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 - West Chilcotin Blog
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Warm April, Warmer May
been a long haul since the last blog and Ive had
questions regarding my health from the part time residents
that come up this time of year. My health is fine
and thank you to all of you that have worried,
but I think Ive mentioned on the Facebook updates
(more regular than the blog) that my hip is still preventing
me from sitting very long at the computer. Of course,
as Andy says, if I just shortened up the blog to a few
lines a day that wouldnt be an issue but as we all
know, If I write a blog
. I write a book! :-)
Theres lots to catch up on in the past two
months. April was a pretty darned nice month but May has
been just as stunning. I considered our ice to
be off of Nimpo Lake on about the 22nd but there was still
a little bit in our back bay until the 26th, so officially
that makes it the second earliest ice off ever since Ive
been around the country. To the best of my knowledge,
the last time the ice went out on April 22 was when I
lived here 25 years ago and that was considered a record
then. This was also about 15 days earlier than the norm
which is fair enough because the lake froze up a little
earlier than usual last fall.
While we had a few small snowfalls in April, overall
it was a pretty warm month with the odd day even hitting
25C or 77F which is why the ice went punky so fast on
the lake. One day it was there, and a few hours
later we were looking at blue water in front of the house.
The ice had just kind of faded away.
Most of the winter we had pretty low snow loads in the
mountains and in fact, they looked whiter in late April
and May than they had all winter and thats when
quite a few of the locals and out-of-towners hit the Rainbows
for snowmobiling. We could see a lot of localized storms
dropping snow over the mountains and they were a great
shining white up until about two weeks ago when
temperatures and rain over the mountains took the snow
down to levels we usually see around the end of June and
into July. The Coast Mountains have a whole lot
of black and the Itcha Ilgatchuz Ranges are pretty much
bare now. The lake levels everywhere reflect that, with
the level in Nimpo Lake at about where it would be in
September, not April or May. In fact, the Dean River was
so low that the canoe racers were having a little problem
making it down the river in places. Speaking of which,
the annual Anahim Lake Nimpo Lake Canoe race was a huge
This years event was in honor of young Riley Sager
who died last spring, and I was stunned at the turnout.
There were 14 entries, the highest by far that
I have ever seen and more than twice the norm,
with a womens and youngsters class as well
as the mens class. Even though the canoe race was
early this year, it was a hot, sunny day and I commented
to Andy that it was a far cry from just a few short years
ago when Johnny was out with a motorboat breaking up ice
on the lake from the boat launch down to the river so
that the paddlers could get through.
Also a tremendous success this year was the annual fishing
derby put on by Clint Fraser over at Wilderness Rim Resort.
This year it was in memory of Oscar, a good friend to
us all, and drew numbers I have never seen before. There
were 64 entrants with well over 600 fish taken out of
the lake for weigh in, which is marvellous because this
lake is in desperate need of fishermen. There
are way too many fish in the lake and with not enough
food these last few dry years, the fish are getting smaller
and skinnier. They are still pretty respectable as far
as rainbow trout go but not the big, fat fish we are used
to. I guess the only advantage of there being so many
hungry fish is that not only could you catch them on a
jelly bean if you wanted, but you can just about catch
them by dipping your finger in the water, which makes
it great fun for children and inexperienced fishermen.
It sure was a pleasure to look out over the water
for two days and see it full of boats. Its
been a long while since that has happened as demographics
change and the visitors to our area now are more into
the eco adventure vacation than fishing. It also helped
that the long weekend was quite warm and sunny for the
most part, although it was less so than it had been all
week leading up to the event.
We have also seen quite a few 23 to 25C or mid to
high 70sF days throughout May and up until last
night, we havent been close to freezing in probably
six weeks or more. We were only a couple of degrees
above freezing last night which doesnt bode well
for veggies already planted in my garden. With the incredibly
warm spring weve had it has been difficult to resist
the urge to plant early, but by this time of year its
usually reasonably safe, or should be. Its ironic
that its nearly June and were closer to freezing
at night now than we have been since March.
We were able to get back to working on the gazebo this
past month and after working in high temperatures and
hot sun with wonderful neighbours that contributed days
of their time, we got the rafters up, the tongue and groove
on, and the tin on over that. Next stop, windows and doors.
But I got so far behind in my garden working on
the gazebo that Ive had to quit that now and get
out there and work in the dirt. The season has
started so early this year that the weeds have gotten
a good jump on me and I am still trying to transplant
jumpers into pots and give them away. If you dont
know what a jumper is, well its any perennial that
has reseeded and there are little seedlings outside of
where they are supposed to be. I have hundreds of them
all over the place of every kind but dont have the
heart to kill them because I figure anything that can
grow in this country that isnt a weed deserves to
live. Its usually not hard to find neighbours to
take them. Its just hard to find the time to dig
them up and pot them and find a place to put them until
neighbours have beds ready at their own houses for them.
Plant sharing is a good thing. I benefited greatly
from it when I put in my first flower garden 27 years
ago in Prince George when a kind hearted butchers
wife gave me little seedlings from her garden so I could
start my own. When we sold our house two years later,
I potted up small pieces of the plants and planted them
in their pots in the ground at the place we rented because
our house had sold a year before we were to move to Saskatchewan.
There I planted my poor bedraggled perennials where they
flourished for another seven years before another move
brought pieces back here where they have been moved willy
nilly until I have developed more permanent beds for them.
Every year while patiently waiting for their forever home
they have come up faithfully to brighten the whole yard
up with their color and form. I dont think
theres anything better than a flower garden. Veggies
might keep you alive, but a perennial garden feeds the
We went down to Bella Coola at the end of April for lunch
one day and our green fix that everyone from up here on
the plateau seems to need once a spring as the Valley
is often up to a month ahead of us up here. Theyll
have flowering shrubs and bulbs and sometimes azaleas
and rhodos, green lawns and full leaves on the trees when
were still under snow up here. This time they had
some of that but their lilacs still werent out and
we actually had bare ground and tattered lawn up here
although still no green on the trees. We saw a wonderful
bear on our way back up with a huge head and the kindest
eyes I have ever seen on a bear. It was quite
close to the edge of the road and when we stopped, it
just kind of looked at us and then lay down right next
to the road, something I have never seen before. A couple
of other people have gotten photos of the same bear and
noted the very thing we did, that it had kind, honest
eyes, not the evil looking little pig eyes most bears
We have also been enjoying the addition of a fox
family to the neighbourhood which all the neighbours
discovered soon after arriving in country and like us,
have been out taking photos ever since the kits have exited
the den and been playing on a hill nearby day after day.
If you would like to see an expanded photo album of the
kits playing you'll find it on Facebook/TheChilcotin.
While a large family of foxes may not be great for
the health of our cat, they are definitely taking down
the squirrel and hopefully the vole population in the
area. The latter has become a real pest in my
gardens and lawn since weve lost all our cats to
old age and the one we have now didnt get the memo
on his duties in life, which are supposed to be something
other than eating, sleeping, and whining about the quality
of his meals. Hes a huge cat so he should be able
to hold his own against a single fox. Im just not
sure how hell fare against more than one but at
this point in time, I have far more admiration for the
fox familys hunting abilities than I do for his,
so hes on his own.
There have been lots of people out fishing every
day since the fishing derby two weeks ago, which is kind
of unusual this time of year. Perhaps folks have
heard how good the fishing is here or maybe we have a
new generation of fisherfolk coming in. No matter what,
its nice to see people besides neighbours out there
on the water. Not that neighbours dont form a large
part of that. We went from zero neighbours to just about
every residence being full from here to our nearest full
time residents a half mile away in the past three weeks.
Everyone came in at nearly the same time so that
meant lots of noise from folks doing spring work on their
places as well as campfires and shared meals.
It has gotten pretty quiet now though as many have left
again until fall or a few that return periodically throughout
the summer. We dont usually get much of a chance
to visit with everyone in the spring because we are often
on a dead run ourselves, but well catch up in the
At least we have been able to have campfires!
I was a little concerned that the fire center was going
to slam down a campfire ban on the region right after
the long weekend but in the past two weeks weve
gotten over a half inch of rain which has helped things
considerably and we even have puddles on the back trail.
With the periodic showers and sudden downpours
have come thunderstorms and lightning which has sparked
a number of fires around the province. We were
under a heavy pall of smoke from the Little Bobtail Lake
forest fire north of us near Prince George and from a
fire Pelican Lake near Quesnel for several days. In fact,
the smoke was so bad over the long weekend that I couldnt
see any boats beyond the island during the fishing derby
one day and we couldnt see the mountains for days.
However, a good downpour and a wind cleared the smoke
out and its been really good since. Theres
the odd day when its gotten really hot that you
can see a little haze on the horizon but for the most
part, these little showers have kept the air clear. However,
these little showers have been a boon to the mozzie population
or all bugs for that matter. We haven't had the
black flies so much but we had to re-shift a load of roofing
tin at Riske Creek on our way back from town and the bugs
were brutal. People around here have complained of the
black flies in places and more than a few neighbours have
complained of the mosquitoes. Its true the
mozzies are bad just before a storm or in the evening
when the winds have died down but they arent unbearable
by any means. For the three years up to last year
when we had virtually no bugs at all, the mosquitoes havent
come until late in June which is highly unusual for this
country. This year they are finally here when theyre
supposed to be, which means any frost or heat we get will
knock them back and we should be nearly done with them
by mid July or much sooner if its another hot summer,
something forecasters are already calling for. Im
not sure what will happen with our lake level if we do
get another dry year. Lake levels are already as
low as they get in late summer and fall, so we might end
up with an unexpected amount of beach this year and it
will knock back the mosquito population yet again.
Im already watering lawns and gardens and have been
for a couple of weeks now so I cant imagine how
much stress wild vegetation will take again this year.
On the other hand, weather forecasters are notorious for
Well, work outside isnt going to do itself and with
mixed cloud and sun, it might be another good day for
transplanting little runaway perennial seedlings again.
Have an awesome month, folks!
last blog is at March
Don't forget that you can find regular updates on the
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Lake Highway cam looking West.
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!