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 3/2008
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of the Day.
Man Winter seems to be one of those 'Never Say Die' kind
of guys. Or is that a politically correct statement
nowadays? Should it be Old Woman Winter? Old Person Winter?
Nah, that just doesn't sound right.
Anyway, Old Man Winter took a last kick at the cat last
night with snow starting before midnight and still going
at 8:00 this morning. It took a long time for the tiny
fluffy flakes to amount to much but there's a good
four inches of snow out there right now and it's
become pretty soggy. Probably because it's sitting just
above freezing right now. I know that every time a wack
of snow slides off of the roof it hits the deck pretty
There's a huge number of birds of every shape, size and
kind, including some I haven't seen before, mobbing the
feeder this morning. There's one bunch that are pretty
good sized but all striped that I can only assume have
been around but were getting seeds out in the yard. The
snow probably drove them into the feeder for the first
time. It kind of makes you wonder how a bird goes
from picking up seed off of the ground or hanging from
plants to going to a bird feeder. Do they look up from
their cold, shivery little posts and notice the party
going on around the bird feeder on the deck? "Hey
Joe, what do you think's happening up there?"
"Geez, must be some kind of party, Marty, everyone's
there, even those little red guys, and the little Jewish
kinda ones....you know, the ones with the little black
caps. Hey, you wanna go check it out?"
"I don't know Joe, anyone that would invite those
arrogant military types that go around sporting their
bars on their wings, and noisy! Sheesh!"
"Aw, C'mon Marty, there might be free food....."
"Yeah, well I gotta admit Joe, I am a little tired
of wading around ass deep in snow here. What's with that?"
"Hey Marty, you're the one that wanted to get to
the Chilcotin early because travel wouldn't be nearly
as crowded and we would have our pick of the chicks!"
"Yeah....yeah, let's go check out the party."
I don't know, is that how birds think? I like to think
so. I realize that humans have a habit of .... well....humanizing
other creatures, and why not? I figure if my dog
knows what the word 'walk' and 'treat' and 'get the heck
off the deck!' means, then an animal or bird facing
the edge of survival every day of its life is probably
going to figure out where to find easy grub in a hurry
and tell his buddies while he's at it. In the end, whether
birds have any human attributes or not, I choose to think
they do and treat them with humor. Otherwise, this would
be a pretty tough world.
Snow isn't really something we needed right now since
it will make everything soggy as hell once it melts, including
our freshly graded road. On the other hand, there were
places where it was getting pretty dusty and I'm sure
we can use the moisture. I guess we don't have to worry
about a fire danger anytime soon anyway.
I figured a four inch layer of snow on the lake
ice would slow down melting considerably, but
surprisingly, the snow isn't really sitting on top. I'm
not sure what happened there, actually. The lake ice is
still grey and there's very little white on top. Andy
figures that the snow was heavy enough that it pushed
the ice down to the extent that the snow absorbed water.
Which is probably a good thing because had it stayed white
and reflected the sun's rays back, it might have slowed
down the the melt considerably. As it is, if the sun comes
out it probably won't take long and the ice will be black
again. However, I'm not too sure what the weather is supposed
to do for the next few days. I haven't seen the news so
we'll take it as it comes, I guess.
It's a little later in the afternoon and our temperature
still hasn't crept much above freezing. I got sidetracked
when I tried to make a phone call and discovered our line
was dead. Andy radioed around and discovered everyone
in the Nimpo Lake and Morrison Meadow area was out of
phone and had been since early this morning. Most likely
this heavy snow had pushed a tree or branch onto the line.
The neighbour came over to visit on his fourwheeler this
afternoon but said he had seriously considered bringing
his snowmachine over instead. I can see why. It's funny
snow and packs right down so you actually could sled on
it. He was talking about a huge thunderclap that
occurred here while I was on my way to Anahim Lake last
night that not only made him jump but his dog
did a flying leap under the bed. Andy was chuckling because
he had just stepped outside to get some wood and he said
he jumped because the thunderclap was so close and he
figures our cat took a 20' leap and dive into the house
without even touching the ground. I guess they both
looked around expecting to see a tree smoking somewhere
but didn't find anything. At least it didn't knock
our power out, although there was a blip
yesterday on the battery backup. Maybe that lightning
flash I saw on the way to Anahim was behind me. All I
know is there was a bright pink flash and I just assumed
it was over the mountains in front of me somewhere. Kind
of early and weird to get lightning this time of year.
But then again, four inches of the white stuff
at the end of April isn't exactly the norm. Not
impossible, since we're good for snow all months of the
year, but not common either.
I was just talking to someone on the phone (which is finally
back) and they said the mill manager saw lightning hit
the Telus transfer station at Nimpo last night just about
the time I saw that flash on the road, so I guess that's
what it was all about.
At least we're much luckier than Virginia, which got hit
with unheard of tornados and eastern Canada where they're
already evacuating people because of flooding waters expected
to reach a thirty year high according to the news tonight.
Yeah, I know, this blog has taken all day to write. That's
what happens when business interferes with the fun stuff.
Speaking of which, I have to get back at it since it's
10:30 at night now.
Just to add some details though, it's still around freezing,
the north end of Nimpo got over five inches of
snow and for the first time ever, we've had a
red crossbill come to our feeder. A couple, in fact. Female
and male from the looks of it. It's funny because we were
just talking about it at dinner down at the other end
of the lake on Saturday and when the bird was described
to me I said I knew it from our bird book but we had never
had it at our end of the lake. Open your mouth and you're
guaranteed to be proven wrong every time!
Sudden Weather Change
is common for the Chilcotin, we had an about face in our
Today was an amazing day in more ways than one.
The temperature climbed to well above 10C or 50F today
and I was shocked to see the state of the lake this afternoon
when I actually had time to come out of my office. The
surface was looking pretty black with open water everywhere
including a long stretch along the crack off of our point,
ponds in the reed beds, and it was open for about 30 feet
out from our shoreline.
Quite an amazing change when you consider that Andy was
cutting through at least four inches of ice with the chainsaw
close to shore only Saturday.
At this rate, my forecast of ice out around May
10th is going to be completely out to lunch! Geez,
that demotes me to the rank of a BC television weatherman.
Suddenly the bit of open water we have has drawn numerous
ducks of all colors and sizes and one even landed quite
near me when I was down by the water and began paddling
around. Suddenly he realized I wasn't a tree after all
and took off again, but at least there's some
bird life around. Still no loons, though.
I had to go into Anahim Lake for a meeting around supper
time and just as I was leaving it got really black and
a combination of hail and sleet came down, even though
it was 9C when I left the house. It did that all the way
to Anahim and I even saw a flash from lightning
over the Itcha Mountains, but then the sleet turned
to rain. It must have been a lot warmer in Anahim than
Nimpo because on returning home it was pretty white with
over an inch of hail on the ground that hadn't melted
yet and sitting right around freezing. That's a
nine degree drop in two hours! The colder temperatures
are probably the result of our lake opening up and that
nearly freezing water will bring our temps down a good
five degrees this time of year compared to up on the highway
or in Anahim.
This is the dirty time of year when you don't know what
to expect in the way of weather from one moment to the
next. But at least we did get some moisture
and although it's really not welcome right now, we actually
need it. From mud to dust in no time....that's us!
I was seriously thinking of letting the birdfeeder run
out of seed today because the red winged blackbirds are
starting to get to me. It's nice to hear them sing after
a long winter but after a few weeks of sheer bedlam in
the trees around the deck, it gets difficult to even hear
yourself think. The only reason why it's hard to
shut off the food for a couple of weeks is that many other
little birds have shown up now and when the weather
is cold and nasty, the feeder offers easy access to seeds
and they don't have to use up as much energy searching
out last year's seed heads. One new addition today was
a purple finch. He actually sat on the back of a chair
on our deck right against the window, with a houseplant
inside and the Christmas lights tied to it outside. He
seemed perfectly happy and content to sit there for awhile
and study the view so I posted a picture of him up on
Last Sunday in April' everyone! You see? You can
use just about any reason for a celebration. I woke up
to a special treat of pancakes and bacon fixed for me
by my sweetie so that's as good a reason as any for
me to celebrate the day. That, and the fact
that it's already at 9.2C or nearly 50 degrees Fahrenheit
this morning and it didn't go much below freezing last
night. There's some high overcast and the wind is out
of the east which doesn't bode well for the bonfire wine
and cheese party this afternoon, but at least it's warm.
Actually, the weather forecast is for a nasty little
front to catch most of the province and dump some rain,
but it may already have passed us by. I certainly hope
so. We really need that lake ice to melt back from the
docks and stop pushing up ridges.
Yesterday we checked on our neighbour's dock and you
could see that it had been pushed up even higher by the
ice growing beneath it. We took a chainsaw over
there and Andy began cutting a long block on the outside
of our dock, hoping to take the pressure off of both docks.
He got most of it cut out but the piece of 'solid' ice
he was standing on decided to cave in just as he was finishing
his cut. He went into the water and I'm trying to grab
him by the collar while he's trying to save the saw from
a dunking. I didn't know how deep the water was there
but Andy's pretty quick and was out of the water before
his wallet even got wet. Once he got all the ice cut into
smaller blocks we were able to push them under the ice
'reef' to get them out of the way. Almost immediately,
our neighbour's dock bounced up in the water when
Andy pushed it away from the bank and actually straightened
out, which really surprised me. I thought it would take
some serious force to get it back into square again. One
corner of the dock is still frozen in and it looks like
the ice has broken the straps off most of the barrels
underneath, but it'll make it otherwise. As long as the
ice quits building, anyway. Just one or two more warm
days and the ice should start rotting on
the whole lake.
Nimpo Creek is open where it enters the lake on
the north end and while at supper down at Mary's
last night, we watched an otter cross the lake doing the
run, hump, and slide. They're such a funny creature. In
many cases they would probably cover more ground just
by running (which for them involves humping up their back
because they do have a really funny gait) but they just
have to throw a glide and slide in there.
I don't know if it's because that's how they have their
fun or it's just a part of their nature, but it sure is
a hoot to watch. One of our snowmobiling cronies living
down there who's birthday we were celebrating last night
has noticed what we have. That there are more hawks than
usual this year and one of them is definitely the sharp
shinned. So there you go. The higher hawk numbers isn't
our imagination after all.
Actually, I saw one of them at the T intersection on our
road yesterday just circling over a small patch
of dead pine and very obviously hunting. It's
not that far from our place as the crow flies so it could
be the one hanging around our neighbour's property or
a different one, but after seeing the hawks hunting the
ditches on the way to town, I had wondered if they would
be doing the same along our road.
The Natives are starting to fish off the bridge where
the Dean River exits Nimpo Lake, which is a good sign
of spring. They've only just started catching anything
the last couple of days and the fish are almost all black
and ready to spawn, but it should mean ice off
soon. Oddly, there are no loons back yet, and they're
almost always here two weeks before ice
off. You'll see them paddling around in whatever tiny
puddle of open water they can find on the lake, but nothing
so far this year, which is odd. Then again, we don't exactly
have a lot of open water. There are three
ducks that took up residence this morning on some water
that bubbled up through the huge crack off our point and
is laying on either side of the ice ridge pushed up there,
but they're the first.
Our Bingo at the hall yesterday was a success.
We did nicely and would have done much better if we'd
had more bingo cards to sell. Unfortunately, we have to
borrow the school's set which a couple of our community
members recalled playing on when they were kids, that's
how old these cards are. You know...the pressed cardboard
ones with the plastic colored windows that you push open
or closed over the numbers? Yeah, those are the
ones....older than Moses. Anyway, most people
would liked to have played more than two or three cards
but that's all we could sell to each person. In fact,
I had to give up two that I was playing so that someone
from Anahim Lake could play. As a result, we lost some
money there and we sure need it for the improvements.
The floor needs several new coats of paint but that's
just labour and a little paint and easy enough to take
care of. It's the chairs and tables that will be the big
bill. Right now all we have are the old metal and and
bentwood chairs very similar to the old school house chairs
that also predate Moses. Trust me, it doesn't matter
how much padding you have on your butt, you are guaranteed
to be a cripple after sitting in them for a just a few
hours, which may explain why our aging population
is leaving our functions much earlier than they used to.
I can't blame them because those chairs are a back killer
for me personally and heaven help anyone that wears a
skirt to any of our functions because the splinters on
our old tables will ruin nylons in seconds. So I think
replacing tables and chairs are our next order of business,
it's just a matter of finding something affordable. However,
nearly every Director has been contacted and agreed that
we should spend money getting a Feller Buncher in to take
down all of the beetle killed trees dangerously close
to the hall, so that's a priority right now.
In any case, thanks to everyone that participated
in the Bingo to help us raise money and special thanks
to those businesses that contributed prizes, which
were awesome! I'm going to put a list of the businesses
over on the Newsletter page to give them a little coverage,
because the Williams Lake Tribune wants almost as much
money as we made to run a small thank you in their classifieds,
and we just can't afford that. So please, go check
out the list on the Newsletter
page and keep their kind support of our community in mind
when next you go shopping either locally or in Williams
Uh oh. I see the wind has come up and it's trying to rain
out there so I guess that system is going to get us after
all. We watched the weather channel a few minutes ago
and there's a big purple splotch in the middle of the
red and green on their radar which indicates high cloud
tops and lots of moisture. There is blue behind it though
so hopefully we'll get a couple of nice days with warm
temperatures. We should. The east is going to cool down
substantially and get some rain and our weather
is usually the opposite of theirs. I know, I know...predicting
our weather based on what the east is getting falls into
the witchcraft category, but you know, it's based on observation
over the years and my predictions certainly aren't any
worse than those of the weathermen who's forecasts seem
to be guesses at best.
Have a good Sunday, folks!
about no blog for the last couple of days. We had to do
the Williams Lake thing Wednesday and Thursday and by
the time we got back and unloaded the truck last night,
it was too late to write much. Turning on my computer
this morning was no fun. Nothing like being inundated
with emails, some of it business that had to be attended
to, especially when it turned out to be the first really
nice day in a long, long time. It was up
to 10C or 50F in the shade today and since the sun shone
all day, it was much warmer than that in the sun. In
fact, it was an extraordinary day and I think everyone
really enjoyed it. Certainly that was the first
thing remarked on by everyone I spoke to today. No surprise
since the last few days have been marked by quick snowstorms
and a cold north wind.
It only got down to about -3C or 27F last night so it
didn't take as long for it to get started warming things
up and thawing them out this morning. We need a few days
like that to get rid of the rest of our snow but alas,
we're only supposed to get one more nice day and then
the weather is going to deteriorate. Figures. The
annual canoe race has already been put off because no
one can be sure the ice will be off of Nimpo Lake by May
10. I've already privately predicted ice off from
the 7th to the 10th but I thought I was just being pessimistic.
Apparently I'm not the only one.
We decided to take a little walk about this morning and
discovered that the barrels under our dock have
been damaged further. The ice ridge continued
to push upward and has now kinked the barrels almost in
half and I doubt they'll be good for much of anything
now. I happened to glance over to the little bay where
we keep the other half of our dock and the next door neighbour
keeps his, to see that his dock was reared half out of
the ice. We went around to take a closer look at it and
although it's probably not damaged beyond repair, it
has been twisted, kinked up, the long supporting beam
bent and the straps have been busted off of at least one
barrel. It was a brand new dock and a real beauty,
but it definitely might need to be pushed back into square
again. An ice ridge formed underneath of it lengthwise
instead of crosswise as it did under our dock, and forced
one corner of the dock into the bank. There doesn't look
to be any damage to the barrels yet and hopefully this
warmer weather will stop the ice ridge from building any
higher. Surprisingly, our dock was outside of his and
it doesn't seem to have sustained any damage at all. I
guess it's just the luck of the draw and all depends on
where a ridge pushes up. The ridge that came up next to
and under his dock is well over two feet high and came
up after we checked the docks on Tuesday and left
for town Wednesday. The power of that ice is just
amazing. I guess there's good reason why most
people on this end of the lake put their docks in the
back bay where the ice doesn't move.
It was really interesting going into town Wednesday morning.
We came across three hawks identical to the ones
we have here cruising only a few feet above the
ditches on the way into Williams Lake in search for mice.
We watched one do some pretty amazing acrobatics and we
were able to follow all of them for quite a ways while
I tried to get pictures with the little camera through
the windshield. We saw another three of the hawks
on the way home doing the same thing as well as
one sitting on a fence post. We saw several other types
as well, including what we're pretty sure was a Harrier
Hawk. It just confirmed our speculation that our hawk
has only about a 20 to 23 inch wing span at most. I did
get some response from readers on the hawk question and
I really appreciate you taking the time out to write.
What was so strange was seeing so many of these white
hawks on the way in and out of town just at a time when
we're seeing them out here. Andy and I discussed
whether they had been there all along and we are
just noticing them now because of our present experience
with them out here. But I don't think so. When you see
one of those little beauties cruising the ditch on first
one side and then the other side of the highway, it is
some sight to see. One that I know
I would have taken note of. While we may have seen the
odd one before, and I'm pretty sure I have somewhere,
to see six is definitely out of the ordinary and I know
for sure that we haven't seen them out here around our
property before last fall. As a result, I really do believe
we're seeing a change here. I think I've mentioned before
that the one conservation Officer that was also a biologist
told us that one of the first signs of a change in environment
is a change in bird life. He seems to be proven correct
yet again. I don't think that there's any doubt
there is an increase in the numbers and varieties of hawks
we're seeing in the Chilcotin.
We pondered that perhaps one reason we might be seeing
more hawks, especially the smaller ones, is that the country
is opening up considerably since our mountain pine beetle
epidemic. Where before the pine forests with their dense
boughs might have interfered with the ability of a predatory
bird to see prey, now they can probably spot mice and
small birds much more easily. I'm accustomed to seeing
a hawk on nearly every second fence post on the prairies
for obvious reasons. But perhaps our conditions are, and
will continue to, become more meadow or 'prairie' like
in places where we've lost pine forest.
Today we watched four bald eagles soaring around
the back bay before I started out on a walk today
and it looks like it must be mating season. Their
numbers also seem to be on the rise which doesn't bode
well for the loon babies this year. Walking on
the back trail is a little more difficult this time of
year because the snow is mushy or where it's melted, you
need flippers. Still, it's a good workout and on a day
like today just getting out there is marvelous and well
worth the effort.
Just to let everyone know, that property on Nimpo Lake
that can only be accessed from the lake has been sold
through the listing on the web site, which is kind of
nice. I don't know who bought it but welcome to
On another note, the reaction to the lakesounds page is
starting to come in and seems pretty positive so I'm putting
it as a link on the introduction to the blog for now.
Which means, I guess, that I really need to get in there
and change some pictures around when I can. Thanks for
your feedback folks!
A final reminder about the Bingo tomorrow. There's some
really awesome prizes up including three very expensive
snowmobile jackets, a barbecue, gift certificates from
various stores here and in Williams Lake, and lots of
other great stuff. We'll have pizza and hot dogs donated
by the Nimpo Lake General Store, chips, soft drinks and
coffee. We need to fix up the hall so bring your
wallet, your appetite and your bingo luck!
Although it's tentative at this point in time, we may
be putting together a work party to tidy up along the
Highway into Nimpo next weekend. If you're local, read
this, and would like to participate, I expect Cora or
Andy will have some posters up sometime next week giving
a day and time for everyone to meet.
I've started a new week, and you can find last week's
articles at April
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!