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 2/2010
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A Pioneer Leaves
Elsey, a long known resident and pioneer of the Chilcotin
died last Friday. He had requested of Andy years ago that
he act as pallbearer when the time came, and Andy went
down to the Valley yesterday to fulfill that request.
Al Elsey posed a bit of a contradiction throughout
his life in the Chilcotin. While it's true that
he did a lot of things in his life, many and varied, challenging,
adventurous and just plain daring, he was also known to
stretch the truth here and there. Kind of like Pan Phillips.
So he was often viewed by the locals that knew him with
the same trepidation as they often viewed Panhandle Phillips.
I've read some of Al's stories and watched some of his
collection of 8mm movies taken way back when that now
reside in a collection at the University in Prince George.
At the time, he was the only person in the country with
a movie camera and he shot movies of events that will
never be repeated again, including of the first cattle
drive out of here. He eventually moved to Bella Coola
in a retirement home in his later years.
Al Elsey was quite a storyteller and I'm still kicking
myself for missing a golden opportunity. I had
asked for a good quality digital recorder for Christmas
a year ago and got it, with the intention of recording
some of the stories our long time colorful locals have
to tell. We've gone down to Bella Coola a few times since
but were always trying to make appointments on time or
get away from appointments down there to get back home.
That's probably no excuse. We could have made a special
trip down and Andy did get over to see Al where he lived
last fall when he went to Bella Coola on his own.
Al Elsey was one person that never minded talking up a
storm and telling stories about his past. He was not a
humble man in that regard, which was probably why a few
locals looked askance at him. Well, that and the fact
that until he discovered church, I understand that though
generous to a fault, he was a hard living, hard drinking
man. He definitely enjoyed life to the fullest.
In any case, I missed out on the chance to record some
great stories because he was one person that was never
shy about telling them and wouldn't have minded my recorder
a bit. In contrast, a lot of the other folks around
here have amazing pasts and terrific stories but it's
a bit tricky getting the timing right for them to tell
a few. It often only requires a great meal, a
bottle of Famous Grouse or other liquid refreshment, and
the stories begin to flow. I'm just not sure what the
reaction would be if I brought out a recorder. I'm kind
of thinking the stories would dry up in a real hurry.
So though it's not often I regret not getting something
done that should have been, this one I most definitely
do. Whether you liked Al or not, we've lost a great bit
of history in his passing.
Today was absolutely fantastic! The sun
was shining, and even with some haze coming up from Oregon
and Washington States, it still heated up. It was 8C or
46F by eleven this morning. This evening it was 16.9C
or 62F in the shade which is amazing. There has been very
little wind for the last couple of days, although a breeze
did spring up later this afternoon. There has been water
on top of the ice on Nimpo Lake since yesterday and by
today there was even more melted snow on top. The snow
has gone down a tremendous amount in the last two days
which is wonderful to see.
A big storm has moved in on the wind that started
up this afternoon and we're surrounded by rain squalls.
A little bit of spitting is going on out there right now
but I don't imagine it will amount to much. And since
it's still almost 50F out there, I don't expect the rain
to turn to snow anytime soon. Although because it has
been so clear at night, it has definitely dropped temp
wise, getting down to between -5C and -8C or 17.6F the
last couple of nights.
The lake ice has been grumbling a little for the past
few days, but nowhere to the degree it was a couple of
weeks ago. I'm sure Andy is right when he suggests that
the moon phase seems to have a lot to do with how noisy
the ice can be. It makes sense. While not exposed to the
tidal forces an ocean would be under a moon, it's still
water and the moon must exert some influence.
The Rural Conference
mentioned over a week ago that I would be gone for a tourism
conference down in Kamloops for a week. Unfortunately,
being away from my computer for that long means some serious
catch up before I can get back to the business of writing
a blog. Although I have to admit that yesterday's nice
weather was my excuse for being away from the computer
for most of the day so no work got done in that regard.
It was glorious out! Finally, we've gotten
back to some spring weather in the last day or so. Warm
temperatures and sunshine is too irresistible so that
even though I couldn't really accomplish anything outside,
it was still nice to be just wandering around in
the yet snow covered yard in the sunshine.
Actually, Andy and I took a meandering walk over to where
the docks are stored and through the woods to look at
trees that were busted off from those heavy snows last
winter. We walked along the shore line in front of our
place to see if the ice had melted much and just generally
lazed around. We managed to kill a few hours just enjoying
the warm air and sunshine.
A couple of days ago we walked along the trail where that
moose died this winter. Andy had noticed while I was gone
that a lot of the meat along the rib cage had been devoured.
For that amount to be gone there would have to be a big
scavenger or a pack on it. When we walked in we
saw a set of fresh wolf tracks. Not as big as
that monster that went through a couple of years ago but
definitely much bigger than any dog. It made sense. Only
a large scavenger could have wreaked that kind of havoc
on the carcass in that period of time.
Back to the 'rural' tourism conference and keep
in mind what I just wrote in the paragraph above.
The conference was held at the South Thompson Inn in Kamloops.
Beautiful place, styled after the fancy horse farms of
Kentucky. Located on the Thompson River with balconies
for every room overlooking the river or the golf course
next door. A fancy golf restaurant as well as in house
fine dining and lounge. There were attendees from all
over the province including the north and all had a different
idea of what 'rural' meant. There were people from the
Shushwap and Cariboo region, Revelstoke, Smithers, Terrace,
and even the Fraser Valley. They all considered themselves
rural, and rightly so. The Fraser Valley is rural compared
to Vancouver. But the Chilcotin is downright untracked
wilderness compared to the Fraser Valley. I think
we all got one thing out of the conference if nothing
else. What is rural? And what are the variations of rural?
We learned lots about marketing on Twitter and Facebook,
even YouTube, and maintaining connectivity for our visitors
when they leave their home to embark on a visit elsewhere.
But that doesn't do a lot of good if you live where we
do. We have no connectivity in comparison
to other areas. Without cell phone service, we are left
in the dark. Do we want it? I never have, and I often
think that many of our visitors don't want it either.
But in view of what I learned, we may have to rethink
As pointed out in many of the seminars, the human
condition is changing. Where before we were all
separate entities, connected only by a phone, mail, or
in person, or lately, by the Internet on our personal
computers, much of the human race connects in a different
way now. I guess we could see that just by watching the
news on television or in my case, by following industry
newsletters for my computer business. Or even when in
Williams Lake or Kelowna where you see everyone on their
personal hardware either talking or texting.....constantly.
One of the speakers compared our new race to a hive
of bees or an anthill, where every insect knew what the
other was doing in their community. Maybe the
movie Avatar explains it better where all living things
on that planet were connected through their Mother Earth.
In our case, it's connectivity through technology and
I had no idea how widespread or insidious that has become.
Where the Baby Boomer generation may have caught on to
the technology and is using it, are they as dependent
on it as our youngest generations? It was brought up often
at the conference that young people taken away from the
ability to communicate through that technology and put
into a rural setting on field trips, or two week wilderness
camps, were totally lost. They felt like they had
been cut off from the rest of the world and didn't know
how to deal with it at first. Those people are
Are any of them going to want to go somewhere on their
vacation where they cannot text or talk to their 'community'
of friends? I doubt it. Yes, a few business people that
just want to get away from their hectic schedule and shut
off the ability of their coworkers or boss to reach them.
And there will be a few, such as people from overcrowded
European cities, that want what they perceive to be a
true wilderness adventure. But for the most part, we have
lost a lot of our visitors and had all the reasons wrong
as to why that has happened. Yes, we knew the demographic
had changed. But we forgot all about the new human
race out there. The one that we can't reach.
I discussed this with some of the government ministries
represented at the conference. They were aghast when they
realized that this was the position that many regions
are in. We cannot begin to reach those visitors until
we have the infrastructure in place that will attract
them. But I doubt that even something as simple as cell
phone service will come to us out here, because the government
doesn't have the money and isn't willing to spend it on
such a small population. Nor will corporations like Telus
that want the volume because they're all about making
money, be attracted to putting in service here.
So what to do? I have no idea but I did learn a few things
that I can incorporate on websites for our area. Many
vehicles have on board GPS now so I could make sure that
we have Google maps available on those sites. And where
before we cited lack of cell phone service as a good thing
for a relaxing vacation, I can just imagine now
that it would strike a note of terror for many young people
seeking a nice place to go vacation.
Maybe a connected community of humans will in the long
run be the best thing for the human race. It would be
nice to think that it would someday help to stop wars
and end poverty. But for right now, it's kicking the crap
out of our tourism industry and we need to figure out
how to address it. We have known for a long time that
there is a real disconnect between urban dwellers, particularly
those from larger cities, and rural or wilderness areas.
But I honestly did not realize how much the gap had widened
until I attended this conference. What's sad is that so
many urban dwellers are missing out on so much when they
refuse to venture out beyond their city limits. I
know what the cities have. I've lived in a couple of them
and it's true that the restaurants, theater, museums,
events, cultures and cosmopolitan way of thinking is wonderful
in many ways. I know what they have to offer. But do they
know what the other side has? Sadly, we are more similar
to the characters that inhabited the planet in Avatar
than the city dwellers are because we have our own type
of connectivity. I believe that our link to this planet
that we all ride is much closer, or 'down to earth', to
use that term as it was meant to be used. And I'm saddened
that many city dwellers no longer seem interested in exploring
Staying true to show casing the lodges and resorts
in our area, it's Chilcotin Waterfront's turn today.
They are located right on Nimpo Lake and you can access
the resort from Highway 20 just across from The Bean out
West. They have a motel unit with six rooms, one of which
is a kitchenette. They also have six serviced RV sites
with 30 amp electrical hookups and three beautiful Pioneer
Log Home constructed chalets on the property varying in
size to suit your group. Barbecues are available and there
is a laundromat on the premises for your use. The resort
has a wonderful view of the Coast Mountain Range, boats,
motors, and a large dock for your convenience. If you
would like more information on the resort, go to Chilcotin
This is the start of a new week. So you'll find last week's
blog about the fundraiser in Nimpo 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!