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 - Feb., Week Two/2009
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like
'Lake Monsters' about the
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.
Valentine's Day, everyone. My apologies for no article
for the last three days but there's a couple of good reasons
for that. For one thing, my ankle knocked me out of being
able to go walking the back trails for the past week so
I've taken that opportunity to get a bunch of work done.
Since I haven't been outside the door or away from the
computer much, there isn't a lot of excitement happening
in my world. I get to look out the window periodically
to see someone landing a plane, walking their dog out
on the lake or the odd person snowmobiling by.
The birds are still raiding the feeder in a big way and
the woodpeckers are attacking the beef fat. That's about
it. Oh, and the the odd snowflake sifting down.
Actually, it's been trying to snow for the past couple
of days but not succeeding much. That means it's been
pretty overcast during the day and you can see it snowing
periodically over the mountains. We've had lows of between
-10C and -13C or 14F at night, but it's been coming up
to about four or five degrees below zero. That's going
There are two high pressure systems coming in. One from
out in the Pacific and an arctic high coming down from
the north. Both are going to lock in some pure sunshine
for nearly all of the province, but will be bringing some
cold temperatures as well. Already Williams Lake
is three degrees colder than us (we're at -6C or 21F)
but Prince George is twice as cold. I expect we'll see
the cold by tomorrow morning and predicted lows for the
central interior are for around -22C. That means we could
be colder since we're so much higher. A nice day tomorrow
would be a bonus since we're going snowmobiling, but I'm
sure hoping the cold will hang off.
Tonight is the 139 Fundraiser in Anahim Lake that raises
money for the Variety Show of Hearts held throughout British
Columbia on or around Valentine's Day. There's usually
a pretty good turn out for our local event that includes
a dinner, raffles and auction and both our communities
are extremely generous with their money. This year may
be a little bit different though, with the economic downturn
in play, but I expect that will be the case everywhere.
Today was also the annual ice cutting over at at
Wilderness Rim, something that we missed this
year because we had company this morning and I had a short
appointment this afternoon. However, since that is where
Andy and I had our first (kind of) date (for want of a
better word) I will always remember my first ice cutting
with a great deal of fondness, particularly today since
it is Valentine's.
I've mentioned this before but for those new blog readers
that have come on board since last year, ice cutting is
something that at least three resorts on this lake still
practice. It's an age old tradition and at one time, provided
the summer refrigeration for every place on the lake.
Everyone had an ice house. Aside from the
three resorts, though, I think that only one homeowner
still cuts ice, probably because it's really hard work!
I won't go into the detailed explanation that I have written
here before but will explain that ice blocks
up to two feet long are cut with a chainsaw. The blocks
are usually pulled on a sled up to the ice house. The
blocks are piled inside as tightly together as possible,
and in many cases, sawdust is thrown on top. Sawdust is
an excellent insulator and can keep the ice into the next
autumn. The better the ice, the longer it will keep, so
February or March are usually the ice cutting months.
The lake ice is usually two to three feet thick by then
and as hard as it's going to get.
Both Anahim and Nimpo Lake were very popular fishing
lakes and guys would come in there from all over
North America for a week or ten days and they took their
fishing seriously! Many of the resorts still have a number
of fishermen on the premises at any one time so a place
to keep fish and and the ever important refreshments cold
was a necessity. This was particularly true of remote
resorts that relied on generators for electricity, but
found ice to be a much cheaper and more reliable alternative.
I'm sure that all the places would dearly love to get
their hands on that beautiful ice up at Goat Lake as seen
on the right. But moving ice blocks the size of a truck
could present something of a logistics problem.
So..... it wasn't until today that I realized I survived
yet another Friday the thirteenth, which is always a surprise
to me. This is probably the first time I didn't have any
idea it was coming so it actually made for a very nice,
relaxing day for me, even though I was up in Nimpo for
part of the day and most of the evening. (I know.
No one in this day and age should be superstitious, and
for the most part, I'm not. However....) In any
case, no disaster befell me or mine, so I've escaped yet
another year. No, maybe not. It would be just my luck
that a Friday the 13th fell in February. Since March mirrors
February, then not only does it happen again in a month,
but also in November. Geeez.
Just to let you know, since we're going sledding tomorrow
and I'm having some of that group over for supper when
we get back, I may not get a chance to post another blog
I believe that our American friends have a holiday to
celebrate on Monday, so here's wishing you a happy long
Folks. No article today as I'm right in the middle of
a project. Just a quick update on the weather for those
folks with summer residences here....oh, and a new Pic
of the Day to show off some more ice.
It was -20.5C or about 4 below zero degrees Fahrenheit
this morning but it warmed up to just below freezing this
afternoon. As usual, the cold temperatures and
lack of use means the sewer at Nimpo Hall has frozen over
again and poor Andy was stuck with looking after that
all day. That's what he gets for being the Nimpo Lake
We had bright sunshine for most of the day but it clouded
over pretty heavily before dark and it looked like it
was trying to snow over the mountains. The cloud cover
just might serve to keep some of the heat in tonight so
temperatures may not drop much.
The weight of snow on Nimpo must finally have reached
the tipping point and has sunk the ice low enough
now that we're getting overflow. I was really
surprised to see it out front of our place this afternoon
because we haven't seen one bit of it all year, but I
guess it was due. Okay, gotta go!
The Gloom Day
was clear and cold last night and dropped to -19.3C or
-3F but it was really gloomy today with low, gray cloud.
It made it up to -4C or 25F though, even if the sun was
just a vague outline behind the cloud, and there was no
wind so it felt a lot warmer than it was. It has already
dropped to -14C and there's a clear sky and cold moon
out there this evening, so I guess it will be another
Vancouver got hit with a little snow last night and this
morning and while watching all of the vehicles playing
wheelies and bumper cars you could see that the streets
were really slick. You don't often see a semi
jackknifed on a city street and city buses parked at the
bottom of a hill because they can't get up it. I think
their problems are far less than Australia's though. Anyone
been watching the news? Wow.
We've been watching the networks carrying the fires in
the state of Victoria and I don't know if I've ever seen
such an inferno. Reporters said that temperatures
were upward of 48C or well over a hundred degrees and
fires were jumping 25 miles ahead of the main fire
because the flames were climbing so high. I would never
have believed that fire could carry that far forward and
I guess that's why so many people were caught by surprise.
The flames were in their backyard before they were even
aware there was a fire nearby. I feel really badly for
those people who lost family members to home fires and
those killed while trying to flee in their vehicles. Talk
about no warning!
I found it to be a pretty good lesson for us, though.
I doubt that we need ever expect forest fires of that
intensity here but if it even came close, it would be
devastating. We were watching a show called 'Daily Planet'
for a few moments after the show about the Iditarod tonight,
and the host was talking to a bush fire expert in
Australia who explained that the conditions that created
that fire behaviour have never been that bad before.
The state has been in a drought, temperatures were well
over a 100 degrees, humidity was in the single digits,
which is unbelievable in itself, and there were brutal
winds. Put it all together and you have a firestorm.
Andy was telling me tonight about a guy who was in Australia
camping in a park once and since it was the off season,
a Park's guy stopped by his camp and they got to talking
about fire. The Park warden or attendant said that we
would never experience the kind of fire that they have
in that area of Australia. As a demonstration he went
over to a very green eucalyptus tree and cut a branch
off of it, then lit it. This fellow said it just
exploded, like a dried up Christmas tree set on fire.
I suppose that makes sense. I understand that eucalyptus
is a very oily tree and if that's one of the main fuels
for a bush fire, then things are going to get very hot
and the fire move very fast.
Back to what I learned from that bush fire expert
on TV tonight:
He was listing some of the things you can do to try and
keep your home from catching fire in a firestorm when
it's raining down sparks or sparks are being blown sideways
by a wind. We all think that if we keep everything wetted
down....roof of buildings, yard, siding, etc., we'll be
safe. But as he suggested, you have to keep an eye on
every nook and cranny where a spark could land. Check
your windows and doors. He said if there's a draft, then
a spark could also be sucked into the crack between door
or window, and the casings or building. And do you know?
I've never thought of that before, but it's a darned good
thing to know!
We've a whole wood shed of tinder dry firewood.
Of course in case of a forest fire heading our way, we
would think to wet down the roof and maybe even the sides
but probably would never have thought of saturating the
wood stacked inside. Nor would we think about making sure
the ground is wet under our guest cabin even though we
would wet the log walls. But if a spark blew past the
bits of skirting we have on there and got under the cabin,
it would probably go up in only a matter of minutes. For
that matter, even learning about wetting down all the
doors and windows where we have drafts is valuable.
We're going to have to put a little more strategy
into how we'll prepare for a forest fire in future.
While I knew that it was possible for a fire to carry
ahead a few miles, I would never have guessed that it
could do so for 25 miles if conditions are right. We're
lucky, because within a fairly short radius most of the
beetle killed pine trees have lost 70 to 90 percent of
their needles, lessening the danger for us substantially
of an explosive fire now. However, there's certainly still
danger to us at 25 miles out from both green and beetle
killed trees so I suppose being forewarned is forearmed,
particularly since we can't keep having rainy summers
forever. We're due for a dry one here at some point
in time, and probably sooner rather than later.
Unless the bush fire expert was right about something
else that he said.
The fellow on Daily Planet claimed that global warming
was the cause behind the serious nature of the firestorms
in Australia. He said that steadily warming temperatures,
lack of rainfall and increasing winds over the last few
years have made their forests extremely dangerous and
highly susceptible to this type of firestorm. Since
we've had wet summers three out of the last four years,
does that mean that trend will continue for us as well?
It will certainly change the face of the our region since
the Chilcotin has always been high and dry in summer with
cold, dry, and harsh conditions in winter. But Britain
has had a lot of snow for the first time in ages, Europe
is being hit with floods and snow, where Australia isn't
burning, it's flooding, and in the States, Oklahoma just
got hit with a heck of a storm. The radar pictures there
look suspiciously like they do during tornado season.
Global warming? Probably, but there's no getting around
the fact that prior to the realization that it might be
occurring, the human race has been subjected to
extremes in weather, sometimes for a period of several
years. I keep thinking back to what I heard a
group of scientists say a little while back. They've proven
that the last 10,000 years has been the most climatically
and geologically stable period in Earth's history. You
just know that's gotta end sometime!
Oh yeah. Final note. I don't know how many people roll
over the images on this site to read their description
so I wanted to make sure I described the picture up on
the right. That weird sculptured piece of ice sticking
up is one of the blocks that exploded out of Goat Lake
after an avalanche dropped tons of snow on it. We just
haven't figured out whether water did that while it was
still a slab covering the lake, or if wind and melt sculpted
the ice after it was exposed to the sun. Either way, it's
Things I Have Learned
get to post Floyd Vaughan's 'Things I have learned in
70 years' here today. I figure I could learn a little
something from them myself. While some advice may only
apply to pilots, some of it can apply to all of us.
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN 70 YEARS
- " On a warm spring morning when the meadow larks
are singing and it looks like another hot day TAKE
YOUR COAT AND GLOVES ANYWAY when moving cattle to
When leaving the house, tent, or cabin, LAY KINDLING
AND WOOD FOR A FIRE because when you get back your
hands may be too cold to do it.
Unless you are real hungry, DON'T EAT BOILED WATER
RABBIT (beaver) at an Indian camp or boiled squaw
Never shoot a moose more than 100 yards from the road
if you're driving, or the lake if you're flying. It's
much preferable if it has at least ONE FOOT IN THE
WATER if it's a big bull. The engine always runs rougher
AT NIGHT OR OVER WATER IN A SOUTH EASTER.
When doing air drops on a glacier, always come down hill,
and lay out the things you're going to drop so the FIRST
RUN IS FROM A HIGH ALTITUDE.
On lakes at the end of a glacier, you will have to take
off DOWN WIND, AND WITH A HIGH PUCKER FACTOR.
A lake in flat country looks BIGGER THAN IT REALLY
IS and a lake in the mountains looks smaller than
it really is.
You can get on the step quicker by opening the throttle
faster than is usually recommended, especially with a
R985 Pratt Whitney because the governor can't keep up
and you will get about 200 RPM over red line. IT CAN
MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
An old pilot is one who can remember WHEN FLYING WAS
DANGEROUS AND SEX WAS SAFE.
As a pilot, only two bad things can happen to you
a. ONE DAY YOU WILL GET IN YOUR AIRPLANE KNOWING IT
IS YOUR LAST FLIGHT.
b. ONE DAY YOU WILL GET IN YOUR AIRPLANE NOT
KNOWING IT IS YOUR LAST FLIGHT.
On long flights have full tanks and DON'T DRINK OVER
TWO CUPS OF COFFEE.
If you always tell the truth YOU DON'T HAVE TO REMEMBER
Courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of fear,
BUT DON'T BE STUPID ABOUT IT.
In the history of aviation NO ONE HAS MISSED THE GROUND
Any story worth telling IS WORTH IMPROVING ON A LITTLE
It's strange that physical courage is so common in the
world, and MORAL COURAGE IS SO RARE.
If when you saddle your horse he has a hump in his back,
LEAD HIM THE FIRST 200 YARDS then get on and start
off in a trot (NEVER A GALLOP)
When in the air you are the Captain and can do any thing
you want AS LONG AS IT IS RIGHT, and after you're
down you find out if it was right.
The radio is only an electronic suggestion box, and sometimes
the only way to clear up a problem is to TURN IT
One of the best things about single piloted aircraft is
the SOCIAL EXPERIENCE.
You will never make a good pilot unless your mother was
able to teach you to put things BACK WHERE YOU FOUND
Always remember how lucky you are to be up there when
millions of people can only stare skyward AND WISH.
There is no such thing as a free puppy.
When you're over the hill you pick up speed.
Income tax has made more liars out of people than fishing
has. When someone says it's the principle not the money
IT'S THE MONEY
The biggest adventure you can take is to live the LIFE
OF YOUR DREAMS." -
You know what? I don't know about you guys but I can definitely
learn from a few of these! Since you know it's the voice
of experience behind every one of them, you have to wonder
about the story behind each as well. It would probably
be a humdinger in more than one case!
While the temperature climbed up to just below freezing
from a cold start this morning, it's dropping fast
tonight and is already at -12C or 10F. But it
was beautiful today with the sun shining nearly all day.
There's a clear, cold moon out there that reached full
this afternoon and the lake is starting to groan. It's
been a while since we've heard it but I expect the moon
might have as much to do with it as the cold temperatures.
We got a couple of inches of snow last night but unless
it warms up, I expect that's the last we'll see for awhile.
Although Vancouver is supposed to get some. I'm sure folks
down there will be pleased. Not!
Andy and the guys went snowmobiling up to Trumpeter yesterday.
He got some terrific pictures of those giant ice
blocks that were blasted out of Goat Lake by an avalanche.
The other pictures from Ted that I posted don't give the
perspective or show how huge those slabs really are, so
Andy had one of the guys pose with the blocks. I'll post
them on pic of the day for the next while. The color of
the ice is an unearthly blue.
Secrets Of An Old Bush Pilot
Vaughan sent me some musings that he set to paper some
time ago. He also sent me a great list of 'Things I have
learned' pertaining to those valuable lessons that he
has learned over many years of living and flying in the
Chilcotin, but I'll save those for another day. The excerpt
below is hilarious and well worth the read!
"Most everyone expects pilots to have thinning, graying
hair, to move slowly and be kind of unresponsive with
all the time in the world to sit and BS. These are some
of the tips on maximizing the respect to be gained by
being an old pilot.
There are two ways of doing this: The right way, and the
wrong way. You could say, "Hey, do you know that
I am a pilot from the old days?" That's the wrong
way, and they will just nod knowingly and walk away. Instead
say, "That reminds me of the time I was flying overloaded
on one engine in the dark with nowhere to land except
on the water." You should say this in a low raspy
voice with a couple of pauses in the right places. Usually
someone will say. "WOW! Are you a pilot?" You
don't have to lie because you are describing the time
you were sneaking back home in the 180 on floats with
a Moose on board after dark.
Not saying anything works too, especially if you look
old and stay quiet. People will think you're a well seasoned
pilot thinking about your vast experiences. Sometimes
that's better than opening your mouth and proving you're
just another old guy trying to remember something. The
keep quiet trick also covers for poor eyesight and bad
hearing. When some younger pilot says, "Hey, do you
see that?" Don't lean forward, squint and say, "No.
What? Where?" That's a dead give away to your degraded
eyesight and other things. Instead don't react or respond
in any way, and he will think his observation is too trivial
to divert your attention from something important, like
remembering the date or his name. This is not a good idea
if it is someone pointing out a tree in your way or conflicting
Thousands of hours behind a R985 Pratt Whitney has deadened
your hearing, but you can still hear it in your sleep
or when more than one person is talking, so when you see
someone's lips moving and they are facing you, you just
smile and nod your head. This will impress people much
more than cupping your hand behind your ear, and yelling,
My voice has also changed, but that's a good thing. It's
now kind of raspy and low from years of yelling over the
engine noise. Women think it's sexy and love it until
they see who is speaking. It makes you wonder why respect
is so fleeting.
Old age can bring you respect at the doctors office when
you are getting your pilot medical. Try booking your next
medical for mid afternoon when the waiting room is filled
with ailing old people and wailing kids. By then the doctor
is wanting to go home, and get away from tales of woe,
and poking around in festering diseases. Try standing
near the reception area with a big smile on your face
so when the doctor spots you he will check his schedule
and have the nurse tell you to go right in. He will be
glad to see you because he knows you are the only patient
who is there to declare that you're in perfect health.
" So you're here for another pilot medical,"
he says, looking at the information the nurse has filled
out. When he asks if there are any problems, you answer
brightly, "NO SIR! NEVER FELT BETTER IN MY LIFE."
"I see you have gained a little weight again."
Then after you explain how you're going to start running
and eating less you spend the next ten minutes talking
flying. After he looks at your tonsils from both ends
he says, "See if you can lose a little weight,"
and he signs your license. You stand up straight, smile
and thank him, and walk out with a spring in your step
until you're out of sight.
Older pilots flying into the US have an easier time because
the border guards are looking for the young and twitchy,
not the old and wrinkled. They know that when you have
made it to this age you're not about to throw it all away
on a suicide mission. They also know that questioning
you would be a waste of time because you can't hear, and
have trouble remembering. Besides, a few days in jail
with free meals and sheets on your bed would be a welcome
change. Canada customs agents are easier yet because when
they ask you where you live, and you say Nimpo Lake, they
know that if it wasn't true no one would admit to being
Youngsters might think that aviation is leaving us older
pilots behind because of the complexities of avionics,
and airspace and air regulations are too hard for us to
follow. They might be right except that we know that you
can't follow all the regulations anyway so why pay any
attention to any of them? If you want to keep your sense
of pilot dignity, leave the new stuff to the young aviators,
the ones that can't fly unless they have GPS's checklists
ILS's , and someone to load the baggage, and clean the
You should stick to flying Cessna's or rag aircraft, or
something on floats, even though it is hard to pay $40,000
for an aircraft that you only paid $12 an hour for when
you were training. Antique aircraft have become expensive
because they're popular with old pilots, and there are
lots of us. The reason is, they fly slowly, are hard to
pick up on radar, don't need airports, and don't have
all them hard to read instruments. Ultra lights are popular
for the same reason, as well as floatplanes, and home
built copies of the old fabric airplanes.
One of the hardest things for an old pilot is when he
has to take a check ride with some young whipper snapper.
If you screw up a maneuver, you must get the jump on the
kid; before he can say anything. Say, "THAT'S THE
WORST DEMONSTRATION OF A TURN I'VE EVER SEEN! If you're
going to show me something you'll have to do better than
One thing I would like to have learned is to be more tolerant
of stupid people but so far I haven't been able to. It's
OK to be stupid if you are on the government payroll because
everyone has to have a job, but if you are a pilot you
put too many people in danger.
Over the years I have had 8 or 10 premonitions of a terrible
disaster when the weather or wind are especially bad.
You have to ignore these and do the trip anyway or your
flying career is over. Every time this happened I did
the trip and nothing happened, but it's a really great
feeling when the trip is done. I have never had much use
for churches because it always seemed to me most all the
misery in the world was caused by religion. The church
always wants people to join the church to teach them to
believe, then kicks them out for what they know.
An expert pilot never THINKS he can do a trip. He KNOWS
he can do it."
I don't know about you guys but I sure admire a
person that can poke a little fun at themselves!
I also received a note from wonderful friends Bill and
Anita Miller out of Quesnel and some great pictures from
when they come out into this part of the country that
they've kindly given me permission to use. You can check
those out on the right. The spectacular lake picture is
of the north end of Chilko Lake going in from Tatla. Oh,
and check out their amazing picture of a grouse on pic
of the day. It looks like a carving!
Our temperatures are still dropping pretty good at night
(I think it was -10C yesterday morning.) but warming up
to well above zero during the day. It's 4.5C or 40 degrees
Fahrenheit out there right now. We've had a lot of cloud
moving in and out but still enough sun to really warm
things up. We had a heck of a wind yesterday, though
and it played hell with the ice road. I had to
run over it a couple of times before going out last night
just so I could get home later. As it was, I barely made
it through the new drifts and I think Logan opted to go
home by the road last night because he barely made it
down the Main Arm to Nimpo earlier in the evening. At
least it was a nice day for the guys going up on the mountain
today with snowmobiles.
It's the start of a new week so you'll find last week's
stories at February
Week One .
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!