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Wilderness Adventures - Sept. Week Two/2008

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' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.


14/09/2008 7:13 PM

The Fox

I have some stories to share with you that I'm really excited about and I'll explain at the end of this posting.
We are getting really wonderful weather right now. It absolutely could not be better! A little too hot for hunting so we haven't been out since Thursday because Friday was a town day but that's okay. It's supposed to cool down toward the end of the week and we'll go back out then. Until then, we may do some scouting but more likely we'll work on the greenhouse and I'll get some canning done.
We got Mary down at Nimpo Lake Resort to smoke our summer catch of trout for us and it's ready for canning now. Her daughter was kind enough to give us a big box of peaches and I've got some beets to go down, so I guess I'll be overheating the kitchen for the next couple of days. I'm not sure I could have picked a hotter time to do the canning.
The temperature for the last few days has been doing some pretty remarkable things. We had a high of 21.4C last Thursday, while it blew and spit on Friday and yesterday it never made it above 14C even though it was sunny. Today it was 22C or over 70F the one time I looked at the thermometer, and it's been freezing faithfully every night. We couldn't figure out why my tender plants weren't freezing so Andy set a thermometer out low to the ground and found that while the air temperature was two degrees below freezing, at ground surface it was two degrees above freezing. So that old dirt is still holding some warmth! Particularly with the sun we've had for the past few days.
Today was as clear as a bell and you could see fish jumping all over Nimpo Lake for most of the day and into this evening. I couldn't resist taking the dogs for an extra long walk today and as we came back through the woods from the gun range, it became pretty apparent that the two dogs in front were onto something. They may have been hearing something but for sure they were scenting something ahead of us. They were pretty cautious about topping out on the little hills on the trail though, preferring to sneak up to the crest. So much for bravery in that crew!
When we came out at what we call the T on our main road, I would normally have turned left on the trail and continued through the woods but the dogs were pointing their noses the other way so we went out on the road instead. Standing there in the middle of it was a beautiful gold colored fox with a white bottle brush tail not 50 feet away. He watched us for a minute or so while I put the lead on the pup and kept the other two at my side, then crossed into the underbrush on our side of the road and faded out of sight. I'm sure he only went far enough for us to not see him before he stopped, and probably watched while we turned away and got back on the trail through the woods to home. He sure was tame and I found out when I got home that our neighbours have seen him twice in the last little while.
Besides the fox there have been horses and deer all through the trails in the backwoods but still no fresh sign of a bear. I don't know if our bear moved on or he's just staying in the cooler parts of the woods. I did notice that there are sections of our woods getting as dry as they were up on Charlotte Main the other day, even with the bit of rain and heavy dew we've had. The moss and lichen are getting really dry and crunchy.
Tonight while I write this I can see a big yellow moon rising in the east and looking pretty darned full while out the window to the west the sun has just gone down and colored a few wispy clouds pink and red. It looks like another glorious day tomorrow!
And now to stuff that makes me really happy. Facts!
I wrote some time ago about John Wilson and Blair Gough who as teenagers had been hired to look after Rimarko Ranch 30 years ago and who came back out a few weeks ago to revisit the ranch and some old memories.
They kindly gave me permission to use their photos, both old and new, and said they would pass on some stories about their experiences as they got time. John did one better and contacted Chalmers I. Morse, the son of the man that built Rimarko, Charles Morse. He arranged for Mr. Morse to contact me, and though it took us a while to get our emails worked out, he has very kindly offered to sort out some of the rumors and stories surrounding Rimarko Ranch all these years.
I asked Mr. Morse to begin at the beginning, giving the history of Rimarko Ranch and why his Dad built on Charlotte Lake. I have received a couple of brilliant emails in return telling his family's story and I very much look forward to posting them on the site this week. So....tomorrow I will start a new week and all of you folks that have expressed an interest in the mystery of Rimarko will get to hear how the Ranch came about and perhaps if we're really lucky, Mr. Morse will tell us a bit about the operation, events, and guests that visited this remarkable place over the years and what eventually became of it.

11/09/2008 8:04 PM

Day Two

This is our second day of hunting and we've decided we're not as super motivated as we probably should be but we're sure having fun. Most of the moose sign is old and there doesn't seem to be a lot around. For one thing, it's quite warm and the meadows that we walked into are pretty buggy with blackflies and mosquitoes. Most smart animals are still up in the high country where there are harder frosts at night. Still, it's been a long time since we've made the time to go out, tour the country and just spend the day together. There isn't any better excuse for getting away from work at home than hunting. It's serious business, after all.
The day started out really nice but deteriorated midday and by afternoon it had clouded over and was spitting rain. That was okay because Andy had stuff to do for the community hall and I had work to do. Still, it was a great morning!
We went on a long, long walk on the old Charlotte Lake road which was deactivated back in the early 90's. Prior to that it was the only good way to get into Charlotte. Once they built the new logging road off the Hooch, they tore up the old one. Still a major beef of mine because it was an ancient road and predated the logging company so I don't think either they, or any of the other 'interest' groups had a right to destroy it. I'm surprised to this day that it was allowed but I understand it's happened in other parts of the province, where a small minority with a personal stake, close off old public trails and roads.
In any case, the road is nearly impassable now but back in the late 80's and early 90's, I could drive it and get into the entrance of a massive chain of meadows that literally went for miles. You could have spent a full day walking it and you still wouldn't see it all. I used to call it Split Rock, for a huge rock past the first meadow standing in the middle of nowhere, and split through the middle. All around the meadows were tiny grassy potholes, some with water, some not, surrounded with skinny little pine stands thicker than the hair on a dog's back. Once you struggled, panted and crawled your way into a pothole, literally being clawed by sharp, dead branches, you would find more moose sign than you could shake a stick at. Fresh beds, buckbrush chomped on, fresh droppings and tracks. But no moose. That's because any moose in one of those potholes could hear you thrashing your way through the bush, swearing a blue streak, for miles. Every little pothole I found showed the same sign of recent occupation and I'm convinced that a lot of moose hung out in those potholes during the day where they were safe from everything and everybody, and came out to feed in the meadows at night.
I spent many a long day on those meadows, sometimes with another hunter like my Mom, but usually by myself, sitting in the sun or a few inches of snow, depending on the fall, just enjoying the place. I heard moose in the brush behind me sometimes but never saw one. Every morning that I went there I would see fresh tracks in the dew and the frost covered meadow grass pressed down in any number of trails crossing the meadow. I still never saw a moose, but it just didn't matter. I loved the place. I'm a great believer in 'good' ground and 'bad or evil' feeling ground. And that place had good ground. Unfortunately, I never had the time to fully explore the place and follow all the meadows in the chain. Every time I tried I would come out on yet another meadow. Now, I'm not sure I could find it again, but we tried today. Hence the long walk on the long deactivated and overgrown road, looking for some landmark, or any sign that I was in the right place. It's amazing how dead pine trees, new growth, and 20 years can mess up your memory. But I'm lucky because Andy seems willing to trail along helping me to look for Split Rock Meadow. So if we're lucky, we'll find it some time in the next couple of weeks. If not, it will always live in my memory.
It's clearing off tonight so I'm hoping for a little nicer day tomorrow. Even with the spitting rain it hasn't amounted to much moisture so I need to spend the day watering everything in for the winter. We were really surprised to discover an area up on Charlotte Main yesterday that was extremely dry. We were walking through the woods and it was like walking on dried cornflakes. Even the moss was crunchy. Thankfully, it's not that dry in our own woods, or other places that we walked today, but still, my plants could do with a little help.
Speaking of walking, it was later this evening before I could take the dogs for a walk. While it wasn't dark yet, it was getting that way in the back woods and I could tell the dogs were getting more uncomfortable the later it got. River has eyes like a human, so of course he's scared to death of the dark, but it doesn't look like the new pup is going to be much better. Normally she's way behind investigating something, ranging off in the woods on one side or the other, or galloping ahead determined to see all before the other two dogs do. Tonight she stayed pretty much glued to my left knee while the ever so brave Rottweiler was having a hard time not knocking into my backside. They all got better once I came out onto the road where there was more light and the woods weren't closing in so much. You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief. So much for bear protection. I don't think it will be all that easy to fend off a bear with three dogs quaking between my knees.
I was highly peeved with the weather people on television tonight to discover that Vancouver had a clear, sunny day today and we didn't. I swear, they've really got to stop stealing our good weather. On the other hand, they're a lot better off than Texas.
Things don't look too happy for the east coast of Texas for the next little while with Ike barreling in. From the sounds of it, it's been a long time since a hurricane of that magnitude hit the area and the weather warning folks seem to be in a panic that millions of people aren't taking them seriously enough. I kind of wondered if that would happen with Gustav not being nearly as disastrous as predicted. People are going to assume the weather centers are crying wolf from now on. Good luck to folks down there.
Last but not least, our thoughts are with those lost on 9/11.

10/09/2008 8:58 PM

A Great Day!

We had an outstanding day today. The weather cooperated and we spent about five and a half hours out in the bush today. I love hunting but mostly as an excuse to just get out there. We wandered a couple of meadows and checked out a few spots from the past. A lot of old track soup is all we found but that's okay. We had a great time exploring. There's a lot of new logging landings on the Hooch that were not there before and a brand new barbed wire fence making it less appealing to hunt some of the meadows back in there. On the other hand, a fence that keeps cattle contained in one area makes it a lot easier to track wild game movements in another.
We discovered that someone just deactivated Charlotte Main just past kilometer 24 which is a very interesting development. It will be interesting to see if it's just for hunting season or permanent. On the one hand, it's good to see because the hordes of mushroom hunters that came in after the Lonesome Lake fire made a real mess of the area. And someone, probably mushroom hunters, tore out a big steel gate that had been used previously to block the road when necessary. So the vandalism has now resulted in a very deep ditch across the road, completely blocking access into the backcountry. That's really sad because most of us that are full time residents consider ourselves careful stewards of the land.
It was fascinating to walk the meadows and see some of the plants at that higher elevation that are totally different from the ones down here at 3600 feet. There were all kinds of berry producing plants of all shapes and sizes that were just loaded with fruit. We came across two sets of bear tracks on the road that were obviously those of a sow and at least one cub. She had just left a very large deposit made up of berries, leaves and grass, indicating what the main staple of her diet this time of year is while her cub had left its mark as well.
Today was a warm day and clear over Nimpo. It clouded over a bit up where we were and that brought the bugs out. That high pressure system is still building off the coast and it looks like they're going to have awesome weather for a week. I only hope that a nasty little system out there slides to the north and misses us so that we get the same weather as the Lower Mainland. Much as hot weather may not be good for hunting, I would rather have it, even if it does mean celebrating summer in September!

09/09/2008 7:44 PM

The Site Search

I have finally gotten a decent site search on the website. And I can't begin to tell you how delighted I am with it. It's way more efficient than the other one I had on here. Which wouldn't take much because it was next to useless. I know well what I have on these web pages but whenever I did a search on the other engine, little ever showed up. Doing a search for stories I did on Pan Phillips, Rich Hobson or John Edwards showed up diddly and trying to find a web page in which I knew I had weather information for the previous years got me nowhere. I figured if I was that frustrated with the search function, I couldn't imagine what people visiting the site and trying to find information were saying under their breath!
The new site search is powered by Google and though it cost me quite a bit annually considering that I won't get anything back from it, at least it works well. Now when folks search the site, if I've written about it, it will show up on the search results page. So go check it out! It's at the bottom of nearly every page on the site except past blogs. I ran out of oomph and haven't done them yet.
(I feel like a kid with a new toy...!!)
As usual, I invariably decide I'm going to set about doing something complicated, that's been needing doing, late at night. Which is what happened last night. I finally just got fed up with my site search and decided to check out what Google had. Of course I had bookmarked what I wanted about a year ago but darned if I could find it. I don't know about you folks but my browser bookmarks index looks like the top of my desk! In any case, I purchased what I needed and then had to figure out how to generate the code, get it on my pages, get them loaded up, and test them. I didn't finish the final bit until this morning because I finally powered out last night, but as far as I know, all the pages test out okay. If any of you notice a problem in the course of using the search function, please let me know.
Today was an absolute humdinger! While it froze last night, it must have been just barely because all of my plants are still kicking. I forgot to check how warm it got today but probably about the same as yesterday. A bit of a cool breeze but in the sun, it was hot at times! We had clear sky for most of the day and I only hope it keeps up for at least the next week. When it's like this we don't get much in the way of fog in the morning, and since hunting season starts tomorrow, fog we don't need.
Unfortunately, I was chained to the computer most of the morning but I got out a little bit this afternoon and managed to get a walk in again. Though there aren't many tracks in the back woods, there's definitely at least one deer wandering all over the place back there. The tracks aren't that large, but they're deep considering that the ground is fairly hard in places, which would indicate a fairly heavy animal. Andy said the dogs were going nuts this morning so it's possible that they picked up the scent of the deer. Or a rabbit, squirrel, grouse, mouse, grasshopper....beetle..... I don't really trust their noses much. They think everything is worth getting excited about!
I have to keep this short tonight because the work is starting to pile up so I'll leave off here.

08/09/2008 12:08 PM

September Fishing

I always look forward to September because I think it's the best month to be in the Chilcotin. We often have awesome weather and Saturday and Sunday were no exception. Saturday was mixed sun and cloud but it was a really nice day after the rain of Friday night. Which was fortunate because we were invited to the neighbours' for deep fried turkey Saturday. Yep, putting a turkey down in a steel pot of hot oil just like you see them do in the South!
I really wanted to see this operation because of course you hear horror stories of fat boiling over and starting fires. Our host was very careful and turned off the propane burner before slowly lowering the turkey in. That actually took quite a time because as the moisture in the turkey hits that hot oil, it boils up so the bird has to go down a bit, back up a bit, hold and then down again a few times before it's all the way down and the lid can be put on. You have to monitor the temperature pretty closely but in 45 minutes out came this beautiful turkey with nice crusty skin on the outside and super moist on the inside. It was just terrific as were the potato french fries. Not at all greasy like what you get in most restaurants. I think we just might have to get one of those units. As our friend said, it would be a great tool for neighbourhood cookouts and would probably make terrific fish and chips.
Sunday was absolutely spectacular on the weather front and I'll be the first to admit that I only got a little computer work done. We still had to put a second coat on our log fence and yesterday was finally warm enough to do so. And we went fishing. Twice! We went out for a couple of hours in the morning because that flat calm lake and fishing jumping was just too irresistible and we got four fish. I got skunked. I didn't even get a bite. I decided that my poor old red fly had just been used for too many years and was too beat up. Mind you, I've got a new leader on and haven't caught a fish since that went on my line.
While I went for a walk in the afternoon Andy boated over to Stewart's resort and got some flies similar to what he's been using and we put a nice bright yellow one on my line. I definitely did much better when we went out in the evening. I brought two in with one too little to stay, another that got off when we tried to net him and then I lost a hog. Actually, I didn't lose him. He just decided he wasn't coming in and that's all! We were almost back to our dock when he hit and you could just tell when my line went zinging out and see that dorsal fin above the water even at that distance that he was good sized. I said to Andy, "Oh no, I've got a shark." Andy was busy trying to get his own line in while I muttered that I didn't think I'd be bringing him in. Sure enough I only had him on for a minute and then he took my fly and shortened my leader up substantially. I didn't mind losing him but I sure would like to have gotten him close enough to the boat to see what size he was. But we got six fish altogether yesterday so with what we have in the freezer we've got enough for smoking and canning for the winter now.
I took my camera out with us both times yesterday because it was a clear day and the light was good. I have as much fun taking pictures as I do fishing out there. I even got a few shots of a couple of male loons battling over territory. I would have gotten several more shots too but Andy chose that moment to catch another fish. Another loon pair was complaining about us being so close to them and I got some good pictures of them as well as of floatplanes, eagles and kingfishers. Those kingfishers are so incredibly fast that it's almost impossible to get a shot of them. There was a pair squabbling and fishing yesterday but they zing around at mach speed, then dip into the water and back out again. I tried to get some shots of that but it's not easy when you're cranked around in an awkward position in a boat.
For the last three days there have been more boats out on Nimpo Lake than I can remember seeing all summer. We do get a lot of repeat vacationers to the area so it's possible that they twigged onto September being the best fishing by far and it's certainly holding true this year! Everyone is commenting on how good the fishing is and how fat the fish are. They've had lots of feed this year with higher water and lots of bugs.
Last night was the first that it didn't even get close to freezing and today has turned out pretty nice. It was a little cloudy this morning but it's cleared off with mixed sun and cloud. I don't know what the temperature was yesterday but I think it got up to at least 20C or 68F. It was pretty hot with no breeze. Today it made it to 18C last time I looked and has been breezy all day.
Afternoon:
This is going to be posted much later than the time stamp would indicate. I quit in the middle of writing this so that we could go sight in our rifles. Hunting starts for us on Wednesday since we've got a limited entry for moose. Hopefully we'll have the time to go out a few times. The cost of fuel always concerns me though when hunting. While I don't road hunt, getting to a hunting area can get costly. We'll see how it goes though. We still have to go and scout out where we're going to hunt this year. I know the area very well but haven't been out there looking for tracks for a couple of years now. It's been a cool, wet summer and there will have been a lot of frost higher up so with any luck, the animals should be moving down to this elevation soon.
I've started a new week so you'll find last week's articles at September Week One.

Brand new search engine. Check it out!!



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!
A loon sits placidly in evening tinted water.
 
Sun sets golden on the water.
 
Two loons go through ritual battle on the lake.
 
Half moon behind a bald eagle in a tree.
 
Two loons backdropped by mountains and reeds.
Floatplane flies over a fisherman in a floattube.
 
Red and white DeHavilland Beaver floatplane.
 
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