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Wilderness Adventures - October Week 2

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.

14/10/2005 6:16 PM

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Jingle all the way.... It has been snowing since this morning. It started out overcast with a slow drizzle but just before noon it changed to a mix of rain and snow and then to snow. Great, big, sloppy snowflakes that have fallen fairly steadily all afternoon. Because of the temperature of the surface of the ground and vegetation, it took a few hours before the snow started sticking, but once it did, we probably accumulated a good 2" before dark. It's melting almost, but not quite as fast as it falls, so the build up is pretty slow. It won't take much to melt it off tomorrow. An hour of sun would do it, but we have two more huge systems off the Pacific Coast coming in so I'm sure we'll get more. This time of year gets a little messy because you usually have several snowfalls that in turn melt and make the ground pretty sloppy until freeze up. Progressive snow falls help to cool the soil and the lake water. Cold air off the lake in turn chills the surrounding land. Up until now the warming influence from Nimpo Lake held off frost in September and minimized frost the last few weeks but that warming influence will start to wane as the water chills. I've been in this area in the late '80s and early '90's when it wasn't that unusual to be caught right at this time in October with an overnight snow of 1' to 2 1/2' feet of snow on the ground. If you didn't get it now, you were nearly guaranteed to get a good snowfall on Halloween. I'm thinking I would be jumping the gun if I pulled out the cross country skis right now, but I sure wouldn't mind getting some more fishing in before too much snow means the boat has to be pulled out of the water.
12/10/2005 7:31 PM

Goodbye Planes, Goodbye...

The last of Tweedsmuir Air's floatplanes went out today. The DeHavilland Beaver took off of Nimpo Lake this afternoon and headed to the south east, a normally unusual direction for the charter planes and a straight line to Williams Lake so I assume he was headed home. It's that time of year now.
On the one hand I'll miss the roar of the planes taking off and watching them follow each other off the lake, or hearing the thrum of engines through the fog of a misty summer morning as the floatplanes make their way over to another lodge for pickup. On the other hand, it'll be nice for sleeping in. That's the beauty of having such distinct seasons in this region. Just about the time you get tired of seeing boats on the lake or hearing floatplanes take off, the planes leave, then the loons, and then Nimpo Lake freezes up for the winter. Just about the time you get really tired of ice and snow, boom, the ice goes out about the time the first loon arrives, and not long after that, the first floatplane arrives back on the lake.
The planes don't disappear completely of course. There are still a few private planes around on floats that will change over to skiis and wheels once Anahim and Nimpo Lake ice over. Since an ice road is usually plowed onto Nimpo Lake if the snows are heavy, there is only a short time during which a plane cannot be landed on the lake. Late fall when the lake is in the process of freezing up, and spring when the ice is in the process of breaking up.
Nothing nicer in winter than a hard run on cross country skiis in clear crisp weather on Nimpo Lake and having a plane waggle his wings at you to say hello.

11/10/2005 7:32 PM

The Day After

Well, another Thanksgiving gone by yesterday. For those of you that don't know, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving Day in October. In our house, we observe both Canadian and American since we're from both countries.
We went out fishing for an hour just before supper yesterday because the fish were jumping like crazy
. We got three, one of them good sized and a real beauty! Today was our anniversary so we had the big one for dinner brushed with a wine sauce and grilled on the barbeque. It just doesn't get any better!
We're getting pretty breezy weather right now but I'm hoping it'll settle down this week. I would really like to get out there and catch a few more fish now before freeze up or it gets too cold. I would like to have a friend smoke a bunch for me for canning. Fishing on Nimpo Lake is just phenomenal right now and I don't think we got more than 300 yards from the front of our house while out fishing last night. We just trolled back and forth a few feet off of our point with fish jumping and rolling all around us. They're really, really firm right now and fat! Lots of feed for them this year but they're still willing to take a fly at the drop of a pin. They are strange this time of year though. Normally you would have a real battle on your hands against rainbow trout in this lake. But yesterday they would jump just after you hooked them, then after that, they made like a shark. All you see is a fin circling in the water. Steady pressure keeps them coming in. Close to the boat they go deep but just twitching to shake the hook. It isn't until you try to shorten up the line enough to net the fish that they really start to fight. Still fun to catch though and the hook seems to be setting quite firmly this time of year so if you hook one, you'll probably land it. Of course there's always the exception. I tagged a big one but it leaped into the air, shook the hook and took my bait with it. You can't win'em all but it sure is fun trying!
If you're thinking of a late season holiday and would like cool crisp nights with a little solitude and some great fishing, this is the vacation place to be. Take a spin around the Resorts
page as well as the Transportation page to check out your options for getting here and accommodations once you arrive. You might get some pretty good deals this time of year and you won't be sorry you came!
10/10/2005 10:22 PM

Weather Luck

I've said it before, I'll say it again. We are so lucky to have the weather and geographical location we do. We might moan about a rainy summer and fall and it's a catastrophe for us, but really, compared to the rest of the world, we should be very, very happy.
I've been watching National Geographic's Extreme Weather Week on television the last couple of nights because I'm fascinated by storms. Last night was about hurricanes and tonite was about tornadoes. Absolutely unbelievable film footage showing damage and devastation to homes and towns. We just do not experience that severe type of weather in this area and never will. No other country in the world spawns the numbers and severity of tornados that the United States does and I can't really imagine living in Tornado Alley. Hurricanes are also very severe in the US and will continue to become even more so as the high ocean temperatures in the Gulf increase every summer.
Mudslides and flooding from the hurricane in Haiti, the very recent earthquake in Pakistan and last year's Tsunami in the Indonesias just brings home how safe we are here.
Our biggest worry might be a good dump of snow in one day or really cold temperatures in winter, but that's about it. I do miss the thunderstorms living here. On the prairies you could see a thunderstorm coming for miles and they could get pretty wild. Of course they've been known to have their plow winds and tornadoes there too. Maybe it was because you could see for such long distances that you could truly view the power of the storm with lightening flashing on several fronts and monsterous tumultuous clouds billowing thousands of feet into the sky and flattening out into huge hammerheads on top. Sickly orange or green would seem to envelope the air around you and your ears would pop with the pressure. If there was a storm, you would find me out on the porch for hours watching it.
Nimpo Lake's geographical location just east of the mountains pretty much precludes severe thunderstorms. We are directly east of the huge Coastal Mountain Range which forces air up its west flank and over or pushes storms to the south. Moisture laden air masses dump rain on the western side of the range as they climb over the mountains leaving us fairly dry on the eastern side. It's a couple hundred miles before air moving east picks up enough moisture to start building big storm cells over Williams Lake, Prince George and points east. Or that's usually the case. It hasn't been this year but that's the exception. The result, sadly for me, is that thunder and lightening is not common here and when you do get a storm, it's generally pretty subdued.

09/10/2005 11:03 AM

The Perceived Tall Tale

Because of the moose article yesterday, I am reminded of an unusual day in a small southeastern state back in the '80s. My brother, a friend and I were down visiting family in a small college town in that state when we decided to stop into a little pub that I think was called the Fireside Inn. Since it was a rainy miserable day and there wasn't much else to do, we dropped into the empty tavern to have a few beers.
Some college kids came in a while after us and once they discovered we were from Canada, they started asking questions while we played pool. They seemed surprised that we could speak english, although they did comment that we sounded like folks from New York. And we did have to assure them that we really didn't have to use dog sleds to get everywhere in Canada.
Now beer drinking was a favorite pasttime for all three of us and we were used to drinking Canadian beer. But this state only allowed an alcohol content of less than half of what we were used to and it wasn't long before we were building pyramids of empty cans on our table but not feeling much affect other than a lot of trips to the loo. The bar maid would periodically come by to scoot the cans into a large garbage bag and maybe this contributed to the doubt in our honesty on the part of the locals.
As the evening progressed and the topic got on hunting they started asking about the wildlife where we lived and whether we had bears and deer and wolves. Well of course we did! We had black bears and grizzlies and coyotes and wolves and deer and elk and caribou and who knows what else.
One girl declared there was no way we could have grizzlies because they only existed in the Arctic. And black bears were almost extinct said another. Well, my brother and I hooted at this because we had killed bears in our dump pit on the ranch right up to three years before and eaten bear meat as youngsters. We had a bear hide from a blonde bear my mother had been forced to shoot because it was nose to nose with our milk cow one morning, and more than once I or another would have to pack a rifle while packing out meat to keep the bears from getting it first.
We must have sounded sincere enough because the college kids decided to give us the benefit of the doubt. "You said you've seen wolves?" Asked another of higher learning. Of course we said. It isn't common to see them, but we do on occasion. They asked about colors and sizes and definitely seemed doubtful of us now.
We continued to imbibe on the watered down beer and they continued to ask questions as the college crowd grew. Most seemed genuinely interested in learning about another country but you could tell they were starting to think we were pulling their legs when we talked about the snowcapped mountains, the long winters and cold temperatures and the animals. We actually weren't. We were telling the truth every step of the way. But the barmaid coming to clear another pyramid of empty beer cans off our table wasn't helping our cause a bit.
The final straw that broke the back on this fine academic group was moose. One of us made the mistake of mentioning moose and these young people wanted to know what that was. We were pretty incredulous because we thought surely everyone knew what a moose was, and they were even more incredulous because they were sure none of them had ever heard of one. So we tried to describe one. You don't realize how strange a moose is until you actually try to describe one. Bigger than a horse and standing much taller with a large hairy hump on its shoulders, a dewlap or bell hanging down, really, really long legs, unable to run but can go for miles in a day, jump over fences with ease, and crawl under logs ( I know this, I've hunted them. They can and they do.) They have really long faces with ears like a donkey and really big noses. Oh, and the antlers on the bulls are palmated and unlike any other animal's and can be this big (arms outstretched as far as you can reach) and bigger.
Well, you should have seen the looks on their faces. I don't know how else you would describe a moose but you would have thought we just described a dragon or a unicorn, and everyone knows they don't exist! If we had been back a couple of centuries we would have been stoned to death. We had just lost all credibility in their eyes and now they didn't believe anything we had said prior to that and certainly nothing after.
We shut down that tavern after cleaning them out of most of their beer supplies still trying to convince these young people that there really is a world out there and it does have things besides possums and coons in it.
To this day, the most remarkable thing to me is that these people were going to a large, local college that serviced a huge part of the state! Surely they had read books, seen pictures, developed the open mind that generally accompanies advanced learning.
Nope.
I think that the Internet is a blessing in that it opens the whole world up to all of us. We can see that the unbelievable is not only believable but exists. That truth, especially in nature, can be stranger than fiction and there are images only a click away to prove it.
By the way, how would you describe a moose to someone who has never heard of one?

08/10/2005 5:38 PM

Moose Are Coming Out of Hiding

Lots more moose to be seen now. This is getting right into the middle of their rut, or mating season and the bulls tend to start getting foolish and a whole lot less cautious. It's that love thing you know.
The guys working up on Highway 20 going toward Bella Coola before the top of the 'Hill' have been seeing at least two nice big bulls a day right along the road or crossing it.
Although many people insist that the rut doesn't start until well into the first week of October, I beg to differ. They can be called in from the third week of September on. There's no doubt that around the second week of October is probably right in the middle of mating season but not always. The moose mating season, like most ungulates, is controlled by several factors. Although there are some givens such as length of day that are always static, the temperature and phase of the moon also have a major effect on the time of the rut. Colder temperatures earlier in the fall will bring on a rut sooner as well as a long period of overcast days. It takes longer to lighten up in the mornings and gets dark sooner if it's heavily overcast. That translates into less sunlight hours in a day and that can contribute to an earlier mating season. There is also more than one cycle for the cows, and the timing of that is effected by both the factors above, the age of the cow, what kind of shape she is in, and how many calves she had and supported through the summer. The cows can be bred on an early cycle in September, during the main rut, or on a late cycle in November. Some people insist that the animals sense one year ahead what the following winter and spring will be like and instinct causes them to breed accordingly. In other words, if it's going to be a hard winter and late, cold spring, the cows will breed later in the fall to increase their calf's chance survival. Although some chalk this up as a wive's tale, as the owner and breeder of Whitetail deer, I have to admit that both my partner in that venture and myself have seen what amounts to control by the female animal over when she will fawn. And we've seen a wide variation in breeding times, so who knows? Maybe the animals know way more about what Mother Nature is going to bring on than our weathermen. After all, they've had a few more thousands and millions of years to develop an instinct for predicting weather than we've had satellites up in space.
This is the start of a new week, so if you would like to know what's been happening for the first week of October, you can go to 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!
First major snow of the season
 
The last of the charter floatplanes leaves Nimpo Lake for the season
 
The azure skies of autumn on Nimpo Lake
 
Spectacular fishing in the calm, cold waters of fall
 
A cow moose and her calf fatten up before winter on underwater plants
 
Moose photo courtesy of Lise St. Gelais
 
Bull moose naps in the sun
 
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