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/2014
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The Glorious Winter
had to call this post the Glorious Winter because of my
sister. As with all siblings, we get to nudge each other
about who has it better, especially about the weather.
After all, what other subject do Canadians talk about
the most? Usually, because she resides in lower elevation
and normally milder Williams Lake, she wins. Not this
year. The Chilcotin is the winner on the weather front
this year and it gives me great pleasure to rub it in.
After all, it doesnt happen often so of course Im
going to take full advantage of it while showing true
concern for the terrible winter Willys Puddle residents
have had. Ha! Not!
While its true that a lot of the snow that
we have received this winter is still on the ground, we
have not had the brutal dumps at a time that Williams
Lake has had, nor the freezing rain to the extent
that they have had. Nor the fog, the overcast, the damp,
or even the lower temperatures. For a good part of the
winter we have enjoyed a temperature inversion and often
our temps are warmer than theirs, including yesterday.
We went into town yesterday morning and as we drove farther
east, it got colder and colder and more socked in with
fog. In fact, we stopped a couple of times on the way
in because the mist in the fog had frozen onto our antennas
creating a layer of ice that was bending them over quite
a bit as we travelled. We were concerned that Williams
Lake would be foggy as well because the town lies in a
valley but since the lake is frozen over, it thankfully
was clear, although somewhat overcast. The weathermen
had been forecasting that any valley in BC would be socked
in with fog and cooler temperatures over the next few
days while higher elevations would be in clear sunshine
with temperatures actually reaching as high as, get this....
18C or 64F!
We ran around town doing our errands and an appointment
and shot out of town before 4:30 in the afternoon hoping
to at least get past Alexis Creek and the bad deer areas
before it got completely dark. We hit a lot of fog on
the way home but the moon came up behind us and helped
to light the way by about the last sixty miles when the
fog lifted and of course, the temperature rose the farther
we drove west. It was pretty apparent that the sun had
been shining and it had been reasonably warm out here
yesterday just by the temperature in the house when we
got home, even though the fire had gone out.
Today was a gorgeous day with full sunshine!
I forgot to check the thermometer except for once when
it was about three degrees above freezing but there wasnt
a breath of wind. We both roasted in the sun when we walked
the dogs today and were both way overdressed. This has
been just an amazing winter so far with much higher than
normal temperatures thanks to the constant temperature
inversions. Proof of that is the lack of snow on the mountains,
While Williams Lake and even Alexis Creek have gotten
their butts kicked on the snow front this winter,
Kleena Kleene has been in its own little bubble all winter.
There is no snow there at all and there hasnt been
for most of the winter. Theres snow at Clearwater
just up the road and it increases in depth by quite a
bit coming our way, and of course there is a little snow
at Tatla Lake that increases a great deal going to the
east, but that little corner of the world is kind of like
the place that time forgot. Or the way you imagined the
center of the earth looked like in Jules Vernes
book. Lots of adventure stories show people dropping from
a frozen snow covered land into a steamy jungle deep in
the core of the earth, or a time tunnel or cartoon....
Thats kind of what Kleena Kleene looks like
but without the jungle or the steam. You drop
down the hill and around the corner from a snowy region
into a valley with bare rocky hillsides and brown alfalfa
fields strewn with cattle. Through the valley you go,
up the next hill, around the corner and you start seeing
scant snow again in the trees and then more and more snow
that gets deeper the farther you get from the valley.
Its absolutely the weirdest thing ever.
I know that the pass from that valley through the mountains
is the shortest route to the ocean along our coast, but
its still a couple of days horseback ride away.
However, it must still be close enough to have been heavily
influenced by warm coastal air this year.
It must be strange as heck for the folks that live
at Kleena Kleene to leave the little valley to
go to Nimpo Lake or to Tatla and hit snow almost immediately
upon cresting one hill or the other leading out of the
valley. They would go from one season into another within
minutes. Im thinking it would be a great place to
move to because they often have trees in full leaf before
trees on either side of the valley have even budded out
in the spring and they still have glorious fall color
on the aspens when our trees have been stripped bare by
fall winds. But I have also seen the other side
of Kleena Kleene, although admittedly its been a
few years. I often used to travel the 200 miles
to Williams Lake every weekend when I got off of work
to visit my parents and come home on a Sunday to go to
work that afternoon. I might hit one snow squall after
another coming back out but more than once Ive hit
that valley and had to plow through one to two feet of
fresh snow on the ground and try to make a run up the
hill on the other side. The same warm air that often filters
through the mountain pass from the Pacific ocean can also
bring moisture laden air that hits the colder inland air
and dumps on the valley. That also often happens to Tatlayoko
and West Branch Valleys southwest of Tatla Lake. We
might get a skiff of snow and they can easily get two
feet or more in a day. On the upside, they can
grow gardens down in some places in those valleys that
we can only dream of. So I guess you just have to take
the ugly with the good no matter where you live. Its
kind of like us. They have no mosquitoes down that way
and we have more than enough to make up for any shortfall.
Wait a minute
why do I live here? Oh yeah,
its purty here in winter. :-)
In any case, it has been pretty darned cool to drop down
in Kleena Kleene and see bare sun drenched sidehills and
fields. It kind of gives you that little fix you need
to keep you going until spring.
Nimpo lake seems to be in pretty good shape now with regards
to overflow. We had some high winds and melting temperatures
to settle snow on the surface of the lake and cool enough
nights to freeze up a lot of the overflow. Although Andy
brought a snowmobile down the lake this week and hit pretty
bad overflow on the north end of the lake, he said the
Main Arm and our South Arm was really good. I could
see huge ponds of water laying on the ice down at the
North Arm which Andy says are frozen over now but it must
have been pretty messy out there for a while.
Ive noticed in years past that they often have a
lot of water on the snow down there and I dont know
if its because of warm springs under the ice or
its just narrow enough there between the shores
that the ice cracks more.
A skiff of snow on the track Andy made coming home would
make for perfect skiing right now but Im enjoying
walking the dogs so much in the back that I just havent
gotten around to strapping the skies on yet. I have seen
one fellow staying at a neighbours out there a couple
of times as well as the odd person walking, so the surface
must be okay. I havent heard of any spider holes
swallowing anyone up yet, anyway.
Speaking of which
No one is driving across the lake from our boat
ramp over to the Nimpo boat launch yet. At some
point we have to get out there and drill to see if we
can drive over or put a road across. The snow on the lake
was so saturated there for a while that no one wanted
to try it and even the New Years ice party was held
as close to shore as possible this year. Ill have
to check with Oscar to see how his end of the ice is doing.
Ive seen kids and adults playing hockey over on
his rink periodically so presumably, he doesnt have
too much overflow over there.
We had a huge number of spider holes big and small
in the back bay here earlier and we still have
some slush on our shore but it doesnt look as bad
as it was. Building an ice road is just something else
we havent gotten around to doing yet. Its
tax time and I have some web builds to do, there is still
the ongoing kitchen renovation and we need to get some
wood in here pretty quick, so I guess if we get to road
building we get to it. If not
. No biggie. The drive
around by road is nice too and the highways guys have
been doing a terrific job of keeping the main road up
this winter so we dont really need the ice road.
We do have a guy and his wife that like to use
the ice road to fly his model airplane all winter,
mainly because it just gives better access out on the
lake without having to walk in snow. But they used the
launch on our side this past week to fly the plane and
it seemed to work for them, other than its a little
shady in the back bay and so probably much cooler.
Oh, I almost forgot! There is some crazy little bird down
by the bridge where the Dean River exits Nimpo Lake. Hes
been there all winter, or at least we think he has been.
We first noticed him bobbing on the slim line of open
water surrounded by frozen ice a month ago. I got a photo
of him using Andy's little pocket camera but he was too
far away to make out what he is.
Hes brown, so hes not a loon, and to
me he seems to have a long neck so he could be a merganser
or grebe, but Ill have to take my big camera
down to the bridge and see if I can get a better photo
of him. Ive often thought that it would be a good
place for a young loon to go if it cant make it
off the lake before ice up and needed to survive through
the winter. But weve never seen another bird there
before now, and maybe a loon couldnt survive down
there. They need loads of fish and I suppose its
possible that not a lot of fish would be swimming through
there before spawning time. On the other hand, theres
probably lots for one little duck to eat if he can dive
to the bottom and this one certainly dives. He
also stays as far away from the bridge as possible so
maybe a fox or coyote has tried to get him there where
the ice chokes the river down to its narrowest point.
Maybe that explains why we often see a fox hanging around
there. Its darned cool to see that the duck has
survived this long anyway, and I hope he makes it through
the winter. Hell certainly have a jump on the other
birds migrating to the north in the spring if he does!
Last week's blog is at January
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!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!