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 - August Week 3/2007
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.
Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture
of the Day.
In Memory Of John Edwards of Lonesome Lake
I only just this moment found out that we've lost a venerable
old icon of our area who died of cancer in late July around
when we went on holiday. John Edwards was the last
surviving son of Ralph Edwards, known as The Crusoe of
Lonesome Lake and credited with bringing the Trumpeter
Swan back from the edge of extinction. The homestead
his father built was razed in the Lonesome Lake Fire of
2004, the largest and most destructive forest fire in
British Columbia that year. There was a political firestorm
that year when Parks was accused of allowing the fire
to burn for a full month after initial discovery, and
preventing Forestry Protection from putting the fire out,
in the hopes of burning John Edwards out of his beloved
homestead. I understand John rebuilt a cabin he could
live in after the fire and has been there since.
For years John would walk out on a grizzly infested
trail several miles to the Tote Road where he
always left his truck parked, and then drive in to Bella
Coola for mail and supplies. Concerned years ago about
John's isolation at his age, Terry B loaned him a radio
set so that he could call out on the Avnorth channel if
he ran into trouble. After that, every Sunday and Wednesday
at 6:00 you would hear Double 0 Seven calling on the radio
to check in and relate his experiences with the wild animals
he was taming or how many bears he ran into on the trail
to Bella Coola. I don't remember when I last heard
his voice on the radio reporting his trip in on the trail
as being uneventful and that he had made it home okay.
Or even who answered him so that he knew his check-in
had been heard. Early this spring or summer perhaps when
I happened to be in the truck where I have a radio on
all the time.
All I know is that chatty though he could be, there are
going to be a whole lot of people that will miss that
voice over the radio at supper time on a Sunday night,
while guests crowd all around the table and the din of
voices and tinkle of glasses are all silenced when that
voice comes over the radio.
"Nimpo Lake......This is Double 0 Seven....calling
Moving Rocks. Making Garden
will be just a quick update on what's happening around
here. Yesterday afternoon I got to commandeer Andy's Bobcat
and his excellent services as an equipment operator and
shovel pusher for some garden improvements. There was
a massive pile of dirt that came out of the hole dug for
our porch last fall that ended up in my 'garden' area.
I wanted it piled up on the other side of the garden to
provide a berm that I could turn into a rock garden and
that would raise the zone a bit in the garden.
It looks like the US/Canada zone map has finally been
updated after years of being inaccurate. Our area
is in even worse shape than I thought when it comes to
growing things as the map puts us in zone zero
to zone one. Mind you, global warming will change that
In any case, I must have struck a rock too hard with the
shovel or something because I was having problems with
making my left wrist work properly last night. Writing
an article was out of the question and although it's still
pretty shaky tonight after carting rocks around all day,
I can do a short blog. Anyway, I'm sure most folks
will be delighted to not have to wade through a book length
Yesterday was a nice day and today was a barn burner with
clear blue skies and temperatures a little over 20C or
around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It took a while to warm
up in the shade today because it chilled right down last
night. We've had a big yellow harvest half moon at night
and I expect we'll see some cooler temperatures or hard
frost when she goes full. This evening we've got some
high haze moving in, probably the leading edge of a Low
coming in off the Pacific that's pushing out that
nice High pressure system we've had the last few days.
This time of year you really see a marked contrast between
shade temperatures and those in the sun. That sun still
carries a lot of heat in it in August, but
our air temperatures can be downright chilly now out of
the sun. Especially if there's a bit of a cool breeze
blowing. The same vast temperature variation between night
and day now makes a whole lot of difference to the mosquito
population too. Nary a mozzy to be seen today!
We've heard from a few people that the fishing on
Nimpo Lake is excellent right now. It should just
continue to get better as it usually does in fall when
temps begin to fall. There still isn't anything at all
in the way of algae on Nimpo yet this year, which is one
advantage of a rainy summer. So starts the best part of
the year in the Chilcotin. I think if anyone were
to ask me when the absolute best time of year is to vacation
at Anahim or Nimpo Lake, I would have to say now to mid-September.
It's pretty hard to find one single thing wrong with late
summer and early fall. Especially when there's little
or no worries about forest fires.
for no article yesterday folks. I ended up laid
up on the couch all evening, thanks to our dog. I was
nearly home from a walk yesterday afternoon when I spotted
the neighbour's tiny little poodle dog go flitting through
the brush in front of us. Unfortunately, Mocha, the lab,
has a serious hate on for little dogs. I don't know why,
but it's always been the case and she immediately went
after the poodle. She had it between her jaws and was
making a serious attempt to crush Misty by the time I
did the 100 foot sprint to get to her, yelling myself
hoarse the whole way. I got her off the poodle but she
deked around me and got her again. Although I didn't notice
it at the time, in the effort to weave around catching
up dogs, I must have pulled a muscle in my back.
I managed to drag the dogs home while Andy went
looking for the little poodle to take her back to the
neighbour. Our dog managed to cause her some pretty
good injury and spent yesterday and today paying for it.
She will continue to pay for it by only going out on a
leash with me on walks for the next few days until she
learns some lessons in minding. I can't abide a dog that
won't listen, especially in a case such as what happened
yesterday, and trust me, she isn't going to like her retraining
Fortunately, we have a really wonderful
neighbour who was super about receiving his newly punctured
dog without getting really, really mad. Thank heavens.
In any case, any slight forgiveness I might
have had for Mocha last night was wiped out by a whole
evening and night sleeping with a hot water bottle under
my back. Right now, the only good thing I can see
about her is that she makes good bear bait.
It's amazing to me how you can pick up even the most subtle
of changes that heralds a new season. It's only the middle
of August, and yet already there's a hint of Fall in the
air. Nothing obvious, just different. The woods in the
back trail are dead silent as though everything is in
suspension. The birds around here suddenly sound different
and seem to be avid about getting as much seed from plants
and trees as they possibly can. The young loons
are making their practice flights in the air around and
around Nimpo Lake, trilling the whole time, in
preparation for their migration south. For such a strong,
graceful bird in the water, they certainly are ungainly
looking in the air.
None of our leaves are turning color here yet, but coming
back from Anahim Lake Saturday, we noticed a few clumps
of bushes that had leaves turning yellow. There's
probably been quite a bit of frost up away from the lake
already. Unnoticed by us since our temperatures
are a good deal warmer near the water.
Yesterday wasn't a bad day at all and today was remarkable.
The mosquitoes seemed to have been knocked back pretty
good because there were none roaming around past morning
today. Not even in the back woods. The temperature got
up to 18C or about 65 degrees Fahrenheit today. Not super
warm by anyone's standards, but a whole lot warmer than
it has been throughout the province. Middle of August
and the Okanagan is only a little warmer than us. I'll
bet there weren't very many people on the beach there
The southeastern part of the province has been the only
hotspot in British Columbia this summer with some pretty
nasty forest fires as a result. Otherwise, the rest of
the province has been unusually cool, and of course, wet.
The jet stream is definitely doing some funny things this
year, and I'm assuming its weird patterns have not only
affected BC's weather but is the reason for such drastic
weather in the States. The State of Ohio flooding all
over the place after the remnants of tropical storm Erin
swept through, and of course the storms in Texas and Oklahoma.
Hurricane Dean looks like it might be even nastier if
it continues after landfall in Mexico. Just what
we need, more excuses for the oil companies to raise the
price of fuel.
No matter how you look at it, complain as we might about
our strange summer weather this year, we certainly have
nothing on the weather elsewhere. I can only imagine what
choice words a few of those folks to our south would have
to say about our complaints. It probably wouldn't be very
nice or polite. With good reason.
In Memory Of Jack Madsen
we attended a Remembrance, something probably better known
as a Memorial elsewhere, for Jack Madsen at Anahim Lake
Resort. Jack and Anita have been running the resort and
RV Park on Anahim Lake for nearly 30 years after leaving
successful careers in Hawaii in the 70's.
I've never been to Hawaii but from everything I've ever
heard about it, it must have been a bit of a shock
to go from a tropical paradise to 40 below winters in
the Chilcotin. But raised with a hunting and fishing
background, Jack was a bit of an adventurer I suspect.
Although not everyone always saw eye to eye with Jack,
probably because it requires a degree of independence
and bull headed stubbornness on the part of everyone to
live here, there were a lot of people at the resort yesterday
to remember Jack. This is a pretty small community so
Jack knew everyone, and everyone knew him.
I certainly found Jack helpful back during the 2004
Lonesome Lake Fire when John Edwards got burned out.
I was handling accommodations here for the Cariboo Fire
Center out of Williams Lake when fire fighters, pilots,
engineers and CFC staff invaded the country in droves,
the numbers increasing day by day. Housing the huge
influx was a logistical nightmare, and required
me to be on the phone with every lodge, resort and motel
owner in the country every day, often several times a
day, trying to take care of people rotating in and out
of the Anahim Lake area. It didn't help that I was often
not told of people coming in that day until they arrived
at my desk in fire camp, sometimes as late as 10:00 at
night, fully expecting to go straight to their accommodations.
Like many other resort and motel owners, Jack was always
there prepared to find a bed for the night on very short
notice, often shuffling his own paying guests around in
order to accommodate my people.
Goodbye....and thanks, Jack.
Back To Normal
our two days of summer with our shocking little hot spell,
we're now back to normal. If normal means rain
and cooler temperatures. Last night we got 3 1/2 cm or
well over an inch of rain in one night! That used to be
unheard of in this country. The Chilcotin Plateau
sits in the rain shadow of the Coast Mountains and has
always been considered a reasonably arid region.
Up until the last three years or so anyway. One of the
reasons why there are such huge stands of Lodgepole Pine
in the region is because the species likes it high and
dry. But looking out there right now at the lush green
undergrowth that you would normally expect to see in June,
arid is definitely not the word you would use to describe
I went for a walk on the back trail again today. There
were little lakes in the middle of the trail from the
rain last night. And even though a lot of the large pine
are gone that might have utilized all that water, there
are still many small stands of young trees back there.
I think the ground is just saturated and the water has
no place to go.
One thing I noticed today was that the needles on
the old beetle killed pine trees still have not dropped.
A couple of years ago I wrapped ribbons around the trunks
of big trees along the trail that had been hit with the
mountain pine beetle and with needles that had already
turned red. That means the trees have been dead for at
least three years, yet surprisingly, they still hold most
of their needles. We had hoped that the needles on trees
would drop fairly quickly after they die, minimizing the
fire danger, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
We noticed a couple of days ago that some of the
smaller pines on our property that hadn't been attacked
before got hit recently by pine beetles. Not many,
which is a good sign, and the trees put out a lot of sap
in an effort to drown the beetles, but it remains to be
seen whether that blue fungus the beetles carry will still
overcome the trees.
We got a nice surprise today. Some folks that bought a
cabin down the road a ways have now become full time residents
after unexpectedly selling their other home down south.
Other than the two of them making the rest of us in the
area look bad because they work so hard and accomplish
so much, they're great neighbours. In fact, we're very
fortunate here because all our neighbours, whether a couple
of acres away, or miles down the lake, are fine folks.
Maybe it's because it takes a special personality to really
love it here but we all get on great. Mind you, Andy
and I are hermits and don't get out much so maybe we just
don't know any better.
Before I forget, I should mention the picture up on the
top right. We keep seeing Bald Eagles and an Osprey flying
over us with fish in their claws, but by the time I dive
inside and grab the camera, they're way out over the lake.
I've tried posting the image anyway because you can still
kind of tell what it is. Cool, eh?
Our Two Days Of Summer
| We've certainly had summer in the Chilcotin in the last
two days. Our temperature today hit over 24C or
about 80 degrees in the shade this afternoon. It's still
chilling down pretty good at night but the warmth from
yesterday carried over enough so that it didn't hit freezing
last night. I covered my tomatoes on the deck just in
case though. It's getting to that time of year where you
can get a hard enough frost at any time to knock off annuals.
Sometimes though, if you get past that first frost, you
can have as much as a month following without it, but
it's not really something you want to bet your plants'
lives on. :-)
There was nary a cloud in the sky today and it sure was
nice to see lots of that blue! No wind either, although
a little breeze would have been welcome. I went for a
walk in the woods today where it's a little shady because
it was too hot to work outside in the sun. We came
across a day old bear track on the trail a couple of days
ago but I haven't seen anything more recent since then.
I expect a furry old bear is laid up in the bushes in
this heat and doesn't come out to eat until evening or
later. The track was a good sized one and you could see
the bear had been eating berries along the side of the
trail. There's certainly lots of those this year with
all the rain. The wild strawberries are just ripening
now in places which makes them a month late, probably
because of the lack of sun.
Today would have been an awesome day to be out fishing.
There were fish jumping all over the lake this afternoon
and Nimpo was as flat calm as bathtub water. I knew there
was a reason why we rushed home from up north! We were
surprised when we got home to see that's there's still
a lot more snow than usual up in the mountains, again
probably because it just hasn't been all that hot this
summer. And two days ago there was fresh snow on
the Ilgatchuz/Itcha Mountains. At this rate we
might even have a base for snowmobiling before winter
even gets here! Lol.
I'm keeping this article short because I'm about blogged
out. As you've probably noticed, the story below was book
sized and I expect it'll take most folks awhile to wade
through it. The same goes for the Picture of the Day.
It'll stay the same for one more day.
The Telegraph Creek Road
missed a sightseeing trip last year that we wanted to
take in but we were headed south back to Nimpo Lake. I
think we're worse than migratory birds. Head us in the
direction of home after a trip out and we're gone! No
stopping for anything. However, this time going up the
Cassiar, our friends wanted to take a run down the Telegraph
Creek Road and so did we. It's about 70 miles and trailers
are not recommended on the road. With grades up to %20
percent, that strong recommendation was understandable.
However, I really didn't see that it was that much
different than the hill to Bella Coola and most of the
steep spots were actually quite short.
We dropped our trailer at a camp ground at Dease Lake
and headed to Telegraph, noticing that there really wasn't
much at all to see the first 40 miles or so. Trees. That's
about it. The country changes dramatically though once
you start losing elevation and coming down into the Stikine
River Canyon. The rock formations on the canyon wall are
fascinating and beautiful, even if you didn't
want to be a geologist as a kid.
At one point, the road runs through lava beds on
what's described in the MilePost as a narrow promontory
about 150 wide that drops 400 feet on one side to the
Stikine River and to the Tahltan river on the other side.
It's really interesting to see and a cool place to stop
and walk around.
Eventually we wound up and down narrow the narrow road
to reach Telegraph Creek. From there you go on to Historic
Telegraph Creek and that's interesting! Old, old buildings
cling to the side of a hill above the river while a well
preserved church is still in use and the Stikine River
Song, a small restaurant, accommodations and gift shop,
are housed in the original Hudson Bay's Trading Store.
Unfortunately, there really isn't much information in
the little town about any of the buildings although there
is an informal museum of old items that it looks like
someone has attached to the front of their garage. In
fact, most of the information we found on historic Telegraph
Creek was in the MilePost. Still well worth the
trip. I would like to have made the trip in the
fall. I suspect it would be spectacular with all the fall
colors on the rivers.
We continued our sightseeing trip up the Cassiar from
Dease Lake and stopped at Jade City so that Harold and
Melinda could see it. It looks like the store on the northbound
side of the highway couldn't make it and had to shut its
doors sometime after we came through last year. We noticed
all the way north that several places, whether restaurants,
gas stations, stores or campgrounds, were closed for good.
We could only surmise that between the high Canadian
dollar and the high cost of fuel, not as many people are
traveling that far north. We certainly didn't
see nearly as many rigs on the road that we did last year.
We stopped off at a couple of cool places along the way
to Watson Lake and stayed overnight there because a visit
to the Signpost forest there was a must, as well as a
taking in a show at the Northern Lights Centre.
On our way west after leaving Watson Lake we took in the
George Johnston Museum & Heritage Park. This
is an absolute must stop for anyone. Really well
done, very interesting and I learned a lot about the Tlingit
Indians. Some of the museum was centered around George
Johnston who lived between 1884 and 1972, and his 1928
Chevrolet Coup. Between 1910 and 1940 George used his
camera extensively to capture the life of the inland Tlingit
people of Teslin. He decided at a very young age that
he wanted to buy a car and once he'd acquired it, the
first native to do so, had it shipped up by barge to Teslin,
then built 3 miles of road so that he could drive it.
In winter, he drove it on the ice on the 78 mile
long lake to hunt wolves. He would paint it with
white house paint in winter so that it blended in better
with the snow, and then often repainted it a dark color
George traded the car in for a pickup over 30 years later
without a dent and the car was in immaculate condition
(as described by the Chevrolet dealer that acquired it.)
18 coats of house paint were removed from
the car and the CEO of Chevrolet at the time ordered the
car restored. It is on permanent loan to the museum. While
he had the car, George would dress up two of his prettiest
relatives in uniforms and used the car as a paying taxi
or chauffeur service. Known as a great trapper, he later
became a store owner. His three miles of road eventually
became a portion of the Alaska Highway. From everything
you see and read about him, George was a very innovative,
progressive thinking man for his time. And one heck of
a character! Don't miss seeing this museum.
On the other hand, don't bother paying the entrance fee
to the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center just to the north
of that. Judging from the design of the building, it's
another one of those that were built on government grants.
Most of it is filled with chairs and whether they use
it for cultural stuff or not wasn't obvious to me. What
was obvious was that there was very little
to see for your fee to get in. Some carved masks, a few
sweatshirts and some very, very, very expensive
pieces of moosehide work such as moccasins. Other than
a leather jacket in a glass case with a letter from a
girl talking about how her grandmother made her the jacket,
there was absolutely nothing historic that I could see
about this place. The whole place had a very commercial
air and seemed a pretty smooth ripoff.
We holed up at Johnson's Crossing Campground Services
for the day because both Harold and Andy knew the fellow
running it from their hometown. My advice. Make this place
an overnight stop but even if you can't, buy a cinnamon
bun. They're just about as good as you can get, and fresh
baked every morning.
We took off from there to Jake's Corner and turned off
the Alaska Highway to go back in to British Columbia down
to Atlin Lake. Atlin is still one of my favorite
stops of all the country we covered last year, which included
northern BC, Yukon, and Alaska. While we had been
plagued with rain our entire trip north, as soon as we
hit Atlin, everything changed. The weather was so beautiful
we stayed an extra day at the Norseman RV Park right out
on the water. The hosts of the Park have leased
the outer portion or the breakwater to Atlin Air this
year, which meant we got to look at one of the prettiest
DeHavilland Beaver floatplanes I have ever seen in my
life! It felt just like being on Nimpo Lake. Well,
almost. I love our lake and I think it's one of the prettiest
around, but that incredible blue green water with monster
mountains rearing up on the far shore of Atlin is a tough
act to beat.
I won't go into a description of all the attractions of
Atlin because I did that extensively last year. Our friends
went off for a couple of days and did the same sightseeing
as we did last year walking through the town of Atlin,
visiting the museum, the graveyard and driving down Discovery
Road and to Warm Bay. I, in the meanwhile got to sleep
in instead of having to pack everything up and hit the
road as we had every morning since we left, and sat blissfully
in the sun all day watching the blue water ripple against
the rocks a few feet away. The sun was up fully
an hour later than it was here in the evening and dusk
lasted almost 'til dawn so I sat out late around
a campfire reading and watching that big floatplane do
a gentle bob on the water with a midnight lemon yellow
sky behind it. Life was good!
Andy and I moved on, regretfully I might add, to Little
Atlin Lake so that Andy could help friends for a couple
of days on their home. Don't get me wrong. Little Atlin
is a very beautiful lake and the weather was absolutely
spectacular! There's just something about Big Atlin Lake
that really appeals to me. The color of the water maybe.
Our kind hosts at Little Atlin took us back into Carcross
on the last day of our stay and we discovered a great
gift shop that we had never been to before in Carcross
itself, and one at Caribou Crossing, just up the road
from Carcross. Sadly, most of the items we saw in
the gift shops we had been to through the Yukon and Alaska
last year all began to look the same and a remarkable
number said 'Made in China' somewhere on them. I got to
take a good long look around the shop at Caribou Crossing
because a sled dog owner that has run the Yukon Quest
came in while we were there and not only did she know
our hosts, but Andy has followed her closely on the computer
during the famous sled dog race and told me lots about
her. So while he was occupied with talking, I finally
got to take a good look at some really spectacular items
that if not produced locally, seemed certainly to have
been produced in British Columbia or the Yukon. Quilts,
hides, jewelry, carvings, awesome turned birch bowls,
leatherwork, hand painted silk scarves, and my favorite,
Raku pottery. Cool stuff anyway if you would like to pick
up something besides those little jade bears
with little jade salmons in their mouths carved in China
that you see in every gift shop from Vancouver to Anchorage.
This brings me back around to the article that started
this whole trip off and you can find that in last week's
blog at August
The rest of our trip was backtracking our trip of last
year, going south on the Alaska Highway rather than north.
It was kind of fun actually, because although we
remembered many spots along the way, lots of the country
looks quite different seeing it from the opposite direction.
Once we left Atlin country, we were plagued by rain again
so the clouds were a little low on the mountains in some
places. That was certainly the case at Muncho Lake, one
of the places I had really wanted to stay last year. A
long day's driving got us there in late evening and since
we both desperately wanted showers we decided to stay
at Northern Rockies Lodge rather than at an unserviced
site. That was a mistake. You may not want to do
that yourself if you don't want to empty your wallet.
It cost $44 for a site, the most expensive by $10 of any
we had ever stayed in. Had we been able to get one of
five treed sites down close to the lake it might have
been worthwhile but those were all taken first. And who
knows what they cost? That left several sites all crammed
in together in what was literally, a gravel parking lot
with an airplane hangar on one end. In it was a generator
which provides electricity for the lodge that ran all
night. I can only assume that since they needed a gravel
area large enough to pull planes in and out of the hangar,
they chose to turn the same area into cramped RV sites
when not in use in summer. I felt especially sorry for
the folks with their campers and rigs lined up side by
side with only about two or three feet of space between
them and their backs to the lake. I don't know how
much those people were charged for their meager spots
but anything would have been too much. I just
know that the use of the word "Spacious" in
this outfit's advertisement in the MilePost was stretching
the truth about as far as I have ever seen it stretched.
You would kind of think that for that much money, you
should at least get free showers. Nah. While nice and
clean, they were still the most expensive of any on our
trip by far. There's no question that the whole lodge
is fancy and well done but its pricing and the atmosphere
inside would indicate to me that most of their guests
must be European. They needn't worry about me
being a future guest, anyway.
Since we were making a pretty good run with long driving
days to the south, (There you go. Migratory birds. It's
that homing instinct!) there's not much else to report.
The weather was pretty low and grey and I didn't realize
how much black spruce swamp there is along the BC part
of the Alaska Highway once you get close to Dawson Creek.
The fine folks near Dawson Creek that gave us a camp spot
for a week last year after our fridge burned up were just
as fine a hosts this year. And although the area had some
pretty good weather earlier this summer, it poured the
rain down like cats and dogs while we were there.
Our weather on Nimpo Lake today was just glorious!
Clear blue skies, no wind, and really hot, even though
it was only a couple of degrees above freezing last night.
Which means it probably froze up away from the lake. We're
getting our heavy morning fogs that we often get this
time of year when there's such a contrast between air
temperature and water temperature. We're supposed to get
one more day of it before a big low moves in from the
Pacific and I plan to take full advantage of it! Oh, and
did I tell you? No bugs.
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!