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 - January, Week 3/2007
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
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of the Day.
Man, I Love Winter!
didn't used to. Like many Canadians, I suffer severely
from S.A.D. Starting in about October when it was obvious
that winter was coming whether I wanted it to or not,
I'd start getting about as grumpy as a bear. Living
in the West Chilcotin, though, has improved that substantially.
Clear skies and lots of sunshine are usually the order
of the day in this region, and just what you need to blow
away the winter blues.
We had fog move in yesterday afternoon, coating everything
with a thick rime of frost. It cleared off last night
so I don't know when we got snow but there was about three
quarters of an inch of fresh fluffy stuff on the deck
this morning. With the sun shining, everything glowing
like a million diamonds and just a few degrees below freezing,
it was the perfect day for a walk!
A pair of moose meandered up and down our driveway
last night, after it started snowing and before
it quit, crossing the drive from lakeshore to lakeshore
several times. Probably the cow and calf pair that have
been hanging around.
Once past our driveway and walking down the road, you
could see all kinds of trails in the deep snow on either
side, of moose wandering around through the snow. I only
came across one set of tracks that were made this morning
after the snow. It looked to be a good sized bull
that crossed the road right where Andy came across the
pair that wouldn't move off the road the other day.
It's probably a well used trail because it goes down off
the point where moose cross from the lake shore there,
to the island, and then on. There may be open water there
too, giving them a fresh water supply.
At one point, Mocha, the black lab, dove off the road
to follow some tracks. She didn't get far because she
landed in a drift of snow well over her head and had a
heck of a time getting back up onto the road again. Nor
was I going to help her. Like any predator, she needed
to get any thought of chasing game out of her little head
because she wouldn't have a hope in that deep snow.
Very near there, River started doing his sideways dance
with nose in the air. He'd caught scent of something
in the woods that was keeping all of his attention for
a few hundred feet. The same thing happened on
the way back by that spot and he too ended up in deep
snow that quickly tamed any interest he might have had
in going farther. I suspect that there were one
or two moose standing off in the trees. They would
be too smart to move and I doubt if me walking along the
road would frighten them. I suppose it's possible that
there might be caribou in there but I haven't seen much
sign right around here.
It's interesting to watch dogs, because even though domesticated,
they're still carnivores with a predatory background.
Their similarity to wolves is still enough that you can
probably judge the wild animals by the behaviour of the
tame. Judging by how quickly the deep snow deterred the
dogs, I can only assume the wolves are having an
awfully tough time getting grits right now. As
long as the snow stays soft and doesn't form a crust on
top, the long legged prey is going to have the advantage.
Moose, for all their ungainly looks, are actually supremely
suited to just these kinds of winter conditions. They
have very long legs, and although it's impossible for
the animal to run, they have a lope that any animal would
be hard put to keep up to. They can step over fences and
through deep snow without it even slowing them down, whereas
a wolf would literally have to bound continuously to make
their way through this snow.
A moose also has remarkable camouflage.
Their legs are often white or grey, especially this time
of year and the front legs are longer than the hind legs.
That seems to cut down on their silouette against the
snow considerably. Their coloring can range from a brown
so dark it looks black, to a light chocolate, often with
white or grey guard hairs in winter. The combination of
colors and just the way their fur lies, means they can
be standing among snowcovered trees looking right at you
and you wouldn't know it unless you knew where to look
and what you were looking for. Hard to believe for
an animal that can stand over seven feet at the shoulder
and weigh over half a ton.
Tendrils of fog have again started moving across Nimpo
Lake making some of the trees hanging out off the shore
look like crooked sentinels drooping at their post. More
frost on the trees tomorrow. I heard a snowmobile crossing
the lake farther out. Hopefully not someone going to supper
on a machine. Once fog moves onto the lake it's
virtually impossible to tell where you are. Even
though you may be able to see the faint blur of house
or lodge lights along the shorelines, there's no way of
knowing who's they are after dark in the mist. That's
the main reason why we leave our red Christmas tree lights
on until March. The tree that carries them sits out on
our point and is a good marker for determining where you
are on the lake. That's provided you can see them through
We're supposed to be getting a wicked storm coming
in from the Pacific again, due to hit tomorrow afternoon
sometime. I'm really looking forward to that!
to the rest of British Columbia, we're doing just fine
I apologize for lack of article yesterday but it's tax
time and I'm sure you can all relate to
that, regardless of what country you're from. I don't
have to have my income tax done but I did have to have
my Provincial Sales Tax from clients done and ready for
mail out tomorrow. Unfortunately, that entails having
most of my income tax done to get the information to proceed
with the PST. Gotta love this time of year and it
ain't because of the terrific snow!
We got a light snow last night with extremely cold temperatures
the night before, but today was warm and balmy and actually
went above freezing.
Alas, the Lower Mainland/Vancouver area and the Okanagan
did not fare so well. What was supposed to have been flurries
for Vancouver turned into a bit of a snowstorm and the
Okanagan got slammed pretty good. Numerous accidents,
especially on the highway, because snow fell on top of
black ice catching unwary drivers completely off guard.
And in Vancouver? After all the wind storms, rainstorms,
and snowstorms, I think they're just plain tired of it
Looks like Europe got nailed pretty hard with nasty weather
as well, mostly in the form of 200kmh winds. The US hasn't
made out very well either with the weather, especially
the southern and southwestern States.
Yes, I know, yet another day went by without an article.
I had to quite writing last night because we had a community
shareholder meeting to go to and arrived back too late
to go on with the above. Today I've been trying to track
the highway conditions for Andy as he makes his way to
Revelstoke. The highway is closed for 20 miles this
side of that community due to avalanche and I've
been waiting for the road report to update before he calls
We received a light dusting of snow again last night but
he says it looks like Williams Lake got about six inches
of the white stuff. The rest of the province has also
been getting more snow and while the roads aren't bad
besides being slippery in most places, apparently
the roads around good old Tatla were atrocious... yet
again. Those guys really need to pick up the pace
Still lots more moose sightings both on Nimpo Lake and
off. Wednesday night Andy was held up from going on to
the Nimpo Hall just down from our driveway. A cow
moose and her calf refused to get off the road
and it took a while before he could convince them to take
the plunge into deep snow. The same thing happened when
he came back toward home a little later, both animals
reluctant to move off the road and into the deeper snow
along the sides. So yesterday Andy took out the
snowmachine and beat a good trail down in the woods to
the rifle range and back again, both to provide me with
a track for skiing or walking, and giving the wildlife
somewhere to hang out besides the road.
A friend down at Wilderness Rim at the other end of the
lake said she's had the cow and calf pair go right up
past the lodge, and the other morning she looked
out to see a huge bull sleeping down in front of the place.
Not only is there less snow down here than at higher elevations,
but the moose are bothered far less by predators such
as wolves, which is probably one of the reasons they're
hanging in so close to human habitation.
Andy said the snow depth in the woods is incredible
and there were several times he said he had to pour snuff
to his machine to keep it from getting stuck. He said
that snow wants to just suck the track down and it's hard
to keep those skis up on top.
Over at the Nimpo Lake General Store today, a couple of
us noticed water dripping from the ceiling and one of
the women said her roof was leaking now too. More
than one person has mentioned that the beams in their
homes have cracked from the snow load. We are
very fortunate to have an extremely steep pitch with a
metal roof on our home, but it was definitely necessary
to shovel off the guest cabin the other day. I'm not sure
how well our storage shed will hold up but it isn't shedding
snow as well as our garage or house.
A lot of people don't realize that although it looks like
there's only a couple of feet of snow on the roof of a
building. But if it hasn't slid, or a poorly insulated
roof has caused melt, there is actually the entire winter's
accumulation up there. And that's a lot of weight!
More troublesome can be the ice buildup along the eaves.
That can start melting and leak back in and down the walls
of a home. There will definitely be some cleanup and repairs
necessary to a few area homes before spring hits.
had to make a run on the highway part way to Anahim Lake
today and saw a cow and calf moose walking along
the road but down in the ditch a bit. I was wearing
dark sunglasses or I would have seen them much sooner.
I wasn't going fast at all so I got stopped down the road
and backed up, all the while looking for them. By this
time they had sneaked off into the trees a little and
it took me a while to spot them. Of course I should be
It was strongly suggested to me before I
went out the door today that I should take the big, new
camera. But no, I figured if I saw something while driving,
I would only have time to whip out the little one. Unfortunately,
it just doesn't have the capabilities of the new one,
so my fine looking moose are just going to look like little
black dots. Even though the cow moose posed patiently
all the while in the trees looking back at me
as I took pictures, her calf tucked safely in behind her.
Later on as I drove back toward home I puttered along
the highway with the windows down, freezing all the while,
camera powered up and in my lap, while I scanned the bush
on either side. Lots of tracks that hadn't been in the
openings earlier in the day, but of course, since I was
now ready for a great photo opportunity, not even
a raven would produce itself.
Hey, I just uploaded that picture of the cow and calf
moose and after bringing it in a bit, it doesn't look
so bad after all. You can kind of see what species they
Last night the temperature dropped quite a bit after having
such a gloriously warm day and today it never got much
above -5C or a little below freezing. It was an off and
on day with both sun and cloud and not unpleasant at all
outside until near dark.
I pulled down another beetle killed pine close to the
house while Andy cut it and we shoveled snow off
the badly buried guest cabin roof before I left for Nimpo.
Andy dropped a couple more trees while I was gone. In
fact he waited until I was gone to practice a wedging
technique that could have been highly dangerous to him
had something gone wrong. Which is why I should be around,
A bunch of young people went by on snowmobiles late
this afternoon after crossing from down the main arm of
Nimpo Lake. It looked like they were working their
machines pretty hard as they want past us. We had to move
our sleds out from under the tree being cut this morning
and as I took my machine out in a circle on the lake I
could feel it bogging as the slushy snow underneath tugged
at it. Andy says the overflow seems to be much worse today
than two days ago. Makes sense. It's warmed up considerably
from our cold snap and if that stuff didn't freeze then,
it's never going to this winter!
Speaking of which, they're talking another cold
snap coming and judging from the way the jet stream
is dipping down, it looks to be quite possible. I guess
Vancouver seems to have survived its predicted snowfall
quite well today. In fact the newscasters pointed out
that sand and salt trucks were right on top of the roads
all night and morning but most surprisingly, people had
slowed down and there were far fewer accidents. I would
say that right there is the primary reason
why. Slow down!!!. Treat winter with the respect it deserves,
be prepared, and you're not skidding around playing an
unintentional game of bumper cars!
Okay, that's my advice for the day. Back to work for me.
Since this is the closest I've been to my computer all
day, it's going to be a long night. Sigh...
Their Turn Again
is expecting to get hit by the 15th storm of the winter
and people down there just don't seem to be very pleased
by the prospect at all. In fact, even the newscasters
kind of have that resigned look. But hey! The
good news is the tire shops
were actually quite busy today down on the Lower Mainland
so maybe, just maybe, some people are starting to figure
out that snow tires really might be a good thing to have
for winter. Really, I know it's a grudge expense, but
lets face it, a full set of snow tires in Vancouver
would probably last you six years! Some years
the region gets very little winter weather, but your vehicle
should have the proper equipment when it does. Slap those
babies on there before a storm hits, and remove them as
soon it looks like your bad weather is over for the year.
At least people down there don't have to worry about having
winter six months out of the year. Trust me, you
wear out snow tires at a much faster rate in the rest
of British Columbia.
I do feel for folks down in the United States, especially
the more southerly states or those that live in places
like California, where winter doesn't happen except up
in the mountains. Vancouverites get winter enough every
year to know better than to not be prepared. But for those
people that have never seen snow or ice, or so rarely
that it's a phenomenon, it's got to be pretty tough to
deal with. In many cases, it must be hard for them to
even buy what they might need to face an unusual winter
storm. I can see regular emergency equipment being readily
available for most people because of other weather related
occurances such as hurricanes, tornados, fire or flood.
But how easy is it going to be to find de-icing
salt in Texas or Georgia or even California? For that
matter, do those states even own plow or salt trucks at
lower elevations? And winter tires are probably
not very common. I know block heaters aren't. In West
Virginia people thought the plug on a cord hanging out
the front of the radiator was for recharging our vehicle.
That was long before electric cars came into being so
we were definitely space age advanced!
Of course you can't just say people in the lower states
don't know much about winter.
They just interviewed a female on television tonight that
was trying to clear a one inch layer of ice off of her
windshield by beating it with her running shoe.
Yeah honey...that's gonna work real good...!!!
She looked so delighted when someone loaned her a windshield
scraper and she saw how effective it was. So question
to myself is...do I actually want to be on the same
road as someone that dense??? That was in Ontario.
They get winter there every year for many months. She
had even less excuse for not being prepared than people
from Vancouver. Oh, and it's not like everyone wasn't
warned that the storm was coming. They actually started
advising people to stay off the road twelve hours before
the storm even hit.
If I seem a little impatient with the city dwellers,
it's because I am. Week after week of watching
people cope inadequately with weather in cities in Canada
starts to get to you. Or maybe it's our newscasters who
also do a lot of complaining, that get to me. They talk
very little about the rest of the Province of British
Columbia, especially places like Stewart or Smithers that
have been buried by storm after storm, dumping several
feet of snow at a time. Power outages throughout
the province, roads closed and numerous accidents. The
Vancouver politicians and media seem to have the same
blinders on regarding the existence of the rest of the
province as Ottawa's politicians and media have about
the existence of the rest of Canada.
Don't get me wrong. Vancouver has had it's share of vicious
weather this fall and winter with high winds and some
snow, where some people have been without power for days
at a time and I sympathize.
But it seems when cold weather hits there are the
endless news stories night after night about the poor,
poor homeless for whom extra emergency shelters
are opened. So far, every single poor homeless person
that I have seen interviewed has been an
able bodied man, with ages varying from early thirties
to early fifties, articulate and without any identifiable
disabilities. One guy said he was on the streets because
that's where he wanted to be. No other reason.
But wait! There are a lot of volunteers out there putting
a lot of effort into sorting donations, preparing hot
meals and serving them, and a warm bed, to these 'poor
homeless' people. There are a whole lot of people in this
country that donate food and clothes to organizations
that hand it out. Yet there are a lot of job openings
for able bodied people right now. In fact there's
a huge manpower shortage, so from my point of view, there
shouldn't be any such thing as homeless people. Certainly
not the type I'm seeing on television.
So BC media, get off the pity schtik that you think
will sell to audiences and start reporting the news.
Or how about reporting on how the hard working farmer
is doing in all that snow with his livestock. Or the poor
logger that has to get up at 1:30 in the morning so he
can get out to the woods in time to get his equipment
warmed up after slogging through snow to
get from his home to his truck, fighting through snow
on bad roads, then slogging through more snow to get to
his equipment, and so on.
Or here's a unique idea! Why don't you just
report on an every day family in central, snowbound British
Columbia and what they have to do to get out their door
to their vehicle, clear their driveway or road, get their
kids to a bus or school, get to work and so on. Or maybe
talk a little more about what's happening with the
icestorm down in the US because I find that of far more
importance than I do people who are on the streets because
they're too lazy to work for a living!
Okay, I'm off my soapbox. Back to our part of the world.
Our weather today was terrific! We were actually above
freezing and a little wind kept gusting up to 15mph every
once in a while. The good thing about that is it's
taking some of that heavy snow off of the tree boughs.
I've been concerned that we would get a melt exactly like
this, a freeze and then more snow. Those branches would
start breaking eventually under the load. Even now, the
branches aren't cleared completely but they're definitely
After that cold snap the wildlife has really started
to move around now. Andy saw a cow moose and very
small (probably late) calf on one side of the highway
on the way to Anahim Lake yesterday, and a humungous bull
on the way back.
This morning he again saw a huge bull moose on our road
out to the highway, while the neighbour said he and his
wife saw a monster bull (probably the same one) walk down
between our place and another very early this morning.
He said the animal was so big that its belly wasn't
anywhere near touching the snow and it was high
stepping along as though there was no snow at all. Now
if I could just get a picture....
I've started a new week so you can find last week's at
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!