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 4/2006
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like
'Lake Monsters' - just go into Archives on the lower left side
of this page.
You can search this site for a subject of interest to you
at the bottom of this page. Check out the
of the Day.
know, you can teach old dogs new tricks! I'm having the
unusual experience of trying to be a 'techie geek'. The
purpose of having a laptop is to keep up on work while
on the trip to Alaska this year, however, that means I
have to learn stuff. I haven't had a laptop for
years and there sure have been a lot of advances!
Of course the biggest one is the opportunity to hook up
to the Internet from just about anywhere. And that is
what I am presently experimenting with.
In my experience, nothing is ever as easy as 'they' say
it is, hence the little experiment of hooking up here
and there or just testing to see how easy it is to pick
up an open wireless connection. Obviously it would be
a simple matter if one could hook up to the cell phone.
Unfortunately, where we live now as well as places that
we go, and many places in Alaska, have poor or no cell
phone access. And really, who wants to pay $1.00 a minute
in roaming charges? Not me!
As I understand it, there are a lot of RV sites
or campgrounds in Alaska that have Wi-Fi access
or an Internet hookup, but there may be the odd time that
we'll have to search around for an available hookup and
it will be interesting to see how difficult that will
be up there. Right now, most hotels seem to keep their
wireless connections secured so accessibility is out on
that score so we'll just have to drive around and see
what we can find.
In the meanwhile, the weather on the road has been extremely
and unusually warm for this time of year.
the bald eagles are sure here. One was out at the point
this morning and was tearing away at something that
he'd killed for breakfast. A while later he flew
in closer and parked on the ice between us and the island.
The spotting scope gave a super close up view of him while
he sat and called. Unfortunately, it was too far for me
to get a good picture of him with my digital camera. A
little way down the ice from him was an immature bald
eagle as well. I suspect they're having a hay day because
the open water is still very limited and close to shore,
not giving the numerous ducks that have arrived much room
to manuever in the case of an attack by one of the eagles.
As much as I dislike the bald eagles going after
the loon babies in summer, I have to admit that they really
are a regal bird but I would definitely say they
are not endangered! Not here anyway.
There were quite a few ducks crowded in on the little
bit of open water in front of our place this morning,
and since then a fat duck pair have taken up residence
where they've been sleeping on the ice edge most of the
day. A green headed mallard just came cruising in to our
shore and they moved not at all. I suspect that one reason
the ducks are moving in so close, especially in the evening,
is for protection from the eagles. There's
been a huge grey speckled bird hanging around that they're
in far more danger from. I've only caught a glimpse of
it as it went zinging past me but it's either a good sized
owl or a really big hawk. I couldn't get a close enough
look at it to see the head, because I was trying to get
a camera focused, so I really don't know what it was.
Osprey comes to mind but I think the head was wrong for
The ice-off pool is on now. Everyone is betting
on the day the ice goes off of Nimpo Lake. It's
later this year than it has been the last couple, but
there's some really black sections that will be open water
by tomorrow. And there may be a loon back so the timing's
just about right.
Just to let you know, articles might be intermittent for
the next week. Enjoy the last week of April!
know, I missed yesterday. But it's really hard to be inside
on the computer when it's nice outside, not that I haven't
been on the computer, but only on must do
stuff. So I'm sorry. I'll try to keep the articles regular
but I just can't guarantee it. The seasons that you can
work outside and get things done are short here, so we
take advantage of warmer weather all we can.
Today turned out to be another blustery day but that's
okay. The wind helps to dry up the mud and is sucking
the cold right out of the ice on Nimpo Lake. It's turning
really black now and rotten. When you break a
chunk out, it is already candling and holds no weight.
There's open water on pretty much all of the shores, even
on the north side and ripples on the water amongst the
This time of year is kind of neat because everything changes
so fast and yet every day I go around looking at the garden
areas and anything that started growing a couple of weeks
ago has been knocked back by those few cold nights so
not much of anything is showing green there. Soon, though.
I was finally forced to cover up the bird feeder this
morning to stop any more birds from coming for seed. The
red winged blackbirds make such a mess and flip
so much seed over the side that smaller birds land on
the ground to pick up what they've dropped. Unfortunately,
it's close to the house and provides too good a cover
for the cats. After picking up another poor little casualty
in the basement last night brought in through the cat
door, I decided enough was enough. It's quite warm out
so none of the birds need the energy they would during
the winter and all the plants and seed heads are exposed
now so no bird should go hungry. They're just going to
have to work a little harder for their supper now. I feel
badly about cutting off the bird seed so suddenly, especially
since three little purple finch arrived at the feeder
this morning, but better hungry than dead. The blackbirds
have stayed much longer this year at the feeder and are
indirectly causing the death of later season birds so
it's time they left, but boy, are they peeved!
I have to admit though, it's much quieter around here.
is going to be very short today folks! It was an absolutely
magnificent day out today and way too nice to be inside.
Worked most of the day outside, or down at the cabin because
it was warm enough to get stuff done down there without
having the heat on. Did some raking, we got chairs into
the RV and there was another cleanup party today where
community members have been brush cutting and burning
along the highway and entrance to Nimpo Lake.
The morning didn't start off too well because after I
realized the bird twittering I was hearing was inside
the house and not outside, I had to try to haze the bird
(a golden-crowned swallow) out of the basement while dodging
three cats, one of which obviously had brought it in.
That would be 'Pickup', who's favorite pastime is
to bring live animals such as bats, mice, chipmunks and
birds into the basement through the cat door.
I got the basement door open and we tried to quietly get
the bird to fly out the door but it flew into the basement
window and broke its neck. That was really disappointing
and I hate seeing something like that happen. Most of
the time we're successful at getting creatures back out
of the house when they get in.
The really cool thing to offset that though, were
the small group of Evening Grosbeaks that showed up at
the feeder this morning. There were only three
that I could see, a male, female and what looked to be
an immature male but that's two more than we've ever had
before. The only other one we've had was that poor roughed
up one that came midwinter and ate at the feeder all day.
These didn't stay long today, again, probably because
of all the blackbirds, but it sure was nice to see them.
It would be interesting to know whether the male from
this morning was the one from this winter.
The tree swallows just came back today so
we rushed to empty out the bird house. It actually wasn't
full of sunflower seeds put there by the chickadees as
I suspected it would be. Just grass and feathers put there
by the tree swallows the years before but it still needed
cleaning out. So I'm really not sure what the chickadees
were doing with the birdhouse unless they were just curious
or were keeping it mind for their own nesting.
The pair of swallows came back to investigate but every
time they started getting serious about setting up house,
another blackbird would zing by. I think the noise and
movement from all those crazy blackbirds was really making
This evening during supper we watched an otter cross
Nimpo Lake from the point to the big island, doing a little
run, hump up and slide across the ice at a great rate.
He was very close to where we saw those tracks the other
evening so he's sure to be one of that family of otters.
In any case, it sure was a wonder to have the kind of
day we had today with warm temperatures and sunshine,
offering an opportunity to get outside comfortably and
get some work done. With any luck, it'll be the same tomorrow!
Oh, and you've gotta check out the Picture
of the Day.
It might even stay there for a day or two, it's that good!
Sunshine, Finally! Avalanche Too.
least the snow from the day before yesterday is melting.
The sun is shining, it's warming up and there's lots of
bird life. The redwinged blackbirds are singing like crazy,
robins are hopping around here and there and I can hear
a determined woodpecker hammering away over in the woods.
This is much more like spring should be!
It dropped to -9C or about 18 degrees Fahrenheit
last night so open water near the shores iced
over again last night. It was only about three quarters
of an inch of poor, clear ice though and will melt out
quickly. We found a couple of places where otter had busted
a hole through the ice.
Speaking of otters, we had a very strange experience when
we went for a walk last night. While driving out
toward Bella Coola yesterday we could see a pair of tracks
cross our road in a couple of places with dragging
tail marks between. While walking in the woods yesterday
evening, we came across the same type of tracks and followed
them for what was probably two miles. It looked like at
least two and possibly up to four otters trekked all over
the country yesterday. We would lose the tracks where
the snow melted and then came on them again where they
walked down the driveway belonging to a summer resident,
followed the banks along Nimpo Lake, down to the
lake, back up again and went from cabin to cabin along
the lake. The tracks even went up on one person's
deck. Back they went, into the woods, along the road and
eventually back in the direction they came from by a different
Since I'm not familiar with otter tracks in deep woods
quite a ways from water, I finally had to pull out my
old tracking book given to me by my parents. I remember
as children we pored over every page in the book for hours,
memorizing tracks. As a result, we were all pretty good
trackers for the animals in our area while growing up.
The shape of the tracks indicate fisher, mink or
otter, but the size was too big for mink although
the tail drag marks according to the book are perfect.
That leaves fisher or otter. The book doesn't show tail
drag marks for the fisher but it does show a swishing
tail mark for the otter while the tracks we followed showed
a clear, straight tail drag between the
footprints. However, the way the snow melted everything
out, it was hard to say. We did come across some very
fresh tracks backtracking the trail we were following
that did show a swishing tail. The book also says that
otter will travel through the woods for miles in
search of open water and it was pretty apparent
that this is what these animals were doing. I also know
that they are more inclined to travel as families and
I see no indication that a fisher does that.
Conclusion ... we were following otter tracks. And it's
funny because I learned something new. I would never have
guessed that such a clumsy animal on land would take such
a long walk leaving them vulnerable to predators even
if they are quite a large animal and can be meaner than
a cut cat.
One last thing of note. I guess shortly after we left
the Bella Coola hospital, a fellow was brought in
after being buried in an avalanche while heli-snowboarding.
Last we heard, his partner had still not been found. This
is a very dangerous time of year for that kind of venture
up into the backcountry because warmer temperatures are
causing snow layers to slide on one another. It makes
for the perfect recipe for an avalanche. So for those
of you that are still die hard, winter backcountry enthusiasts,
be careful out there!
You'll probably notice several pictures on the right
of the Bella Coola Valley taken yesterday. I just
had to show the rich green of newly budded out poplar
trees contrasting with the brooding mountains that guard
the valley. That green is one reason Bella Coola is such
a popular place in the spring for us bushed Chilcotin
This is the start of a new week so if you would like to
know what was happening last week you'll find it at Wilderness
Adventure April Week Three.
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!