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 3/2012
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Our Cold Spell Has Broken
The cold spell we've been under for the past week has
It started a slow warm up a day or so ago although it
was still around -16C or 3F but it had stabilized to around
that temperature during the day and just didn't drop much
through the night, so that's always a good sign.
We went for a walk down to the gun range shortly after
1:00 with some faded sun behind haze, no breeze, and a
temperature of -7C or 20F. By the time we got back
little more than an hour later, it was only a degree and
a half below freezing and a 12mph wind had come up, so
it must be a warm one. Although it felt damp to
me when I was just down to the cabin. Our phone has gone
out so I was just checking to see if it had gone off the
hook down there.
It was wonderful to finally go for a long walk again after
a week of being holed up in the house. The other animals
in the woods must have felt the same. We had gotten that
inch of snow I mentioned in the past blog which has set
up perfectly on top of the ice that was everywhere, so
it's reasonably safe walking now. The dogs have been residing
in the garage all week out of the cold so the local fauna
has gotten much braver about coming in close to the house.
The other day there were all kinds of fresh moose
tracks all over our driveway and our neighbours', traipsing
back and forth through the properties, down our boat launch
and out on the lake. There looks to be at least
two and possibly three of them hanging around so the buck
brush in our meadows and along the shore must be looking
good to them.
An otter crossed our driveway on his way from the back
bay to the front bay last night or early this morning
because Andy said his tracks weren't there last night.
He must have still been travelling while we were out walking
because we crossed his tracks on the back trail and again
on the main road on the way back from the gun range a
couple of miles away. Or maybe it was a different one.
We have never figured out why they travel such
long distances overland in winter but they are some travelling
fools. They really seem to enjoy walking or running
and then sliding on their bellies wherever they can. On
the edge of the main road the otter found a particularly
good hill and it looks like he went up and slid down it
at least twice.
Besides the usual fox/coyote tracks there were loads of
rabbit tracks. I couldn't believe how many there were
so obviously they have not been cleaned out in any way,
shape, or form, as I previously thought. There were squirrel
tracks and lots of mice tracks and several different sizes
in between so we had no idea if they were chipmunk, voles,
or what, but the fresh snow was the perfect canvas and
all the tracks were within the past day or today. It
seems obvious that the little animals holed up and hibernated
during that cold weather and then everybody came
out at once when it warmed up. I don't know that I've
seen that many tracks in an entire month of walking before.
But maybe after that cold spell it seemed like spring
to everyone, because that's when you usually see wildlife
moving around most is when it warms up and just before
the snow melts.
We're kind of looking forward to a little warm up
here for the next few days. I think that everyone is.
The weather forecast is all over the place for BC. On
the weather channel the jet stream definitely moves up
toward us, hence the warm up. But there's a lot of garbage
coming in off the Pacific that will certainly bring rain
to the Lower Mainland for most of the week. We just don't
know if it's going to get us in the form of rain or snow
depending on the temperature. It sure looks like it on
the radar maps. On the other hand, it's cleared right
off now after sunset, so we might be in our blue hole
out here in the Chilcotin. At least that means we
might be able to see the Northern Lights tonight
that Canadians are supposed to be able to observe. I hope
so. I've missed my Northern Lights.
Our little cold spell continues. On Monday night my prediction
that it might go to -30C or -22F was wrong. It actually
went to -36C or -32.8F and only warmed up to -26C or nearly
-15F during the day. It might have gotten warmer
but it looked like fine snow was blowing off the Coast
Range and it built up some ice particle clouds which in
did a fine job of filtering the sun, so we didn't get
the benefit of full sunlight throughout the day. Today
was a little better with less haze and you could tell
because our low was -38.2C or -37F last night yet it actually
warmed up to a balmy -23C or -9F today. Not that it stayed
that way for long. The temperature started dropping again
by 2:30 this afternoon so I have no idea what it will
be tonight other than cold.
Tonight is supposed to be the coldest night according
to the weather people, so who knows? It looks
like the southern half of BC gets a warm up by Saturday
but that doesn't look to be the case for us or the rest
of north central BC. This might just be a long cold spell!
At least we dodged the weather bullet that nailed Vancouver,
the Fraser Valley, all of southern BC and Washington State.
Yech, what a mess. Blizzards, whiteout conditions,
slick roads, accidents, semis and other vehicles in ditches
and quite a bit of snow in some places. It's not
often you see snowmobiles and ATV's zipping around on
roads and highways down there but hey, if that's the only
way you can get around.... I feel sorry for police. That
one poor officer on Sumas Prairie attending an accident
going back to his car in a whiteout sure looked miserable.
The tow truck drivers looked pretty happy, though.
The news hour has actually been well worth watching for
the last few days. The newscasters out in the field sure
look cute all bundled up with bright red noses and cheeks
and trying very hard to not shiver while standing in front
of the camera. There was one girl that was definitely
not appropriately dressed for super cold temperatures
and a high wind who couldn't help but shiver while she
gave the weather news for the area she was in.
They're probably all stuck at their desks for most of
the year wishing they could be out in the field more but
I'll bet they all dread being sent out in that kind of
weather to do their reporting.
I have been very selfish at home here doing no more than
grab some wood from under the deck occasionally to stuff
in the wood stove and fireplace while my partner has graciously
braved the chill outside to take the dogs for their walks,
a necessity since they're lounging in the garage the rest
of the time. Other than that wood, I haven't stuck
my head outside the door since Monday nor do I plan to
until it warms up. I was almost tempted today
because it looked so pleasant in the sunshine but the
flags were snapping and Andy said there was a pretty cold
breeze out there.
The last couple of nights ice has built up around some
of our sliding windows. They're really good ones but we've
got the humidifier steaming away and when you get that
warm, warm air in the house hitting the frigid air on
the other side of that glass, there's not a lot that you
can do about it. At least they're vinyl and not wood so
we don't have to worry about the melting ice wetting wood.
You can tell when it's really dropping outside at
night because the wood in the house starts snapping and
creaking. You don't have to look at the thermometer
to know that suddenly, the air has reached that point
in cold that wood doesn't like. We may not have been cold
enough but I expect there was still the odd tree out in
the woods that was cracking. 40 to 50 below is when that's
really prevalent. You can stand outside and listen to
trees going off like gunshots. I haven't heard that in
a while. What we did hear was the lake last night. We
have fans going in the house to distribute the heat to
all the rooms so it's a bit noisy in here, but even over
that I could hear the booming of the lake. I asked
Andy if that's what it was when he came back from a late
night walk with the dogs and he said it was just crashing
and banging out there. I wouldn't normally have
expected that with temperatures not warming up to zero
during the day, but still, there was some sun and a ten
degree difference between yesterday's night and day temperature
so that could easily have been enough to get the lake
rocking and rolling. That ice will be just shrinking up
like crazy and I'll bet you could find some pretty big
cracks crossing the ice out here now. Imagine ice cubes
in your drink and the sound they make when they first
go in the glass and the little cracks that suddenly split
them, then increase that in size a thousand fold
and you've got our lake with sounds varying from subsonic
booms to ultrasonic whines and the snap of ice cracking.
We had a pretty sunset tonight although the clouds were
really strange. It's nice to see it light a little bit
later now, although our sun doesn't set nearly as late
as it does in Vancouver, that will change and we'll be
neck and neck by late spring. The extra daylight time
is really noticeable now but then it should be. We're
over a month from the shortest day and it's only 53 days
to when we change our clocks to Daylight Savings Time.
We're in the Deep Freeze Now!
It is chilly on the willy out there, folks!
At present it is -23C or -9.4F and it has only gotten
about one degree warmer than that all day. That was when
the sun chose to poke its head out for about 3.2 seconds
this afternoon. There's been heavy cloud all day with
fine, fine snow sifting down, although it has only accumulated
a little more than an inch. Right now as I look out my
office window I can see a distinct front line moving to
the north and right on the edge of it is a Sun Dog that
has been there for about 20 minutes now. I've got a picture
up on the right but like sunsets, photos never show how
pretty the real thing is. I suppose you might call it
a rainbow since it's refraction after all, but it's pretty
neat. It must be just the way the sun is hitting the cloud
along the front line as it goes down. In any case, it
looks like it's going to try to clear off just in time
for nightfall, which means the temperature could
easily hit -30C or -22F tonight. Oh, there you
go. It has already dropped another degree since I started
As my other half pointed out just a few minutes ago, that's
really not all that cold by the old Fahrenheit scale,
and it wouldn't be if we didn't also have a windchill
to factor in. Just a little 5 mile an hour wind
can really suck the heat away and drops -24C to -31C immediately.
We're not getting high winds, just little breezes, but
they can be deadly for people or animals not protected
from it. When it gets that cold, I don't go walking in
the back woods, but Andy does take the dogs for short
walks quite a bit because we take them off their lines
when it's this cold and they get to go into the garage,
which makes them very, very happy. We used to put them
in the porch but after only a few days they start shedding
like crazy which is not good when they have to go back
outside. We discovered that in this weather the garage
still stays around freezing or just below, which is much
better for them and their coats. That doesn't stop them
from bounding back from their walk and huddling around
the porch door in the hopes that they get to come into
the house, of course. That doesn't happen anymore, but
they keep hoping.
The weather guys are calling for -40 with the windchill
in the central interior tonight (that's us) and
as you all probably know, -40C and 40 below Fahrenheit
are one and the same no matter what temperature system
you use. That's cold in anyone's book! It's supposed to
be -45C with the windchill in the Peace country tonight
and there are Arctic Outflow warnings for the Central
Coast of BC which means Bella Coola will be nasty
with a wind and the damp from the ocean.
It has been cooling down for a couple of days now and
since the weather people were calling for this last week
to really hit by today, we got a bunch of wood in under
the deck and started a fire in the upstairs fireplace
yesterday, so it's nice and cozy in here. I don't even
have to go outside this week if I don't want to except
to grab firewood just outside the basement door. I miss
my walks but on the other hand, a person can get a lot
done inside the house when you aren't lured outside by
sunshine. I can't do much computer work because of my
back but I can cook!
I don't think anyone really even minds this weather.
Well actually that's not true. My sister in town sounded
a little bitter on the phone last night but that could
be because she and her husband forgot to dig up their
carrots over the weekend so they'll have to hope they're
well insulated and the cold doesn't drive down into the
ground. But for the most part, out here we all recognize
that we've dodged the winter bullet for the past three
months so we're kind of due to get whacked. At least we're
not alone for a change. The whole province is getting
snow and cold and misery loves company. :-) The
Lower Mainland has actually gotten a lot more snow in
the past couple of days than we have. They even closed
schools down there today. For that matter, even Williams
Lake got a lot more snow than we've seen, but there's
supposed to be a major weather event on Wednesday. Not
only are temperatures supposed to be extreme for everyone
north of Vancouver, there's a huge system coming in carrying
a lot of moisture and it's expected to hit this arctic
front head on. I don't know if it will be far enough north
to get us but the Lower Mainland is bracing for a lot
of snow. That's okay with me. Watching bumper cars
on the television gives us great joy, especially when
close up shots show that most of the people skidding all
over the road have summer tires or bare All Seasons on
their vehicles. Am I mean? Well, I suppose.....
The same system that brought snow to the Fraser Valley
also nailed Washington State and even Oregon and this
arctic system has also pushed into the Prairies across
Canada, so I guess everyone gets to share Canada's weather.
But just think, we only have three more months of winter
at most! I'm pretty excited about that, although a top
long range forecaster just predicted that the next few
months were going to be very cold and snowy.
The lake has been rocking and rolling for days now,
especially at night. The sun shining on it during
the day and then big temperature drops means it's really
wild throughout the evening. It was growling and thumping
all night last night and you could hear it throughout
the house, even though it's well insulated. It grumbled
a tiny bit today but not much and I'm not hearing anything
tonight. That's probably the first time in weeks but it
didn't warm up today, we didn't have sun and now there's
a bit of an insulating layer of snow on the ice. I seriously
considered recording the sound last night to post but
then I looked at the temperature and thought, nah......
I don't think so, Tim.
It's 8:00 PM now and the temperature seems to have
stablilized at -26C or almost -15F but I can't see any
stars outside so I wonder if some cloud moved in.
That would explain why the temperature isn't dropping
anymore right now. Although I'm sure it will later on
in the night. Doesn't matter. I can hear the fireplace
crackling out in the living room and it's calling my name.
I'll get some pictures up, post this puppy and go enjoy
the fire. We don't normally start a fire in the fireplace
unless it's really cold or it would roast us out of here,
so this is a rare treat.
Ted Hlokoff sent me some photos of a spectacular sunset
we had the other night so I'll post them up on the right.
is the start of a new week so you'll find last week's
posts 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!