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 3/2007
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.
Snowstorm, Moonshine And Bootleggers
woke up to snow on the ground this morning.
Bit of a surprise actually although I suppose we should
have expected it. They were calling for
rain in many areas of BC and snow at higher elevations.
That's us! I think the system sweeping the province was
supposed to be what was left of 'Ling Ling', (I don't
know if the spelling is correct) a cyclone coming across
the Pacific. It looks like most of it slid down into Washington
State and so didn't affect BC as much as expected. Still,
snow does tend to be noticeable. Most of
it had melted everywhere except in really shady spots
by this afternoon. It hasn't been the first this
Fall and certainly won't be the last for the next five
or six months.
We can now finally shut up our guest cabin and drain down
the water in preparation for winter. We had been waiting
for two people from Williams Lake that are gas fitters
to come out and install a new propane furnace at the Nimpo
Lake Community Hall. We put in an application this summer
on behalf of the community and were fortunate to get a
grant from the government to update our heating system,
(it looked like it might be about 50 years old) and install
new doors on the Hall. (More energy efficient than the
existing plywood ones that cold winter drafts would roar
through.) The Community Association has to put up some
money too to match the grant funds, but it's certainly
a help and I've seen my tax dollars go to worse things.
In any case, we agreed to put the gas fitters up
and to provide their meals because both restaurants in
Nimpo Lake are closed right now and there was
no place locally for them to eat. Now that they're gone,
we can winterize and that's one more chore done before
temperatures get too much colder.
That reminds me, for those of you coming out in the near
future, Pilot's Restaurant at The Dean on Nimpo
will be closed from now until spring. The Dutchman
in Anahim Lake is open most days in the winter
and the Bakery in Nimpo will be open again next week.
I got my materials for calendar manufacture back by truck
from Williams Lake yesterday so my little reprieve this
week is pretty much over with and I'm back to work. As
a result, it might be far and few between articles for
the next week or so unless something momentous happens.
In the meanwhile, I'll leave you with another excellent
story about the Chilcotin from John Brecknock.
talking to my brother 10 years my senior just yesterday
and we were reminiscing about Anahim Stampede days of
long ago and a Nimpo Lake resident known for his home
brew and bootlegging.
My brother recalls Swede coming around the Stampede Grounds
looking for someone who was a good swimmer as he needed
a hand in retrieving some property in about 10-12 feet
of water. My brother volunteered to help out. It seems
that Swede was tipped off that the Mounties were closing
in on his moonshine and home brew operation. Now Swede
not being stupid or anxious to lose his cache, took about
5 or 6 gallon bottles of his brew, tied some string to
the handles, attached some little floats and sunk the
brew into some lily pads of a lake very close to Anahim.
This action would thereby guarantee his supply for the
forth coming Annual Anahim Lake Stampede. (1962 maybe)
Anyways.... come Stampede time, Swede returns to his nearby
lake to retrieve his cache. He snags the float, grabs
the string and tries to surface one of his gallon jugs.
Unfortunately the string breaks on all of his jugs. Too
long in the water I guess. Swede's dilemma; unable to
swim a stroke! Swede recruits my brother to make like
an otter and retrieve the priceless commodity. Over to
the lake they drive. My brother makes like the Otter and
is able to retrieve the Home Brew. My brother recalls
this event vividly and especially the trip back to the
Stampede Grounds with the five jugs of Moonshine. As they
were driving back on the typically rough roads, the jugs
of moon were rattling somewhat against each other. My
Brother remembers Swede looking over at him with a huge
grin on his kisser and saying, "Listen to that Don, it's
music to my ears." Thus another absolutely true Anahim
see? I would never have thought of sinking moonshine in
a lake yet I come from a long, long line of Hillbilly
moonshiners who were more than experienced at outsmarting
the Revenue Men. I wish I had known this before.
The horse farm I had in Saskatchewan was owned previously
by a man infamous for his moonshine. He was relied upon
heavily to supply the 'spirited' refreshment for all the
young bucks and gentlemen attending community dances and
social gatherings like weddings and such.
The farm sat right on the crossroads servicing many local
homesteads and two Community Halls and churches. So the
person wanting some moonshine would leave a bottle stashed
with money at the corner fence post of the farm right
on the crossroads. A day or so later they would
stop to pick up the now full bottle on the way to their
When we bought the farm we needed to repair that corner
fence post because we were replacing the fencing for our
horses. Once we started digging, we came across
hundreds of old bottles of every shape and color
that had been left there over the years and never picked
up by the bootlegger. He just filled a fresh bottle and
left that for the buyers instead.
We had been told about where his old still should be.
The real one that is. Every moonshiner has a throwaway
so that when found by the law and busted up, the law's
happy because they figure they've done their job and the
moonshiner doesn't care because he hasn't lost his actual
still. Rather a mockup or old out-of-use still has
been busted up instead of the real McCoy.
Paul's still was supposed to be up on a densely treed
hillside thicketed with some of the nastiest thorned vegetation
ever invented and though we poked around a bit and found
a few interesting bits and pieces, we were never sufficiently
armored enough against the thorns to risk further investigation.
Oddly enough, there was a large pond at the foot of this
hillside said to be quite deep. Now after reading John's
story about Swede, the location of Paul's still makes
a lot of sense where it never did before. After
all, what better place to store 'shine than where no one
would think to look for it? As I mentioned above,
I wish I had known before to look in the water but since
it was always so difficult to reach the water from that
dense thicket, I never bothered to look and see what rigging
old Paul might have had for sinking his moonshine.
In any case, I'm really hoping John is willing to provide
you all with some of his great tales over the next week
or so while I'm up to my neck in work.
Have a great weekend everyone!
good friends need to express their loss and John Brecknock
did a remarkable job of just that. John was the
one that gave us a little insight into life in the Anahim
Lake area between forty and fifty years ago as
written in last week's blog. He sent me a poem he had
written in memory of a good friend and good riding buddy.
I reprint it here because not only is it one hell of a
poem, but I think it's representative of the caliber of
person that it took to help settle this country right
from the first person that ever rode in here. First though,
I'd like to preface the poem with some of John's comments
about his friendship with a cowboy I would have liked
to have known. And just to point out this man's apparent
skill with horses, if you aren't familiar with the animals,
his performance was an amazing feat.
Jim BRYDEN was a good friend and the best teamster
I have ever seen or even heard of. A few years ago Jim
performed annually at the Calgary Stampede with his 8
horse hitch of Clydesdales sponsored by the Alberta UFA.
He also performed in Fort St. John & Dawson Creek Rodeos.
He would enter the arena at a full gallop, figure 8 the
team. Back them through pylons, fan them 180 degrees and
all mostly by voice command. He could talk
to each horse individually and they would respond believe
you me. One hell of a cowboy too. He was killed in a real
fluke traffic accident 2 years ago come this winter just
on the road by his ranch.
Ridin' With Bryden
Ever been out ridin' with Jim? Seen that mischievous grin?
Spun a wild yarn out ther' in the barn and then start
all over again?
He rode a tall horse and rarely with force but capable
if ya know what I mean.
Fit as a fiddle with often a giggle, as good a man as
Have you camped under stars and snor'd a few bars after
a Whiskey or two.
Rode along side with considerable pride just to be his
Never much on fashion, but a man of passion, of truth
Generous and kind and to me, sublime. And sharer of prosperity.
Have you seen him throw a Hoolie, chased cows in the coulee?
Or heard him brag of his boys?
Been shown his new toys or talk of his ploys, to go to
the mountains again.
We'd planned more trips and were slimmin' our hips to
fit our old saddles again.
Huntin', fishin' and maybe some drinkin', maybe a yarn
Our horses are ready and they're real steady, and will
carry us hither and yon.
We'll still make that trip, but now in the Great Beyond.
There might be better men. I've never met any of them,
but one thing I know for sure.
You lose a friend, part of you ends and there sure as
Hell ain't no Cure.
John D. BRECKNOCK
you it was a good poem. You'll find it posted in its original
and much better format on Picture
of the Day.
decided to go looking for where our dastardly beaver might
be holing up on my way for a walk this afternoon.
I never did get in that walk but I did find
the beaver's lodge and his feed bin. Every evening that
I've sat out with a pair of binoculars I've been keeping
a close eye on the bay where all the docks are parked
for the winter. The more I've watched, the more I've suspected
it would make the perfect spot for a beaver to hole up
and I knew our cut trees had to be hidden somewhere. Sure
enough, not two feet from one of the docks was a lodge
built against the back of a tree using old weathered sticks
but with fresh mud on it. In the water in front
of the tree was a good sized feed bin decorated with some
of our trees and with lots of freshly peeled sticks
laying in the water like a bread crumb trail. Further
proof that this was recent lay in the rope buried under
the lodge debris that tied Eliguk's dock to the very spruce
guarding the lodge's entrance. That dock was moved over
there less than two weeks ago.
It's said that the beavers' main predator is the wolf
and one reason the beaver population gets out of hand
so easily now is because there are so few wolves. You
can tell that the dog's ancestor harks back to the wolf
when you see one of your overfed mutts try to
dig out a beaver lodge. In fact, if I hadn't
been sure this was a recently renovated beaver lodge,
my proof was in the actions of our dogs who both acted
as though there were beaver beneath our feet at that very
moment. And, it's quite possible there were.
I carried on down along the steep shoreline to a tiny
bay where I had watched muskrat go in and out the night
before. Another peeled aspen trunk barely peeked above
the algae grunge coating the water. Farther along on the
point is a huge old tree that leans out over the water
and where you often see otters play. Here too I
saw several muskrat scurry in and out from under the tree
and the one next to it the evening before, very obviously
storing feed. In the water lay lots of bark peeled sticks
and trunks of trees, more evidence of beaver activity.
I went back and grabbed Andy to show him my find and we
went to work digging out the lodge with the ambitious
help of River who was absolutely determined to get in
there head first. The only problem is that the bottom
chamber of the lodge had water in it and chances of the
big clumsy drowning or getting stuck in the hole were
very good. I was not relishing pulling the dog out
by his tail should that happen.
It would be nice if our efforts caused the beaver to become
discouraged and leave, but that isn't likely to happen.
Our hope is that the beaver will show itself in the occupation
of putting the lodge back together, but who knows.
So far, our best defense seems to be walking around our
property late at night with flash lights and leaving scent
all over the place. We scared one into a tail slap night
before last but nothing last night and I think leaving
River loose is helping. If nothing else, perhaps
the beaver can smell his abject terror at being left outside
in the dark. Actually, I'm just making fun of
him. He's really not that bad. I don't think.....
More information was brought out on yesterday's newscast
about the Nazko Cone that I mentioned a couple of days
ago. Apparently about 12 small earthquakes had been reported
in less than 48 hours when scientists from Natural Resources
Canada realized that there was more seismic activity than
had actually been reported. After mapping activity on
their equipment they found record of more than 100
seismic 'events' in a very short time period.
So I guess there are a mess of geologists and seismic
experts descending on the area.
Of course there can't be any such thing as small news
with the media. Everything has to be sensationalized.
It's true that activity in the area of the Nazko Cone
is really interesting to those of us in a region that
hasn't seen any volcanic activity for 7200 years. But
on the news they're showing pictures of lava flows from
the volcano in Hawaii and the explosive eruption of Mount
St. Helen's with mud covered trees flattened for miles
and Park vehicles tossed here and there. It's kind
of laughable in the face of a hill not even high enough
to put a fire lookout station on. In fact, the
Nazko Cone is so small and its last eruption so dreary
that mining it for landscape rock has diminished it to
a barely recognizable hump in the wilderness. Not that
I wouldn't welcome a little volcanic excitement. How cool
would that be watching geology in action?
Anyway, the media calmed down enough to report that the
scientists don't know if this is simply continental movement,
one shelf under another, or if magma is rumbling up from
deep within the earth. Pan to more pictures of monster
lava flows hissing into the sea in Hawaii. I'm
serious! They did. That's the pictures the news station
showed while talking about the whole thing. I shake
my head at the media in BC. If the inaccuracies
of news reported that I know about directly are so outrageous,
does this mean that everything we see on the news is bull
hockey? I would probably have to say yes to that.
I have started a new week, which is too bad because last
week's articles were kind of fun. If you haven't read
them yet or want to go check out those gorgeous sunrises
over Nimpo Lake again, you'll find it all at October
Week Two. Oh, and how come no one told
me that the link to the first week in October didn't work?
Let me know if things don't work folks, please! Sometimes
if I'm really busy like I was last week, I just don't
have time to check for mistakes.
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!