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 3/2006
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like
'Lake Monsters' - just go into Archives on the lower left side
of this page.
You can search this site for a subject of interest to you
at the bottom of this page. Check out the
of the Day.
The Mountain Man
American Traveler, Ann, made the comment in her email
- "We tend to think of "pioneer life" as something
that ended 100 years ago, but in the Chilcotin it seems
to have been so much more recent." No truer words
were spoken. Many of the people in this country still
live the pioneer life as depicted in the movies and really
think nothing of it. The conveniences they may do without
are easily offset by the lifestyle they have either chosen,
or were born into here.
I think that I mentioned before that when my family moved
from the States in '66 and I was only a child, they had
planned on purchasing a ranch north of Anahim Lake. The
summer had been so wet that they were unable to
negotiate the many miles of goat trail required to get
into the ranch and eventually settled in the 'boonies'
north of Williams Lake.
When I had the opportunity to work at the mill just being
constructed out here in 1988, I jumped at it and trust
me, the 'pioneering' spirit was still alive and well.
I had a unique experience that was my first introduction
to the Chilcotin as an adult that I will never forget.
It was only shortly after I arrived in Anahim Lake
and it was Stampede weekend where rodeo riders
from all over show up to test their skills at bull riding,
bronc riding, barrel racing and more. The tiny community
was teeming with tourists, rodeo riders, locals kids galloping
the streets on Indian ponies while Natives from Reserves
from miles away sat in front of the stores gossiping and
catching up on family news, and local ranchers and outfitters
made the long trip in from their meadows to pick up supplies
and watch the Stampede.
Suddenly, from down the street you could hear the
clatter of hooves and into sight rode this 'Mountain Man',
larger than life. The rider was a big man anyway
but he wore this huge fur coat made of either moose or
bear hide that was so long it covered his boots in the
stirrups and hung over the flanks of his horse. He had
a big bushy beard and a beat up hat pulled low over his
eyes with a rifle in a scabbard and big bedroll tied on
his horse. Behind him he pulled a long string of packhorses
at a lope loaded down with huge packs of furs bundled
with ropes. Everyone scattered as he pulled up in
front of Darcy Christiansen's General Store where presumably
he was going to sell his furs since Darcy was
a fur buyer. I lost sight of him then since I happened
to be driving down the street when I first saw him and
nearly drove off the road rubbernecking.
Later that evening I stood rubbing shoulders in the local
pub which was so packed with people it was standing room
only, when I looked over at a table with chairs crowded
round it. Sitting with his back to the wall was my Mountain
Man, smiling genially and talking with his companions
made up of local ranchers, the unruly grey hair and beard
now neatly trimmed, hat off and piercing eyes surveying
the room the whole while. I watched him for awhile, and
even though he looked quite 'civilized' and very friendly,
you could see that he was wary and not at all comfortable
with all those people. You could tell he just
couldn't wait to go home, wherever that was. I asked people
who he was and although I was told his name, being new
to the area it meant nothing to me. Apparently he came
in out of the bush only once or twice a year at most,
to sell furs he trapped and return home with the food
and supplies he would need for the year. Probably what
sticks in my mind the most that night was that the
man was sitting beneath a print hanging on the wall next
to the huge grizzly hide and the picture was also of a
mountian man from a long time ago. I don't think
the man took his seat because of the picture but because
he could watch the comings and goings with his back to
the wall. But I couldn't stop comparing his tough weathered
face with that of the grizzled old warrior in the picture.
The two could have been brothers.
To this day, I don't know who the 'Mountain Man' was and
I never saw him again. But that image in my mind will
always be there and formed my opinion of the West Chilcotin
then and there. I was never leaving!
An American Traveler in The Chilcotin
am truly one of the most fortunate people when it comes
to hearing feedback to this blog and it's in that fashion
that I met a terrific person who, with her husband,
travelled through the West Chilcotin this summer.
Her description of the trip was so interesting and so
fresh to me that I asked if I could share it with you
folks. So it's with great appreciation that I introduce
Ann Knight to you and I really hope you enjoy her travellogue
as much as I did! I think I might thin out the pictures
on the right a bit so I can add some of Ann's great images
We had an absolutely wonderful trip to British Columbia
and seeing the Chilcotin was a very special part of the
trip! It is an incredibly beautiful area, so vast and
unspoiled and I think about it every day, wishing and
hoping to come back. It all started with a fantastic day
on the ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Coola. It was July
1st - Canada Day - and the captain and crew of the Spirit
of Chiliwack went out of their way to make it a fun and
festive day for the whole group. There were relatively
few passengers and by the end of the day we were like
one happy family! As we headed up the Inside Passage we
saw several groups of humpback whales! It was hot and
sunny and we had a yummy salmon BBQ dinner on the deck
as we headed up the Bentnick Arm to Bella Coola.
The scenery was spectacular and kept getting better and
better with every mile. We pulled into Bella Coola about
8:30pm as the Captain led us with a rousing "O Canada"
and the snow capped mountains sparkled like jewels all
around us. We spent two days exploring the beautiful Bella
Coola valley. We went to the little farmers market and
met some nice local folks and also stopped in at virtually
every shop or store in the valley. Everyone was just so
nice and friendly. And we were so lucky with the hot sunny
weather and clear skies.
The mountains were spectacular so as we drove we kept
stopping for more pictures. We hiked up to the petroglyphs,
had a picnic lunch at Clayton Falls and watched the bald
eagles in the harbor and estuary. After leaving Hagensborg
we drove up the valley and spent the night at the Atnarko
Campground and visited the Tweedsmuir Lodge. The next
day we started "up the hill". What a drive! All the way
up we kept stopping for pictures - where it was wide enough
to be safe. Just over the pass we started off on a hike
to the Rainbow Range, but the mosquitoes were just too
nasty so we only went a mile or so.
We stopped at Christensen's Store in Anahim Lake and the
lady there told us about a local "must see" called "The
Precipice". So we drove out to see this deep gorge cut
into what looked like volcanic rock, with a waterfall
and a pool down at the bottom. It was about 18km out of
town, southwest I think. On the way back to town it was
getting late so we decided to pull off the road near a
pretty lake and meadow and just camp "off the beaten path".
We hadn't seen another car for miles, or any houses or
buildings or anything so we figured it would be ok. There
was a track of sorts out into the meadow, so we were well
off the road. We were self-contained in our little RV
and it was a wonderful night! The view from our "dining
room" was a postcard - the meadow and lake with the spectacular
Coast Range in the distance. I've never been as "out in
the middle of nowhere" as that - and it was great! The
only bad part was the mosquitoes, so we had to stay inside!
As we'd traveled over the pass the day before we'd noticed
a large smoke cloud way off in the distance to the north.
When we were at Christensen's Store the lady said there
was a fire caused by lightening but it was at least a
day away. The cloud, however, continued to grow all day.
So when we woke up the next morning in our remote campsite,
the whole sky had turned to smoke. The Coast Range wasn't
even visible anymore. We drove back into town and they
said it was coming to Anahim Lake. This would have been
July 5th. So we decided to head down the highway towards
Williams Lake. I wanted to stop at Nimpo Lake but it was
so smoky it was hard on the lungs. The smoke got better
as we drove on, but it didn't really clear until we were
almost to Williams Lake. We heard all sorts of rumors
later that Anahim Lake had been evacuated and/or burned,
but I learned later that things were ok. I could certainly
see why fire is such a worry in the area with all the
pine bark beetle trees. We have a small pine bark beetle
problem where we live near Yosemite and fire is a big
worry here as well.
One of the many highlights of the drive through the Chilcotin
was seeing a moose! He was just sauntering across the
road just past the HalfWay Ranch! I managed to get a couple
of photos as he slowly crossed the road. We didn't see
any bears in the Chilcotin, but we did see 7 in all during
the rest of our BC trip - no grizzles, and no close encounters,
but exciting none the less! We did take your advice and
bought some bear spray and carried it with us whenever
we were hiking. One helpful thing for folks flying in
from the US: buy the bear spray in Canada and then (if
you don't end up using it), you can ship it back home
via UPS Ground. It worked out fine and was cheap insurance.
Before our trip I had read Diana French's book "The Road
Runs West: A Century Along the Chilcotin Highway" and
had found it very interesting to read about the people
and characters who'd settled in the Chilcotin. So there
were some special discoveries on our trip because of this:
all the old hats on the wall in the Post Office at Anahim
Lake belonging to so many of the old timers whose lives
and stories I'd read about, and finding Harold Stuart's
old place at Redstone. I know we weren't supposed to,
but we did wander around the old store and shop and looked
at all the old "junk" that he'd left lying around. But
we treated everything with the utmost respect - it was
like a real life museum! He must have been quite a character!
It gave me a real sense of how tough life must have been
even just a few short years ago for folks in the area.
We tend to think of "pioneer life" as something that ended
100 years ago, but in the Chilcotin it seems to have been
so much more recent - within our own lifetime. We also
stopped at the Tatla Lake School, since I have a link
to their webcam and I check it almost daily to see how
things look. Unfortunately the smoke was still heavy there
so the mountains weren't too visible. It seemed all too
soon that we were heading down Sheep Creek Hill and into
"civilization" on the other side of the bridge. I just
wish we'd had more time and could have spent a week or
two just in the Chilcotin! Maybe next trip?
Thanks Ann. Hope you guys got to see a little
of the Chilcotin from fresh eyes and enjoyed Ann's insight
as much as I.
Anahim Lake Property For Sale
have just listed a really pretty property with Anahim
Lake waterfront on the Property
for Sale page. It's a really nice home
on 2.89 acres sitting right on Anahim Lake with
a spectacular view of the Coastal Mountains. The
home has had lots of improvements in the last five years
including septic, new drilled well and a huge new deck
just built this summer that overlooks the lake. With two
bedrooms, loft, large living area and basement with rec.
room and more, it sounds like a great home for a growing
family or as a vacation house with lots of room to invite
There seems to have been a lot of interest generated
lately in properties for sale on both Anahim and Nimpo
Lakes which I'm glad to see. I wish good luck
to everyone that has been looking lately and hope you
all find exactly what you're looking for!
Well, it was another one of those 'iffy' days on the weather
front. Sometimes spitting a little rain, sometimes a little
thunder. Then it would clear off for a little while and
you open all the doors because the house is getting too
hot, then a quick change and it's cooling down. Welcome
to fall I guess. I sure would like to see a little
more nice weather though before winter slams down on us.
The leaves are starting to turn quickly now and you can
hear all these little Nimpo voices going, "No, no,
not yet!!!" Well, maybe that's just my voice....lol.
I received an absolutely smashing email today from a lady
that I corresponded with prior to our trip to Alaska.
She and her husband travelled up to Bella Coola
and the Chilcotin this summer and not only did she do
a great job of describing the trip but she had some wonderful
pictures. If we're lucky, she'll let me post parts
of her trip here because it's so nice for folks to hear
about the area from someone besides myself. Besides, if
I'm tired of hearing myself go on, I'm sure you folks
Anyway, I wrote two articles yesterday so I could spend
all of today working so I'm keeping this short and getting
back to the grindstone. Don't forget to check out the
properties for sale page!
Fresh Snow On The Coast Mountain Range
lots of it! Time to break out the snowmobiles! Remember
Thursday's post (September
Week Two) where I wondered what the
mountains would look like once the rain clouds cleared
away? Well guess what? There's a lot of snow up
My brother-in-law went flying on Saturday with a friend
once he finished wiring the house for Wi-Fi. I asked him
how much snow it looked like was on the ground up in the
mountains and he said there was quite a bit, even through
Goat Pass where we snowmobile in the winter. It certainly
looked like lots from down here. Nothing like the thin
dusting of the day before, this was a pretty solid
looking blanket of white. The picture on the right,
taken this evening, doesn't do the snowfall justice because
a warm wind blew in last night and it looks like it's
taken the snow down a bit.
This weather is a bit extreme and early for the area.
We often see snow up in the mountains by the middle of
September. We just usually don't see it down here
in Nimpo or Anahim until a little later in the fall.
It will no doubt warm up and maybe we'll have a long,
warm Indian Summer. If the snow melts in the mountains
and it rains a little more, it might bring up the river
and lake levels a bit. I guess the main salmon run on
the Atnarko and Bella Coola Rivers is late because of
low water levels and high water temperatures and that's
just not conducive to spawning.
Aside from taking what he called a very enjoyable flight,
my brother-in-law, Dick, went fishing yesterday and
caught an absolute beauty of a rainbow trout.
He and my partner both did very well in the couple of
hours that they spent out on Nimpo Lake even after losing
some fish. And me...sob...I had work to catch up on. (Do
you feel sorry for me yet?) Besides, I'm holding out for
Nimpo Lake is the absolute best for autumn fishing.
The fish are big, fat, and hungry. Their mouths start
firming up so you're less likely to lose them and some
of them can get into a pretty frisky battle with your
line. There are few bugs landing on the water so the rainbows
are more likely to take your lure or fly in an attempt
to fatten up before freeze up.
Amazingly, the weather cleared up for awhile yesterday
and it looked like being out on the lake was actually
fun. Unlike today or the day before yesterday when all
you saw were heavily dressed fishermen humped up in their
boats determined to finish out their vacation, fishing
to the last. From now until freeze up will be the best
fishing of the season and everyone knows it.
You'll have noticed that I posted more bear pictures.
These are not as good a quality as the ones posted last
week but are still of the same two grizzlies that
Leah ran into on the Atnarko River in the Bella Coola
Valley. Even though the images are not quite as
clear, the grizzly bear is such an interesting creature
that I couldn't resist putting in more of the pictures.
Some were posted on the Picture
of the Day but since that's
only up for a day, only a few people get to see them.
I hope you all enjoy these images and if you want to see
how really close that girl got to these
grizzlies, check out last week's blog!
Satellite Internet Versus Slow Dial Up In The West
where shall I start...how about with SPEED!!
First, my apologies to those of you that checked back
for a new article this weekend. It was a little impossible
to write because I couldn't get into my office.
My brother-in-law, Dick, is a whiz when it comes to computers
and networking and we were lucky to have him come
visiting with his handy, dandy computer tools and goodies.
He arrived in Nimpo Lake Thursday afternoon and immediately
went to work. However, it meant I couldn't access my computers
or office until yesterday and I had work stacked up by
We recently purchased a satellite Internet hookup but
could only get one computer working at highspeed directly
off of the satellite modem. The router didn't work properly
so that meant my two computers and laptop were still running
at about 38kbps maximum dial up speed. Imagine my
excitement when Dick got all of my computers working successfully
at highspeed and then set up a wireless router for my
laptop. Now, I can go anywhere and use my laptop
without having to plug in. In fact, Dick emailed me last
night from his laptop down at the cabin and had a good
signal even at that distance.
After Dick hard wired the entire house with category 6
wire (The highest most places go is 5 and as he stated
this is probably only the second private residence in
British Columbia with this capability besides his own
house.) he networked all of my computers and printers
so that I can now transfer information between computers
at 1000Mbps. Also known as the speed of light...lol. Am
I happy? Absolutely! I cannot wait to call my
telephone and Internet provider to cancel that phone line.
After they expressly told me that they were not interested
in dialup customers because that is not where they are
investing their time or money, I have been waiting for
that 'warm, fuzzy feeling' I am going to get when I cancel
my line. Hey, it's only $60 a month, but if you keep adding
up unhappy customers such as myself because customer service
is not your priority, it starts adding up to a significant
amount of money.
As Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake move into the future,
more and more residents will gradually get high speed
Internet. We are supposed to get Wi-Fi in Anahim Lake
by late winter and in Nimpo Lake by midsummer of next
year provided by a business in Williams Lake that received
a grant from the government. Unfortunately, our service
from Telus was just so poor and impeding my computer business
so badly that we just felt we couldn't wait another year.
At this point in time, there are only two businesses and
one residence on Nimpo Lake with highspeed Wi-Fi and we
are one of them. The other is Nimpo Lake Resort
where campers can set up their laptops and log onto the
network down there. It's a nice treat when vacationing
out in the boondocks where we don't even have cell service!
Of course the Country Inn up in Nimpo also has satellite
Internet which is particularly convenient for
people that come here on business.
For last week's articles, and some awesome, close
encounter grizzly bear pictures, check out September
Week Two .
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!