeding the Hawaiian Islands, called the Anahim hotspot.' Major volcanoes of the Anahim Belt include the Rainbow Range at over 8,100 ft., the Itcha Range at over 7,700 ft. and the Ilgachuz Range at over 7,400 ft. And if you read this blog much at all, you know that those ranges form the eastern and northern boundary of our plateau and I get to look at them, if not from our back door, then when out in the boat or snowmobiling.
Now in geology, a hotspot is a location on the Earth's surface that has experienced active volcanism for a long period of time and geologists have identified some 4050 such hotspots around the globe. In looking at the map, the majority of those hotspots look like they're out in the ocean and few are actually under a continent. And that part's important as you'll see.
Again according to Wikipedia
; 'Most hotspot volcanoes are basaltic because they erupt through oceanic lithosphere (e.g., Hawaii, Tahiti). As a result, they are less explosive than subduction zone volcanoes, which have high water contents. Where hotspots occur under continental crust, (That's us!) basaltic magma is trapped in the less dense continental crust, which is heated and melts to form rhyolites. These rhyolites can be quite hot and form violent eruptions, despite their low water content. For example, the Yellowstone Caldera was formed by some of the most powerful volcanic explosions in geologic history.'
Okay, here's the important part....
Rhyolites that cool too quickly to grow crystals form a natural glass or vitrophyre, also called obsidian. And guess what folks? As I said before, that black glass was an extremely important trade item for our tribes and has been traced throughout Canada and the US.
But I digress. That's because I have long admired the obsidian arrowheads, knives and scrapers that people have found all along the shores of Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake over the years.
Anyway, to go full circle, Nazko Cone, to quote Wikipedia
; 'is a small dormant basaltic cinder cone located 75 km west of Quesnel and is considered the easternmost volcano in the Anahim Volcanic Belt, which was formed by the Anahim hotspot. The small tree-covered cone rises 120 m (nearly 400 ft.) above the Chilcotin-Nechako Plateau and was formed during the Pleistocene. Its last eruption produced two small lava flows that traveled 1 km to the west, along with a blanket of volcanic ash that extends several km to the north and east of the cone. The volcano's oldest eruption is approximately 340,000 years old.' But, get this! The Cone's last eruption was only 7200 years ago which is the Belt's most recent eruption and in geological terms, that's not very long ago.
There were some lava flows and then some explosive eruptions that left rock and ash 9 feet deep nearby which thinned quickly to a few centimetres only a few kilometres away. Apparently that indicates that these were not overly large eruptions, but since charcoal was found inside this layer, it would seem the hot layer of pyroclastics probably started a forest fire.
I think that I mentioned before that we came across two layers of ash when we dug out our root cellar, one of them quite thick. It seems that ash from the Nazko Cone did not drift south, or for any distance, so that ash is from a different volcano and from a much older eruption.
And the final quote from Wikipedia
; It is worth noting that the Nazko Cone is now largely gone. It was staked for mining its cinder and scoria in the early 1990's by the Canadian Pumice Corporation, and has since been steadily reduced to produce red industrial aggregate for landscaping. There is little left resembling a volcano.'
Now is that humorous or what? Most of our poor little volcano is scattered along sidewalks in front of corporate offices and languishing around Mugo Pines and Weeping Birches in peoples' front yards. Wouldn't it be ironic if the Nazko Cone erupted and built a cone again? Mother Nature's way of bringing back the status quo perhaps? Boy, I'd be there in a heartbeat! That would be awesome to watch.

13/10/2007 5:05 PM

The Beaver

There's a four legged critter out there that's now a marked animal. We discovered that six really nice aspen got chopped down along our driveway yesterday. Although we could see the stumps and the drag marks, we've still not found the trees. I don't know where the beaver took them once he got them into Nimpo Lake but they're well hidden.
As a result of that loss, we spent a good part of the morning wrapping the base of many of our aspen in chicken wire. Unfortunately, we've got so many baby aspen coming up where there were none six years ago, (the beaver had cleaned them out) there's just too many to wrap. We did what we could to protect the larger trees in the area where the beaver is cutting them down. We don't have enough chicken wire to protect all the trees so we'll see where it heads to next before using up the last of the wire.
It's funny, but our neighbour lost three nice trees, all about the same size as ours, about three weeks ago. Although we all kept a lookout for a beaver, we never saw it. Nor did it cut down any more trees on that property. My partner had hoped he was just passing through but that's a vain hope in light of the trees we've lost now. This boy is building a lodge or a feed bin. More likely a feed bin for the winter and he's got it planted well underwater somewhere, which would explain why we can't find it. Well, at least I know what we'll be doing for our next few evenings until dark. He's got to go.
It takes a long, long time to grow a tree that size in this country and for those of you that might want to sympathize with the 'industrious' beaver, consider this. Imagine painstakingly planting a large number of blue spruce throughout your yard and lovingly watching them grow for ten to fifteen years. Then imagine waking up one morning just before Christmas to discover that someone has cut down over half of them for Christmas trees and left lonely, bare stumps standing on your lawn. Yep. You'd be mad too. The difference between you and me though is that I know who did it and I can hunt him down, where you must rely on the police to solve your theft. There's definitely and upside to living in the boondocks!
No longer that bright spring green, the kinnickinick is slowly flushing bronze and most of the leaves on the shrubs in the woods are gone now. Some of the aspen around here still have their leaves but many lost them in that vicious little wind we had a few days ago. We actually got a pretty decent autumn display this year. Not as nice as last year perhaps, but a whole lot nicer than some years when the leaves turn and are gone in the first week of September.
There are still a few loons around but mostly young ones that are that pretty grey and only just now developing their necklace. Unlike their parents they aren't nearly as raucous in their song. Rather, you only hear the odd tentative call. Keeping a low profile I suspect. It's awfully quiet floatplane wise as well. Most of the planes are gone now with only the odd hunter flying in and then on to hunt camp.
There are still lots of ducks whizzing overhead at dusk and not a few grebes dotting the lake here and there. The fish were jumping like crazy tonight while I was out watching for beaver, some of them jumping several feet into the air, so there's lots of food for the birds.
Our temperature was pretty nice today going over 12C or about 55F and once it cleared off this morning, it was sunny all day. A bit of a chilly breeze with winter on its breath, but once you got into the trees, it was remarkable. Yesterday was town day, and when we left for Williams Lake in the morning, it was -5C here but by the time we got to Towdystan, it was -8.5Cor about 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold enough to keep my side window frosted up on the truck until half way to town.
We saw a beautiful big black bear near Bull Canyon just below the caves in the bluff there. He's probably prowling around for the last berries and fishing down in the river below before heading off for his winter snooze. Saw a huge white bellied hawk blow up out of the ditch up at Riske Flats but we went by too fast to see what he was. There was an immature bald eagle hunting up there too and I saw him sitting in a tree in about the same place on the way back. Saw another bear just on this side of Alexis Creek on those bad corners where you usually see a lot of deer and it's a good thing I had slowed right down because the sun was in my eyes. Otherwise, he was sauntering so slowly across the highway I could easily have hit him. Coming back I was driving a separate vehicle and I radioed back to Andy to take a picture since he had the camera. But it was too late by the time he reached the spot where the bear entered the bushes and it could no longer be seen. It must be hunting season though. Never saw a single deer going in or out, which is highly unusual. But the deer are just like the moose during hunting season. They all have calendars and they're all telepathic.
Gotta go but I have to tell you about the Nazko Cone tomorrow.

11/10/2007 8:22 PM

Score One For The Cowboys!

Hey everyone! I got really lucky and John Brecknock, the fellow I told you about yesterday, has kindly given me permission to pass on some of his stories. It sounds like there are a few that I very much look forward to hearing but won't be allowed to pass on. But hey, there's got to be some benefit to being the blog writer, right?
Hang on for the ride folks, you're in the Chilcotin now. I've left out some names changing the story slightly but tried to leave first names in.
I passed on some of the names below the beat up old cowboy hats hanging in Anahim Lake Trading to John yesterday. You'll find pictures of some of those hats at Wilderness Adventures June 2 His answer to that email was this:
Howdy again,
Boy you bring back a lot of memories mentioning the names you have.
Andy CHRISTENSEN owned Clespocket when I worked there. I think I was twelve years old when I spent part of my first summer there as chore boy. 1958/59 I think. My sister Judy had married D'arcy about then. I worked every summer after that for D'Arcy and when we finished haying at Corkscrew Creek, we would go work for Andy at Clespocket. I forget who bought Clespocket from Andy, and what year the ranch sold but must tell you this little story.
We used to have a movie night at the Stampede Hall in my later years at Anahim which virtually everyone attended who was close enough to attend.
You know how hot the days can be and how cold the evenings and night can get.
Anyways... Came to Town for show night (every 2 weeks). Did not have a coat and got cold as hell. D'Arcy owned the store by then. I could not stand it and broke down to buy an all wool Mackinaw from AC & C. D'Arcy offered to flip a coin double or nothing. I did and won the Mackinaw. Feeling lucky I then went to purchase a pair of good work boots I had admired. Dayton's. (They were like a lace up ridin' boot). Won those too. A rancher watched this and of course was interested in what we were doing. D'Arcy explaining that we were flipping double or nothing for the purchase. Of course he wanted a piece of that and decided to flip for his purchases. His grocery bill for the ranch was a lot more than my purchase. Flipped and lost. Picked out a new Stetson, flipped and lost. Tried one more time and lost that flip too. I was happy as a clam. D'Arcy of course by now way ahead. Rancher p~ssed right off. D'Arcy would flip double or nothing for any purchase in the store in those days and I suspect did 'til the end.
I must also take credit for the sign: "If we don't have it:; you don't need it"! Some might argue, but I remember giving that gem to D'Arcy way back when.
Ken
(a name under one of the cowboy hats) and I go way back. We and his half/brother, Larry (Cowboy) Smith (of Iditirod fame) ran together when kids. As well as several others of us.
I of course know all the Squinas girls, and forgot some for sure. The girls & I would communicate by whistles across the Corkscrew creek. Those were the days. Remember most all the Dorseys of course.
(The Dorseys are mentioned in Rich Hobson's books, are an old family in the Chilcotin and run trail riding and guiding outfits out of Anahim Lake. Check out Six Mile Ranch on the Resorts and Lodges page.)
If you know Tommy ask him about when Ann owned the old cafe across from the Store. What a Cafe. Anyways when Tommy got mad at her he would pee in her well. That was quite the place. No kidding whatsoever, she would hang her clothes to dry up in the cafe. It was a very low ceiling and you might be sitting at the counter with her bloomers hanging down around your head.
I recall you referring to 1966 and how wet the summer was. That was the last year I worked for D'Arcy. I remember we could not even start haying 'til September and were still haying well into October. What a year. I then went back to Alexis Creek and worked for Norman T. at Canyon View Ranch right up until I got into the MP.

(John is referring to the year that my parents immigrated to Canada dragging five snot nosed kids across the border in a bread van determined to purchase a homestead in the Chilcotin, all because of Rich Hobson's books about he and Pan Phillips. When we arrived in Anahim Lake it had been such a rainy summer that many ranchers could not get out except by horseback and we were never able to get into the ranch to see it. Which is probably the only reason why I wasn't raised in Anahim Lake.)
As for D'arcy flipping double or nothing on groceries until the end? He did. As I related in an email to John, D'arcy always tried to get someone to flip for their groceries or dried goods. He only got me to go for it once and of course I lost. (There was a standing joke around here that if you flipped with D'arcy you better bring your own coin because his was weighted!) I walked out of that store $120 poorer with only $60 worth of groceries wondering why on earth I had just done that. Never did it again but I would stand and smile any day while some poor sod flipped. I don't think I've ever seen anyone win. Once, maybe. I think it was for a measly ice cream.
Hope you guys had as much fun reading John's tale as I did. On to a quick weather report. Gorgeous day today. Sunshine, lots of fish jumping, temperatures between 8 and 10C again which is up to 50F. It did freeze again last night but that's just to make sure the mosquitoes don't decide to make a reappearance....lol. The weather isn't supposed to be too bad for the next couple of days. We'll see. Hopefully the roads will be good. Tomorrow is town day so probably won't get an article up, unless John is willing to fill the space again!

10/10/2007 4:49 PM

Breezy

Actually, that's an understatement. There's a ruddy gale force wind blowing out there right now. My apologies for such a long time between articles but I'm still up to my neck in business stuff so this is going to be short.
That snow melted from last week and though it spit rain, some hail, and a little more snow, it wasn't too bad until a big low nailed us with over an inch of rain on Sunday. The weather has really been mixed. It was cool for the most part until two nights ago when it actually started warming up in the middle of the night. Since then I'm not even sure it's frozen at night and for the last two days it's ranged between 8 and 10C or between 47 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yesterday it was dead calm and when a breeze did spring up, it was actually a warm one. I can handle that. Unfortunately, another huge low pressure system has been swirling out from Vancouver Island for the last couple of days before turning north and heading up the coast. It's brought high winds that have wreaked havoc in many parts of the Vancouver area and it definitely got pretty wicked around here today. It's not very often that we get whitecaps rolling straight into shore like we did today.
I watched friends catch a pretty darn nice rainbow trout on this side of the big island yesterday and the same people went out this morning. It wasn't that rough at first but once it got going it really got going and I'm hoping they made it back in okay. I'm glad Sad Sack was taken down (the leaning tree down on the right) because I don't think he would have made it through the winds today.
Hey, I got a pretty cool email the other day and only got a chance to reply to it today. I'm glad I did because folks, this fellow knows the Chilcotin from quite a few years back and I'm willing to bet he's got some great stories to tell. I'm sure hoping he'll let me repeat them here.
John was in this country from 1956 to 1967 and is not only related by marriage to D'arcy Christensen whom I've spoken of many times, but rode for him through the summers back then on the Corkscrew Creek Ranch and on the Clesspocket. In 1967 he left the Chilcotin to join the RCMP in Alberta and retired there in 1999.
John has already given me a few slim details of his time in the area including his close acquaintance with Pan Phillips's family and it sounds like there could be really great book there. Grizzly bears and all. He spoke of,
"One of a million stories. Got chased myself one time or so I thought. Walking home from the meadow to the Ranch house. Came across a grizz with two cubs. I ran faster scared than she did mad. Don't know that she actually chased me, I never looked back. Ran about a mile and half. For sure would have been in Olympic time."
John has also mentioned an interesting trip pushing cattle up to Itcha Flats in 1966 with D'arcy Christensen and Al Elsey along with three other guys whose names are now legend in this part of the country. Apparently one of the cowboys that rode up with the group stayed in the Itchas all summer to herd cattle. They built a little log shack up there for him with small logs skidded in using a horse's tail and with a Grizzly Bear hide for a door.
Now D'arcy ran the trading post or general store in Anahim Lake when I first moved here and is quite the character, as is Al Elsey, famous for taking movies all his life of everything in this country. So trust me, this is a story I want to hear! So I'm crossing my fingers and hoping John will see fit to tell me a few. In the meanwhile, I'm knee deep in alligators and will be for a while longer as I explained before. So articles may be few and far between for the next little while. Thanks for your patience folks!
Oh, and one last note. Sadly, I just got word and a few pictures showing that the Snow Buddha met his demise. I won't say how because I'm sure the antigun faction would throw a fit, but as a salute good-bye, my favorite little buddy gets to be the
Picture of the Day again.
This will seem a little confusing since I've switched to a new week but carried over the last two articles, so you'll find last week's articles at October Week One.

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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 and blue sky over Nimpo Lake.
 
Dark pink rain clouds fill the sky over the lake.
 
Burnt orange clouds fill the sky over the black tree line.
 
Autumn colored hayfields with snow covered mountains behind.
 
The front of Christensen's Store.
 
Two horses in front of Christensen's Store.
 
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