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 - April, Week One/2007
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
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of the Day.
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
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.
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!
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
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
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
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 us....lol.
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
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.
April Cold Snap
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
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
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
Happy First Day of April
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
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,
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!