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Wilderness Adventures - April, Week 3/2010

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 some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.

20/04/2010 6:49 PM

Burning Slash

On Friday Andy lit up our communal slash pile on our neighbor's property. This has been an annual event and usually it can be done in March, but the snow load was such this year that he had to wait to set fire to it until the snow had melted off the top but the pile was still surrounded by snow. Originally started because of all the beetle killed trees, our neighbours needed a place to put the brush that they cleaned up so they put it on the upper part of their property next to our road.
Over the years we had our own share of brush and stumps and our neighbours kindly let us use their burning pile on the agreement that we would torch it when it was safe since they aren't here during the winter. Then, once Lloyd died, his nephew and his nephew's wife took the place over. They are yard cleaning machines! They spent all last summer and fall cleaning up around the property taking down aspen and beetle killed pine. The property looks amazing now but they too needed a safe place to put the brush and ended up using the communal burn pile. As a result, we had a humdinger to torch this year. Of course, as per burning standards, it was only one metre by one metre at any set time. :-)
We had planned a weiner roast for Saturday and just as well, for you couldn't have gotten close enough to roast a dog without blistering your face any sooner if you'd tried. But by Saturday evening it was just a small mound of ash and enough coals for a few of us to have hot dogs and smokies.
Our neighbour no longer wants us all to be putting our brush in that spot and I have to agree that another place for it would be nice. Since it's been right along side the road it's kind of ugly looking. But our Wilson neighbours have already decided we can use the upper part of their property to start a new burn pile. Something that would have been virtually impossible three years ago because that whole area was covered in green trees that all got hit by beetles. It was a regular forest on that plot of land. Now there are only three little trees hanging on for dear life. But there are loads of little tiny pine seedlings sprouting up now so it will be tough to choose a spot for burning that isn't going to toast some seedlings.
We took some pictures off the camera near the moose carcass again. This time a pair of dogs were on it, a raven a few times, as well as the fox. I don't know who the dogs belonged to but the fox was all over that moose.
Today was another glorious day as was yesterday. It's been ranging around 16C or over 60F at its warmest for the last couple of days and last night it didn't even go below freezing. That's been a huge help to the melting and I finally got to spend the afternoon in my garden cleaning up the dead stuff from last year. If you had asked me a week ago if I could have gotten into the garden area I would have told you not until May. But the snow has been going like crazy from well over a foot on the lawn a week ago to green grass coming up.
The mice sure took a liking to my perennials and shrubs this winter and killed a few of them. The snow came so thick and fast last fall that there was little frost in the ground, so the little buggers tunneled all over the place. I found big, comfy mouse nests all through parts of the garden that was under a foot of snow a week ago. At least without frost I can already dig into the ground without any problem and was moving plants and potting some up today.
The ice out on the Main Arm is really, really black looking, and it has melted away from the shore in front of our place over four feet in some places just in the past day or so. There's no booming, or crunching, or rumbling at all from the ice. It's as though it plans on just simply dissolving this year. Although that won't happen any time soon I don't think.

17/04/2010 11:50 AM

Things In The Night

I have quite a mixed bag for this blog folks, so bear with me. First, the moose carcass. Yes, I know, that doesn't sound like a particularly exciting subject, but it can be.
After seeing what we're pretty sure were wolf tracks on the trail into that moose carcass, we decided to set up a wildlife motion sensor camera about 15 feet away from the moose. It took a couple of days to figure out the right settings before we got it to where we wanted it. In the meanwhile, not surprisingly, we caught our old Lab red-handed late at night exploring the area around the carcass. She is now in jail every evening from when she gets her supper until morning. Not so much because I think she was feeding on the carcass, because I doubt if she was. Both pictures that the camera took has her circling around it, probably sniffing for tracks, not eating on it. The danger to her is other animals. She's getting really deaf and about half blind and wouldn't have a chance against a wolf or pack of coyotes if she's caught out at night that far away from home. Hence, jail time.
Also, not surprisingly, we caught the neighbour's big Rottweiler on the carcass late at night, probably because the carcass is almost across the road from their driveway and only a little ways into the woods. The owner had wondered where her dog had acquired two moose legs in the past few weeks and I would say this carcass, but when we first heard of Diablo bringing home moose legs, this carcass was still intact. So I think he's found a dead moose somewhere else.
On the night we got a picture of the neighbour's dog, we also got one of a fox on the moose carcass, as well as a picture of a coyote just after the sun came up the next morning. We didn't get the camera back up that evening so last evening was the first since then that it's been up. It will be interesting to see what we get, but I doubt if we'll see a wolf. We've been back and forth in there too many times this week and I expect a wolf will give the area a wide birth now. Certainly I haven't seen his tracks since that first day early last week. It's too bad. I would love to have gotten a picture of him.
Unfortunately, the camera does not produce very good images. It's digital rather than film and a very poor resolution, at least compared to the wildlife motion sensor camera pictures I saw ten years ago that required film. They were actually quite good in comparison. But if you want to know what's around, this digital camera will tell you that. Partly, anyway. We had a few pictures with no animal in them and can only assume a bird set the camera off, or there was movement from an animal that set the camera off but was too far out of range for it to show up at that poor resolution. In any case, we finally got some good use out of a present given us this past Christmas by family. I'll post a couple of the images up on the right and try to cut out the carcass for the squeamish.
Yesterday was an amazing day, again. It was warm and sunny, at least until some haze moved in over the sun in the early afternoon again. But it still stayed warm. I was giving driving lessons to a neighbour on our road and out on the highway all day, and since it was mostly slow going, it was a nice way to enjoy a sunny day. Kind of like a perpetual Sunday drive. :-)
Andy heard the first loons yesterday morning. He said they were flying over the lake so they're probably looking for open water. There's none to be had except out at the point and down where the Dean exits Nimpo Lake.
While going down the highway yesterday with the girl I was teaching to drive, a moose crossed the highway in front of us just outside of Nimpo. It looked healthy enough, but its coat was pretty rough looking and it wasn't the fattest moose I've ever seen. This winter must have been tough on it. My neighbour sent me some pictures last night of some caribou that crossed highway 20 in front of him on his way to Williams Lake and they look to be in really good shape. We've only ever seen them along the highway twice. Once was down where the seal coat used to meet pavement at Chilanko and once south of Towdystan. Besides that occasion and seeing caribou down in the meadows at Caribou Flats one winter, I've never seen them close to the highway. So thanks Ted. I'll post the pics here and on Picture of the Day.
For the last two days our temperatures have ranged as high as 14 to 17C or over 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temperatures at night have slowed melting in the mornings, but the mercury only dropped a couple of degrees below freezing last night and that could make a real difference today. We've got heavy haze that the sun is trying very hard to burn through but even without sun the temperature was 10C or 50F before lunch time. Now if we just got some clear sun, today could be a real barn burner!
I just have a couple of miscellaneous items today.
Summer neighbours and friends of ours have been down in Las Vegas this past week and went to a place called Ci-Ci's Pizza. Now I normally don't do advertising for businesses without a reason, but I'm a great believer in a pat on the back for one that makes what I consider an outstanding effort in this day and age of 'get you in and get you out with a lighter wallet'.
My friend can't eat anything with gluten in it so eating pizza was out of the question for her but her husband really wanted to try the pizza buffet. She managed to get a salad but on inquiring about the sauce used on the pizzas, was overheard by the manager who went over to their table to talk to them. She stated that this was not normally a place she would ever come to because she couldn't eat anything with gluten. He asked what she would have ordered on a pizza back in the days when she could still eat it. A little while later he brought a crustless pizza to her table loaded with everything yummy and no gluten. She was in seventh heaven!
This particular pizza place is near Henderson south of Las Vegas but there are other locations. This manager told my friends that their customers come first so they will cater to diabetics, gluten free, all kinds of allergies and diets. He also said they had won some award for being in the top three of healthy places to eat in Men's Magazine. As Marilyn said, "Can you imagine, a pizza place that won an award for healthy eating?" Be that as it may, she was mightily impressed with the way she was treated. Since we have so many people from BC that go to Vegas in the winter, it seems worthwhile to pass this on. Especially nowadays where people are watching what they eat, and so many people have found they have food allergies.
On the same note.... sort of.... our friends were down there to check out a condo timeshare for her elderly relatives that got talked into buying it a little while back. Marilyn is now attempting to sell it for them at less than half the original purchase price. It is for sale for $10,000 or best offer. There is a $700 yearly maintenance fee. It allows for one week a year in Vegas but since it's the Marriott, you can trade for a longer period of time elsewhere or take points in exchange instead for some years. This will allow you to stay at a Marriott along the way to a different location. Or that's how I understand it, anyway. If you think you might be interested in such a thing, contact me at this email address: and I'll pass your name along.
I've started yet another week. (My, this month is flying by!) You'll find last week's musings 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!
A fox's eye shines gold.
A is on top of a carcass.
A caribou without antlers crosses highway 20.
Mother and calf caribou cross the road.
A single caribou looks at the cameraman.
A fox on a carass in the dark.
A coyote at a moose carcass.
Nimpo Lake under ice in mid april.
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