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Wilderness Adventures - Dec., Week One/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.


04/12/2013 11:20 AM

The Winter Blast

December has arrived with a real arctic blast from the north.... We’re going into our third day of cold temperatures now and it looks like we’re on a bit of a down hill slide. Yesterday morning at its coldest clocked in at 27.7C or –18F. This morning the temperature was at 29.9C or –22F but at least it was sunny right from the get go, which has made a lot of difference.
It started out sunny yesterday and then all the mist created on Charlotte Lake from open water and cold air meeting blew right in over the top of us creating a heavy grey layer of fog that hung in until after noon. No sun keeps the temperature down, that’s for sure. The big difference for us is that this house was built to take advantage of passive solar heat in winter. The sun is low enough that when it hits that bank of south facing windows, it can hit 90F in here in a hurry. But without sun, we rely entirely on the wood stove in the basement to keep the house warm and the windows end up so cold that we have to close up all the blinds to keep the cold from dropping into the main room in the evening. Finally late yesterday evening we broke down and we started a fire in the fireplace upstairs. Woo Hoo! Love that fireplace! We usually don’t start it up until it hits –30 or colder but I surely did enjoy it last night. I love sitting next to a fireplace reading or watching television feeling that heat radiate off the glass and right onto your toes, and Andy put more wood on it when he got up so it was downright balmy in here this morning.
Nimpo Lake looks to be frozen over for as far as we can see but I don’t know what the Main Arm farther down looks like. Maybe we’ll take a drive over there this afternoon and see. Charlotte Lake mist is being pushed down valley by a slight breeze out of the east so it’s possible that some of the Main Arm might still be open and we couldn't tell if it was. We both agreed that the baby loons probably didn’t make it off the lake before it froze over but at least they made it far enough down the lake that we don’t have to watch the aftermath. At least freeze up is right on time. When people ask us when the lake freezes over, we reply that it’s usually in the first week of December. Bingo.
December 05
I didn’t get this post finished yesterday so I’ll add to it today. We took a drive down along the Main Arm yesterday before going to the other end of the lake for dinner and everything that we could see was frozen. Ditto for the north end of the lake so I’m calling December fourth the Freeze Up date for 2013.
It was much warmer this morning at –16C or 3F but that’s probably because it’s socked in and snowing fine little flakes. According to the weatherman, after this passes, the cold is supposed to move back in over the entire province. Vancouver was just a tenth of a degree away from breaking a cold record yesterday so I guess they’re feeling the chill down there. Victoria is only registering one degree today, about five degrees cooler than when we were down last January. Whew! Even chillier down near the ocean of course because it will be damp as heck. Thankfully, we’re done with that part for a few months now that the lake is frozen over.
You know it’s funny but Clearwater lake froze over nearly a month ago and Williams Lake has been trying to freeze over for nearly two weeks now when both lakes normally freeze up after ours does. I’m not sure why we were later than they were this year other than because of a couple of inversions, we seemed to be warmer a good bit of the time, which is also unusual. However, it seems to be becoming more and more normal all the time. I’m sure not going to complain! I would much rather be warmer out here than cooler as has been the case for as long as I’ve ever been in this part of the country.

01/12/2013 8:00 PM

December Arrives

Happy December first, everyone! Only three more weeks to the shortest day and we’re done with the down hill slide. Yahoo!
Today it got up to 4.4C or 40F with the sun shining all day, turning out to be the perfect day to get in a couple of loads of wood. I didn’t participate in the getting since Andy was helping the neighbour to knock down some schoolmarms, so they loaded up their wagons at his place, but I did get a few wheelbarrow loads picked up and stacked down under the deck while Andy split the wood on the splitter. Besides getting in my walk down to the gun range with the dogs, I also ran the ATV on the back trail with the trailer to break and pack a walking trail. We were supposed to get snow tonight but if we don’t, it will freeze hard over the next few days and make for some great walking.
The weathermen have been forecasting a cold front coming in from the north for a week now and it’s due to arrive in this area tonight. Our temperature was dropping at a pretty good rate there earlier but it’s come back up again so it may be tomorrow before we really notice the cold. Sadly, today while walking the dogs I could hear a loon out on the Main Arm near the ice in our bay. It was the odd, and very recognizable croak of one of the loons that was born in our neighbours’ bay this spring so it’s a sure bet that he and probably his sibling made it out from the ice when our South Arm froze over, and have been on the Main Arm since. Unfortunately, I’m assuming the smaller sibling can’t fly yet and he won’t leave it behind. That means they’ll both die here because unless we get high winds, I only expect the Main Arm to be open for another day or so after this cold front moves in.
I swear, I don’t know how loons have managed to keep from going extinct. They regularly have their babies too late for them to fly out in the fall and it doesn’t help that our springs come later and are colder and wetter than usual. Frankly, I don’t even know how young loons know to leave and where to go when they do. Unlike other flocks of birds with mixed adults and juveniles, someone usually knows when and where to go. One would assume that crucial migration information is passed down through ancestral memory. But adult loons leave long before the immature birds do, so how do juveniles born here know that they should leave before the lake freezes over? Apparently in some cases they don’t and they die. I guess that’s what Darwin meant by natural selection.
I came out of the backwoods trail just across from our driveway and saw a beautiful fox hightailing it down the road. Fortunately, the dogs didn’t see it and it dove back in on the trail farther up. I wondered how close it might be because I had been following some pretty fresh tracks along the trail. I just didn’t realize they were that fresh! I keep wondering if we have one hanging around here at night. The dogs don’t bark at animals at night anymore because they’re in a pen now instead of on lines but the cat acts pretty freaked out sometimes.
I mentioned this on Facebook yesterday but for those of you that don’t follow the social media stuff, I’ll repeat my experience here. I was walking back on the trail yesterday and again was pretty close to where I come out across from our driveway when I ran across an earth worm on the snow. He looked like he was about done for but I put him in my pocket wondering where the heck he had come from. About 25 feet from the first worm, I came across another, this one a little bit more vigorous, although he was still wrapped up in a writhing ball, probably trying to stay warm. There were no tracks in the fresh snow of either man or beast, or worm, for that matter. For the life of me, I can’t figure out where they came from. Did they drop out of the tree branches? I’ve never heard of earth worms being in trees, but where else would they come from? Had a bird dropped them? Well where the heck would a bird get them from? You can’t find a worm anywhere near the surface once once the ground starts to freeze to save your soul. I know, because I was digging for them back when we were going to go fishing a month ago. I’ve never been able to find them late in the fall so it seems highly unlikely these worms were anywhere where a bird could get at them. I would love to know the answer. In any case, I dropped them into my pocket and brought them home. I put the still pretty vigorous guy into my worm carton in the fridge with another that I had left over from fall fishing, but I just couldn’t get the other guy warmed up enough and he expired. Small wonder. He looked pretty blue out on the snow. If the one that made it survives the winter in my fridge then he and his buddy will probably go out in the garden in the spring unless we get out fishing early next year which is unlikely. Either way, snow worm will get to live a whole lot longer than he would have if he had stayed on the snow through the night. If anyone can solve the mystery, by all means, drop me a line!
Oh, yech, it’s snowing outside! I should have known there was a reason why the temperature came back up. I was really hoping we wouldn’t get any after I packed the trail today. Three more weeks to the shortest day, three more weeks to the shortest day, three more weeks to the shortest day.......

Last month's blog is at November Week One.


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!


Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Ice on Nimpo with Monarch Mountain behind.
 
Ice on all of Nimpo Lake with blue sky above.
 
A thin line of blue water shows past the ice on Nimpo Lake.
 
Orange pink sunset through the dark trees.
 
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