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 2/2009
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Easter Sunday 2009
Easter folks! Did you find all your eggs? I woke up to
a real chocolate bunny and a lovely card decorated with
a whole bunch of Hershey's chocolate kisses, as well as
fresh pancakes and bacon. Am I spoiled, or what?!!
Every time I looked out the window this morning
to see whether the weather had improved enough to go for
a walk, it was either sleeting, snowing sideways, or threatening
to. We had really low heavy cloud and you couldn't
even see the mountains. On top of that, we had a nasty,
blustery wind coming out of the east with the clouds scuttling
across the sky from the west at great speed. That's normally
never a good sign for us. I finally called Leah and told
her we were going to take a shot at a walk at around one
The timing actually worked out quite well. While the wind
was still blowing pretty good, the sun came out for most
of the way and it ended up being pretty warm at times.
Today was training day for her dog, Pluto. He's a purebred
spaniel and actually pretty sharp. He learns fast
and he's got the guts of a Bull Mastiff. The size
of our three dogs bothers him not at all and he careens
into one after another looking for a battle royal without
fear and on a regular basis. He's the youngest of the
lot at about six or eight months and he definitely could
use some training. Leah is pretty firm with him for the
most part, but there are a lot of things she doesn't know.
One thing that always bothers me is to see a dog owner
being dragged along by their dog. Unfortunately, it happened
more than once with Cat when she was younger because she
was just so strong. Which is why I finally got a Haltie
on the advice of our new neighbours and have been delighted
with the results. That, combined with the training collar,
pretty much keeps Cat under control. In Leah's case, Pluto
is actually quite a small spaniel, is very light, and
quite easy to control. I just don't think it occurred
to her that there was any other way to have a dog on a
leash other than being pulled along by the animal at full
speed. Admittedly, it worked to her advantage climbing
the hills on the trail in the snow. Since I didn't
have the benefit of a dog dragging me along, it was a
real struggle to keep up with her at times.
Once we got out on the road today I showed Leah how to
heel her dog on a leash. It actually turned out easier
to take over him and walk him for a mile or so before
turning him back over to her. By that time she had a good
idea as to what to do. Amazingly, he did really, really
well, considering that three other dogs diving off into
the bush, brushing past him, and sniffing the ground around
him, was actually a constant distraction. What amazed
me most was just how light and easy he was to control
on a leash compared to Cat. That bloody hound is just
so powerful that controlling her with anything but the
Haltie requires brute force, and even with it, leading
her isn't that easy. In any case, another walk or two
and old Pluto is going to be a heeling pro. Or at least
he won't be dragging his owner around quite as badly as
Didn't quite get this finished up yesterday. I have a
brother deploying to Iraq for his second stint on Friday
that called last night. Since we won't be talking over
the phone for about a year, we made up for it last night
and it seemed more important to do that than to write
Andy lit that big, communal burn pile this morning. Usually
it goes up like a torch but looking at it from here, about
all it's doing is creating a whole lot of smoke.
I know there was a lot of green stuff on it but there
must have been a bit too much. Prior to this there has
been a lot of beetle kill on it and that stuff burns like
crazy but there wasn't much on the pile this year and
you can tell. That last rain probably didn't help much,
either. The whole country is going to be cursing us for
The air is pretty heavy out there, and that won't help
the fire burn. There's a lot of humidity in the air with
all the melting snow in the last few days. For that matter,
I'm not even sure it went below freezing last night and
it's already four degrees above right now. It got up to
10C or 50F yesterday, even though it couldn't quite make
up its mind what it was going to do on the weather front.
Today looks like it's going to end up mostly cloudy. I
was hoping for a nice afternoon because we're having a
wiener roast with friends and neighbours once the bonfire
burns down, but I don't think we're expected to see really
nice weather until tomorrow when a high pressure system
morning started out being really pretty, after the clouds
cleared away, anyway. Friend Leah wanted to go for a walk
with the dogs this morning early on, because the Canucks
were playing hockey at noon and she didn't want to miss
the game. Going early turned out to be a really fortunate
decision, because it was just gorgeous out. The sun was
warm on our backs but the ground hadn't softened up too
much yet, and it was already just above freezing.
We had to stick to the road today because the back trail
is just too mushy and I went through into water under
the snow again yesterday about three times. I've
finally decided I'm tired of wet feet so the critters
can have the trail until it dries up a bit. We
popped down to a neighbour's place on the Main Arm so
that I could check on his place and so we could have a
look at the ice down there. It's starting to darken up
near shore and there was a spider hole a little way out.
A white hawk went cruising past us while we were there,
no doubt on the hunt for some unfortunate bird or little
creature. We could hear snow machines across the lake
so one of our snowmobiling buddies undoubtedly went sledding
this morning. It seems awfully warm for that and hard
on the machine, but I know he had family up so that's
probably why he's going.
Just about the time Leah and I arrived back in the yard,
the sun disappeared and the wind started up and it hasn't
improved much since. The sun rolls out off and on but
that next system is definitely on its way in. The benefit
of the slower melt and high wind is that things dry out
just that much faster, still, I like nice weather a lot
better than I like wind. The only time you pray for wind
around here is for mosquito season. So many of our
trees have a permanent bend in the tops since that full
day of wild wind we had back in October. They
all look like Dr. Suess trees now. They look pretty sorry,
and we've more than one propped up or cabled to another
to try to straighten them up or keep them from going over.
I guess we'll know once the frost is out of the ground
and the roots are freed up which trees are going to stay
standing, and which are going to keel over in the next
I think we're going to have to look at planting some seedlings
this spring. It's possible that the wind generated
by our Pacific weather systems is going to become more
and more forceful. The beetle killed forests no
longer slow wind down the way the green pine forests did
and in losing that protection, our trees are more vulnerable
to extreme winds. It's my thought that new trees growing
up in those conditions may be stronger, develop deeper
roots, and be less likely to topple in wind. Like anything,
though, it's a matter of finding the time during that
small window between frost out of the ground and weather
too warm to transplant wild trees. We'll just add that
project to the 6483 on the list. :-)
I know one thing. Obviously the wind is bothering the
local pilots in the least. Two of them have been
out playing in the sky this afternoon while the wind blusters
around here. Maybe it's only a ground level wind
but I doubt it. Sometimes those guys remind me of the
eagles or ravens that seem to get a kick out of flying
in the wind. To me, there's quite a difference between
relying on your wings and relying on an engine to keep
you in the air on a windy day, but maybe I'm just chicken.
Just a couple of small bits here and there. Friend Heidy
tells me that I misspelled Bayet's name. (He was the one
flying the red and white plane around when the guys went
snowmobiling last week.) Apparently his name is spelled
Beat but we pronounce it Bay-et. So Beat, if you read
this, I'm sorry about that!!!
The price on a property in Bella Coola on the Property
for sale page has been lowered so
check it out if you're in the market. Okay, that's
it. If I don't write tomorrow, have a great Easter Sunday
folks and don't forget.... eggs roll...!
like looking out the window in the morning and seeing
snow on the ground going into the second week of April.
It wasn't much but it was a surprise since it had been
sprinkling rain yesterday evening and the temperature
was still above freezing. It made everything nice, fresh,
and white, but it sure does add to the mess the melt makes.
The walk in the woods was fantastic this morning. The
clouds cleared away, the sun was out, it was just above
freezing and all was silent. Everything was so wet that
sound was muffled and there was no wind, and because the
snow has melted off in so many places, all you could smell
was the deep, rich scent of earth covered by layers of
pine needles and a few decomposing leaves. Nothing smells
more like spring!
I saw my first chipmunk since last fall in the woods
today and then a second one near our burn pile coming
home. The squirrels are sure keeping a low profile
though. The robins have been out for a couple of days
now, and I've even seen two flies outside this week so
I guess things are warming up.
I finally had to cut the birds off from seed at the feeder.
I feel terrible when chickadees and grosbeaks show up
for seed and look longingly through the window at me.
(Okay, that's probably my imagination. Still....) But
I just could not handle the blackbirds any more. The
flock of males was huge and noisy, and then the immatures
and females started moving in. They sit in the
trees around the house and trill all day long and because
it's so warm this time of year, we have the door and window
open. It gets to the point where you can't even hear yourself
think! I love them dearly and if they just sang occasionally,
I could handle it. But once the all day cacophony starts,
that's it, they're cut off, so they just moved over to
the neighbour's. Fortunately, he's a long way away and
though I can still hear them, it's at just the right level.
Andy's having a heck of a time getting good, hard
ice from the lake now so that he can make his homemade
ice-cream. There's still clear ice underneath
but on top it's so slushy that the ice melts too fast
in the bucket that he mixes it in. The snow on the ice
is really saturated with water and I was thinking the
other day about how uncomfortably cold it must be for
the swans to be standing in it when they land on the lake.
For that matter, it can't be that comfortable for sleeping
We haven't seen any swans today. I'm wondering if it's
because it cleared off this morning. Maybe they couldn't
navigate anywhere for a couple of days because it was
socked in so badly there for awhile. Or is that possible?
In any case, they're not around.
Our beautiful day has deteriorated a bit with cloud
moving in and a wind started up around noon. It's
nearly 8C or 46F out there though and the sun is making
its appearance now and again. It all helps to dry things
The Big Yech!!
really do not know how else to describe our sorry weather
and resulting melt. The rain picked up and It
drizzled all yesterday evening and throughout most of
the night with heavier showers here and there. It stayed
cloudy for most of today and it sprinkled rain off and
on throughout the day, although it was sleet by supper
time. A watery sun kept trying to peek through the clouds,
and did manage momentarily a time or two, but for the
most part it was just cloudy, wet, socked in, and we never
did see the mountains today.
The warm temperatures and now rain have taken the
snow down a tremendous amount! The evening before
last, Andy jokingly walked in the snow across the lawn
to show how saturated it was. There was probably a foot
on the lawn then, and by this morning, only one tiny,
thin patch of snow left on the entire thing, that
is how quickly it has melted.
Today I tried to go for a walk on the section of back
trail down by the gun range. I won't be doing that again
for awhile. There might be a bit of a puddle in a low
spot on the trail that I tried to go around. The snow
would collapse beneath my feet and I would be doing the
JC walkin' on water thing to try to keep from getting
too wet. It didn't work. In other places it was just snow
but it was so saturated that by the time I got back out
onto the road my boots were soaked and I was wet halfway
to my knees. I think the trail will have to look
after itself for the next little while until the snow
in the woods is gone and the ground dry. Then
I can walk alongside the trail until the snowmobile tracks
that we've packed all winter melt out and dry up.
Our Trumpeter Swans stayed the night in the spot they
chose for themselves yesterday afternoon, and a few of
the break break-aways even rejoined them. They weren't
there this morning when I got up but a whole Wack of them
returned at around lunch time and settled down between
us and the big island. About fifteen left that lot a couple
of hours later and flew down toward the Dean River end
of the lake, probably to feed for awhile. Between
them and the ones still left on the ice, there were 49
swans all told so the numbers are growing. Interestingly,
a huge flock of Canada Geese wheeled in at the same time
as the swans and while a good number landed and settled
in with the swans, the rest landed a little farther out
on the Main Arm. We've definitely never had Trumpeter
Swans arrive in these numbers and stay this long before
so I don't know what's up, but it may have something to
do with Andy's observation yesterday.
As I mentioned before, Andy went to Williams Lake and
then on to 100 Mile House to drop his broken snowmobile
off with the dealer there. On the way back he noticed
that neither Lac La Hache or Williams Lake had any open
water on them. Both were still frozen over.
That's really unusual and doesn't bode well for us. They
normally have ice off several weeks before we're clear
so that probably means we'll be a long, long time to blue
water. Still, there were some pretty big black spots in
the ice that showed up late yesterday afternoon after
it started raining in earnest. Andy rode the quad over
the ice road to Nimpo again today to get the mail and
there's loads of water on it. It's definitely too messy
to be driven by a vehicle now. Too bad. Sure would like
to have gotten another week out of it.
I just realized tonight that tomorrow is a holiday.
That's the problem with working at home and living in
the Chilcotin. You just have no idea when a long weekend
is coming around. So I'll wish you all a Good Friday and
in the meanwhile, I've some seeds soaking in peroxide
on the counter and I'm eager to get planting this weekend.
It's time to get some veggies started. I don't care how
many snowstorms we get between now and June, spring is
Flock of Trumpeter Swans
normally only used to seeing small numbers of Trumpeter
Swans arrive at Nimpo Lake in the spring. Six,
sometimes up to nine, settle on the lake for a few days
before moving on, but this spring has brought a huge flock
Last night when I mentioned I could hear Trumpeter Swans
flying by the house, I just assumed it was a small number
circling the lake looking for open water. But it was nearly
dark when I went outside and could see one small flock
after another land just on the other side of the big island.
They all bunched up and a few settled on the ice for a
sleep while eight Canada Geese settled in next to them.
We've noticed before that the geese will hang around with
the swans this time of year, probably for the protection,
since the swans are so much bigger.
Andy said he could tell they were still out there this
morning before dawn but since he left for town before
it lightened up completely, he couldn't get a picture.
By the time I got up they were long gone, of course.
I just heard swans a little while ago and decided to go
out and see if they were doing fly bys again. Nope. There's
a whole bunch of them standing out on the ice midway between
our point and the eastern shore and I noticed
now when I just checked that most of them have curled
up on the ice and settled in again.
It seems strange that they would wait here on Nimpo Lake
rather than on Lonesome Lake. The only thing I can figure
out is that they think they're more secure near human
habitation. Which is probably true, when you think about
it. There will be far fewer coyotes or wolves for
them to worry about out on the ice here than elsewhere.
All they have to worry about is dogs, and around here
there's only the one annoying beast that scared them off
before because his owner refuses to contain him. They're
certainly an amazing bird.
Today was pretty dreary. The sun kept trying to shine
but just couldn't quite break its way through heavy, low
level cloud. Instead, it's been trying to rain off and
on all day. Not really enough to be called a drizzle.
More like multiple sprinkles. It looks like the mountains
have been getting more than we have.
It made it up to 12C or 53F today while the sun was still
trying to make an appearance but settled back down around
8C or 46F for most of the rest of the day.
I just checked on the swans once again because they're
making a lot of noise when they usually don't. A
small flock broke away from the main one and started flying
off. Two left that flock as it continued on and
started making rounds of the bay. They finally landed
over in front of the big island. Maybe they don't like
being so close to a house or it's too noisy for them.
The others were all standing up watching them as they
flew and keep honking even now, maybe trying to get them
to come back? As usual, my overactive imagination
gets going and I wonder what's up. Did the pair
out in the middle of the bay just decide it was too dangerous
near land? Did the Jones decide they didn't want to sit
next to the Smith's because Mr. Jones tried to put the
make on Mrs. Smith? You really have to wonder.
I can't spend a lot of time on this today because something's
up with my web site and darned if I can figure out what
it is unless Explorer browser did an update that has skewed
my html. It still works fine in Firefox so I'm stymied.
This is the start of a new week and as usual, last week's
articles can be found at April
Week One .
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!