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Wilderness Adventures - April, Week 3/2013

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.


26/04/2013 7:40 PM

Nimpo Lake is Open!

Our lake ice has gone out faster than I have ever seen it go before, and most of it happened today. Only three days ago we were pleased to see water out about 20 feet from shore, even though it was still freezing over every night. A pond opened up on the reeds in front of our neighbour’s place two days ago and a finger of it had touched my snowmobile track in front of our place by that evening. Yesterday morning the open water crept a little farther until a wind came up which by yesterday evening had opened up the bay in front of us with the wind pushing the ice into the bay behind us and crunching it up into great piles in front of the resorts. By this morning it was rough open water in front of us but we could still see that the Main Arm was locked in ice yet for as far as we could see. Terry B. went up in his floatplane yesterday afternoon after the bay on the North Arm opened up enough for him to take off and he said that he figured the ice on the Main Arm was so thin that it would be off by the 27th. He was right! By the time I came home from Anahim Lake this afternoon I was shocked to see just water in our back bay and no ice left on the Main Arm at all. It’s possible that there is still some farther down the lake past where we can see but probably not much. The wind gusts today were just wild and I think they disintegrated any ice unless it’s close in on the southern shores. I’m calling it ice off! Woo Hoo!!!!
On Wednesday night we heard our first loon and yesterday morning the lake was covered with them anywhere there was an open patch of water, hooting and yelling at each other, with one pair already mated up in front of our place. Surprising since I always thought the males came in first. We also saw our first Osprey yesterday and the tree swallows were doing their mating dance over the water while a few ducks came in to enjoy the little bit of open water. It’s as though suddenly everything has come alive all at once.
It hasn’t hurt that our weather has been really warm for the past couple of days. Yesterday it got up to 15.6C or 60 degrees Fahrenheit and that was in the shade! It made it up to between 9 and 12C for the few days before that and even today it got up to 10C or 50F, even with cooler air coming in on the wind. Not surprisingly our lawn has begun to green up in a couple of spots and the first weeds are just poking their heads up. Anahim Lake is way ahead of us. I saw dandelions in bloom in front of the restaurant today where the cement block is warmed up by the sun.
We were very fortunate today to be just on the edge of a system that’s moving down the coast from Alaska. It looks like it’s been snowing over the mountains off an on all day but until this evening when we’ve gotten a few ominous black clouds moving over, we haven’t seen any moisture. That may change tonight but since it’s been pretty dry, that’s okay too, I guess. The temperatures are supposed to drop right through until Tuesday so I wouldn’t be surprised to see snow.
I apologize for it being so long since I’ve posted a blog but all of you who know me also know that nothing gets done on the computer if it’s nice out and I have been working my butt off! I’m guessing I only have about two more weeks before the bugs start getting bad so I’ve been going hell bent for election trying to get stuff done in my garden area. That includes cleaning up the surrounding underbrush in the hopes of keeping the mozzies down a little. I mentioned last year that we’ve let the undergrowth take over in the past few years without realizing how thick it’s gotten, and I’m sure that’s a contributing factor to the mosquito infestation. I have also taken on a long, tedious, unenviable job taking the dirt out of my greenhouse.
In 2011 I was getting really frustrated with the amount of water and fertilizer I was having to pour to my tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse without getting the fruit I had the two previous years. I had some suspicions when I went to transplant the plants from my pots into the ground in the greenhouse and was running into a mat of roots. Last year I didn’t put a garden in thinking that without moisture in the ground, anything growing in there that shouldn’t be would die. I was wrong. I decided that one job I was for sure going to undertake this spring was to dig all the dirt out of the greenhouse boxes and replace it. Hah! Easier said than done. I have been using a mattock (A type of pick axe with a wide blade on one side and axe head on the other for those of you that aren’t familiar with one) to tear up the dirt and chop out roots varying from one inch in diameter to hair roots forming solid balls. It is long, slow, dirty work. I’ve only gotten a few feet done with a lot more to do, but as with anything ugly to do, you work on it, stopping when you get tired of it, and then just keep going until eventually it’s done.
We built a couple more veggie boxes that gives me a place to put the dirt where the roots can break down over time. The dirt itself is still good and not used up since it was pure manure when it started and mixed with good manure on top, it will do fine for shallow veggies. I’ve put plastic under the veggie boxes which still has good drainage, and gravel on top of the plastic around each and I can tell you, I will sure as heck be doing something along the same lines in the greenhouse! I don’t think that just landscape fabric will stop more roots from coming in so I’ll have to come up with something impenetrable that will still drain well. Man, what a mess!
When I came up with the first big root there was no doubt as to what the culprit was. Only ten feet away from the greenhouse was a very large pine tree that had managed to escape the Mountain Beetle, one of the few mature pines in the region to do so. So when Andy suggested he cut the tree down it was an agonizing decision. One that would allow way more morning light into the greenhouse, open up the surrounding ground and rid me of a lot, though not all, of the root invasion. It’s hard to take down a tree that’s probably between 100 and 200 years old that managed to escape the beetle onslaught but on the other hand…. The light…. The problem with this tree was that it didn’t just have one top blocking the light but at least four. Not just a double topped schoolmarm but a thick four trunked monstrosity as healthy and dense as could be. Once the decision was made, down it came right into the little slot between another tree and my veggie boxes with not a lick of damage done even with a wind gusting. I am very fortunate that my other half is damned good with a chainsaw, although a little crazy in my books. I would have waited for a calm day because after all, the thing was next to a glass greenhouse, but you know…. Type A and all that.
Aspen had also grown up in my greenhouse last year, even though there was no water at all, and heavens know where they came from, but any aspen from nearby were also chopped down. Them I don’t mind so much. They grow just like weeds. Having come from living in a prairie province for a few years I’ve been hesitant for us to cut anything out that would stop wind and provide shelter, but after being eaten alive by bugs for the past three years and seeing such an obnoxious invasion of roots in my greenhouse not to mention elsewhere in my garden, it’s game on! After the trees were cut down I took great pleasure in starting up the bush whacker, Freddy Krueger Junior, and wiped out every little bush, tree, and wild rose bush surrounding the greenhouse in a matter of minutes, and does it ever look good. So much for tree hugging. Take that, mosquitoes!
In any case, after some long exhausting days working outside, I have not had the energy to write a blog. I’ve come in to the house determined to post a short bit to Facebook for you folks that like an update, and that’s all I have been able to manage. It was only because I decided to take today off from the physical stuff that I’ve had the energy to sit here upright in the computer chair for any length of time. I feel really sorry for my computer clients because their work hasn’t been getting done either but most are local to the Chilcotin and very understanding of the situation. In this country, you have to make hay while the sun shines.
One thing that we always make sure to do is to go for a walk with the dogs every day when possible and it’s been nice to see the changes in the woods on the back trail. A lot of the snow is gone now and it’s easy to see tracks in the mud. We noticed that a very small herd of caribou went through the other day, probably on their spring migration from Charlotte Lake alplands where they winter to the Itchas where they summer. The other evening our hound dog went absolutely ballistic so I went out to see what was around. Because she was barking so much I decided to walk down the road and came across a set of wet imprints coming up from our boat ramp where the ice had been broken at the shore and out our driveway. I could only see the general outline of wet so assumed a small horse had come down to drink but I walked down our driveway anyway to see if I could see it. Nada. It seemed so strange that a horse would disappear that quickly but there was no longer any wet on the ground so I turned around and came back to the house. The next day when Andy went out with the dogs he came back up the neighbour's driveway and noticed several caribou tracks in the mud just below our driveway and showed them to me a day or so later. Sure enough, there was one very large, heavy animal and then smaller cows and at least one yearling calf. At least one of those animals was the one who’s wet imprints I had followed up our driveway and probably when I came over the hill, the group simply faded into the brush along the neighbour’s driveway. Unlike a horse, caribou can disappear into thin air and move at a pace that is unbelievable. I know. I tried hunting them years ago and doing it on foot seems pretty much an impossibility if they’re on the move. They’re like ghosts.
While we have seen caribou tracks in the woods over the years as they move through in spring, this is the first time that I have seen tracks this close to the house and I’m really surprised that they did come in that close, considering that there was a hysterical dog barking. But on the other hand, we’ve had moose bedded down in the same thick brush along ours and our neighbour’s driveway, so maybe the animals aren’t that concerned when the cover is that good. As always, it’s cool to see nature getting along just fine with humans around.
The Annual Nimpo Lake Fishing Derby will be on the long weekend in May on the 18th and 19th and I believe the Annual Canoe race will be as well but I still have to check on that because the race may be moved back now with the ice being off so early. At least that will make it a little easier and less nasty with the water not being quite so high as it was last year.
Right now I’m going to get this blog wrapped up. The wind is blowing at 23 miles per hour which is a lot for us, so the power going out would not be unexpected.
You’ll find the last week's of blog at April Week Two.


Anahim Lake Highway cam looking West.




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!


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An Osprey eyes up potential prey from the sky.
 
First blue water on Nimpo Lake for this year.
 
Ice with snowmobile tracks.
 
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