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Wilderness Adventures - April, Week 3/2009

This 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 the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like 'Lake Monsters' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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21/04/2009 12:13 PM

Mixed Tuesday

We've 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.

18/04/2009 7:09 PM

Wind.... Sigh

Still 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.

17/04/2009 7:44 PM

Spring Winds Yet Again

I 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 away.
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 smoker.
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.

16/04/2009 8:14 PM

Moose Crossing

Yesterday 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 of spring.
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 show up.
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.

15/04/2009 10:54 AM


I'm 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!

Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Moose crossing the ice below mountains.
White patch on a moose's right side.
Rounded snow covered Itcha Range.
Coast Range mountain in winter.
Old snow covered volcano.
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