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Wilderness Adventures - Sept., Week 3/2007

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.


21/09/2007 1:33 PM

Here Come The Winds

We're getting hit with some pretty wild winds coming straight at us today. Gusting in at over 27mph from the Southwest, that brings them straight onto our point and it feels a lot faster than that. It quite possibly is. Unfortunately, our wind indicator is in a somewhat protected spot simply because we haven't found a better spot for it since spring when we set it up over by the cabin.
One of the few pine trees that we have left that has a really thick, pretty top on it has snapped off. Since all that's left is trunk with the top dangling by the bark, that will have to be cut down. Sad Sack is still hanging in there. I don't know why we haven't cut that tree down yet other than I think my partner has a strange sense of humour and knows it drives me crazy. It wouldn't be so bad if the tree only leaned one way, say when the wind comes out of the south. But yesterday it was coming out of the north and Sad Sack was twirling round like a drunk over the roof on the house. Which indicates it doesn't have much of a root system holding it. That's apparent when you can watch the ground moving above the roots when the tree moves.
This is our first major wind since spring and at that time, many of the trees were still frozen in by frost in the ground. It will be interesting to see how many we lose today. We generally have at least one nasty wind storm in the fall that takes all the leaves off of the aspens. So far, many of ours are still green so maybe they'll stay on for awhile yet.
One bunch of people that really seem to enjoy the wind are the pilots of Nimpo Lake's floatplane charter company. Today the planes are taking off into the wind and I'm sure it's only taking them a few seconds to get off the water. Those planes are in the air and banking on their sides already before they even reach our point. It must be exhilarating to fly into a wind like this and have such tremendous lift. Probably a little frightening for the passengers, though.
The roofing project is finally done! Today's a good indicator for seeing whether the roof will blow off or not. Lol. It will be good to get our travel trailer under a protective roof now, anyway. And now we can get on with many of the other jobs that need doing around here before the snow flies.
We got 1cm of rain yesterday so that puts us at well over an inch of rain in less than three days while temperatures are still pretty cool. Our highest temperature today is 13C or around 55 degrees Fahrenheit and I don't think it got much over 14C yesterday. Mind you, yesterday there was one cold north wind blowing. Today's not bad at all with a warmer wind, you just can't stand up straight. And the sun's shining. Trust me, it isn't likely to be cloudy with gusts like what we have right now. Those clouds are getting blasted across the sky at a pretty good rate.
There isn't that much algae in Nimpo Lake this year but this wind will turn the water over and it should be a lot cleaner in a few days. I don't know what that will do to the fishing but it will stir a lot of feed up. I was watching a couple of guys out on the lake this morning fly fishing from their personal pontoons or float tubes. They were getting pushed around pretty good and that was before the wind really came up. It must be difficult to make a lot of headway in those things when there's anything but calm water. And I don't know what you do when chop comes up. Head for shore as quickly as possible before you get blown to China, I guess.
Okie Dokie. That's today's update and I have to get some work done before the power gets knocked out and I lose the computer. Have a great weekend!

19/09/2007 8:25 PM

Snow On The Mountains

The clouds finally cleared away last night and you could see the Coast mountains a bit before it got completely dark. Today once it cleared off and the sun was shining on the mountains, the white reflection of fresh snow was stunning. There's a lot of snow up on the really high ones but quite a bit fell on the lower ones too. It's just that at lower elevations it will melt to some extent during the day. And since today was quite warm in the sun for several hours, it will melt.
I wish I had gotten a picture of our first fall snow for this year. However, I was on my way to the neighbour's property on the fourwheeler when I noticed how gorgeous the mountains were in the sun and that deep blue backdrop that you get in autumn skies. I didn't turn around and get the camera because it looked like our sun would last all day. Not to be, though. Thick grey overcast moved in with a frontal system coming in from the Pacific and Alaska. Suited me. I was working in the sun, roasting my butt off and the black flies were having a heyday. The overcast didn't bother me at all for a change.
Today I decided to do a trade. I don't do heights at all. Not in any way, shape, or form. I've tried many times to get over my fear of heights but it just doesn't work. I can get up a ladder if I have to, but I can't get back down. Kind of like a cat up a telephone pole. My maximum extent of up is changing a light bulb from the seat of a kitchen chair and that's pushing it. However, Andy brought back the tin yesterday for the roof on this new building he's been working on. Our neighbour kindly came over this morning and helped me to push the tin up to Andy on the roof, but any attempts I made to help straighten felt from below were pretty pathetic. I just couldn't get up high enough. But....
This morning the BC Hydro contractors cut down the trees along the power line on our neighbour's property that we hadn't already taken down. They left one heck of a mess of criss-crossed trees but they did limb the trunks and cut off the tops.
Our neighbour had decided that he was going to help Andy screw down the tin on the roof all day, so I decided to go plug away at the neighbour's newly downed trees. Using the chainsaw and pulling some of the tangled tops out with the fourwheeler, I got a pretty good pile of limbs happening for a major bonfire by supper time and Andy and the neighbour got nearly all the roof done. Only a couple more sheets to do tomorrow.
I know that I'm beat, and I'm pretty sure the neighbour is probably pretty tired too. Sadly, I'm about thirty years younger than he and I know I'm dragging my sorry heinie a lot lower than he is tonight! I'll tell you, hats off to the older fellas in this country. They're amazing. No rocking chairs around here, and good luck to the young bucks that try to keep up to some of these guys.
Temperatures are still dropping below freezing at night, with it hitting about -2C last night, but we got up to 11.7C or around 58F at one point today and I don't think that was the warmest part of the day. During that time I was donating blood to the black flies. But we were at least as warm as Williams Lake and Prince George so that's not too bad. We got more rain last night but nothing today.
I was trying to get a picture of all the trout jumping on Nimpo Lake yesterday evening. They were just plopping all over the place but they were too fast for my camera. Still, see if you can see some of the rings from the fish splashing in the picture up on the right. Oddly enough, the evening was quite pleasant and yet there weren't all that many boats out on the lake. Maybe real fishermen prefer the challenge of snow, hail, sleet, cold wind and hard rain that we had yesterday morning.
Andy was saying that everything from Williams Lake to Nimpo is either yellow or brown and probably half the leaves in the Willy's Puddle are blown off of the trees. They must have gotten much colder weather for a spell than we have because some of our trees are only just turning. I would say we could be in for some nice color this fall if that high pressure system off the coast had been a little stronger. But it looks like it's broken down and we'll be getting some colder temperatures associated with that low off the coast of Alaska. Oh, and rain. Of course.

18/09/2007 11:47 AM

Speaking of Surprises....

I know that I am going to be blamed for this. I just know it's going to be my fault that it snowed this morning because I mentioned the possibility in yesterday's blog. So Murphy's Law says it has to happen.
I got up at dawn this morning and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw white on the ground. I had decided it was a heavy frost on the grass before going back to the bedroom window. Nope. There was snow on the porch roof below and it was close enough to see that it was, unquestionably, snow. There was also some sludge coming down out of the sky. A mixture of heavy snow and rain, and I couldn't think of a single solitary reason to not go back to bed. Maybe stay there until spring.
When I did finally climb out later this morning there was still some snow in places, a heavy fog laying out over the lake and a fair bit of water in the rain gauge. 2cm or just a little less than an inch in fact, which is quite a bit considering that it fell just this morning.
Lo and behold, I'm looking out the front window and on the lake gliding out of a heavy shroud of fog is a fishing boat with a couple of guys in slickers. Now I consider myself a reasonably hardy soul but anyone crazy enough to be out fishing on Nimpo Lake in that kind of cold, damp, weather that early in the morning has more cajones than I ever will. It was enough to make me go downstairs and start a fire in the wood stove. All I can say is they have my admiration. I'm the first to admit that I'm strictly a fair-weather person. When I go fishing, I like sunshine. Ditto for hunting or snowmobiling, or even working outside. It must come from being born in Arizona. Sunshine is my friend and I don't do very well without it.
Anyway, maybe they know something I don't. A watery sun is trying to peek through a heavy layer of overcast. A really brisk breeze out of the north has come up and pushed great clouds of fog off the lake so if it keeps up, it may just clear up and be a nice day.
Andy took off before daybreak this morning for Williams Lake to pick up the tin roofing for our latest project. He said that while it was a mixture of snow and rain here, by the time he reached Tatla Lake, it was just really heavy rain. I know the weatherman mentioned rain for the coast and interior of BC today, but I don't recall him saying anything about snow. For us, anyway. Nelson got snow the day before yesterday and I'm pretty sure the rest of the province was laughing at them. It is a little early, that's for sure. Not unheard of, but early.
I'm curious to see what the mountains will look like when the clouds clear away. I wouldn't be surprised to see lots of white on them. If we got as much rain as we did sitting just around freezing at this elevation, then unless there's an inversion layer, it will be a lot colder up there.
It's funny how there can be such a variation in weather patterns from year to year in this country. I can remember lots of years that I would be out hunting moose from mid-September on, and it would be so hot with so many bugs out that even if you did get something, you'd better get it in fast or the meat would spoil. In many cases, because it was so hot, the animals hadn't even moved down out of the high country yet and though they might be in the rut, you could easily miss it. I'll bet they'll be heading down early this year!
In any case, it's noon, the temperature has come up to about 5C or about 41F and it just might turn out to be a nice day. The fishermen think so because there's a few boats and planes heading out onto the water now.
You'll notice that I've moved onto a new week and pulled yesterday's blog over to this page. No, I'm not trying to confuse the issue, it's just that I didn't have time to start the new week yesterday. If you want to see last week's stories and the pic of a beautiful plane, you'll find the link below.

17/09/2007 5:42 PM

The Season Of Change

You know, you just plug along in short shirt sleeves never taking beautiful weather for granted, but still.....And then. Bam! Get your long johns out because all of a sudden you are freezing your heinie off. Our weather changed drastically yesterday with a cold wind and colder temperatures. Suddenly, it's Fall and no mistake. I'm not the only person that just can't get warm. That's the only problem with having balmy weather late in the year. It's harder to adjust when it changes.
We had a pretty good freeze last night. Not a few of my plants are looking worse for wear and ice had skimmed over the surface of the dogs' water by this morning. Today was most definitely not short sleeve weather and you'd get a deep chill to the bone if you didn't change out your wardrobe. I suppose we might still get an Indian summer with some warm temperatures during the day, but it will still have that 'winter's coming' feel to the air. Mind you, cold or not, there's still a number of people fishing out on Nimpo Lake every day.
I'm always sad this time of year. I enjoy winters in this country, but this year we didn't get enough of a summer for it to seem right to have winter coming already. Although at least we did get some awfully nice weather this past week or so, it just didn't seem to last long enough. Of course, we got pretty spoiled last year with our incredibly long fall and great autumn colors. Although I could be wrong, I don't think that's going to happen this year. Trees and shrubs around the lake are still quite green and just turning, but everywhere else they're well on their way to yellow and brown.
Surprisingly, even though I had to don ear muffs and a jacket for my walk today, the kinnickinick is still a bright vibrant green and some of the aspen in the deep woods haven't even started turning yellow yet. No sign of the bear who's track I saw a while back although the dogs have been pretty alert around the meadow across from the gun range. It's just as likely they're picking up the scent of a deer or moose though. Mind you, with those two dingbats, it could just as easily be the smell of rabbit.
There are some fellows back working along our main road today, cutting down trees along the power lines. I'm hoping they'll make it down to our end where our neighbours have trees right along the line. We removed some trees this spring but there's a few crowded up in one corner with more than one leaning over the power line. Even if these guys just drop the trees and leave a mess behind, as it looks like they're doing elsewhere, we can always do the cleanup and burn ourselves this winter.
Out on the corner where four of us turn in on the same shared road, it's looking pretty bare where our neighbour spent winter and spring cleaning up all the trees dropped by BC Hydro last fall. It looks great but our concern was for the property adjacent to his where there are probably hundreds of red trees, many of them pretty darn big and pretty darn hairy.
The neighbours that own that property haven't been up here for a few years, but they've come for quite awhile this year and are going gung ho on the beetle killed trees. I think they were pretty shocked at how it looked. I don't know if they'll get them all down on the corner but it's starting to look pretty good. Bare, but good. They have a major sized burn pile that we've offered to set on fire in winter for them. If the Hydro guys cut a few more trees near the power line there, the forest fire danger will be lessened considerably for all of us.
I often wonder what the back woods are going to look like in a few years time. On each of our properties, we've all had to get used to the new look. But I, like many others, treasure those woods and back trails. I wonder if a wind will sweep through some day, knock down all the dead trees, and make an impossible thicket of deadfall? Or because the trees are so sheltered by small regrowth from an old burn, will they just fall one by one over the years, rotting as they go? I have noticed that someone has been dumping their limbs and red needles in huge piles in the woods. It's hard to blame them I guess. If they're only here for the summer and can't burn I suppose they need to put them somewhere. The landfill would be preferable but I guess at the cost of fuel, this seems the easier way out. Still, it's too bad. Kind of ruins the 'natural' look in places. At least they've tried to dump off the beaten track until lately.
We're not seeing or hearing too much from the loons lately. There are still a few around but they're a lot quieter. The surrounding countryside isn't though. No surprise. Locals are well aware that winter can land on you pretty suddenly in the West Chilcotin so you get work done while the working's good. Especially with that nice weather. Aside from our own building project, you can hear folks hammering nails, using power saws, or running machinery around the lake here and there. And nearly every day you can hear gunshots from down at the gun range. A few folks are sighting in their rifles for hunting season. It's that busy time of year when you get in your wood, and try to get as much done outside that you can. And you want to be keeping track of your tools and implements because if there's one thing that's a given in this country, it's that your stuff will be buried by an unexpected snowfall. It was a lesson I learned at a very early age from my father. You do not leave anything laying around from September on that you want to use again before spring arrives. Because you won't find it before Breakup and when you do, it will usually be a lot worse for wear.
As you can see, this is the start of a new week. Last week's articles can be found at September Week Two .

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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!
A float tube or personal pontoon on the lake.
 
Top of a pine tree breaks off the trunk.
 
Evening on the lake with trout leaving rings on the surface.
 
Fishermen in fog after a snow.
 
A picture of a floatplane taking off in fog.
 
A floatplane takes off in sunshine.
 
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