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Wilderness Adventures - July, Week One/2012

This 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 the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just 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.


04/07/2012 4:30 PM

A Newbie's View of the Annual Canoe Race

I know, I know.... I have received many gentle reminders from folks that they are missing the blog posts and what's happening out here. Actually, as it applies to the past month, I really couldn't tell you either. We've been away doing a little visiting in our truck and travel trailer throughout BC, Saskatchewan, and even made a trip into Manitoba.
I had hoped to post a blog about the Annual canoe races before we left but just couldn't manage it. As it was we were busy right up to the moment we left and as a result, managed to forget a few things for the trip.
My sister and her husband were out for the May long weekend and this year, that just happened to be when the canoe races and the fishing derby was. My sister's son had gone in it one year and because of his stories about the adventure, she expressed an interest in seeing them rather than going fishing. It was great fun that Saturday but we missed about the only good weather for fishing because although we went out that evening, it was cold and windy and Sunday was really nasty.
We relaxed on our side of the lake until just before 10:00 when the racers were to get going and I think my my sister and her husband was worried we would miss the start. Nah. Everything around here is on Chilcotin time so we moseyed on over to the public boat ramp at the official start time and it was still over an hour later before the race started.
I had told my sister that they all had to line up and on the gun, the two person teams had to pick up their canoes and run for the water. I don't think she realized quite what that entailed but I know she was impressed with the speed at which the teams ran down the boat ramp trying not to run over each other or the spectators and jumped into the canoes just as they hit the water. I'm pretty sure the two guys in front have been practicing all year because their entry was spot on. Some of the stragglers weren't quite so sleek on the entry but is was impressive none the less.
Everyone hurried back to their vehicles in order to hit the first bridge where you can see the teams on the water where the Dean River first exits Nimpo Lake. The four of us took our time getting back to the two different vehicles as each of us would end up at different spots throughout the day since Andy was one of the radio guys. The boat launch and the road leading up to it were so crowded with vehicles, most belonging to the Natives, that there was no point in being in a hurry. People were turning, backing up and crowding in all different directions, one determined Native lady evening making an RCMP Officer back his cruiser up several lengths to get out of her way. My sister was absolutely hysterical with laughter. “OMG!” She said. “It's a Chilcotin traffic jam! I didn't think any such thing existed out here!” I have to agree, I've never seen one here before either, but then I've always watched the launch from across the lake and taken photos from there.
My truck and Andy's were the last to leave so there was no point in going to the first bridge. Instead, I drove straight to the second bridge on the highway, found a parking spot and good vantage point for my sister and I, and we waited quite some time for the first canoe to arrive.
I had explained to my sister that it was common for onlookers on the bridges to drop beer cans and other refreshments onto the teams paddling under the bridge. Her son had told her the same but after the first team went through she said you had to see it to believe it. She's right about that! I only managed to get a photo of a drop on one team but you'll find it on the
Picture of the Day. The poor point man was covering his head after a two quart Gatorade bottle was dropped to him and he was nearly or actually beaned on the head. Meanwhile, the guy at the back was trying to catch a Budweiser after another had missed the canoe and hit the water instead. You'll see the splash in the photo. Gette couldn't stop laughing and wondered how many people not only got beaned in the race but got their canoes holed. I said, “Can you imagine how dangerous it was in the days of the beer bottle???!!!” Since two teams eventually hit the Morrison meadow bridge with bad leakers, I suppose it more than possible that the falling refreshments can cause some damage.
The highway bridge was crowded with onlookers and we all waited for the next team to appear. Andy was timekeeper at the moment and yelled to Richard our storekeeper in the bow of the second boat, that he was only 1.5 minutes behind. If looks could kill Andy would have been murdered on the spot, which only set my sister off in gales of laughter again.
I think it was the fourth canoe back that we saw zig zagging down the river, pointing first to one bank and then the other, with little Maria in front laughing the whole way. Another girl had talked her into going into the race and then backed out on her. As Maria said, she was quite relieved and so she showed up at the launch dressed for watching and dancing later, not paddling. But it seemed a big tall fellow's partner had also bailed and he was looking for another. The two teamed up with him and his long reach in the back, and tiny Maria in the front trying to keep up to his strong paddle. The result was hilarious and I'm sure quite frustrating for both of them, and probably twice as much work as it should have been since they covered twice as much distance with their style of paddling than anyone else. However, they somehow steered their way under the bridge without hitting the abutment (Although they had to steer themselves off the bank on the Morrison bridge.) and Maria's smile big enough to light up an already sunny day.
Kendra and Tollin brought up the rear at seven entries but without the intention of racing. They just wanted to paddle the river and since Tollin had his radio with him, it turned out to be a real blessing and a real advantage regarding safety before they got to Morrison Meadow. He reported that a couple of teams had gone under at a beaver dam or deadfall but had recovered. He and Kendra had been collecting all the full and still floating bear cans and drink bottles on the water that had missed the racers and thought they were going to be doing pretty well come party time that night, but they too capsized and lost everything. We waited a long time for each team to show up at the Morrison Meadow bridge, a long way down the river and lots of twisting winding water between the highway bridge and this one. We would probably have left then to go fishing but an old Native had walked out through the buck brush to the river below our vantage point and stood there for over an hour. He had a takeout bag of burgers and chips for his grandsons, he said. Probably they had complained the year before of being famished with all the exercise and he had heard them. My sister refused to leave until she got a picture of the man passing off his takeout to the team. “Chilcotin takeout!” She laughed. “I've got to have a photo for proof or no one is going to believe me!” However, after an endless time he gave up and went back to the bridge where eventually his grandsons landed to empty their canoe which was partly full of water from a bad leak. This time they weren't interested in food. Instead they quickly quaffed some beer because they were so thirsty, threw their leaky boat back into the water and on they went, determined to finish.
From the back, Tollin reported that he and Kendra had been following and helping a team who's boat was badly holed and they were having to empty it every few minutes but that he thought that they could make it to the Morrison Meadow bridge. A worried mother repeatedly asked Andy what was being said because both racers on that team were young and one was her 16 year old. He assured her that there was someone behind them keeping an eye out for them and we were in contact with him, much to her relief. The team put in where we and the old gentleman had been located earlier down river from the bridge, pulled their canoe up onto the bank and walked to the bridge, fed up, exhausted and intending to quit, I think. But their family had brought another canoe that was waiting at the bridge for them and they were convinced to not give up. I applaud them. We all did as they left, though there were few people there. Most had gone on to Anahim Lake to the finish line. We already knew that the first team was in or close to it since they had won last year with the best time ever at around two and a half hours but we knew it was going to be hours yet before the rest got in.
My sister and I chose to come home in the hopes of getting in some fishing while the guys ran on into Anahim for a few minutes. She was tickled pink that she got to see this spectacle and impressed with the number of people that showed up at each bridge to watch the racers. While there were only seven teams, which is average, the prize money was apparently pretty good this year at a thousand or more. Not bad wage for a few hours of toil. :-) Of course as I understand it most of the racers end up missing the festivities at the Anahim Lake Hall after because they're usually so tired they go home and go to bed.
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last month's (actually May's since I didn't have any for June) posts at May Week Three
.


Anahim 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!


Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
 
Seven canoes in a pack.
 
People on a bridge.
 
A man and woman paddling down the river.
 
Canoe paddler catching a beer can.
 
Canoe paddler covering his head.
 
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