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 3/2009
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of the Day.
had a real mixed bag for weather the last couple of days.
On Sunday we woke up to well over an inch of snow
and still snowing. Actually, I tried to stay in
bed as long as possible in the hopes that the snow would
melt before I got up, but that would have entailed staying
there for most of the day. Since it was well above freezing
the snow was turning pretty heavy and wet and really made
the road to Nimpo sloppy. I actually had to put my truck
into four wheel drive. It was pretty sloppy walking too
later in the afternoon. However, our wind start drying
things out pretty good by evening.
The weather has been super warm and very windy ever since.
Yesterday temperatures reached 12C or 54F and they
never did drop below 6C or 43F last night and they've
been hovering between 9 and 10C all day. As usual,
there's a howling wind to accompany the high temperatures.
Although we are supposed to see a cooling trend on Wednesday.
It's just as well. We've started a pool betting on when
the ice will go off of Nimpo Lake. Since I'm guessing
around the 8th to 10th of May, it won't do to have it
go off too early. If the really warm weather
and wind were to continue, that could happen.
The ice on the lake is looking pretty dark in places and
there's not much snow left on the surface. The eagles
and ravens have been sitting out on the ice for the past
couple of days, probably looking for anything caught in
the ice, such as bugs. Looking from our place out to the
Main Arm yesterday, it sure looked like open water, but
Terry was up flying and he said there were lots
of areas where there was a lot of water on the ice.
As Andy suggested, the ice is so solid this year and there
haven't been any cracks so far, that the melted snow on
the surface of the ice has nowhere to go.
There's open water out at the point and off one end of
the big island, but surprisingly, the river still hasn't
melted out. There are still big ice sheets on both sides
of the bridge where the Dean exits Nimpo Lake. Things
are definitely a little later this year. I was noticing
yesterday that the pussy willow catkins are no bigger
than they usually are in February so I'll be surprised
to see the aspens leaf out much before June. Still, you
never know what May will bring for weather and I did
see a green blade of grass out along the road Sunday.
windy today. I think I'm just going to give up on watching
the weather on the news hour any more. I just get my hopes
up based on what's shown on TV, and then the forecasters
are wrong. We had a strong, blustery wind all day today,
although it did slow down long enough for me to get in
a walk with the dogs this afternoon.
I tried going through the woods on the back trail to the
gun range today. That was a pretty gooey walk.
Mud, ice, snow, water sitting in dips in the trail entailing
a detour around through the woods and back onto the trail
again. It would make more sense to walk in the woods all
the time but the frost is coming out of the ground and
it's really muddy. Our soil and ground cover is delicate
enough, I don't need to be tearing it up because the ground
is too wet. Besides, in this country a foot print
can last for years in this soil and I really don't
care to be memorialized in that manner.
Once out on the road again and not far from the gun range,
I noticed a bunch of ravens squabbling over something
in a low area below the road. Cat had her nose in the
air and headed down there to cast around. That's about
the time that the batteries decided to go dead in her
training collar and I had to go down there and manually
remove her on a leash. There's no question that something
is dead there but fortunately I got to her before she
found it. A little farther down the road all three
dogs became pretty alert and had their noses in the air.
There was a brisk wind blowing toward us so they were
getting a good scent. I just don't have any idea what
it was. It may have been the wild Indian ponies, a moose
that had crossed there not long before, or the bears,
I suppose. Just in case it was the latter I didn't spend
any time hanging around.
I don't know what tomorrow's weather will bring. We had
some sun today but there was a lot of heavy, grey cloud
as well. It only made it up to about 6C or 43F and that
wasn't for long, but at least it's not getting that cold
at night, either. There's another system coming in from
the Pacific that's supposed to bring showers to Vancouver
but the bulk of it is supposed to be north of Van. That
would be us, so I guess we'll see.
Spring Winds Yet Again
know it's spring and we're supposed to get wind, but today
it was just tiring. The wind started early this morning
and went full blast all day, and still is, for that matter.
No small breeze this. Full bluster all the way. I didn't
even bother to go for a walk today because I just didn't
want to be out in it. It might not be so bad if we hadn't
gotten that wonderful, calm day two days ago to remind
us just how nice it can be when you aren't being blown
off your feet. Still, it's the same old thing. There's
a positive twist to high winds, and that's how fast things
dry out when that moisture is being picked up and carried
We had sun for the entire day with only a few clouds here
and there but I don't think it ever got above 5C or 41F.
I was trying to smoke some beef roasts I'd had pickling
for the past three weeks and I had a heck of a time keeping
the heat under the chips hot enough. The wind kept the
smoker chilled down and carried the hot air away. I finally
pulled the meat out and tossed it on the barbecue to finish
it off. I guess we'll see what it's like once it cools
down and if the smoke penetrated all the way into the
meat. If not, the dogs will be dining well.
Terry B was up flying his Super Cub today and he said
over the radio that it was a little bumpy up there. I
don't doubt! It's not a day you could have talked
me into flying around the countryside. I'm assuming
he was having a look at Nimpo Lake and it will be interesting
to see what he says about it when we see him next. I'd
be curious to know if there are a lot of spider holes
opening up on it now that the snow has melted.
I have no idea if this wind is going to blow through and
we'll get some quieter weather behind it or not. It looks
like we should catch a piece of a high pressure system
building in for the south coast tomorrow, but the forecasters'
models only seem to be right less than half the time.
According to the isobars on the radar pictures we shouldn't
see any wind at all tomorrow, but they've been wrong before.
I would be ever so grateful if it was right for a change
and I could get some stuff done outside. I'm sure the
dogs would be delighted as well since they missed their
walk today. I kept getting the hairy eyeball from
all three every time I stepped outside to check on the
I transplanted four zucchini plants into bigger pots today.
They were already getting too big for their peat pots
and the roots were sneaking into the other plants' pots.
I only planted the seeds a week ago so they're doing amazingly
well. I tried that trick that the folks from Batnuni Ranch
suggested, which was to soak the seed in a peroxide solution
before planting. Everything came up within two days except
for some flower seeds I planted. Nothing from them yet
at all but it was seed I had saved from my own plants
so perhaps I did something wrong. It's cool to have such
good germination on the vegetable plants but since it
was much quicker than I expected, it means holding the
plants in the house for much longer before they can be
set outside. That certainly won't hurt anything.... at
least until Andy gets tired of peering through a jungle
on the window sill in order to see the view. I
don't think he was too impressed with me turning the house
into an impromptu greenhouse all spring and into early
summer last year. Still, we got veggies out of it.
was the perfect day. The sun was shining, there wasn't
a cloud in the sky, and very little wind. After I took
the dogs for a walk, Andy stirred up enough coals under
the ashes of that burned up slash pile for us to be able
to roast some wieners for a late lunch. After that it
was pretty hard to get motivated, because it was so nice
and warm in the sun. Our first really perfect day
I worked outside for the rest of the day and was down
to a tee shirt because it was so hot in some spots around
the yard. After Andy came back from cutting some wood
we had a little refreshment sitting in the sun and then
I decided to start raking the lawn. Andy was going to
get started on something as well but decided to see what
time it was first. It was nearly six in the evening! The
day just seemed to go on and on and was so pleasantly
warm that I just didn't want to quit. My BS'ing partner
promised that today would be just as nice but I could
already see a faint, ominous haze in the west that had
been building for a few hours and it definitely
had an effect on our weather today.
Unlike the night before, it only went a degree or two
below freezing and was warming up fast when I got up this
morning, even though some cloud moved in. We had mixed
sun and cloud all day, but this time with a wind, so it
wasn't nearly so nice to be outside. It did
get up to at least 11C or over 50F that I know of. It
may have gotten warmer than that but I forgot to keep
an eye on the thermometer.
By this evening the cloud had socked in pretty good and
I wouldn't be surprised if we see rain tonight. So far
it's still 6C out there and isn't dropping all that quickly.
That's when you see a difference in snow is when it's
warm all day and stays above freezing at night. I could
already see a difference in the lake ice.
At supper tonight I noticed that for the first time all
winter, it's getting pretty black looking out there. There
should be loads of ice on the lake yet but Andy went through
the ice while burning a neighbour's old dock for them
yesterday. He had come back for his waders because
the fire was melting the snow around it and his feet were
getting wet. When I came back from my walk yesterday I
noticed wet barefoot prints out on the deck and the waders
hanging over a lawn chair. It's the kind of thing that
makes you go, "Hmm." When I walked in the house
Andy was just loading his wet clothes into the washing
machine. He probably wouldn't have told me he went through
the ice if I hadn't seen the wet footprints. I guess he
went up to about his waist in water before he hit bottom
while walking on the way back from the burning dock. He
scrambled up on shore in time to save his wallet from
getting too wet but he had a wader full of water and had
to squelch home.
The only thing we can think of was that he fell into a
hidden spider hole. We walked on the ice along our own
shore yesterday afternoon and the ice is only just
starting to melt a few inches away from shore
in small, warm, protected spots. So any distance at all
from shore and there should still be two feet of ice,
but you just never know where a spider hole is going to
Our neigbhours called us just after supper last
night and told us that they could see a moose out on the
lake through their front window and it was headed our
way. It did eventually show up and crossed the
lake from the east to the west and ended up just this
side of the point before he (or she) disappeared. I watched
the whole way to make sure he didn't go through the ice
anywhere. It looked to be just a young moose but it has
a big white patch on its side. I've never seen that before
so I assume it's an old injury and the hair has grown
back in white. That or else it's a bare flap of skin.
It's pretty hard to determine at that distance but it
looks like a spot where you would expect a wolf to be
hanging off the moose in an unsuccessful attack.
Oddly, that is the first moose I have seen cross the lake
all year. It's been a fairly common occurrence most years
but not this one. And it's funny, but I had just been
thinking in the last couple of days that the ice was going
to go off this year and we will have seen nothing but
that pack of coyotes crossing it all winter.
afraid to tempt Mother Nature but dare I say spring is
officially here in the Chilcotin?
We were unable to have our wiener roast Monday night over
the bonfire because the wind was just too cold and it
kept threatening to rain or snow, so we canceled that
and had a dinner inside. But we were expecting
the weather to be much nicer yesterday and old Mother
Nature came through for us in spades!
While there were a few clouds hanging around and a bit
of a breeze, yesterday was mostly about sunshine
and warm temperatures. I walked on a portion of
the back trail to see what it was like and the snow had
melted down enough to where it was passable. And walking
in the sun on the road was really warm. It actually got
up to 11C or a little over 50F in the afternoon and was
still pleasant when we threw some wood on the bonfire
and warmed up the hot dog sticks.
There was still a good pile of coals from that slash pile
that Andy burned Monday. He kept pushing it up with the
Bobcat so that the green stuff would keep burning. It
worked for a wiener roast for our friends and neighbours,
anyway. Actually, it was really enjoyable sitting around
the fire, even if it did cool down in the evening, because
as Richard said, there's no mosquitoes!
That high the weather forecasters promised us has
definitely settled in over our part of BC. When
I got up this morning there wasn't a cloud in the sky
and it's still clear as a bell out there. I noticed yesterday
that the Itcha Illgatchuz Range to the north of us has
a thick mantle of new snow. I was pretty sure the Coast
Mountain Range to the south of us had gotten fresh snow
as well. It certainly makes for pretty scenery when you've
got blue skies and fresh snow on the mountains. They look
like you can reach out and touch them!
The local bird life is certainly picking up in numbers.
Andy commented yesterday that even the ravens sound happy.
We've been seeing a few bald eagles around for a while
now. One likes to sit down at the point on the edge
of a tiny bit of open water there, probably looking for
fish. I know he's not sharing the spot with the swans,
anyway. A flock of Trumpeter swans flew by us on the way
down the Dean while we were at the fire last night. I'm
not sure where they're going to feed. Down where the Dean
River exits the lake is about the only open water around
sufficient for the swans to take off and land, but every
time we go by, there's no sign of them. This is probably
the longest we've seen them hanging around.... unless
this is a new group passing through.
I still think we have a long way to go before the
swans or any other bird will be seeing open water on our
lake. It's frozen over pretty solidly and there's
probably at least two feet of ice yet. Andy went over
it on the fourwheeler to Nimpo for mail twice yesterday,
and he said it's good yet even at the boat ramp. I don't
know that going over it with a vehicle would be a good
idea. No one has the courage to do it now so we don't
have to worry about it. Still, even with the warm weather
we've had, the ice is not even pulling away from shore
and though the lake was talking yesterday, it wasn't doing
it very loudly. It might today. It was -8C or 17F last
night but it's already warmed up to 3C. If it continues
to warm quickly today and that sun keeps beating down
on the ice, the lake will probably start grumbling.
This is the start of a new week. You'll find last week's
articles at April
Week Two .
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!