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Wilderness Adventures - Sept., Week 1/2007

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.

07/09/2007 9:06 PM

A Little Of This And A Little Of That

Today was a real mixed bag when it came to weather, although it did end up being a nice day. It just took its time. A good snowmobiling buddy remarked on how cold it was this morning and it was. There was a really chilly wind and quite a bit of cloud but once it cleared up, it was quite nice. I sat out on the deck for a little while in late afternoon and in the space of a few minutes several of the fishermen in boats out on the lake before me had caught fish.

Saturday, September 8.
I got switched onto something else yesterday just after starting this article so there isn't a a lot there. Today's a different day, though. First of all, the weather is absolutely exquisite! It went to freezing last night leaving a good layer of frost on the truck window but it was bright and sunny all day. Our temperature only hit 17.4C putting it well over 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and the breeze was still pretty cool in the shade, but in the sun? Wow. Beauty! I like the distinct contrast between shade and sun this time of year. In the shade you feel like you're freezing to death and in the sun, you're roasting. It looks like the weathermen might have been right for a change and we're going to see nice weather from that big high pressure system off the coast for a few more days anyway. Me, I'm just holding my breath afraid I'll jinx the weather if I expect it to be as nice as it was today.
Our found dog was starting to really perk up and be a lot more active today and Andy was starting to talk like we would have to keep him if no one claimed him. Scary thought. I'm definitely not into a third dog but it's true, it's too hard to place an old dog like that and best to let him live out his days in a friendly environment. However, we had not even finished our conversation about it when the phone rang this morning. Dog's owner saw his mug shot on one of the posters we put up in Anahim Lake and was pretty excited that someone had found him. It turned out that his owner was a lady I had worked with at the mill and Andy knew her husband quite well. When she came to pick up Dog she pointed out that he was nearly deaf and his eyesight was going, which I had already guessed. Apparently he loved boats, which we already knew and was a terrific swimmer. He was probably close to fourteen years old and his name was Roach. Now that's an original name in anyone's books!
Roach's owner proudly pointed out what a great bear dog he was in the bush and she relied on him a lot when she went mushroom picking. He would step in front of her and block her, and start whining if there was a bear in her path. Once she turned away and went in a different direction, he was fine. Apparently it was while she was on the other side of Charlotte Lake picking pine mushrooms when Roach and their other dog took off after something. When she arrived back at her truck, the one dog had come back but Roach had not. She and her husband have spent every day since back in the area they thought the dog might be, not realizing he had already arrived at our place. He took off Wednesday evening and was swimming across Nimpo Lake to our neighbour's the next morning. We've spoken to quite a few people that saw him going around to different places along the lake before he took to the water. So that means he walked around Charlotte Lake and all the way to the east or south end of Nimpo Lake and either walked around it or swam across it to the Short Arm. It would have taken him all night of steady going to do it because Charlotte Lake is miles from here and a huge lake so just getting around it to this side would take awhile.
All I can say is, that is some dog. No wonder he was so tired and didn't move around much the last couple of days. Although yesterday evening he followed our other two dogs who snuck in behind us when we walked over to the neighbour's. That's something they weren't supposed to do and I was surprised to see the third dog there as well when I went to run our two off back home.
As I mentioned before, the dog was positively perky this morning and after his owner had called us before coming to pick Roach up, he was looking down the road and even took a few steps down our driveway before I had him jump back up into the back of my pickup. His owner verified what I had already suspected. He wouldn't have been with us for much longer but instead would have continued heading home to Anahim Lake.
One other thing that was kind of funny though. Roach's owner was really surprised that all three dogs were getting along. Apparently she doesn't dare bring another dog into the yard and Roach gets into dog fights with other dogs all the time. Which explains Roach's and River's caution around each other for the first couple of days but by this morning they were touching noses (as good as swapping spit in the human world so far as I can see) and getting on fine.
There was one thing that we were bang on about. Right from the moment we saw how comfortable the dog was prancing around on the spare tire in the back of my pickup, even though the rest of the box was empty, and that he preferred to sleep in the truck, we knew he probably spent a lot of time in the back of one. Which is one reason why we thought he might belong to a visitor. But I had to keep from laughing out loud when I saw Roach jump up into the back of his owner's pickup and head straight onto the spare tire on which he gracefully balanced. The back of the truck box was full of crates for mushrooms and the top of the jockey box and the spare tire was pretty much the only open Real Estate. No wonder he was so comfortable with it!
Anyway folks, happy ending to the dog story. To my relief, we're back to being a two mongrel family. My dog loving partner is very happy to have found the owner and very sad and already missing the dog. Which is pretty much the norm around here.
Roach....that's quite a name.

06/09/2007 8:10 PM

Case Of The Missing Dog

I figured I would post this here because local people read this blog as do visitors. Our neighbour, Dave, came over to tell us of a dog that showed up soaking wet this morning and when his neighbour tried to leave to go fishing, the dog insisted on going out in the boat too. Dave's wife had already put in several phone calls around the lake to see if a tourist had lost their dog but no one was too sure what to do with him until someone claimed him.
Andy suggested Dave bring the dog over to our place because we've already got two dogs and usually at least one of us is home all the time. After bringing the animal over Dave and his wife went out with their boat and tried stopping at all the part time residences around the lake to see if anyone had lost a dog.
Several of the people he spoke to said they had seen the dog
swimming across Nimpo Lake this morning
, but no one knew who it belonged to. This afternoon Andy loaded the dog up in the supercab of my truck and took him around to everywhere he could think of to find the owner of the dog. Several people told Andy the same thing they had Dave. They saw the dog swimming across the lake but had no idea who it belonged to. That's a pretty fair distance for any dog in good shape that's a good swimmer. It's a heck of a distance for a dog that seems to be pretty old as this one does. Old, but not decrepit. Andy just called me out to point out that the dog had jumped into the back of my 4x4 with the tailgate up. No mean feat!
Anyway, this old dude is a German Shepherd, possibly a mix, with a really good dispositioin. He's really friendly and gentle, gets along great with our cat, is accustomed to riding in vehicles and boats as well as in the back of trucks. Oh, and he's obviously a great swimmer. I gave him a treat when I gave our two dogs one and he was so delicate about taking it out of my fingers he's either extremely polite or never seen a dog biscuit before. And Andy said that he ate quite slowly tonight when he fed him so he's never been starved and he hasn't gone long without a meal. Oh, and he's obviously accustomed to being in his owner's house because he keeps trying to get in the door when it's open. I'm afraid he's out of luck though. It would hardly be fair to let him in the house when my two dogs can't come in. Life's not that tough though. He now has his own blanky in the back of my truck, his choice of two dog houses, or a nice soft mattress in the garage. Like I said. Life is tough for dogs around here.
Okay. So one neutered male, predominately light brown mixed breed possibly with some German Shepherd in him, no collar, seems to be an older dog and is very obviously a people dog with good manners. We're thinking visitor's dog because no one recalls seeing him around before. If you are missing a dog or know of someone that is you can call about him at 742-3724. I'll be doing up some posters and Andy will hang them up around Nimpo tomorrow so location info will be on those. Oh, and Dog's mug shot is up on the right.
It was a beautiful day today. Fog was on the lake thicker than pea soup at daylight this morning and the temperature dropped to one degree from freezing last night. It didn't get above 13C today and the air was very crisp, but it was really nice in the sun. Some heavier cloud started moving in early this evening but I see it's clearing right off and there was some pretty color on the mountains tonite.
Andy was pointing out that the 'Horse and Rider' are finally starting to show up on a mountain across the lake. When the snow melts to a certain point a shape shows up that (with some imagination) looks like a cowboy riding a horse. But it's never shown up this late in the year before. Usually it starts to show up in July but with a combination of high snow levels in the mountains this winter and low temperatures this summer, there's a whole lot more snow up there than there normally is at this time of year. It might melt before winter hits. It depends on whether this warm spell the weatherman is promising in the Lower Mainland comes as far north as us. It looks like sunshine for the next week for Vancouver as well as higher temperatures so I'd sure like to see our area get some of that.

05/09/2007 7:31 PM

Well, That Didn't Last Long

Apparently that sunshine yesterday was just too much of a good thing. It was pretty grim out most of the day with it trying to spit rain off and on. It started clearing up early this evening and isn't actually too bad looking out there right now. Not much rain has registered in the rain gauge. Less than 1/2 an inch of rain has fallen but it's just enough to keep things cooled off and the ground damp. Today temperatures maxed out at 14C or less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit and that's as good as it got.
It's been cool enough to have to start a fire in the wood stove most nights but by most appearances, not cool enough to cause a lot of the tree leaves to turn color. However, a little drive into Anahim Lake today painted an entirely different picture. Many of the trees and shrubs along the highway were displaying the yellow and red caused by a few good frosts. I guess winter is coming after all.
Actually, I was watching a short item on the news today that talked about the snow storms in Argentina and how glad they'll be there to see spring come. Sometimes you forget what a mess wet snow is until you see an item on it at the most unexpected time. That will be our picture in a couple of short months or less.
There are still lots of people out fishing on Nimpo Lake and I was speaking to a lady up at the store that said she actually had a nice little trout jump into her boat this week. You don't hear about that happening very often! I can see it now in next year's brochures for our visitors. "Fish so bountiful you don't even have to put a rod out. Just wait 'til they jump into your boat!" I would like to have that happen to me some time. It would be just too cool.
Nothing else new on the home front. Andy keeps having to come back inside and wait between rain showers to continue with his building project.

Like everyone else, we're just waiting for that high pressure system off the coast to build and bring us some summer.
04/09/2007 7:26 PM

Woo Hoo. Sunshine!

Today turned out to be a glorious day and we actually saw some sun. Not that it started out all that great. It was pretty grey and grim this morning with low cloud hanging in. It rained yesterday so everything was pretty wet this morning and I figured it would just get wetter, but the sun actually broke through and most of the day was absolutely exquisite. Well, that's normally not the term you would use for an average day but those have been such a rarity....
When watching the weather at noon things were looking pretty hopeful for the rest of the week with a big high pressure system moving in from the south. But by the time we watched the weather this evening it looks like a big nasty is coming straight in from the west and is going to nail us head on. Wind, rain and more rain. Maybe their satellite pictures are wrong. We can only hope.
The weathermen on both channels were showing clear sunshine for the coast for the weekend. If we don't get some of that I just might have to go throttle one of them. Or both.
I took a walk along the back trails this afternoon and although it's still a little wet in the woods from that last rain, this has to be the nicest time of year to go wandering. There's the odd mosquito floating around but otherwise all is well with the world when you can see a myriad of mushrooms, kinnickinnick still as green as it would be in spring, but the other undergrowth starting to turn color with fall temperatures. Things are only starting to color up now from cold temperatures this past week. The wild roses always turn early because they're end of cycle and concentrating all their energy in producing rose hips.
The wild gooseberry bushes are probably my favorite for fall color. We don't have a lot of them around here but they're a pretty burnt red once they turn. Probably the prettiest wild shrub in this part of the country is scrub or swamp birch. It's a thick growing shrub that has perfectly round little leaves that are bright spring green throughout the summer but turn a brilliant fire engine red in most falls. Sometimes I would come on a meadow filled with it while moose hunting and the sight would be stunning.
I saw an interesting sight today. A man in a canoe out on Nimpo Lake with a bicycle in the front of the canoe. Now you see a lot of strange things in the Chilcotin but I admit that's stranger than most. Talk about taking eco-adventure to the max! I really would liked to have given him a yell as he paddled past the point and questioned him about the bike, but it didn't seem polite to invade his privacy. Still....that's one to ponder all right.
There were a few boats out on the lake today and lots of fish rising! Loads were rising just behind the boats as they cruised along on the water. Must be frustrating to see that if you're not catching any. Been there!
Okay, gotta go. Need to get some work done on the computer tonight since I goofed off outside most of the day because it was so nice. If goofing off is trying to mow a lawn with a blade on a lawnmower so dull you could have ridden to Texas very comfortably on it.
You know, I got that lawnmower second hand in 1994 and I don't think the blade has been changed since then. I've chewed through rocks and sticks, and brush and dirt with that poor thing for years and it's always started easy and run well. But I couldn't keep that thing running for the life of me today. It kept bogging down so badly that it took well over an hour to mow a piece of lawn the size of our living room. Finally, when I finished, I flipped it over and had a look at it. There wasn't much left of the blade, the ends were split and pieces of metal were ready to break off. I don't know if pitying inanimate objects is a sane thing to do, but I kind of felt sorry for that poor old machine. After Andy changed the blade it was like that lawnmower was a supercharged machine!
Amazing what a little maintenance will do.
Now if we just had a little more lawn to cut.....

03/09/2007 12:04 PM

Holiday Monday

Still not much new happening on this holiday Monday other than I feel sorry for those people trying to camp out. I don't think the weather is particularly nice anywhere in BC this weekend, except maybe for the southeast corner of the province and parts of the Okanagan. A couple of big low pressure system have come spinning in off of the Pacific and they're packing some moisture.
Our weather for the most part has been nothing to write home about with temperatures topping out at 14C or about 59F. That's topping out. Average has been around 10C or 50F. Not warm in anyone's books.
It's been mixed sun and cloud and trying to spit rain for the last couple of days, but today is just plain gloomy. We were wandering around our property line on Saturday afternoon checking for signs of beaver damage. We ended up watching two people in a boat in our back bay catch a couple of fish in a short period of time and could finally no longer resist going out fishing ourselves. As long as a watery sun tried peering through the clouds it was pretty nice out, but once it clouded over and a tiny breeze sprang up, it was suddenly too unpleasant to be out on the water. And it hasn't been that warm since. We got a couple of nice trout before it got too cool though and tried as I might to get some decent pictures of loons following in our wake, they just ended up too blurry. Even as fast as the shutter is on that camera I don't think it's fast enough for a rocking boat.
This weather is not helping local ranchers at all when it comes to getting in their hay in. It's been a cool and wet summer so there's lots of hay in the fields. But lots of hay means it takes longer and more heat to dry so a cool fall is not the right recipe at all. When we came back from town last week we had to drive right by the ranch at Kleena Kleene, (his property listing is on this site at Commercial Properties for Sale) and his fields were just loaded with hay bales. I'm guessing he was getting around five or six ton to the acre. I figured he was done haying but when I spoke to him at poker on Friday he said he still had quite a few acres to do. I feel for him and he's not the only one. There are a lot of ranchers in the area that depend entirely on putting up dry hay of their own.
The weather this summer and fall has certainly been good for the mushrooms. Take a walk in the woods on our back trails and you'll see a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Some are as big as a bread basket! Don't know what those are but they don't look edible.
Weather conditions should have been just right for a good crop of pine mushrooms and I understand that people are picking them by the bucket loads. Unfortunately, mushrooms, like anything, follows the old rule of economics. Excessive supply more than meets demand so the price is very low. A dollar a pound for number one grade is quite a bit less than the hundred dollars a pound brought in a few years back. At a dollar a pound it's not worth fighting the bush taking a chance on getting lost or running into a bear as happens to some of the Natives every year out here. It's just not practical to carry a rifle and hunt for mushrooms so they have no protection from bears in the deep pine stands where the mushrooms grow.
Just a quick note to any of you pilots and World War Two buffs out there. Terry Brandt from Nimpo Lake is having the grand opening for his antique flying museum next weekend down in Hood River, Oregon. He's got stuff that you won't see anywhere else in the world folks so you might want to make a date to go down and see it. If you would like to get a little idea of what Terry's museum has to offer, you can check it out at WAAMuseum.
Oh, and I want to apologize to those folks that tried to click on the link in the article below. I forgot to load up last week's blog when I uploaded everything else. I'm sorry about that.

01/09/2007 12:55 PM

That's Right! It's The Labor Day Weekend Isn't It?

I forgot all about it, I suppose because I don't have an employer or kids in school. Living in the Chilcotin, whether you're a rancher, logger, or a home based business, you often have no idea what day of the week it is much less that it might be a long weekend. However, I'm sure those people with employers and a regular work week certainly notice a long weekend, as I did when I worked out.
In British Columbia there was an added significance to the Labor Day weekend for students. The Tuesday after Labor Day was and is, the first day back to school. Unlike many American schools and other provinces in Canada, BC schools always started their school year later.
From a personal point of view, they could have started earlier in this province. I could never wait to get back to school. It wasn't just that I liked learning. It was more that the summer was no vacation in my childhood. Not to sound hard done by or anything, but the summer break usually entailed hard labor for us kids. I know, it sounds like the old-timers that talk of walking for miles to and from school in driving snowstorms uphill both ways. We did that, although it was only a steep uphill one way and I've got the calf muscles and frost bitten toes to prove it.
After acquiring an Agricultural lease of 160 acres my family had to prove up on it. That meant that a certain percentage of land had to be cleared, and certain building improvements had to made in order to purchase the homestead. Just like in the old days. That was how most of Canada was settled and I suspect that was the case in the States as well.
'Proving Up' for us kids meant helping our parents to blow stumps after the trees were cut down and trailing behind a stoneboat in the dust and heat picking up roots and rocks off the fields that Mother Nature so graciously coughed up every spring when the frost came out of the ground.
There were huge windrows of brush and branches to burn and rose bushes to dig out with a mattock. After the fields were seeded there was haying to be done with old horse drawn equipment adapted to be pulled behind an equally ancient tractor. With no running water, it meant that water had to be hauled by hand to livestock, fences had to built and mended, and other ranchers' open range cattle run out of our fields because it was a lot easier pickings than the skimpy wild grass they usually subsisted on through the summer.
Since we heated entirely with wood and three wood stoves ate up a lot of it, getting in enough firewood for the winter was an ongoing chore. Then it still had to be split and stacked. Add to that the general household and cooking chores, various building projects, animals to feed when we had them, and weeding and watering a pathetic garden that only grudgingly produced vegetables in the hardpan, summer was no picnic.
We often envied the other kids their summers off to loll around and do as they please. I remember being shocked one day down at the neighbour's house when a friend complained bitterly about having to take the garbage out. That was his only chore and he got a pretty good allowance for it. Allowance wasn't a word in our house. Everytime we tentatively brought the subject up, my father would come back with, "You put your feet under the table, don't you?" That generally ended that conversation. Especially since we ate a lot.
The upside was that we all developed good muscles and all my brothers were strapping youngsters. We also all developed one heck of a good work ethic. Going to work after leaving school left us all breathless. That we should be doing work that wasn't nearly as labor intensive as when we had lived at home and we were getting paid for it!
I always considered myself very fortunate to have been raised in an environment very similar to that of a century ago and I know few people of my age that were ever exposed to that. Although I recognized as a kid and a teenager that all of our family had to work hard in order to prove up on the homestead, I had to be much older before I appreciated the long-lasting benefit. That comes clear in spades nowadays when I have to work with young people that don't come from ranching or farm stock. The general attitude seems to be, "What do you mean I have to work? I'm just here for the paycheck!"
That brings us back to Labor Day.
As the American Department of Labor web site states, 'Labor Day constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.' Canada and the US are great countries built on the backs of people, regardless of ethnicity or country of origin, that spent their lives working their butts off.
I, for one, definitely appreciate the meaning of the holiday just as I did as a kid.
It's time again for the start of a new week. Last week's articles can be found at August Week Four.

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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!
Two boats fishing in the evening.
German Shepherd mix breed dog.
Loon, water and mountains.
A loon cruises in green reflected water.
Green canoe on the water.
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