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Wilderness Adventures - April, Week One/2009

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' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.

07/04/2009 6:22 PM

Warm, Warm, and More Warm!

Gotta love it! Yesterday was remarkably warm, and today even more so. At one point I saw that the temperature was at 14.4C or 58F at about four this afternoon. That was in the shade and on the north side of the house so it was considerably warmer out on the deck. It may have gotten warmer earlier on but I wasn't around to see it. I was enjoying the afternoon on a walk and spent part of it ditching the side of the road with a stick with the pup determined to help me. Every time I got water going, she sloughed gravel and dirt back into the ditch. While not a very productive way to spend a portion of the afternoon, it was certainly a very pleasant way.
There was very little breeze today and it was hot! Or certainly what we consider hot after going through a pretty chilly winter and spring. We often don't see temperatures of 58 degrees until late May or into June so this is a nice change. Walking on the trail in the backwoods has been brutal the last two days because the snow has softened up so much. One step forward, and fall back half a step as you sink into the snow. The trail is definitely deteriorating and it may just be easier to walk the whole way on the road, especially since the road is finally drying out quite nicely. It's just that I hate taking the same route there and back when I could make a circle. Besides, I want to keep a check for tracks and make sure mine and the dogs' scent is always fresh on the back trail. That way if those grizzlies denned up for the winter nearby I'll know when they come out, and hopefully our scent will keep them moving on. Vain hope, I know..... but I did purchase a Bear Banger from the store up in Nimpo. Expensive as all get out but Leah showed me how to shoot one off up at the last poker game. Wow.... lots of boom there. Scared the heck out of me so it's bound to scare the heck out of a bear!! I hope so anyway. At least it will be faster to set off than firecrackers. The fuse is so short on the little ones I have that I've nearly burned my fingers trying to use them.
We haven't had full blazing sun the last two days, mostly mixed cloud and a high haze instead. Or I'm sure it would have gotten much warmer and the snow melt would be faster yet. It got down to -6C night before last but last night it only dropped to -3C or 27F which helps tremendously. That means it doesn't have to warm up much in the morning before the snow will start melting again.
The ice road has had it. Not because it's falling apart but because there are no longer brave souls willing to drive it in a vehicle. Andy wouldn't use it today with the one ton but he did go to Nimpo on the quad. I watched to make sure he made it across to the boat ramp okay and I could see the water he was going through splashing up above the snow banks He said the snow on the road has melted and you can see clear ice under the water laying on top. That's the only thing with snow banks They trap the melt water on the ice road between them.
There's a lot of bare ground that has shown up just since yesterday on the road leading down to the boat ramp on the other side. That's what usually finishes off ice road use, even if it were to chill down and the ice tighten back up again. Warm water flowing over the mud on the road is carried down onto the lake. It warms up the ice and it tends to melt away from the shore quite quickly. There's also a cement ramp going into the water and once it's exposed and warms up in the sun, it heats up the surrounding ice.
I just looked outside when I heard a Trumpeter Swan going by the house, and noticed the water out on the lake. There are lots of spots where the snow on top of the ice has turned dark, where it was all white earlier this afternoon. Still, it will be weeks yet before we see open water. I'm always amazed at how it seems the snow will never go and then suddenly, it hits that flash point where you can literally watch it disappear and the lawn starts to emerge. So do all the chores left undone the fall before.
There was an item carried on the news a couple of days ago about a snowmobile rider that accidentally created and then outran an avalanche. It's absolutely unbelievable footage and Andy found it on Youtube. If you're able to watch it at, by all means, please do. It is well worth it. I have actually ridden the Clemina route near Valemont and it is really, really steep country. Added to that is the fact that Valemont gets 13 to 16 feet of snow in a winter and you definitely have some serious avalanche risk this time of year. In this case, as so often happens, previous high markers (riders that go as high as they can before turning back down) had already cut the snow face. The last guy to high mark was just too much for the snow pack and it collapsed right behind him. In fact, he very nearly was caught where the snow broke away from the face but kept on going up before turning back down. It's likely that he had no idea he started an avalanche behind him until he turned back down and went, "Holy !!!!!" By then, it's too late to do much but ride it out.
The footage was shot by someone on a nearby height of land, obviously with a reasonably good quality video cam. Warning, there is some swearing, but you can hardly blame them under the circumstances. After you have watched the incredible power of the avalanche a couple of times, play it again and watch the lower left hand side of the screen. You'll see what looks like ants scurrying ahead of the avalanche and another ant come blasting out of the snow dust created by the avalanche.
There go the swans again. It looks like they're looking for open water the way they're circling the lake. Other than the river, they're out of luck, I'm afraid.

05/04/2009 8:08 PM

The Melt

Today was extraordinarily warm with temperatures that reached over 10C or 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and it's still 8C out there this evening. That big system that was coming in from the Pacific a couple of days ago has been slowly dispersing over the north and central part of the province, broken up mainly by the that strong high pressure system over the southern half of the province. Still, there's been lingering high haze from the low so we didn't see clear sunshine until really late this afternoon and even now there are still a few clouds hanging around.
That high pressure system is supposed to get stronger and we should see a little more sun tomorrow and Tuesday before it breaks down. But that's okay, we don't really need it. The air is so warm that the snow is just dissolving and if it doesn't freeze that hard for the next two nights then that will help too. Of course sunshine would make it go all the faster.
The ice road over to the boat launch is mushing up pretty good now and I'm not sure anyone traveled on it today though I did see Rob on it yesterday. My friend from up at the store, who was driving it every day, won't go on it now. It's quite safe yet, I'm sure, and a lot shorter than going all the way around. The public road up from the ice on our side is virtually impassable now and usually does fall apart long before the ice road does, so most people are using our ramp to come up off the ice. Because it's out of the sun, not nearly as steep, and there's no mud there, it lasts much longer than the public access does.
Andy went for a ride down the lake today and blew up his Skidoo, so I guess he'll be taking it into town this week. It sounds like it needs an engine rebuild. He got it as far as the island and then had to walk home from there. I was on the phone in my office and didn't even see him out there, or I could have taken my sled out to pick him up and tow him in. At least the sled made it until nearly the end of the snowmobiling season.
Geez, Andy just called me out into the living room to see a standing ovation for a soldier in a wheelchair at the American Country Music Awards. After he spoke, Trace Adkins sang 'Til The Last Shot's Fired' backed by the West Point Glee Club Choir. Wow....!! That is some powerful song, folks! Not too many dry eyes in the house after he finished that song. I had heard about it a little while back at one of my poker games, but hadn't heard the song itself. No wonder people are talking about it. And I have to say, I'm sure proud to see the reaction of Americans toward their war heroes and military personnel now as compared to the Vietnam days. Those boys deserve every kind of respect for what they do, regardless of what war they get talked into fighting.

04/04/2009 8:00 PM

The Trumpeters Are Back

Andy looked out over Nimpo Lake this morning and wondered what the odd shapes were on the ice out by the island. It turned out to be a small flock of Trumpeter Swans clumped up on the ice with five of them sleeping and one lookout. Andy took quite a few pictures of them, including when they all suddenly woke up. You can see a second head raised up looking in first one picture, and all looking in the second. Then suddenly a local guy's stupid dog that he lets run loose is out on the ice chasing them. Not that it did him much good. The swans were airborne long before he got there but it still bugs me that people let their dogs run loose to chase wildlife.
It got up to over 8C or 47 degrees Fahrenheit today, even though it dropped to at least -9C or 15F last night. Actually, I got home late last night and let the dogs into the porch because it just felt like it was going to get colder. It never did, though, even though it had cleared right off with every star possible and a shrimpy little moon shining brightly. It's been a couple of nights since we've seen -20C or -4F so it means it will warm up faster in the morning, especially in sunshine. Our temperatures for the next three days look to be the highest we've seen in five months so if it stays warmer at night, that snow will disappear fast! Throw in the sun we're predicted to have for the next three days and spring will perk right along!
Mind you, these little snows we're getting aren't helping us much. It blizzarded off and on all day Thursday but most of the snow melted as it fell on warm ground or was exposed to the bits of sun we had that day. But once it cooled down in the evening and kept snowing, it stuck. Probably another two inches fell through the night and added to what had fallen during the day. On the back trail in places where the sun couldn't reach it, there was at least four inches of fresh snow. Add that to the inch here, and skiff there, and we've had quite a bit in the past month.
The guys went snowmobiling yesterday and Andy got some great pictures, especially of Richard's stucks because he likes to challenge the hills. They had fabulous weather and I guess these little snows we've been getting down here have accumulated up to a foot of fresh powder in some places up on the mountain. One of our neigbhours that was up visiting for a few days from the Okanagan flew over the guys in his little plane and decided to land on the Cornice Hill to chat with them for a while. But there was so much fresh snow that Andy said he had a heck of a time taking off again and was nearly stuck, even with skiis.
There was actually enough fresh snow that the guys were able to come down the Atnarko Trail through the Lonesome Lake Burn yesterday, something you can almost never do in the spring because it's a south facing hillside. Once you hit the bottom of the hill you start angling around the base of the mountain where the trail is on the eastern or northern side and where the snow doesn't melt. It will have been great for guys like Andy and Richard, who like to play in the deep snow. There haven't been many people over that trail this year so with fresh snow, there would have been lots of places to get a snowmobile stuck!
I know that this is early notice and I'll bring it up closer to the time, but one of the young guys in Nimpo is setting up a fishing derby for the May long weekend (May 16-17 for our American friends) on Kappan Lake. He's collected some great prizes to be given away and the entrance fee is only five dollars, so you're getting a bargain for two days of fun. For anyone that will be up visiting around that time, you may want to bring your fishing poles. For the locals that read this blog, check out the posters around Anahim and Nimpo for more information.

02/04/2009 9:04 PM

April Shorty

I'm afraid tonight's blog is going to be quite short, folks. I've been going gung ho on the local tourism association's website of late and I'm nearly finished. Today I worked on one of the pages that I figured was going to be pretty tricky, but it went surprisingly well, so I would like to finish it off tonight.
We had one heck of a day, today. It couldn't make up its mind what it was going to do. In fact, we haven't seen a day like this all winter. It snowed last night and dropped about an inch and a half of snow and when I got up this morning it was really socked in and still spitting snow flurries but you could see that the sun was trying to shine.
Eventually the sun would make its way through the clouds and the snow would start melting like crazy. Then a wind would come up suddenly, sounding like a freight train coming in, and there was a blizzard again. I don't think it's any exaggeration to say it did that somewhere between 20 and 30 times today and it's still doing it tonight. It just dropped about a half inch of snow in a very short period of time, and now I can see stars out there!
Andy and a few of the guys were supposed to go riding today but decided to cancel because the mountains were blanketed in cloud and it was snowing at the time. I told Andy to wait an hour and the sun would be shining. Which it was. It just didn't last, is all. I think they're going to try again for tomorrow. Richard is pretty eager to get up on the mountain to see if there's any fresh powder.
The temperature never went much below -3C last night, and it never got above 2C today but I think that's going to change. There's a high pressure system out in the Pacific that's moving up the coast and is supposed to bring sunshine and very high temperatures to the Lower Mainland for the weekend. It looks like the high protects us for tomorrow but there's a really big mother of a system barreling straight in from the west and it's packing a lot of moisture. It also looks like it's packing a lot of wind. It does a really strange thing when it hits the coast, according to the radar forecast, anyway. It kind of bows in the middle. It'll be interesting to see what kind of weather we get out of it.
Just to let you know ahead of time, there probably won't be a story tomorrow night.

01/04/2009 6:19 PM

The April Fool's Fizzle

It would seem that so far, the Conficker worm that was threatening so many computers around the world, has not done any damage. I suppose it remains to be seen whether it does down the road. If not, it's a great April Fool's joke and a good way to encourage people to keep their computers updated with antivirus and Windows updates.
Some parts of the Lower Mainland got a bit of an April Fool's joke played on folks there by Mother Nature in the form of a little snowfall. We too woke up to about an 1 1/2" of the white stuff this morning to add to the mud once it melted. But a couple of the highway passes around the province got considerably more, and are expected to see yet more snow tonight.
We had a mixed bag today with both sun and cloud. There was a pretty good breeze this morning but it died right down during my walk in the back woods today, and didn't spring back up again until a little later this afternoon. I don't think it got more than a couple of degrees above freezing today but it was definitely warm enough to make the snow pretty soft for walking. Other than that it was really nice.
This is becoming a really dangerous time for animals out in the woods now. I've noticed that nearly all of the dogs can stay on top of the snow now except in the warmest part of the afternoon. That means it will be way too easy for predators to run down wildlife like moose and caribou now. Particularly if they're hunting in the early morning hours when the crust of snow is still hard. That's one thing that's really strange this year, and has me concerned. I haven't heard one report of our little caribou herd being seen on Nimpo Lake this year as it usually is every year. Especially around February. And by now they've nearly always passed through the back woods looking for lichen along the trail. I don't know what's happened to them. We still have a local moose around who's sign I see only occasionally, but that's it. Not the large numbers we had a couple of years ago. I can only hope that they're all at higher elevations because of the lower snow levels, and haven't all been wiped out.
I was disturbed to see on the news tonight that Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, has agreed to allow shia law to come into affect in that country. You might as well welcome back the Taliban if that's the case because that's just exactly where the women of that country were prior to troops being sent there to oust the Taliban. It would seem the whole exercise has been pointless. That is one of the reasons ours, and soldiers from other countries are there, is to free the women and girls of that country to work, take schooling, or even be permitted outside their home without the permission of their husbands.
I think everyone knows that Karzai is as corrupt as they get, but because he's been willing to work with, (and take advantage of) the west, they've put up with him. Now I can only suggest that Canada and the US force him to back down on endorsing the law by threatening to withdraw our troops immediately. Why should our soldiers die, and our country pour the money that they do into Afghanistan if nothing is being accomplished? Either force Karzai to step down, which would be a mistake because another corrupt official will simply replace him, or threaten to pull out, and mean it. We don't need to be over there if this is the thanks our soldiers and our country gets. I would add that our immigration policy should be changed for the short term to allow any woman or girl to immigrate to Canada from that country that wishes to. No men. No boys. Reasoning behind that?
My brother was stationed in Iraq four years ago and is just shipping out again. He said that the women and girls of Iraq were amazing. Intelligent, quick to learn, hard workers, and many downright beautiful. But most were not even allowed out of their homes until the soldiers came. Most just wanted to go to school or work and become professionals but had not been permitted. In his words, "If you let the women run the country, Iraq would be one of the most advanced countries in the world and there would be no need for us here." But, he insisted, "The men are lazy, filthy, and useless, narrow minded and riotous, and as long as they're in charge, Iraq will never be anything but a hole in the desert!" His words, not mine. But he was a guy that was on the ground, and dealing with the people all of the time, and he's a pretty good judge of a situation. I'm sure the same could be said for Afghanistan. So.... allow any women to leave and immigrate to here that wants to. I'll be the first to open my door. Then bring our soldiers home and blast the rest of the population back to the sand hell they came from. Let them sort it out for themselves. If shia law is their idea human rights, then we don't need to be there.
Sorry, Barb, but it's been a long time since I went on a rant. :-)
This is the start of a new week. so last week's articles can be found at March Week Four

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!
Swans fly over Nimpo Lake.
Picture of a single Trumpeter swan.
Rider goes for a hill on a snowmobile.
Red and white plane lands on the top of a mountain.
Red winged blackbirds eating seeds.
Blackbird shows orange and red bars on his wings.
A flight of Canada geese overhead.
Male blackbirds flash their wing colors.
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