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 - Jan., Week Two/2009
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of the Day.
had a bit of a weather surprise this morning. I expected
our warm spell to stick around so I was a little surprised
to see it at -6C when I went to bed last night. It was
still right around that early this morning but by 10:00
it had dropped below -11C or 12F after heavy fog cleared
off of the lake and it took its own sweet time warming
up, that's for sure! Still, waking up to everything
decorated in glittering white lace made it look like a
regular winter wonderland outside.
When I left for my walk this afternoon it was still about
-4C but had come up to just a couple of degrees below
freezing by the time I got home. The plow truck had roughed
up our road and dropped a little sand last night or this
morning. We had heavy hoarfrost on all of the trees and
bushes, and on the road as well. As a result, when walking
down our road with the sun just right, the surface
was covered in a kaleidoscope of rainbow sparkles from
yellow, and green, to blue with quick bursts of orange.
As we did today, we often have hard white diamond sparkles
on the snow when the sun is shining, but it must have
been the sand mixed with snow that allowed for such a
wide spectrum of colors on the road and I just about tripped
over my own feet watching the shifting colors as I walked.
It was just phenomenal and I can't imagine a piece of
jewelry in the world that could match those wildly sparkling
bits of ice.
I think our guess at an inversion layer yesterday must
have been correct and it really was much
warmer up in the mountains. On one snow rounded mountain
in our view today you could see the sun shining on what
was clearly ice. The snow was no longer just a plain old
soft white, but so icy looking the glare off it just about
hurt your eyes. I took a picture of it, but unfortunately,
the iciness just didn't show up in an image as it did
for real. I don't think the lower elevation mountains
got as warm so our snowmobiling areas shouldn't have been
affected. Anywhere up high, though, the conditions will
be awful after a melt like that.
The weather forecasters keep promising that we're in a
warm spell but it sure seems a lot cooler than it
should be considering how ridiculously far north of us
the jet stream is going. It's already at -10C
or 14F this early in the evening so it's not exactly balmy
out there. Then again, I probably shouldn't be complaining
too loudly. The rest of Canada has it pretty cold right
now and it looks like parts of the US are suffering from
some pretty harsh weather as well. Maybe I'll just zipper
it and enjoy what we have.
were blessed with another great day today. It was sunny
this morning but we had some high cloud move in this afternoon.
It was too warm to go for a ski because the snow was sticky
so I would have been doing nothing but face plants
out on the lake. It was great for a walk though.
Even with the sun peaking through the clouds only periodically,
at three degrees above freezing and no wind, it was still
bright and I'm sure not complaining. At that temperature,
I don't mind a lack of sun at all!
Though many may not agree, and may find the subject pretty
boring, I think you can learn a lot from watching dogs
on a walk.
River, our Rottweiler, is a good example of an animal
that we may attribute human expressions to too much, but
in his case it fits. After all, he's pretty certain
he's human. The day before yesterday when I stopped
at my favorite place at the meadow near the gun range,
River acted distinctly uncomfortable. Tail down, ears
dragging, and a beseeching look in his eyes that said,
"I'm sure there's something bad out there.
A giant monster bunny that's going to eat me or something!"
Yesterday, nothing. No problem. Today, he had his ears
cocked and nose in the air the whole time we were in that
vicinity. The other two dogs were acting much the same
so there's definitely something there. I just can't figure
out what. The most likely thing would be a moose that
is hanging around the meadow, but I've seen very little
moose sign anywhere lately, and they just don't stick
to one spot. Another possibility I suppose is that
the grizzly bears may have denned up around the meadow
somewhere, but what are the chances? Although
I have to admit this is the longest period of time, lasting
many weeks, that River has acted strangely. Then again,
it's possible that he smelled them once down there this
fall and he's just been nervous about it since. The most
likely cause of his and the other two dogs' reaction is
that there is carrion or a carcass down there somewhere
that's been there for awhile. This warm weather may have
brought the scent back up again. Or it could be
that they all, especially River, have an overactive imagination!
It's always cool watching the dogs run along following
their noses, although Cat, being a hound dog, is the one
that does it most. She invariably has an ice cream dollop
of snow perched precariously on her nose because she's
had it stuck in the snow trying to get a scent from a
track. You only realize how much we humans have lost when
you watch dogs and see how they use all
of their senses. While they may rely heavily on their
ears to track what's around them and follow their noses
to smell what's been there, they also use their eyes,
Yesterday while walking back on the road from the gun
range she was well to my left when she spotted a set of
tracks going up the bank well to the right, and covered
in snow. I don't think it's possible that she picked up
a scent from them. She just saw them, whipped over and
started stuffing her nose in the snow to see what had
On the back trail day before yesterday Cat had gone
roaring past me at a 100 miles an hour as she usually
does when she did a twenty foot skid and twist
in the air trying to come down near a small fist sized
pine bough that had dropped from a tree onto the trail.
She missed of course but came back as soon as she found
her brakes. Once she realized what it was she immediately
dismissed it and away she went. But it was a great example
of using eyesight to spot something, then
her nose. Something that not all dogs seem to do. Of course
in River's case, he comes along, sees it, and pees on
it. That seems to be his solution to just about everything.
Of course he isn't the only one. I noticed that after
two days it would seem just about every fox and coyote
in the vicinity marked that poor little twig in the same
There was a spot we came across yesterday where a fox
or coyote (sorry, they don't leave signs on their
leavings) had left scat in a couple of spots and
there were tracks all around it. Whether he was having
a constipation moment and those were all his tracks that
beat the area down, or the tracks of all the curious creatures
that followed it, was impossible to tell. Of course the
three dogs showed great interest yesterday when the whole
matter was fresh, but there was just as much interest
today. You know they can tell it's an old
scent, but it's as though they're trying to read a story
and that their life depends on deciphering everything
about that spot. And perhaps it does. After all, dogs
are still much closer to their ancestors as predators
than we are.
We may have the rudiments of smell and hearing but not
much really. About all we have left that's any good
is our eyesight and that's pretty pathetic compared to
many animals. While the senses of dogs may not
be as keen as their ancestor, the wolf, you would have
a hard time convincing me that a wolf could out smell
Cat. You can tell she's a hound because she has an incredible
sense of smell.
I don't think it takes much for a medium to large sized
dog to go back to its ancestry. Two out of three of our
dogs are Indian dogs, meaning they were starved and had
to fend for themselves for one reason or another. As a
result, they're constantly on the search for anything
edible and are highly protective of their food. While
River taught Cat how to eat rose hips and is keen on scrounging
for carrion, Cat is the biggest scrounge of all.
I could not believe how quickly as a pup she figured out
that wild strawberries and blueberries were food, and
how voraciously she grazes on rose hips and grass. She's
since proven that all else is considered edible no matter
what it is. I have no doubt that she could survive on
her own if she had to. I do have one worry though. A friend
of ours said she would never have a cat because if you
die in your home, cats will eat you while your dog will
not. Somehow, I wouldn't want to trust that I would
be in one piece by the time people found me dead in my
home if Cat were locked in there with me. With
her, it's stomach first!
It would seem that there must have been one heck of an
inversion layer today. Some of the higher mountains in
our view lost a lot of snow today and are looking pretty
black, while we've lost little or nothing here. Judging
from the speed the snow has been melting up there, it
has to be at least five degrees warmer than at our elevation.
Our temperature should slowly come up over the next few
days though. After a period of time with a warm Pacific
flow, it's bound to push those cold highs east. Looking
at the weather forecast tonight and where the jet stream
is, we're in for several days of warmth while everything
east of Alberta is in for some bitterly cold weather.
It's estimated that parts of Saskatchewan could
go to -60C or 76 degrees below zero Fahrenheit with the
wind chill tonight. I feel kind of badly for Saskatchewan
because they've been pretty cold all long, but I don't
feel one bit bad for Ontario or Quebec and the cold weather
forecast for them for the next seven days. I figure it's
their turn to be stuck in a deep freeze for awhile.
Start of the Good Weather
looks like we just might luck out with some good weather
after all! I figured it to start last night but just before
midnight I turned on the porch light and looked
outside to see it just snowing to beat the band.
In fact, the way it was pouring down I thought sure we
were in trouble. It quit within a half hour though, leaving
only about an inch of fluffy stuff behind.
It went down to about -6C or 21F at its coldest last night
and made it to a couple of degrees above freezing today.
We had blue sky and lots of sunshine with just some odd
high cloud. It was kind of strange this morning, though.
I looked out over the lake and it looked really hazy as
if there was a lot of smoke in the air. Then I realized
the smoke from our own chimney was going straight down.
That's pretty rare except in extremely cold weather
so there must have been some sort of really strange inversion
layer because the smoke from every place on the
lake was doing the same thing. Apparently, that's what
is happening all over the province because the north central
part of BC is actually warmer than the south central and
Okanagan. Apparently the valleys are going to be colder
than higher elevations because that Pineapple Express
is sliding right over the top of the cold air layer and
is going to hold it down.
I'm not too sure what's happening with us because our
temperature was actually warmer this evening than it has
been all day but suddenly the wind switched from out of
the south to out of the north and it just dropped five
degrees in the past hour. Maybe we're experiencing some
outflow winds because that's the only thing that would
explain the temperature drop. From everything we could
see on the weather tonight, the Jet stream is carrying
that Pineapple Express way north of us so we should
be experiencing a real warm up. At 3600
feet we hardly qualify as a valley.
Today was a glorious day for a walk in the woods. With
fresh fluffy snow on the back trail you could see all
of the animal tracks made since last night and with no
wind, it was dead still in the woods. I grabbed a stump
down by the gun range for a few minutes and just listened.
The dogs stood still for the longest time and did the
same, and I swear I could almost hear something walking
through the snow a little way off. I love those kinds
of days because you can hear the smallest sound, or no
sound at all.
Each day gets better and better because the days are longer,
so even if I don't get back from a walk until a little
later in the afternoon, it still isn't cooling down
really quickly as it does in the middle of December.
For the last couple of days now we've noticed that the
sun is no longer coming in through the lower windows in
front of the house at midday, that's how much it has climbed
in the past weeks. And this evening there was an
absolutely stunning sunset with clouds coloring
up red in the east, and it was actually after 4:30! Too
I talked to my Mom and a friend of mine down in Arizona
this morning and both suggested we come down for awhile.
It wouldn't be that hard to convince me to do just that
in the month of December, but as long as the sun is shining
and the days getting longer this time of year, it's hard
to convince me that Arizona's a better place to be than
here. Although I do have to admit that their high of 72
degrees today did sound a little on the appealing side.
But that's okay, because if we hold out we'll see
temperatures like that in about five months too!
you ever had one of those days that's just so great you're
plain glad to be alive? Today was one of those
days for us.
We finally got out to Hotnarko Falls today with our neighbours.
Iris has never ridden a snowmobile before but she picked
up an old 440 fan cooled up and her husband did a bunch
of fixing on it. For someone who has never ridden any
way but double, she did a great job and went 60 miles
like an old pro today, although I think she's a little
tired tonight. Small wonder!
We didn't do any mountain climbing of course, but the
trail through the trees to the other end of the lake does
a lot of winding and requires attention. We ended up out
on Charlotte Main, took it down to the Beef Trail and
then followed that down to where you turn off to go into
Hotnarko Falls. It might have been a really nice smooth
ride had someone not tried driving on some of those roads.
The deeper the snow, the deeper the old ruts so negotiating
those with a machine could bounce you around a bit. The
farther along we went the deeper the snow got and once
we turned off to the falls, the trail was beautiful with
lots of deep powder and no vehicle tracks. Just
moose tracks crossing here and there.
We walked into the falls with high hopes of seeing the
ice build up from water going over, and it was there....just
covered with that recent snow so very little ice showed
through. You could still hear a little water running underneath,
though. I think we'll try again about March. By then the
sun will be higher and hotter and will probably melt any
snow off of the ice, without melting the ice itself. Then
it should make for a great picture.
It was still beautiful being there. The sun was shining
and that canyon and surrounding rock is just amazing.
There's something really magical about that spot.
We walked (or waded snow) back to our machines and had
our lunch before heading back. We were only out for four
hours but it was wonderful! Although some cloud did move
in so I didn't get as nice a pictures as I would have
liked and should have stopped and taken them on the way
out. All in all, it was a nice change from going up on
the mountain where invariably there are lots of stucks
or you have to watch the person in front of you very carefully
in case they have to stop suddenly because of a stuck
ahead. Nor was there any wind down where we were as there
often is up on the mountain.
I expect today would have been a brutal ride up
to Trumpeter since there's been so much drifting snow
and lots of fresh snow. Lots of stucks that I don't mind
missing at all! Besides, the view was pretty darn
nice from different vantage points along our trail today.
In places you could see Kappan, the Rainbows, Monarch
Mountain and the Coast Range and in one spot you could
see the Little Rainbows on one side and the Itcha Illgatchuz
on the other. It was really pretty and nice to see new
We've gotten a couple more light skiffs of snow since
Friday morning but it hasn't amounted to much. It warmed
up Friday and really hasn't gotten that cold since, maybe
down to -8C at night and up to freezing or a degree above
during the day. I don't know what it got up to today during
the warmest part because we weren't here but we got home
at around three in time for me to go for a short walk,
and it was still a couple of degrees above freezing then.
That sun being up longer, if only for a few minutes
a day, sure makes a difference! Last night was
remarkable after the sun went down and the moon came up.
We came home from supper at our neighbours' and it wasn't
long afterward when we looked outside and you could see
long shadows from the trees on the snow. It was so bright
with the full moon that I'm quite sure you could have
read a book under its light.
I see the Lower Mainland still isn't faring very well
with their flooding from snow melt with more rain predicted.
Although I think some parts got a little snow last night.
I'll bet that made folks happy. Not!
Provincial emergency services has kicked in in some areas
but that's sure a scam in many cases. Apparently emergency
services can only provide financial assistance to homeowners
for things that you can't get insurance coverage for.
For example, if you are able to get snow load coverage
for your home, then if your roof caves in, emergency services
can't help you because you should have had insurance.
Who the hell in Vancouver would ever put snow load
insurance on their house? Normally the thought
of having so much snow on the roof of your home that it
might cave in would be unthinkable because Vancouver just
doesn't get that much snow in an average year. Even I
can't blame a Vancouverite for not having that kind of
insurance. So as I said....provincial emergency services
is a scam. It would seem the province is going as cheap
as it can, as usual!
From the looks of the weather forecasts and satellite
pictures, we just might be in for a warming trend for
the next week. I'm actually really looking forward to
that. It will be a really nice change from the long
stretch of cold we've had. I know the winter enthusiasts
don't like the idea of a melt, but it wouldn't break my
heart at all to see it go a little above freezing for
a few days. We've got some pretty fluffy snow out there
and it would help to settle it both on the lake and the
back trails. It looks like the Lower Mainland might dry
out too for a few days midweek and I'm sure folks down
there will be happy to see that!
I've finally started a new week so you'll find last week's
articles at January
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!