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Wilderness Adventures - April, Week One/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.

You can search this site for a subject of interest to you at the bottom of this page. Check out the Picture of the Day.

08/04/2007 10:18 AM

Happy Easter!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a Happy Easter and I hope you've seen lots of bunnies this morning on your Easter egg hunt. Or does anyone do that anymore? Not having kids means I'm never sure what's in and what's out.
We've spent the last two days working down at the other end of Nimpo Lake with family trying to clear out the beetle killed pine on Terry and my mom's property and we'll be spending the next two days before it will be done. We're not the only ones with that goal in mind down at that end of the lake. There are several properties there including Mary's Nimpo Lake Resort and everyone's cutting and burning. It looks a lot like Apocalypse Now with numerous tree stumps appearing like dark wraiths through the smoke of several fires.
My sister's husband and her son make up one of the most proficient two man teams I've ever seen. My nephew has been going out to the logging landings with his Dad ever since he was a little gaffer. Once he was big enough, he was taught to set chokers and handle a chainsaw for bucking up logs while his Dad fell trees. Although neither have worked together doing that for a couple of years, they still work like a well oiled machine. With the one falling trees and the other running Cat, in less than two days they've turned a nasty piece of ground full of beetle killed pine mixed in with still green spruce into what looks like a park. It would have taken us weeks or months of solid work to do the same kind of job ourselves, and I'm not sure we could have done as well.
Andy and I are working in the front of the property closest to the lake where we can't put equipment. Terry has loads of little trees coming up that he doesn't want crushed by equipment or falling trees. As a result, we're walking on eggs to avoid these litte seedlings and having to watch where we fall trees or get branches cut off a felled tree as soon as possible if they're bending the seedlings. We would be absolutely panic stricken if a big tree fell down anywhere near a pretty sapling and as soon as it was down, we would both run over and check on the potential victim. So you can imagine my surprise when Mary's pet llama's came over and started chomping on the seedlings while we sat around one of our fires yesterday evening before heading home.
I had kind of wondered about that because I saw a couple of little pines with the needles skinned right off of them. I thought, "Geez, maybe we haven't been as careful as we had thought we were." But nope, it wasn't us. You should have seen me running around like a chicken last night chasing llamas off of little trees.
In any case, the job isn't done yet and I have to go drag my weary heiny back down to that end of the lake. There's no time to change the picture of the day and I'm not sure when I can write next so I'll wish you all a wonderful long weekend and I hope it's a lot less work intensive than ours is.

05/04/2007 9:10 PM

Town Day

Today was a town day for dentist appointments, groceries, building supplies and everything else a person needs to go on for the next six or eight weeks. That means the whole day was shot since I consider any trip to Williams Lake a complete waste of a perfectly good day and neither of us likes to shop.
We had a good run in this morning with no snow and warm temperatures. We saw caribou standing off in the trees just north of Caribou Flats but they blended in so well that we just couldn't get them on camera. We saw another herd east of Tatla, but this time they were out in the open and had little fear. Oddly, they seemed to have an entirely different coloring than the ones we saw earlier as well as any we've seen on Nimpo Lake. Their faces, bellies and legs were a very dark chocolate brown. I'll have to check it out and see what's up with that. I'm only guessing here, but judging from the location of the second, larger herd, it seems possible that they're a part of what I call the Punky Lake herd. I call it that because I can't begin to spell the full name of the lake but suffice to say it's located up in the Itcha-Ilgachuz Mountains. Pretty exciting for me because that's the closest I've been able to get to caribou this winter!
We saw lots and lots of Trumpeter Swans on the river following the road as well as a few ducks, and zillions of Canada Geese in Tatla's meadows as well as along the highway for miles. One coyote in the distance, an immature bald eagle feeding in the ditch, one fully mature bald eagle flying along, and more deer than it was possible to count made up the rest of the wildlife spotted going in and out. Oh, and what I'm certain were a herd of Bighorn down in a field just before the Sheepcreek bridge chowing on new grass coming up. Not a bad haul in a single day and 400 mile round trip.
Tomorrow is a beetle kill work day and since this morning came early, I'm going to sign off while I can still type.
In case I'm tied up too much to write this weekend, and since I'm sure you all have much better things to do than read the blog, I would like to wish everyone a wonderful Good Friday and Easter Weekend!
Remember, the Easter Bunny doesn't lay the easter eggs, he only rolls them!

04/04/2007 8:02 PM

Weather Switch

Wow, I thought our little cold spell was supposed to last for awhile but it appears to be doing an about face. The temperature warmed up to well above freezing today and it's certainly not dropping in any hurry right now.
The Cariboo is supposed to see temperatures of +17C (about 63 degrees F) while the Coast is supposed to see +22C (70 degrees F). That probably puts us at around +10C which is really high. A massive low is coming in off of the Pacific Ocean bringing with it lots of moisture, and since Central Coast and inland is supposed to take the brunt of it, I expect we'll see some snow.
I haven't decided yet if that's a good thing. We were hoping to go snowmobiling this weekend but now that I have family coming out to help drop beetle kill over on my Mom's and Terry B's place for the next few days, working in wet snow is not a terribly appealing idea. Nor am I sure how good snowmobiling will be if the temperatures are that warm. Not only would there be no snow to run on down here, but if it's soft up high, it could be pretty brutal to get around in.
I was just thinking about how strange most people would think us to be putting together a four day work party with a long hard grunt dropping trees, piling and burning brush, and cutting all the trees up into firewood over the Easter long weekend. Probably not the manner in which most normal people would choose to spend their first long weekend of the year. I'm not sure it's my choice either, but we can only burn for so long as we have snow on the ground and ice on the lake. When those red needles and dry branches start burning, they really torch off and I don't think we need to start the 2007 forest fire season any sooner than necessary.
I had to run to Nimpo this afternoon and saw eight Trumpeter Swans cruising the edge of the ice where the Dean River exits the lake, keeping a watchful eye over the few ducks paddling around. It seems unusual that we don't have more bird life around than we do this spring. I would say its because there's so little open water so far this year, but we've seen entire flocks crowded into a space not much bigger than a bathtub in previous years. Maybe the birds have some kind of built in instinct that tells them this past winter was colder than normal with much larger snow loads here and to the north and somehow that effects their migration times. Or it could all a bunch of fluffy theory floating around in my head. It probably doesn't really matter.
Today was another work day dropping pine trees, so since I'm dragging my nether regions, I'm going to call it quits on the article early tonight. Besides, last night's blog was so long people are probably still wading through it!

03/04/2007 5:02 PM

Still Cold

Our little spring cold snap continues, not just here but all through the Northwest, much to the chagrin of folks not used to it. My mother told me that the fruit growers in Oregon had their wind turbines and heaters going throughout their orchards all night, resulting in some major pollution in the valley by this morning. The trees will be budding there and frost would cause critical damage right now. I'm not sure how the farmers in the Okanagan are faring or if their trees are budding yet, but I'm sure they'll be having the same worries.
Our temperatures dipped to -23C or about 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit last night. A little chilly willy for April, but not unheard of. We can usually expect a cold spell in the spring and fortunately, the ground is still frozen so it does little damage to most plants.
The dogs enjoyed staying in the porch overnight and the one dog, even though quite large, did a remarkable job of appearing to be invisible when I looked in on them this morning. If it means being put out into the cold, he can magically blend right into the woodwork.
We had another glorious sunny day today, but a brisk wind has started up out of the south and there's high cloud moving in, so I guess we're headed back to the same old windy weather we've enjoyed all winter and spring. I use the term 'enjoyed' loosely, of course. I'll take the cold with the sun over the alternative any day.
The disadvantage of our somewhat remote location became apparent yet again today. It would seem that our cell phone provider has decided to switch all of their towers over to the new digital and get rid of the old altogether. Our cell phone predates Moses and is quite large and clunky, (In fact I thought my brother was going to choke, he was laughing so hard at it when I visited him this spring.) so when the cell phone company offered to replace it with a new one for free, of course we accepted. They were going to ship it by ground at their expense because naturally, they want to keep our business and promised it would be here before the May deadline when ours would no longer work. We weren't in any hurry for it because we can only use it when we go 'out' into the rest of the world, but when after several months it still hadn't arrived, Andy chose this morning to make inquiries.
It would seem that this cell phone company will not ship to a mail box and will only ship UPS. We don't have UPS. In fact, we only have a courier service as such because a smart lady in Williams Lake saw the need for one a few years ago, and so her small trucking business does most of the hauling of courier type items to and from the Chilcotin and Bella Coola area. I know that her outfit looks after UPS stuff because I've had to move printers and such through her before. However, the cell phone company doesn't seem to see that. They insist they want an address so that UPS can deliver direct to us. First of all, we don't have an address that UPS can deliver to, but Andy did tell them he would give directions if UPS would like to drive the 200 miles out here. Which they won't, of course. Our local courier company delivers to a depot in Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake and it's up to us local yokels to go pick our stuff up. How complicated is that?
Combine a stubborn Chilcotin local with a geographically ignorant city dweller, and apparently it can get quite complicated. I'm not too sure where that particlular standoff puts us right now, whether buying a new phone and going with a different provider, or whether the cell phone provider is going to see the light. I hesitate to ask since I live in the same house as the stubborn Chilcotin local.
I did get to meet a fellow today that has moved here recently that I think is going to fit into the Chilcotin beautifully. We had some minor business to go over and he was in the process of trying to get a telephone line to the cabin where he will be staying for the next while. Since he was dealing with Telus, he was on hold for a good portion of our conversation as well as for some time prior to it, and apparently had been off and on for several days. He had the same problem as we all do time to time. There is no address for his residence-to-be.
Now you would think that land description, pole numbers, previous phone numbers and the sacrifice of your firstborn child would be enough for Telus to hook up a phone for you. But nope, we're talking Telus here. The nemesis of every resident in British Columbia. The very mention of their name elicits a snarl, growl, twisted lip or curse word from every single person that has ever had to deal with them. Especially in remote areas. Sadly, unlike larger centers, we have no choice. They're the only thing out there. So you pop a valium, take a toke or grab a fifth with which to lace your coffee, fully accepting that your frustration level is going to go through the roof from the moment you dial them up.
Once you get past that obnoxious machine to a real person, be open minded about the music you're going to be listening to for the rest of the day, because you will be put on hold by several different people.
I'm almost certain that Telus has a special holding place for people from the Chilcotin. You know, they get a call from someone out here and the caller automatically gets put into another dimension that has a little timer on it. When the timer goes off after a half an hour or so, the Telus 'help' people go, "Oh yeah, that person hasn't hung up yet. Obviously not steamed enough. Let's give them a small sample of our ignorance about their area and then put them on hold for awhile again. Maybe they'll just give up and let us go back to our game of computer solitaire." I don't think they've bargained for how stubbornly persistant people from the Chilcotin are, however. Because when they take us off hold, lo and behold we are still there prepared to teach them a few new words, some in the dictionary and some not. Now that I think of it, maybe that's why they have a special 'hold' button for
In any case, the individual trying to get a phone today definitely drew my admiration both for his patience in the face of such frustration and his finesse in dealing with the last person he got to talk to. At least his threat was far better crafted than my usual, "I'm going to rip your lips off if you don't connect me to your manager!" which almost always puts me into an extra long holding pattern. I don't know what his chances are of getting a phone hooked up without having a residential address, any more than I know what our chances of getting a new cell phone are. That's still up in the air. But my money's on him.
I do have to question those people that live in cities, towns or small communties that do not understand how other people cannot have residential addresses. It seems to be a concept far beyond them. It wasn't that many years ago that many people in Canada as well as in the States, and almost certainly Alaska, did not have a residential address. Rather, if you wanted to know where someone lived, you stopped off at a likely place, either before or after you were lost, and asked. Likely as not, anyone within ten to thirty miles of your target not only knew them but could give you detailed instructions as to where they lived, their life history, how many kids they had and relate several anecdotes about them along the way. Unless you were in Saskatchewan. There you got all of the above as well as a complete list of the equipment and farm machinary they owned. That meant that anyone delivering mail, packages, fuel, etc. quickly learned where everyone lived. That's what it's still like out here but I think that the world must have changed far more drastically than I previously thought.
Now, we're just the place that time forgot.
Oh well. Just let it be known that if you would like a true wilderness vacation experience, come to the Chilcotin where you need not worry about phones or cell phones!
Oh dear. I've ranted on again. I know at least one person that's going to be having a little laugh at my expense tonight, because I was going to try really hard to not do this again.
Sorry Barb!

02/04/2007 6:35 PM

April Cold Snap

The temperature dropped pretty good last night. It went down to -21C or about 5 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and apparently the dogs were pretty cheesed off at me by early this morning. We do bring them into the porch if it gets really cold at night but it was only -11C by the time I went to bed and I expected it to be like the night before where it really didn't get much colder.
As you can imagine, Nimpo Lake has been making lots of noise the last couple of nights while the temperature drops, right into the afternoon as the surface warms up in the sun.
Cold or not, it was a wonderful change to see clear blue skies, bright sunshine gleaming on the new snow from yesterday, crisp air and little wind. An ideal day for going out and cutting down more beetle killed trees, except that I insisted on waiting until this afternoon after it warmed up a bit and I got some things done on the computer.
Because it was still, we tackled a big tree over next to the garage that we knew was going to be an ugly job.
We had no idea.
This was a huge old pine that had monster limbs on it, everything gnarly and twisted. It was unquestionably the most beautiful tree on the place before the beetles got it because it was so thick. It completely protected the yard and house from wind from that direction and of course blocked out the view of everyone on that side of Nimpo Lake. It also did a pretty good job of blocking out the view of our place from the resorts on that side, which I'm sure the owners appreciated. I pretty much guarantee our garage stands out naked as a jaybird to everyone over there now though.
The only direction the tree could be dropped was down toward the lake with our biggest concern being all the young spruce, pines and poplar growing below it. Andy just about had to stand on his head to cut the tree off of a steep bank while I pulled on a rope from below hoping he could get the heck out of the way in time. Surprisingly, for such a large tree with so many branches, only the tops on a about four trees got broken off and a couple of others scraped up a bit.
The real work was in lugging huge branches through broken limbs, twisted willows, and bushes while wallowing through snow to the lake ice where we had started a fire. Eventually, Andy was able to drag the limbed tree down to the ice with the Bobcat where he lopped off the top for burning and dragged the rest off the lake. Then it started all over again with the second tree that had to be knocked down in the same place. By this evening I don't know which of us was dragging their butt more but I sure wish we could teach some of these chow hounds around here how to work. When I die I want to come back as a dog or a cat in this household because they sure have life easy! Their biggest worry, or more to the point our biggest worry, is getting them out of the way before falling a tree.
Unless the one dog is tied up he usually insists on being by my side and since I'm often on the end of a rope attached to a tree that is being cut down, that's not a good place to be. Then there's the one cat that often insists on supervising any work parties outside, including tree felling. That would probably be okay except that he's dumber than a sack full of hammers and never looks up. Nice cat. Just dumb.
Anyway, I'm beat, so I'm sure you'll understand when I say that this is as long as tonight's blog is going to get.

01/04/2007 12:25 PM

Happy First Day of April

Also known as April Fool's Day in some circles. Since I've never been much of a person to play jokes on people, I guess it's not really my day. Call it a lack of imagination but more likely because I simply don't like to have fun at other people's expense nor do I care to be made fun of. I always figured that our dignity is one thing that is markedly our own, much like integrity, and it isn't the right or place of another person to take that away from us. Of course, the fact that I don't always realize someone is pulling my leg may have something to do with it as well. Andy is not the only person to delight in and take great advantage of the fact that I'm a blonde.
I watch commercials on television and nowadays, rather than having a positive message, they seem to be directed at making fun of people, or more to the point, treating us watchers as though we're stupid. Or worse yet, target a group whether by gender, age, or culture, and insulting that group. The result is that personally, you'd be hard pressed to convince me to purchase that product no matter how good it is.
Anyone find anything remotely funny about the 'random celebrity guy' on the recent Ford commercials? I find the commercials extremely distasteful, and would suggest that Ford change their marketing strategy. On the other hand, I find the Capital One commercials ingenious. ("Yep, you've got bankers!" after the exterminator throws the money in the middle of the floor and bankers scrabble with each other to get it. Then he sets an oversized mouse trap with a bottle of wine and expensive cheese). Granted, the commercial is targeting bankers. But then, who doesn't hate how the credit card companies gouge us all? I don't know who had the idea of comparing bankers or credit cards companies to rats infesting your home, but whoever came up with that marketing strategy put some thought into it and deserves a very large bonus.
The same would seem to apply to politicians. No longer do you get pre-election messages pointing out how well the sitting government has done, or the sweeping changes a vying party promises to make. Instead it's all about mud slinging and pointing out how lousy the other political party is. Some of it gets pretty personal and pretty nasty. Needlessly, I think.
Back to the point of April Fool's Day. I'll save the jesting for other people but I do sympathize with people who's birthday lands on that particular day.
As you've probably noticed, there have been no articles for the last two days. We spent Friday cutting down more beetle kill trees on the property, making it 22 in two days. Andy went up on the mountain to help recover a snowmobile yesterday, giving my back a much appreciated break from hauling brush and piling firewood.
We got a couple of inches of snow Friday morning, and another inch this morning. I think it can stop now. I've gotten strange looks from people all spring because I didn't mind getting more snow for snowmobiling but I've reached the point where it's time for winter to go away. We've got a lot of work to do outside yet and snow doesn't make it any easier to get it done. We were expecting a cold front to move in this weekend but other than going to -6C last night, it really hasn't been that unpleasant during the day. A bit of a bitter breeze out of the north but nothing serious.
Andy's instructor, Mazy, returned to Vancouver, apparently determined to find out what that 'lichen' was that she found on a walk, and was identical to what I found a day later. She contacted an expert in that field and with pictures I had taken, found out it wasn't lichen at all but American dwarf mistletoe, and somewhat uncommon in British Columbia. I hadn't considered looking in that part of my field manual because I didn't think we had it here. It's a parasite that grows up in the limbs of pine trees and can be a devastating problem for pine forests in some areas, causing what's known as witch's broom. The expert surmised that ice or a high wind may have dislodged it from the branches of the trees where we found it lying on the snow. Why two reasonably intelligent people would be concentrating that much time and effort on a little piece of plant material that showed up on the snow has probably got a lot people saying, "Get a life already!" In any case, I guess we don't have to worry about the mistletoe being in our area and destroying our pine forests here. The Mountain Pine Beetle has pretty much taken care of that.
A new bird showed up at the feeder today. I hadn't been putting seed in the feeder because of the blackbird swarm but with the snow this morning, it seemed awfully hard hearted to not put a little out to help out the chickadees and juncos.
We were sitting at the kitchen table this morning when I looked up and said, "What the heck is that?!!" A not particularly attractive bird had arrived at the feeder. Larger than a robin, extremely fat, or fluffed out, with a whole lot of dark orange markings on it and a long, black beak. Surprisingly, for such a large bird it didn't seem to scare the little guys at all, who continued feeding all around him while he decided what to do. Called a Varied Thrush, apparently the robin is the closest in type to him so I would assume he normally eats worms or bugs. However, he must have decided that if the only banquet available to him in view of the snow on the ground was sunflower seeds, then he would make the best of it.
I checked my bird book and supposedly they commonly range in the Northwest in summer, so I don't know why I've never seen one before. I don't know if this dude got blown off course going to his summer breeding grounds, but I'm sure the snow caught him by surprise. In any case, he's welcome to stay around as long as he wants because his manners are far better than that of the blackbirds'. Check out the little fatso up on the right. I'm hoping he's just fluffed up because it was cold.
I mentioned before that our friends from Quesnel took some great pictures while out snowmobiling early March, so I'm going to start showing them off up on the right as well since I can only put one picture at a time in the Picture of the Day.
It's a new week so if you would like to catch up on what was happening last week, or read about the snowmobiling poker run, you can find it at March, Week Four.

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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!
Dark faced Caribou.
Three Trumpeter Swans standing on the ice.
Pink on the Coast Mountains.
Bird puffed up in the cold.
A brightly colored bird sits on the railing.
just peeking through the snow.
Three fish caught in the ice.
Snowy valley up in the Rainbow Mountians.
Snowmobile sits on top of the mountain.
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