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 1/2011
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Spring Has Been Cancelled This Year
I decided this morning that before I got started on
any other work, I was going to write a blog. That and
I don't have a monster backlog of emails to answer this
morning. Apparently other people take the weekends off.
I've been bogged down in this tourism guide for over
three months now putting in long days on the computer.
By the time I've had it with working on it each day,
I just want away from the computer and out of my office.
Since it's usually after nine in the evening before
I finish for the day, I'm just not up to writing a blog.
I apologize folks. I know that my other half will be
heartily glad when this project is done and I can get
back to some regular blog writing.
One thing that has been working in my favor since starting
on this project is the weather. Every morning when I
get up I peer out the loft window to see if there's
fresh snow on the ground because there often is. Not
much, just a skiff, but some. It's been such a strange
spring that last night Andy commented that it looked
like we were going to be having a nice winter, as
we watched snow come sifting down all evening.
I'm sure it's been giving most people a conniption because
spring just is not coming, but for me, it keeps me in
the office working. Otherwise, grumpy would not begin
to describe my mood if it was beautiful, warm, the snow
was all gone, and I was still stuck inside. This way,
I don't mind.
About two weeks ago we still had about two and
a half feet of snow on the ground. A few days
ago we were down to about 16 inches. It's definitely
going down, but there's still lots of it out there.
In fact a client called two days ago and commented that
he had just come back from snowmobiling his trap line
and there was all kinds of snow to get around in. In
his words, You can go anywhere. While not
unheard of, it's still pretty unusual for the first
week of April. It hasn't helped much that we are still
getting those sneaky snows. Even just a skiff of bright
white snow serves to reflect back the sun's rays and
slow the melt. But at least there's some bare
patches of ground showing up here and there and around
the tree wells, and that makes a big difference.
The Red winged blackbird numbers increased to the usual
monster flock raiding the feeder as it does every year.
Usually once I get tired of the cacophony of sound I cut
off the feed. This year I really haven't been able to
do that because there is so much snow, that it makes it
difficult for the little guys like the chickadees and
juncos to find food. So I put some old seed out in the
feeder, then let it stay empty for a day or so, and repeat.
It seems to keep the numbers down and while none of the
birds particularly care for the old seed, they do eat
it when it snows or they get hungry enough, and it keeps
the blackbird numbers down.
As usual, our area seems to have borne the brunt
of winter. I was in Williams Lake two weeks
ago and there was no snow left except on the north sides
of the hills. Not that Williams Lakers didn't complain
vociferously about their winter, because they actually
got one, but they have lawns greening up now. There's
no snow around Alexis creek either and Tatla Lake has
half as much as we do. But while the snow has melted
at lower elevations, it just keeps piling up at higher
elevations and I can see that being a problem this year.
If our cold spring continues for another month
or so, and then it warms up suddenly in late May, there's
going to be flooding throughout BC. There's
a lot of snow up in those mountains this year and mountains
at the Lower Mainland and on the Island have had record
amounts of snow this winter. It's meant an extended
skiing season but eventually someone will have to pay
the piper. The best case scenario would have been a
good melt spread over several months, but that isn't
happening so far. I think that Bella Coola may see the
same problem. While they've been working like crazy
down there to shore up bridges and river banks before
the melt comes, the snow has been building up in the
mountains all winter and the ground is saturated from
the rains last fall. It will be interesting to see what
transpires once we get a hot spell.
We've been getting nice temperatures during the
day, sometimes as high as 6 degrees above freezing,
but it's still been dropping at night, averaging around
-12C or 10F many nights. We've been getting
some sun off and on some days, and we've been getting
our spring winds and that helps more than anything to
carry the moisture away from the snow.
will be really interesting to see what happens with
the lake ice this year. The other morning was
the first time all winter that we heard the ice talking.
There isn't as much snow on the ice now as there was
all winter and it's been saturated and frozen, so the
outside temperature is finally having an effect on the
ice without that insulation. We've heard it grumbling
a few times since then but it's still not as super noisy
as it can be in the spring. There's still only about
12 inches of good, solid, black ice on the lake but
another 12 inches on top is terrible stuff. It's that
overflow that froze and melted multiple times and is
probably very poor quality ice. It shouldn't take much
to melt it once things get going. I don't know when
that's going to happen though. Right now we don't even
have ice melted close to shore and it's as solid as
can be everywhere except off the point where the otters
are still playing around and keeping it open. I've
seen one flock of geese go overhead and we've had a
few Trumpeter Swans do some flybys, but if they think
they'll find open water here, they'll be sorely disappointed.
We haven't seen a lot of wildlife around this year.
We saw a black fox cross the lake the other day but
that's about it. Unless you count the three Ptarmigans
that have been hanging out along our driveway. While
normally shy, these three are fearless. Two weeks ago
I had to stop on our driveway because all three Ptarmigan
were parked in the middle of the road and were refusing
to move. I had to ease over top of them really slowly
so they had lots of time to decide whether they were
going to stay put or scatter out from under the truck
in one direction or another.
A few days ago I happened to look down into the
trees just below the house and spotted the biggest,
fattest grouse I have ever seen in my life.
And no, it wasn't a blue or spruce grouse. It was a
regular old skinny grouse that somehow got really, really
fat. He could only move really slowly through the trees.
It took him about 10 minutes to move a foot. I've seen
snails move faster than that. Since he was only about
30 feet from the bird feeder, It didn't take long to
figure out how he might have blossomed so. The blackbirds
and Whiskey Jacks scatter a lot of bird seed onto the
ground when they're at the feeder and there's quite
a lot of uneaten seed piled up below. I'm wondering
if mister grouse hasn't been bellying up to the all-you-can-eat
sunflower seed buffet. If it had been hunting season
he just might have ended up in my frying pan. He would
have made great hors d' oeuvres.
Logan sent me some photos a couple of weeks back of
he and a group that snowmobiled over the mountains to
the Pan Phillips Fishing Camp. In his words: "Just
got back from a sled trip into the Home Ranch (Pan Phillips
Saturday on the way in we had to break trail through deep
snow over the mtns & through the woods, & 7 of
us (5 guys, 2 girls) were stuck often, as we kept missing
the trail through the woods. Not real fun being lost in
the dark, but we finally pulled in to Rob & Lindas
place @ 11pm. Steak dinner, beer, and it felt good to
hit the sack!!
Sunday on the way out, our guide said lets take
a shortcut and it was the same performance...
Bushwhacking through pine thickets (lots of pulling
the sleds sideways around trees) and got back to Dukes
farm in Anahim just after 9pm. It felt even better to
get home!! Great adventure, but tired & sore today.
Two sleds had to get abandoned in the woods... one stuck
bad, no lights, & outa gas, the other with
a broken clutch. Nobody hurt tho, & the wx was great
(cept for the periods of dark).
There (picture up on the right) is where
we came over the mtn & through corkscrew pass
you can maybe see the tracks through the saddle on the
left. LOTS of fantastic views!!
This is what crazy Chilcotins deem fun. Actually, it
was an awesome trip, lots of laffs & everyone had
a great time in spite of all the extra work. Its
only a half hour flight from here but it took 13 hrs
to get there through the woods! Even though tired/sore
today, Id do it again in a heartbeat."
Some years that can be a great trip, other years it
can be brutal. I've always wanted to take that trip,
but I don't want to go in one of the wrong years. That
kind of misery I don't need. :-) Andy has my machine
fixed and back together again so maybe next year....
You'll find last month's blog 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!