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 - Sept., Week One/2009
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of the Day.
wonderful September weather has gone downhill somewhat
but it's still not too bad. Yesterday was a pretty nice
day with above normal temperatures, but a cold front
moved in from the coast so our temps were a lot cooler
today and we saw some rain showers. The rain is
a good thing because we do really need it. We're not getting
good soakers but at least I'm dragging around hoses less
often trying to keep things watered.
Today was the first day in a while that we actually had
quite a blustery wind and there were some waves on the
lake. There were a lot of boats out on the lake this morning
but the wind drove a few in this afternoon. Surprisingly
there are still two fishermen out there in personal float
tubes even with choppy water so the fishing must be making
it all worthwhile.
I don't think our weather is expected to be all
that great for the next few days but that's a natural
considering the time of year. There's still no
bugs so it's nice to be outside regardless of what it's
doing. I was just thinking about that this morning after
showering. It's so nice now to be able to use moisturizer
again and yesterday evening I could actually put on perfume
before going to the neighbours' for dinner and a bonfire
after without worrying about attracting every mosquito
in the country. Andy even goes so far as to refuse to
wear under arm deodorant during bug season but I won't
go that far. I just try to find nonperfumed products.
It's so automatic to not wear or wash with anything scented
during the summer months that it's not until fall that
you realize what lengths you have to go to avoid the bugs.
It would be laughable really, if the mosquitoes
weren't such rotten things to deal with at times.
It's cleared off and it's definitely cooling off this
evening. Andy has had to start a fire downstairs and right
now it's a lot more pleasant there than in my office upstairs.
In any case, I have some business to do tonight so I'll
keep this short. I'm going to be fairly busy for the next
few days so I may not be able to post anything until next
week. If I don't, have a great weekend, folks!
The Wonder Days
is one of my favorite months in this country, and there's
good reason for it. Saturday was a gorgeous day while
yesterday we had mixed sun and cloud. The thermometer
made it over 24C or 75F both days but today was a little
cooler at around 18C or about 65F. It kept threatening
to rain today and we did have a couple of little downpours.
We definitely need it. It's still pretty darned dry out
The aspens are just starting to turn color now,
although there is a ridge on the way to Nimpo covered
in big aspen that are presently clothed in a glorious
yellow. I don't know why but those trees always turn color
a lot sooner than the rest, although there was one aspen
along the highway toward Anahim Lake yesterday that was
an amazing mixture of reds, oranges and peach. There are
spots here and there where the aspen leaves have simply
turned brown and I think it's because it's been such a
long, dry summer. The previous three out of four summers
have been very wet and it could be that some aspens have
really grown in that period of time without having to
develop a major root system. Then along comes a dry spell
and the trees have outgrown their ability to support their
size. Of course, that's simply conjecture, on my
The same thing appears to have happened with a lot of
the willows along the sides of the road. Many have turned
brown here but we noticed the same thing all along the
Alaska Highway so I'm hoping it's just the hot weather
and not some sort of disease.
There have been quite a number of fishing boats
out on Nimpo Lake this past weekend. We counted
six out there this morning alone, but the fishing has
been fabulous so it's no surprise. Every time I look out
through the glasses someone seems to be reeling one in.
I think that a lot of people, especially part time residents,
prefer to come up in the month of September because the
weather is generally nice, the nights crisp, there are
no bugs, and the fish are about as fat as they're going
to get. Now we just need to get our bottoms
into a boat and on out there to bring in some fish for
the winter. It's just that we've got too many projects
and chores on the go at the moment. Soon though... hopefully.
We're taking off for a few days coming up so fishing might
have to wait until our return.
I've developed a serious case of tomato envy.
We visited our neighbours that have another residence
down in Ashcroft this summer and they mentioned then that
the local farms grow marvelous produce throughout the
summer, and that they would be happy to bring up any seasonal
vegetables for canning if we wanted some. Of course, who's
going to turn down an offer like that? So on our way home
from the Yukon, I put a call in to see if they were coming
back from Ashcroft and to ask if they could bring me a
couple of cases of tomatoes and some peppers so that I
could can some salsa. If not, then I would see if I could
pick something like that up in Williams Lake. They promised
to bring some vegetables up and showed up on my
doorstep a few days later with two big boxes of some of
the most luscious looking tomatoes I had ever seen
as well as some huge peppers. It turns out that they bought
the peppers from a farmer's market for me, but not the
tomatoes. Those were out of their garden. I couldn't believe
it! I've never lived anywhere that you could produce tomatoes
like that much less right out of your own backyard. I
had to pick a couple of tomatoes out of the greenhouse
that had ripened up, and let me tell you, they looked
pretty pathetic next to those big Ashcroft monsters!
The only problem with all those beautiful tomatoes is
that you have to do something with them. It's taken us
a couple of days but we've finally got 12 pints of red
pickle, 14 pints of salsa, and 5 quarts of canned tomatoes
sitting on the counter. I've got two pots of spaghetti
sauce simmering to can tomorrow and then we'll be done.
The timing was a little off weather wise. The last thing
you want to be doing is canning when it's hot, but it
sure pays off in the dead of winter.
We're supposed to see a weather change for a few days,
but it's hard to say what kind and for how long. There's
a system coming in from the Pacific that may be pushed
north along the coast by a high pressure system
that's been holding over us for a few days, or we may
catch the edge of it and get some rain. That's okay too.
I got the lawn mowed today so it can do whatever it wants
now. We've got to do something about that thing too. It's
so thick and grows so fast that mowing it is like mowing
a hayfield and our antique Sears mower has no bag, something
that normally wouldn't be necessary, but now we actually
have to rake the windrows up on the lawn after mowing,
which is getting a little old. I have to admit that for
being only one year old, it's an awesome lawn but if this
keeps up, we're going to have to buy a couple of goats
I have business to attend to tomorrow night so I probably
won't be writing. I apologize about the sporadic blogs
because I know it's a little tough on you folks that like
to check for it daily, but with summer coming to a close
and my calendar season coming on, sometimes there's just
too much to do to be able to write all the time. Of course
taking time off here and there to go someplace doesn't
help much. So thanks for your patience, folks!
The Sunshine Day
today was just an awesome day! It was clear and
sunny and very hot! At least hotter than what
we've been used to here and up in the Yukon for the last
month. It got up to 22C or 72F in the shade today but
was closer to 30C or 90 in the sun, which is where I was
working for most of the day. Yesterday was just as nice,
even though it wasn't as hot and there was a little more
cloud mixed with sun.
I'm glad I didn't get a moose tag this year. I always
go for the early season, which is from now to the end
of September, and invariably it's too warm, but I get
busy with my calendar business and can't hunt later in
the fall. In a way it's a good thing though, because I've
lots I want to do outside before winter hits and I get
stuck on the computer, so I can only hope this weather
lasts for awhile.
I had a lot of plants in pots that need to get planted
before winter. I held off all summer because it was so
hot, but there's no choice now, they'll just have to take
the heat because there isn't much time for them to root
in before freeze up and the plants simply stop growing.
I've been eager to get to the new rock garden all summer
but spent most of my time dragging around water hoses
instead. That's okay too. There's nothing like anticipation
when it comes to gardening and what I don't get done this
year I'll get to do next spring.
Sadly, my greenhouse isn't doing too great this
year. Since it was my first year, I wasn't too
sure how to treat tomato plants, although I was reasonably
sure they shouldn't be 8' feet high and one shouldn't
need help from someone on the outside of the greenhouse
to fetch a tomato through the jungle of greenery. I just
found out what you are supposed to do from the friend
of our host up in Little Atlin. She has a large greenhouse
and showed me what she does with her tomatoes. There was
only a single stem that was really thick strung up to
the roof and hardly any leaves. She had just picked a
large basket of tomatoes off only a small number of plants
and the plants were still loaded with more tomatoes not
When I got home from up north I decided to defoliate my
plants to see if that would help. Unfortunately,
the situation in the greenhouse had deteriorated.
While I have an automatically opening window on the greenhouse,
I left the screen window on the door at the other end
closed when we left because we were getting frosty nights
so the greenhouse wasn't getting as much air circulation.
I asked my friend to turn on the irrigation system in
the greenhouse every three or four days for a half hour
only, and only if it was really hot. Not being familiar
with greenhouses, she felt the more you watered them,
the better. The greenhouse was nice and wet when I got
home, but I discovered it was also very moldy. The
more foliage I hacked out, the worse it got. Tomato
stems had roots growing out into thin air, moldy leaves
hung in strings from the stems, and many stems were rotted
away, as were many tomatoes. It certainly wasn't my friend's
fault because she doesn't know anything about greenhouses,
but it would have been much better if I had left the screen
window open to help with circulation.
My neighbour came over a few days before we came home
and discovered that what tomatoes she could see were sweating
badly in the heat and moisture, so she opened up the screen
on the door for a few hours and then came back over to
close it in the evening, which is probably the only thing
that saved the whole thing from melting into a soggy mess.
I cleaned up the greenhouse as best I could, withheld
water as long as possible, and it started drying out fairly
well. This heat will help a lot, but I've still got a
mold problem. I suspect that once the last of the tomatoes
ripen and I clear out the plants, I'm going to have to
skim the top layer of soil off and replace it with fresh.
I may spray the surface of the soil with bleach or a 35%
hydrogen peroxide solution to see if that will kill the
mold spores, but I'm not sure what bleach would do to
the good microorganisms in soil.
I may be veggie poor but I sure have learned a lot
Now I know to keep the zucchini out of the greenhouse
once it's large enough to transplant outside. It takes
up way too much room, the big leaves block too much sunlight,
and they hold too much moisture. I only got about four
or five zucchini off of four plants and I've got the same
problem as I had last year. Lots of male blooms but few
I think I'll kick the kol-rabi out as well. I only got
about three plants to head out. The rest have just grown
huge foliage but haven't developed into anything. The
Swiss chard did great at first but then developed spots,
which I think may have something to do with the moisture
problem, because the chard I have in the neighbour's greenhouse
is still perfect. The carrots and onions never did do
anything but the ones I kicked outside earlier this summer
because I needed the space are beautiful. The ones still
inside are just tiny and flop on the ground. The
8' tall tomato plants blocking the sun may have had a
lot to do with that.
The asparagus seedlings at the back of the greenhouse
that didn't get much moisture are in great shape, but
the ones in the front are pretty sorry looking because
they got too wet. I'm not too sure what I'm going to do
with the cucumbers next year. I lost a lot of the first
plants but the second round of seeds did very well. I've
gotten a few cucumbers off them but not many. However,
all the plants are just loaded with little tiny baby cucumbers
right now so who knows, maybe I'll get a whole bunch a
I expected my first year in the greenhouse to be
a learning experience, I just didn't expect it to be quite
such a disastrous one. The worst thing about it
all is that it definitely gives my sister more ammo to
tease me about how much she can grow compared to what
I grow, and she doesn't use a greenhouse. Then again,
she doesn't live in a place with only nine guaranteed
frost free days a year and none of them consecutive!
Unless something comes up I probably won't be writing
tomorrow. I have some computer work to do for
someone in the afternoon and the rest of the time I expect
to be outside working in glorious sunshine!
a good thing I've finally got to writing the blog again.
It's been so long I've nearly forgotten how to set up
the RSS feed for each one. I actually had to think about
it this morning instead of being able to do it blindfolded.
We saw lots of animals on the side of the road on the
way to Watson Lake like Stone sheep, caribou, moose, and
even bison. The latter are huge and you sure wouldn't
want to hit one with a vehicle. It would be like hitting
a cement wall.
The Stone Mountains are one of my favorite parts of the
Alaska Highway with wild twisted white mountains rearing
up on either side of the highway. But other than the Liard
Hot Springs there really wasn't many places to stop and
investigate that we hadn't already seen the last couple
of times we had been over that highway. One change though
was the massive burn from the Smith and Liard Rivers forest
fire that started earlier this spring. It had burned
down to the highway in many places and that it was huge
was evident. However, other than the highway,
there wasn't much in the way of structures to protect
from the forest fire and I think that Forestry chose to
simply let it burn itself out over the course of the summer
and let Mother Nature take care of it when it snowed this
Muncho Lake west of the Stone Mountains is also
a stunning spot. The emerald green color of the
lake seemingly caused by the glacial silt that comes roaring
down from the surrounding mountains. We stopped there
to take the dogs for a walk through the nearly empty campground
at Strawberry Flats before carrying on to Watson Lake.
From Watson Lake you get into a country of wide sweeping
rivers and we stopped for a bite to eat at Teslin where
we checked out the George Johnson museum the last time
we were up that way. That's a stop I would recommend
highly to anyone interested in the history of that part
of the country and of the building of the Alaska Highway.
From there we went on to Whitehorse where we could pick
up the replacement part we needed for our fresh water
tank as well as a new faucet for the bathroom which had
been leaking for several days. We got settled into the
High Country RV Park before heading to downtown Whitehorse
in search of groceries and other supplies. Prices on the
road up tend to be pretty high once you leave Prince George
so we tried to make sure we were stocked up until we could
get to Whitehorse where prices on most things are lower
than they are in Williams Lake. Go figure.
I love that city. It's pretty and lot of well thought
out planning has gone into its development that include
good, wide highways and roads. Of course sitting
on one of the prettiest rivers in the world doesn't hurt
its cachet either. It's still a source of amazement
to me that the Yukon can be such a stunning blue river
at Whitehorse and such a huge, muddy river by the time
it reaches Dawson City!
We pulled out of the city the next day after a little
more shopping and headed for Caribou Crossing. Spirit
Lake is on the way and loads of tour buses pulled in there
to take pictures of the fantastic colors of the little
lake. When we got to Caribou Crossing, those same
tour buses was stacked in ten deep along with others that
had come up from Skagway for the day. It was the
first time we actually saw a lot of tourists but that
usually happens when the cruise ships come in to Skagway
and then bring tourists up on buses to Carcross and then
Caribou Crossing. Andy wanted to see Michelle Phillips
who runs sled dogs in the Yukon Quest. He had gotten to
know her through emails and sponsoring her since meeting
her in 2007 at Caribou Crossing when friends of ours at
Little Atlin Lake introduced us to her. Andy had in turn
hooked her up with our Post Mistress and her son at Nimpo
Lake who also run sled dogs and they've since gotten dogs
from Michelle. The girl at the museum told us that most
of the tour buses will have cleared out by 2:30 and Michelle
wouldn't be as busy taking tourists out on sled rides
after that. So we killed a little time at the smallest
desert in the world between Caribou Crossing and Carcross
before coming back.
That's a pretty cool place. The sand is as pure
as sand gets, with little or nothing growing on it and
you could tell the dogs enjoyed the feeling of it under
their feet immensely, especially our Lab, who is getting
pretty foot sore in her old age. We went back to the Crossing
after that and had a great afternoon before going on to
Tagish where we stayed overnight. We were just trying
to kill time before arriving at our friends' place on
Little Atlin because they weren't expecting us until Thursday
and we didn't want to intrude on the visit they were having
with family that week. Incidentally, Michelle Phillips
will be running in the Iditarod this coming winter instead
of the Yukon Quest so keep an eye out for her!
We spent a week at Little Atlin waiting for our friends
that had gotten married up north to meet up with us before
heading back south together. A few days after we arrived
we drove back into Whitehorse for a few things and to
find a much needed laundromat. We wanted to get the laundry
done before going to lunch and since we were told by many
that the Edgewater Pub was the place to go, that's where
we headed. It's only a great place to go
if you're there before 2:00. It was just before two before
we got to the restaurant and ordered something to drink.
We were handed dinner menus that had only heavy supper
fare on it. When we asked for a lunch menu we were told
we couldn't have lunch because it was after two (five
minutes after I might add) and the cooks had already changed
shifts. All we wanted was a burger, salad, or soup and
sandwich type of thing. We definitely did not want
any of the supper offered on the limited menu!
I've cooked in many restaurants and I've never been in
one yet where the afternoon shift didn't know how or wasn't
willing to make lunch fare. We were teed off, and the
waitress very rude, so I handed over five dollars for
the Pepsi and iced tea we didn't have and we left. We
knew there was a Boston Pizza a few blocks down and we
knew exactly what they served. The food was excellent
and the service extraordinary but it's sad that we had
to eat at a chain restaurant. I usually prefer
to sample the food at local restaurants when raveling
because you just get more of a feel for the place you're
going through. It seems to me that we ate at the Edgewater
the last time we were in Whitehorse and weren't any too
happy with it then either, and the place's prices are
Next time we're up that way, I won't forget.
Andy had brought his tools up to help Jack work on his
house, but there wasn't much for me to do. It rained pretty
much every day or night that we were there so getting
outside wasn't always nice and although there were miles
of road to walk up in the bush, I wasn't keen on walking
the dogs by myself.
After a few years of walking my dogs, I know them well
and it was pretty obvious just watching them that
there were bears around. I had noted a wild raspberry
patch along our hosts' driveway the first day and figured
I would bring a bucket out one day to pick them. They
were gone the next day. Andy and I picked wild raspberries
near the house and I helped Beryl pick her tame raspberries
in the same place one day, and on both occasions I could
smell the sour scent of an animal that had gone through.
The bush is thick in that country and dripping with raspberries
and high bush cranberry. Andy kept trying to convince
me that all the dogs were smelling were squirrels. Yeah...
right. Darned big squirrels I think! My instincts
were finally proven right on the morning we left a week
I had been awake since five that morning for some insane
reason or other. Andy got up a while later to walk the
dogs and as I lay there in the trailer with my head under
a pillow I suddenly decided that he should take the bear
spray with him. I had just started to tell him that as
he headed out the door when the dogs sounded off in the
canopy in the back of the truck. Andy went roaring
out to keep them from waking up our hosts in the house
in time to see a grizzly sow and three cubs mosey down
the road past the truck. Yes, the very road we
had been walking the dogs on through the same bush they
had been doing some serious sniffing in during the past
week. I'm thankful now that we had been keeping a pretty
close rein on them throughout the week and hadn't let
them go deep into the bush as they kept trying to do,
or chances are pretty good that at least one dog would
have gotten itself torn up if it had gotten in between
that sow and her cubs. Of course I had just as much trouble
keeping Andy from walking the dogs down the road in the
same direction as the sow and cubs had just gone that
morning as he was so determined to do. I'm not sure
if that was the risk-taking A type personality coming
out in him or the alternative, which I won't repeat
here, but it was as hard to convince him to go in the
other direction as it was to convince the stupid dogs.
I was not unhappy that we were pulling out that morning.
We met with our now newly married friends at Jake's Corner
and headed for Beaver Post where people that the guys
knew from Summerland built a great RV Park, store, restaurant
and mechanic's shop. It's a beautiful place but it was
as empty as all the other RV Parks we had been to on the
way up the Alaska Highway. We had a great run south on
the Cassiar Highway once we got past construction at the
beginning. From around Kiniskan Lake to the junction of
Highway 16 is all new pavement and I would have
to recommend that highway over the Alaska Highway by a
long shot. Where you deal with miserable seal
coat, gravel, crack sealing and constant road construction
on the Alaska Highway, the Cassiar Route has brand new
pavement. We were surprised to see though that the mudslide
that wiped out the road just north of Kiniskan in 2007
and that we just barely snuck through before it closed
for a week has only been patched up with one lane for
a short distance. But other than that and the short stretch
from the junction at Beaver Post where there is road construction,
the road is excellent.
We stayed overnight in Prince George before returning
home and the city was shrouded in forest fire smoke. It
was smoky all the way to Williams Lake and just worsened
as we started out west. The huge fire at Lava Canyon near
Alexis Creek was between 55 and 60,000 hectares or nearly
150,000 acres burned at the time we went through and winds
had carried the smoke to PG. We passed numerous
small fire trucks from different communities around BC
and finally realized why when we got to Redstone.
All of the outer ring buildings there had sprinkler systems
on the roofs and we figured that since it was supper time
when the red trucks passed us, they were probably told
to return to the huge fire camp at Bull Canyon for supper.
The trucks were most likely being used to pressurize the
sprinkler systems rather than water pumps, either because
the water system at Redstone would not support the sprinklers
adequately, or regular pumps could not be secured from
theft. Smoke was thick nearly all the way out, and then
we started encountering smoke from the remainders of forest
fires that had burned out here. Surprisingly though,
the smoke cleared out by the next day and we haven't seen
any at Nimpo since.
Overall it would have been a really nice trip up in to
the Yukon except that every time I called down to our
neighbour in Nimpo for forest fire updates, she told me
what fabulous weather they had been enjoying here. I sure
could have gotten a lot of stuff done around here with
nice weather had we not gone north. But we did, so there
In Nimpo Lake It has sprinkled off an on all day with
a wild wind passing through now and again while apparently
it rained hard and long in Anahim Lake today. I've been
stuck in the office all day without even an opportunity
to go for a walk with the dogs so I suppose the weather
didn't really matter. It's supposed to be nice tomorrow
which we will be great for everyone that's going out on
trail improvement tomorrow. I can't go but I'll try for
Sunday. We all went out this past Sunday and it was a
terrific day where we accomplished lots.
Back From The Yukon
a little later updating the blog than I expected to be
by at least a week. I mentioned in the last one that I
wouldn't be writing until around the first week of September.
We did get back from the Yukon last week, but it seems
like we've been going steadily playing catch up after
being gone for nearly three weeks. I'm sure any of you
that take holidays know what that's all about. Although
it rained on us a good bit while we were up north, apparently
it was hot and sunny here in Nimpo Lake the whole time
we were gone, so the first order of business was
to get water on as many of my plants as I possibly could
because they had about reached their limit in survivability.
There hadn't been rain around here for three weeks but
of course it promptly rained when we got home and has
been spitting off and on ever since. I'm pretty sure the
stuff is following us around.
Friends of ours from the Okanagan were determined
to get married on top of Keno Mountain in the Yukon this
summer. Unfortunately, paperwork prevented them
from deciding on going until a few days before they left
to go north, with hopes that we could make it up there
in time to stand up for them at their wedding. We were
keeping an eye out on several of our neighbours' places
and we were surrounded by a number of forest fires, so
I wasn't keen on leaving here before at least one set
of neighbours came in and things had slowed down a bit
on the fire front.
We finally decided to leave on the day of my last posting
because we had a good weather change, neighbours had arrived
to keep an eye on things, and most of the fires that might
have been any hazard were in mop up stage. Sadly,
we knew we couldn't make it to Keno Mountain in time,
but we assured our friends that we would meet them at
Little Atlin Lake and travel back south with them.
We had to lay over in Williams Lake until Saturday morning
when Andy had to take our truck up to the Auto Glass for
a windshield replacement. We were near Alexis Creek when
we went over a long patch of crack sealing in the road.
Both we and the vehicle in front of us slowed down, but
the S.O.B. driving a First Aid truck for the Cariboo Fire
Center and coming toward us didn't bother to. He
was going so fast that when he kicked up a rock as he
passed us, it put a hole in the windshield that penetrated
to the inside and peppered the dash with shattered glass.
I guess CFC can be happy that they got back at us for
all the complaining I did about the unmanned lookout towers
in our region this spring. Incidentally, those lookouts
definitely paid for themselves this year. They reported
lots of fires so the manager of the Cariboo Fire Center
is going to have an awkward time explaining why we shouldn't
have them in the future should he try to pull the same
fast one on us that he did earlier this year.
We got out of Willy's Puddle by noon and boogied on up
the Alaska Highway to settle into an RV park at Azouzetta
Lake well north of Prince George the first night. Man,
that's a pretty spot! We only drove by it the last
time and took note of the fabulous mountains and emerald
green water but we hit the park at the perfect
time to stop this time. While it was only a dry camp,
it was also only $15 and was a terrific place to walk
the dogs. A little walk down a trail beyond the camp a
ways took you to a road that followed a railroad track
for ages. No people, traffic, or other dogs, but lots
of great smells and places to investigate for our three
For a lot of people going on an RV trip or camping, it
may not make much difference to them whether there's much
of a place to walk their dog if they have one. The majority
of travelers in our experience have only small dogs, (although
there are definitely exceptions) and they only walk their
dogs a few hundred feet at most. Our three full
sized monsters need a whole lot more exercise than that
so we try to keep an eye out for campgrounds or Provincial
Parks that accommodate that. Trails that take
off into the bush are the best. Other campers will rarely
go into unfamiliar country so we nearly always have the
trails to ourselves, especially early in the morning when
Andy religiously takes the dogs for long, long walks in
order to kindly let me sleep in later in relative peace.
(I'm the nighthawk, remember? And he's the insane pre-dawn
person. Hey... it works.) He's usually back before other
campers have even gotten up and readied their dogs for
The next morning we were only about an hour out from Chetwynd
and decided to stop there to take pictures of the tremendous
chainsaw carvings along the highway there. It's hard to
believe that most of these carvings are done from a single
log. They're some art form! We were so early
in the day we decided that we would not go on to Dawson
Creek and stop there with friends that helped us out when
our fridge caught on fire four times in 2006 on our way
to Alaska and we nearly burned up our travel trailer.
(See you guys next time!!) Instead, we decided we would
really like to go on a little loop that takes you past
the Bennett Dam and where you eventually come back out
onto the Alaska Highway north of Fort Saint John. It's
a great loop from Chetwynd through Hudson Hope and I would
recommend it to anyone that wants a little side trip.
It's also shorter.
Through the loop and along the Peace River is some
fantastic farmland and just plain beautiful country,
but there were signs posted high in the trees showing
the regulated level of water if a hydro electric dam was
put in that valley between Hudson Hope and Fort St. John.
That makes absolutely no sense to me and I had heard here
and there that there was some really negative response
to the possibility of a dam. Small wonder. It's a breathtaking
valley and people live there. Why displace people and
destroy good farmland when BC holds a myriad of rivers
in isolated regions where absolutely no one lives and
the land is worthless for agriculture. Better yet, why
not explore the River Run projects which supposedly will
not affect hatcheries in any way, there's little disturbance
to a river, and no huge dam and destruction of land behind
it is necessary? Oh, let me guess. Political and corporate
greed. Destroying viable farmland and displacing folks
is old hat. Why not explore some alternative ways of producing
energy? If we don't have enough energy, perhaps we need
to stop selling it south of the border until we've come
up with a better solution to the energy shortage.
We headed on up the road to Fort Nelson and both
the towns and the highway were shockingly empty.
Where before the highway had been buzzing with RV's and
other tourist vehicles, as well as trucks hauling oversized
loads hither and yon for oil exploration companies, and
both towns crowded with vehicles and oil patch workers,
now all seemed eerily quiet. The town streets swept bare
and clean, huge machinery parked and silent in equipment
yards, and weeds growing up in the parking lots in front
of some of those office buildings. The highway was just
There was a raven playing in the wind in the middle of
the highway which decided to take a drop in the air currents
right in front of our truck, whereupon we smoked him squarely,
and the grill and hood was decorated with a very large,
very dead hood ornament until we could get stopped. We
were on the side of the highway duct taping our grill,
and patching our bug screen when a cop passed us.
He was good enough to stop and turn around to see if we
were okay, but there weren't that many vehicles besides
him that passed us while we were parked. The road is lonely
enough now that they must have a policeman patrolling
the highway on a steady basis as we saw him later on as
well. It makes sense. There's no cell service there and
it's a long way to walk to nowhere.
We were getting pretty tired by the time we hit Fort Nelson
when we decided to stay in what we had thought to be a
pretty dingy RV Park on the northern side of the town
the last time we went through. But we weren't about to
pass it up this time because past experience had taught
us that a lot of road side businesses and parks were closed
the last time we went through, and there are not
many places to get off the highway north of Fort Nelson
until you hit a Provincial Park a couple hours away.
The little park actually turned out to be quite nice once
you got past the facade and had we not been so darned
tired, we would have taken advantage of the dinner they
offered there for very little cost.
We were determined to take our time and only go a few
miles a day for the next couple of days so that we wouldn't
get to Whitehorse and then Little Atlin too quickly, but
fate chose to intervene. Highways maintenance had been
doing some very half assed seal coating for miles and
miles, which slowed us down a lot and was frustrating
Andy considerably. You definitely had to keep your eye
open for oncoming traffic and adjust your speed accordingly
in order to not pass on the loose gravel spots. The last
thing we needed was a rock in our brand new windshield
and I mentally cringed every time a truck went by in those
places. Fortunately, there was little traffic and
we arrived in Liard Hot Springs in one piece. Almost.....
We were going to camp there but decided to go see the
famed springs first. I'm sorry folks, but I think I must
make a very sorry tourist.
We walked for ages on a board walk above what I would
term swamp, for a long, long ways. Now I'm sure that some
biologist could explain to you how precious this particular
ecosystem is and I'm sure that more than one visitor to
our country, such as some of the south Asians that we
passed on the boardwalk, would find this rare and fascinating.
But I've seen lots of that kind of swamp before. Try pulling
a moose carcass through it without benefit of a nice,
dry boardwalk and you'll not look at it so optimistically.
To me, a swamp is a swamp is a swamp. I suppose
the one benefit of this stuff is that it didn't have alligators
in it but it definitely harbored bears. Ah yes....
the famous Liard Hot Springs where a black bear attacked
four different people and killed two about the same date
in August, twelve years earlier. Maybe that's what flavored
my view of the hot springs when we finally arrived at
the lower one after clunking along the boardwalk for some
time. Unless you plan on swimming in it, there is nothing
to set the lower pool apart from any other hot spring,
while the walk to the upper pool called the "Hanging
Gardens" and which I very much would have liked to
see, was blocked off due to a bear in the area.
So much for that. We clunked back to the trailer, finding
the engineering of the boardwalk of far more interest
than the springs and I decided to turn the water pump
on in the trailer before we left. It cycled but wouldn't
pull up any water.
The famous old lodge at Liard Hot Springs was closed and
we couldn't be sure we could find a water hookup nearby.
We had planned on staying in a dry camp at the Provincial
Park at Liard, but since at the time we figured that there
was something wrong with the pump, and it wasn't terribly
late in the day, we decided we had better head to Watson
Lake. There at least we knew we could get a full service
hookup and wouldn't need our pump at all until we could
get to Whitehorse and purchase a new one. Eventually we
discovered that rocks from the seal coat crack sealing
we had gone over had shattered the valve holding water
on our fresh water tank and all of our water had leaked
out, which is why the pump was cycling but not bringing
Watson Lake was a real eye opener. No tourists!
We arrived at a campground we had stayed at a couple of
times before that was usually chalk full. Of the over
130 spaces available that we counted, there was a total
of 13 of us that night, and two of those were tenters.
We could all scatter out and hardly even see each other.
It was creepy. We sure didn't have to worry about the
dogs plodding into anyone's camp by accident or annoying
anyone on the way to the back trail. There simply wasn't
anyone to annoy.
The store at the RV Park is usually so busy that you have
to wait for ages to get help but it was shutting down
in a couple of days for lack of customers and everything
was on half price. There was no one sitting at the counters
using the wireless Internet which were usually so full
I never did get to use them in the past but sat outside
on the ground instead. The two mechanics at the garage
next door were pretty lonely and bored looking and were
more than happy to pass the time with anyone that stepped
through the door.
Watson Lake itself looked like a ghost town when
we cruised through the next morning. We pulled
up to the sign post forest to look at the front signs
and were surprised to see no one else there. Previously,
you had to look for a place to park and there were lots
of people meandering through all the rows. We were it
this time and it seemed kind of sad and lonely around
there. But that was the case all the way up the Alaska
Highway. Very little traffic and roadside businesses and
campgrounds closed all along the highway north. It seemed
that businesses that might have struggled through last
year's lack of tourists because of astronomic fuel prices
just couldn't make it through this year's economic downturn.
Watson Lake also marked the start of the rain that we
ended up with for most of the trip, marking its appearance
that evening with a roof drumming downpour shortly after
we returned from walking the dogs.
I'll quit here and continue the trip later.
Our weather since we got home has been kind of iffy
compared to the weather they had while we were gone.
It was hot and quite nice for a day or two, then it cooled
down significantly and has been mixed cloud and sun with
intermittent rain showers. Not enough rain to preclude
watering but we've been pretty close to freezing a couple
of times and there's been dew, which helps. Last night
it dropped to freezing even on the lake but the morning
started out beautifully. By this afternoon it had started
sprinkling though and I was starting to get pretty wet
by the time I got back from walking the dogs.
You'll find August's entries at August
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!