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Wilderness Adventures - July, Week 2/2009

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 stories like 'Lake Monsters' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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31/07/2009 9:02 PM

All Day Boomers

We had one heck of a series of thunderstorms here today. They started around lunch time and I think I heard the last boomer at around eight this evening. It's probably one of the longest lasting storms I've ever experienced.
Thunderheads started forming early today and by noon we started hearing the rumble of far off thunder. There was a lot of smoke in the air and the massive, black bottoms of huge storm cells, so making out all of the columns of smoke surrounding us wasn't as easy as it should have been. The exception was the Heckman Pass fire which still had a backdrop of blue sky this morning. Still, before the smoke and cloud got too bad this morning, I could see what I presumed to be the Dusty Lake smoke or one of several in that direction, the Itcha fire in the Corkscrew Basin, the new smoke to the west of that, (possibly around Poison Lake north of Anahim Lake) and the Junker Lake fire was billowing up to a pretty mighty elevation. The Charlotte smoke can't be seen from our place now so I have no idea what it looked like this morning but there's probably not a lot left there. Fire crews hit that one pretty hard yesterday and I think they may have overnighted on it as well.
New fire reports started coming in early today, rather than around supper time when thunderstorms usually get going, so air and ground crews were going steadily all day.
It was probably around one this afternoon when a big storm cell moved in from the east and started really rumbling, with it getting blacker and blacker as the bottom of the thunderhead slid over us. But a south wind came up and the storm started moving northward, grumbling the whole time. I figured the Itcha and Ilgatchuz Ranges were getting nailed pretty badly from the sounds of it and I know several new smoke reports came out of it. At the same time there was a large system sliding from north to south to the west of us over Anahim Lake and not only was it setting up a ruckus, but those clouds completely obscured the Heckman Pass smoke column. Then the wind changed.
I can just imagine what that was like for crews out on various fires. Your wind that is normally coming out of a dependable southwesterly direction has suddenly switched and is coming out of the opposite direction. Not so good if you're on the wrong side of a fire. I figured that the huge storm that I had been watching and listening to for at least an hour was going to be pretty much gone for us when that wind turned and I thought, "Oops, that sucker is going to come right back on us!" And boy, did it ever. By this time there was a big storm cell to the south of us over the mountains that was booming constantly, and then the huge system to the west of us was suddenly very, very close. By four thirty this afternoon we were on the front deck sitting under the overhang listening to thunder crash and bang all around us as well as overhead. The air was so thick that we didn't see a lot of lightning, but we saw enough of it, especially zinging from cloud to cloud, and a few flashes overhead lit things up a bit.
I have no idea how many fires may have been started and I doubt if the Cariboo Fire Center knows either. I think that most of the air crews were trying to avoid those uncertain storm cells once they got really big and you can't blame them for that. I know a few smokes were reported in after those last boomers but with visibility being what it is, I don't know that the lookout, ground crews or air crews will see much before morning.
I know that earlier this afternoon after that one storm moved through to the north and before it turned back on us, I could see not just what I think is the Dusty Lake fire but two more columns, one on either side of it, but much farther away and much bigger from the looks of it. All three smokes disappeared behind the low cloud shortly after. I think that it's probably a good thing that there has been such huge thunderheads for the past day and a half, and smoke in the air obscuring all the smoke columns surrounding us. If it ever cleared off and you could see what was actually out there I expect more than one person out here would be a bit shaky.
I think that the region east of us from Alexis Creek to Puntzi got nailed pretty good by lightning today. There were several smoke reports coming in for that area by this afternoon, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the Nazko Blackwater area got a lot of strikes. Although since this storm turned back on itself, it may not have gotten that far north and east.
We smelled smoke from the Charlotte Lake fire yesterday for a little while but otherwise, it's been good until tonight. We had a bit of a rain with the last thunderstorm of the evening and we're figuring it brought some of the smoke from the upper levels down to ground level. At least I hope that's the case. Otherwise we have a fire out there some where that won't be reported until tomorrow when it lightens up. But since there's somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15 or more fires surrounding our three communities of Anahim, Nimpo, and Charlotte Lake, it's more likely to just be all the smoke from those fires coming down with the rain.
For those of you that want to check out some of the fires in the area, I think I've given this link before to the Forestry website at Fire Stats ,unfortunately, they never seem to list many of the fires that have been assigned fire numbers, even if they've been fighting those fires for several days. I'm not sure why. But some of them are listed, anyway.
I was flabbergasted to hear about the Blackcomb fire this morning. Forestry personnel finally admits that it turned out the fire was only 30 hectares, not 75, it's not a rank 4 but a 2, considered a creeping ground fire that hasn't grown since yesterday, and is on the other side of the mountain from any structures. But the media just had to be up there this morning doing the news from Blackcomb mountain and making a real story out of it. What's really sad is that there were numerous air tankers and helicopters on it yesterday with two heavy engine rotary helicopters and a 72 person ground crew on it today. I would be very surprised if we had 72 people in total on all the fires in the Chilcotin. I'm forced to wonder over and over what the city people on the Lower Mainland would do if there was actually a real, natural disaster.

30/07/2009 8:48 PM

Forest Fires All Around Us - Nimpo & Anahim Lake

And then it gets dark.
Our Itcha fire has grown to 400 hectares or 1000 acres. We took a look at it from Two Mile yesterday where you could see the base of it. I took some great pictures of a tanker dropping retardant on it but unfortunately my zoom lens focused on the treeline on the hillside below the fire. I was really disappointed when I got home to find that all I ended up with was a red and white blur. That fire has definitely grown wider and looks like it's dropped out of the alpine and down into a valley and is slowly moving toward Anahim. But it's still probably 20 miles away. Or it was yesterday.
Today we woke up to cloud and I figured we were going to get a little break from the sun and heat for a change. The grey cleared out for a little while only to be replaced by some big, hairy thunderheads by very early in the afternoon. Even though we saw few lightning bolts, it didn't take long to start seeing smoke and the fire reports to start coming in.
One of the first was near Charlotte Lake and they got copters bucketing on that right away. Almost immediately, one was reported in Heckman Pass at the top of the Bella Coola Hill on East Branch near the parking lot. That's the jumping off point for snowmobilers and skiers in winter, and hiking in summer. There's also an outfitter that takes trailriders up into the Rainbow Range behind that area. When reported, the fire was estimated to already be at 75 acres and between rank four and rank five. CFC threw a lot of resources at it right off the bat, probably because it threatened a ski hill and cabin up there. They had four air tankers on it initially and then I think they sent three back for another round after the first drop and diverted one to another fire. They put ground crew in there as well but I think it might have gotten a little hot for them tonight. They did choose to close Highway 20 west to Bella Coola at Anahim Lake and presumably on the other end, so there must be some danger of the fire crossing the highway.
When I was up at Nimpo this afternoon you could see the Charlotte Lake smoke and a great big black pillar to the right of it that I figured had to be the Heckman Pass fire. But when Andy and I went back up this evening, it was pretty much impossible to tell because there was a new, huge smoke that you could see through the Goat Pass notch. There's a pretty vigourous fire that started near Junker Lake (very near the Lonesome Lake Fire) this afternoon but there may be another on the Turner Lake Chain as well. The forestry guys were trying to track down campers and anyone canoeing the Turner Lake Chain to get them out of there. I think that's the fire we were looking at. Kappan lookout called in a smoke around Trumpeter Mountain but couldn't give coordinates because of all the smoke. So I don't know if that was a separate fire or if she was seeing the smoke from the fires on the Turner Lake Chain.
All the fires so far were south of us, west of us, and the Itcha fire was north of us, but it got worse.
We were sitting and eating supper when I happened to glance out the door to the east and saw a huge column of black smoke peaking into a pretty good cloud and thinking.... I don't remember that being reported! It may well have been though because there were three fires off in that direction, two reported prior to my seeing it, and one after. I just thought they would be too far away for the smoke to look that close. I stepped outside after supper and to the north well west of the Itcha fire, there was a big column of black smoke barely discernable through the smoke from the old fire. I'm thinking, hey! I'm almost positive that one wasn't called in! Sure enough, a few minutes later it was reported by a plane on its way to another fire. Finally, tonight just before dark, either a bird dog or helicopter reported yet another fire up on the Dusty Lake Road. It's not very big so far but I don't know that they'll get anyone on it tonight. Right now they have a lot of guys going in by ground to the Charlotte Lake fire so that's the one they seem to be concentrating on, even though Dusty Lake Road is about the same distance from us.
There were many fires reported that we didn't hear another thing about. There was a fire reported for Tizzy Lake. Near the Home Ranch, that's where Pan Phillips' Fishing Camp is located and where Pan's son and wife operate a resort. Certainly that would have been an interface fire and attended to immediately. Or was it that one of Robbie's guests start a campfire without being aware that there's a burning ban on? There seems also to be something happening up near Eliguk Lake but haven't heard much about that either.
To give them full credit, Cariboo Fire Center has certainly been throwing a lot of resources on fires in this area but they've got to be spread pretty thin. Fires have started elsewhere in the Chilcotin including west of Chilko Lake and one at Henry's Crossing that involved buildings, not to mention fires that will have started elsewhere in their region.
According to the radar map, there was quite a bloom of thunder cells along the Coast Range and southern interior. It looks like we got caught in the northernmost cells. However, Blackcombe down at Whistler got caught in it too. A lightning strike touched off a 185 acre fire up in the mountains. I'm not sure who hit the panic button but it was pretty laughable. Maybe they're just bored down there but you wouldn't believe the tankers and helicopters they had on that fire ASAP. The news media were dramatizing the whole thing so much it was sickening. How everyone on the mountain had to be evacuated and they didn't know if everyone made it out safely. Give me a break! We're surrounded on all sides by at least seven to ten fires ranging from an acre to a 1000 acres in size and from 5 to 30 miles from Nimpo, Charlotte, or Anahim Lake. And no one has bothered to put us on the media with a 'Late, Breaking News!' tagline and a special reporter.
Oh yeah, I forgot. The Chilcotin doesn't exist. Not a big enough voter base.
I can only assume that the premier is determined to keep the forests green and pristine for his precious Olympics and will throw non-stop money at resources to do just that.
The helicopters and tankers working locally have all been grounded now. There's still a few ground crews out there on some fires but most will come in for the night. I guess we'll see in the morning what the skies look like.
By this evening, the sky was so full of smoke in all directions that you really couldn't define any one fire anymore. We also had a buildup of big, black clouds on every horizon that also helped to obscure smoke and sounded off with quite a bit of thunder. Which probably means more fire reports tomorrow. We got a few big, fat raindrops around nine tonight while the temperature still stood at a balmy 80 degrees. It got to 30C or 86F in the shade today, even with cloud cover but while it felt pretty humid today, it wasn't as bad as yesterday morning's 57% humidity.
I think we'll see a bit of a cool down pretty soon here and the weather forecasters seem to be backing that up. While the sunshine is supposed to hold until the middle of next week at least, temperatures will drop a couple of degrees. I'm not sure the hot weather will even hold out that long, for us anyway. I think we'll see it break before that.
A lot of all time temperature records on the Lower Mainland and along the coast clear to Terrace fell in the last couple of days. Even Bella Coola was an outrageous 42C or 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Can you believe that? It's a coastal jungle down there. I can't imagine those kind of temperatures in that valley. In any case, I just don't think these temperatures can be sustained for much longer without those high pressure systems breaking down. Already today our wind kept switching and was trying to come out of the south rather than out of the east and north as it has been.
Just a quick note. Charlotte Lake Days are being put on by the Charlotte Lake residents this weekend. Fishing derby on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday is trap shooting at the range, potluck and a pig roast at 6 p.m. on the beach. $5 per person for the meal. Bring your dish, refreshments and chair--utensils and coffee will be provided. Since it's a potluck, bring a little something to contribute ladies. Monday is the horse shoe tournament. Be there or be square! The only phone number I have off hand if you need more information is 250-742-3742 or you can call me at 250-742-3724 and I can email interested parties a copy of the poster.

28/07/2009 7:31 PM

Heat and Fires

Our little heat wave has once again resulted in fires.
We had thunderheads forming in the heat pretty early today, especially over the Itcha Illgatchuz Ranges. A fire was reported this afternoon about 30 miles to the north of us this side of Itcha Lake. You could see the smoke plume from our place very easily and from several other different directions. A camper told Logan down at Nimpo Lake Resort about the smoke so he took a quick boo up in his plane, took some pictures and note of landmarks, and has given me kind permission to reprint the photos here. I think Floyd may also have gone up in his plane because we called over to their place up on Morrison Meadow Road just to let them know there was a fire up behind them.
Several other fires have started in the Chilcotin including a couple down Tatla way. There must be a big fire somewhere around here because a tanker was set to do a drop on the Itcha fire (listed as the Corkscrew Basin Fire on the Forestry website) but it was diverted to what was listed as a 'higher priority fire'. However, I have no idea where that was.
I did get a phone call this afternoon from a neighbour that told me there was a fire in the Park, (presumably Tweedsmuir) but no one was allowed to fight it, as is the Park's rule. That rule is what burned out John Edwards and caused the Lonesome Lake Fire to blow up from a little lightning strike into a massive 15 million dollar fire. However, I don't have verification on a fire in the park yet so until I do.... It also depends on where it is. If it's up in the isolated part of North Tweedsmuir, or west of the Lonesome Lake burn, it isn't going to hurt much. A large fire is probably the best thing that could happen to Tweedsmuir Park because it's so full of beetle kill now, and when it does go up, it's gonna go up fast.
We got a phone call from the store owners this evening who were visiting across the lake, and Leah was a little concerned at the smoke she was seeing in the Itchas to the north. Andy told her that it was probably okay for now since they had been bucketing with helicopters all afternoon, it was near alpine at 5600 feet, and Logan said there was a lot of wet meadows and creeks between us and the fire. Besides, 30 miles is a long way for a fire to travel. But we decided to go out in the boat and see what she was seeing. It's definitely more impressive looking from the middle of the lake.
A little wind has sprung up from the east and it has moved the fire, or at least the line of smoke, quite a bit farther west from where we were viewing it this afternoon. There's also quite a thunderhead billowing up at the top of the column of smoke and I expect even if the fire is still at only 100 acres as reported this afternoon, it's creating its own weather now.
I sure hope it doesn't decide to go anywhere overnight because the helicopters have quit and gone home for the night. I don't think there are any ground crews in there right now. I know when first reported they said it was too hot to put a ground crew in before bucketing commenced. Since it's pretty isolated country, and there is no access except by helicopter, I don't imagine the Cariboo Fire Center would leave a crew in without a helicopter there and available to pull them out if the fire turned, but I could be wrong.
There are several large fire crews posted to this area right now because I know some of the resorts are full to overflowing with them. I don't know if that's because there are so many little fires to be mopped up in the area, or if CFC is expecting this to be a hot spot. It doesn't matter which. Everyone in our two communities just appreciates having these guys here in case we get some more boomers.
We hit over 30 C or 86F in the shade today. We actually got quite a dose of shade because of the thunderheads that moved in and that helped to cool things slightly. However, it was over 90F in the shade up on Morrison Meadow Road and over at the neighbours' early in the afternoon. Who knows how hot it got in the sun today. I try not to look at that thermometer.
The weather forecasters are predicting that the heat will continue through next Monday now, with a slight cooling trend. Slight meaning between one and four degrees, but as one forecaster said, when it's that hot, that isn't a lot of difference. I guess the humidity has been atrocious down on the Lower Mainland so they're really suffering in the heat, especially with the really poor air quality.
We've been really fortunate. Up until this morning our air has been just about as clear as I've ever seen it in summer. It's been wonderful, but the smoke from fires elsewhere in BC, (or our own fires) has definitely changed our air quality. While you could see the mountains to the south, they were pretty hazy and by tomorrow, we may not be able to see them at all. That Itcha fire has already put a lot of smoke on our horizon from east to west.
Floyd Vaughan took some great pictures for me when he flew up to Pan Phillips fishing camp yesterday. He knew I was looking for pictures of the Home Ranch because I had none, but I'll wait for a day or two to post them. Right now I want to post fire pictures, particularly those that Logan took today. The picture on the top right was taken from the middle of the lake four hours after Logan took his pics from the plane. The smoke plume rises above Tweedsmuir Air Charter Service across the bay from us. Don't forget, rolling over an image with your mouse gives a photo credit, and short explanation for each photo.

26/07/2009 7:44 PM

The Redneck Fix

As it continues to heat up, we were forced to come up with a fix for our front windows. We have friends at Charlotte Lake that were kind enough to get us contact information for a business that builds specialty vertical blinds for odd window sizes. Our friends have angle cut windows above regular windows on their front wall just as we do, and solved the light and sun problem with very unique custom blinds. However, Mr. and Mrs. Organization here (yep, that would be us) never got around to measuring the windows in our house and ordering the window coverings, even though we've been half blinded by sun throughout the winter ever since knocking down our beetle killed trees. We're paying for it now.
Yesterday Andy decided we were going to cover them up, even if it meant hanging off a ladder 20 feet in the air. It was getting so hot and we were in such a hurry to get those windows covered up that we didn't worry too much about style. We just grabbed whatever oversized sheets we had and Andy draped them over the windows and tacked them in place. Since three of the sheets have different floral patterns and are different colors, and one is a study in abstract smears, it looks like a regular hillbilly mansion when you first enter our home now. Heaven knows what it looks like from the lake. But it's reduced the heat in here by several degrees so I don't actually care what it looks like. However, I'm thinking we easily qualify as a home improvement project on Home and Garden television.
Debbie Travis does Nimpo mabye.
It's been ranging around 29C or 84F in the shade for the last two afternoons at its warmest which seems kind of strange, because everyone else, especially up in Nimpo, is reporting higher temperatures. I took a thermometer over to the neighbours' place that sits above the lake and placed it in the shade today to see what it said, but kept forgetting to check it after that. We sit right down on the lake with water on three sides, with a lot of trees, bushes and lawn on the property, all of which is kept well watered. I've mentioned before that we are at least five degrees colder in spring and a couple of degrees cooler in summer than anyone up away from the water because of the lake effect, just as we're warmer in late fall. I can only assume that's the reason that our thermometers aren't reading as high as everyone else's.
We had thunderstorms start up yesterday afternoon with lightning that started a lot of fires locally as well as farther east toward Chilko. The CIFAC crews must have done a good job on them because I didn't see anything for smoke today. To give them credit, Cariboo Fire Center is not wasting any time getting on top of any smoke spotted, with fast response by IA crews, helicopters bucketing, and even bombers. I hope they continue in that vein because while we had no storm activity today, tomorrow is supposed to be a different matter, but I figure as long as we have our lookout and they continue to send out air patrols, we should be all right.
The Lower Mainland, Okanagan and the Kootenays, essentially the entire lower half of the province, experienced some real boomers yesterday evening. While we had some thunder cells that bloomed in the east and north yesterday evening, they were moving fast. The resulting lightning created a lot of fires but it moved out pretty quickly. That is definitely not what happened to southern BC.
The lightning storm lasted for hours in Vancouver while the Okanagan experienced heavy rain and hail, and the Kootenays got nailed with golf ball sized hail. There were power outages in several regions and footage by amateur photographers showed power transformers being knocked out. All in all, more reminiscent of vicious storms experienced in Tornado Alley down in the States, than what you would expect to see in mild mannered Vancouver.
Weather forecasters are now saying that this heat will last through Sunday a week from now. If it does, it will be the longest sustained heat wave in BC since record keeping started in the 1880's. The first such occurrence was in 1928. The second was in 1981 and I remember that one well. The hot weather started in May and by July there was no one on the streets. I would walk to a home several blocks away from a job downtown every afternoon, barely able to breathe in the stifling heat radiated off of cement sidewalks and paved streets. I would go to a house owned by friends with a heavily shaded backyard and a huge three foot deep kiddy's pool. Every day there would be between 25 and 30 people sitting in lawn chairs around the pool with their feet in the water and drink in hand. Fortunately, space was always made for me because I provided most of the meals prepared and frozen in the middle of winter because it was too hot to cook in a trailer in the summer. With temperatures ranging around 105 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade at supper time, you stayed there until it was bearable enough to drive home. In my case, that was a hot, stuffy trailer in a trailer court up on the hill so I usually delayed going home until after dark.
The last incidence of a heat wave lasting more than three days was in August of 2004, and that was the year of the Lonesome Lake Fire. So it looks like this could be a record breaker of a year. Lets just hope it's not a record breaker with forest fires. Still, we're a lot better off than those poor folks down in Texas that are in the middle of a bad, bad drought. At least here we can wade into the lake to cool off between chores and we've lots of water. Sometimes a person just has to sit down and count their blessings.

24/07/2009 10:39 PM

Heating Up

Our temperatures continue to rise and the news isn't good. For a change, the idiot that normally does the weather on the one news station appears to be gone for the week, and the one forecaster that I really like has taken his place. He's an actual meteorologist and is more concerned with giving accurate weather than with trying to be a 'TV personality'. He also gives a full four day forecast for each region instead of only a one day forecast as the other moron does. Apparently the latter thinks that by doing only one day at a time, everyone will be forced to come back and watch him every day, so I prefer to wait until the weekend. But this week, we're actually getting a forecast for weather up to and including next Tuesday and my favorite dude says the weather we have now will continue right through.
From the looks of it, all of BC will be baking under sun and high temperatures that continue to rise for the next week at least and and Environment Canada is advising that this is a heat wave. This does not bode well for the Forestry Protection Branch in BC. A ban went on open burning, including campfires, today. While that may help somewhat, I suspect lightning is going to be a factor over this next week in some parts of the province. And when the Fire Centers are putting out advisories about volatile conditions in the forest and escape routes for firefighters being the number one priority, you know things aren't good.
Our fire hoses came out tonight and we'll start up the pump tomorrow to start wetting down the underbrush and trees on our property. We figure we're also going to have to use it to wet down the tin roof on our house because this place is really heating up. Often when it's hot during the day we can count on it cooling down at night enough to cool down the interior of the house and that's what has happened for the last couple of nights. But I don't think that's going to be the case from here on in. It's nearly midnight and the temperature is still over 20C or nearly 70F so it won't cool down that much more. That jump starts the heating up in the morning when the sun comes up, especially since our daily temperatures are rising. We were up to 27C or 80F in the shade today and it was not pleasant. None of us are used to these kind of temperatures, especially if they're going to be prolonged.
After watching the weather forecast tonight, I started taking steps to close up the house in a manner I never expected in this country. I taped aluminum foil on a bunch of west facing windows because they really heat up in the evening, the one time you don't want heat coming in the house. I can remember when I was on the farm in Saskatchewan, once the hottest part of summer came along, you closed everything up. Heat reflecting, close fitting, metal blinds on all the windows were closed from dawn until dark. Then all the windows were opened up through the night to let in as much cool air as possible until morning. When I lived in the city a couple of years later, I was stuck in an airless, south facing apartment with no air conditioning. That was pretty miserable in the summer, even with foil on the bedroom windows. Eventually it would get so hot I could only sleep under a wet bath towel with a fan blowing across the towel, forming my own personal swamp cooler. Of course part way through the night you would either wake up with a deadly chill, or a dry towel. I half expected to come down with pneumonia, but never did. I don't know about anyone else, but I can live with the heat if I can sleep in a cool bedroom at night. When I can't, I get grouchy. Which is why I'm trying to convince Andy that we need to cover up four large angle cut windows high up on the prow front that are letting in a lot of sun. However, so far, I suspect the hassle of doing so still outweighs the consequences of not doing it.
I know there's a lot of people out there who read this blog, including my brother down in hot, humid, Florida, that are laughing into their open toed sandals right now, but we're not used to this kind of weather. First of all, the mode of dress may have a huge influence on just how hot one feels. You folks in hot country have sandals and shorts, and short sleeved shirts and blouses, or maybe even sun dresses I expose that much skin here and the mosquitoes are going to pick me up and pack me away. My nod to the heat ends at wearing a T-shirt. I still have to wear jeans and boots, although I'm really seriously considering converting an old pair of jeans into a pair of cutoffs. It's just that with my face in the dirt and constantly watering, I'm in the mosquito's favorite environment, and they were certainly out in force today. So I'm still kind of chicken about exposing that much skin, especially since all that fish belly white might blind the neighbours. In any case, I guess we'll just see what happens over the next few days weather wise. Amazingly enough, our air quality is still excellent with no smoke haze leaking in from any of the fires throughout BC. The mountains have almost no snow left on them, but at least you can see them!
I was struck by how beautiful the view was at one point today standing there hot, grubby, bug bitten and tired. I mentioned to Andy that when the weather gets this hot people usually say, "Lets go to the lake!" Well we are at the lake, and all we do is work our butts off on yard work. There's just something wrong with this picture.

23/07/2009 8:06 PM

The Heat Wave

Hi Everyone. We're back. We decided to take a short little holiday with a drive into Williams Lake Saturday, and then on to Ashcroft to visit Nimpo neighbours with a residence down there as well. We were having a great time enjoying the unique desert-like area, checking out the town and a great little museum. We had intended to stay a couple of days but by Tuesday it had gotten so hot, we were getting concerned for the dogs. We knew that it was supposed to continue to heat up through the week and figured the longer we left it, the more miserable a ride home it would be for them under the canopy in the back of the truck. As it was, we stopped several times on the way home to wet them down and made sure they had lots of water. Still, once we got back to Nimpo I took them straight down to the lake and all three spent a fair amount of time deep in the water to get cooled off.
It was baking hot in Williams Lake Wednesday and we looked forward to getting home because we knew it would be a lot cooler. It's been right around 25C or higher or about 79 to 80 degrees down here on lake level with it a lot warmer up off the water. But that's a lot cooler than the 90 and 100 degree weather places like Ashcroft and the Okanagan have been getting. Central BC around Williams Lake, Prince George and Quesnel are expected to get smoking hot for the next six to ten days, as is the rest of British Columbia. That is definitely going to bring on the forest fires.
Forest fires followed us all the way up from Ashcroft and then we had at least one out here today up on the Dusty Lake road. Andy watched a bomber circle the fire after dropping retardant and a helicopter hanging around. He may just have to take a run up to Kappan to see if our lookout is manned.
Kelowna area in the Okanagan is getting nailed pretty badly with forest fires. They've had three major ones, one of which is way out of control. Evacuees from one fire have been allowed to return home but the Terrace Mountain fire rages on, forcing the evacuation of 2000 people on the west side of Okanagan Lake and another 2000 people on evacuation alert.
I can't quite figure out what these Fire Centers are playing at. It would seem the truth is a hard thing for them to come by. One of our part time neighbours was up hiking on Terrace Mountain last Thursday with a friend. They noticed a pretty good smoke and called it into their regional Fire Center. They said they got a very weird response to their call, (which may be because that fire, if the right one, actually started a few weeks before and had been called 'out' by firefighters.). The media and the listing under Terrace Mountain on the Fire Protection site have been reporting that the fire started on Saturday. BC Forestry Information Officer, Tim Neal, finally admitted today that the fire started Wednesday or Thursday. But as Andy says, he just didn't specify which month. The Terrace Mountain Fire has been nearly doubling in size every day and is at 4000 hectares or nearly 10,000 acres and is expected to continue to grow.
The Kelowna area is definitely getting the short end of the stick with weather. In addition to being very dry and already having several large interface fires, they're expected to get lightning tonight and tomorrow night, so they're bound to have more fire starts.
We're in the center of a high pressure system and as unlikely as it seems in this build up of heat, they're not calling for thunderstorms with lightning for our area so far or any time in the near future. It's true that our skies are pretty clear. We had a bit of a build up of thunderheads this afternoon but they dissipated fairly quickly and it's clear out now. We were both surprised to see how clear our air was on the drive all the way out here yesterday afternoon, and I was even more surprised that it was still clear all day today. After experiencing so much smoke haze from forest fires all over BC off and on this summer, I would have expected us to see some now with so many fires burning throughout the region. Although I don't expect them to remain like this for long, I'll take the clear skies any day..
And finally, the start of a new week. You'll find most of July past at July Week One .

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!
Smoke plume to the west of Nimpo Lake at the top of the Bella Coola Hill.
Smoke plume to the east of Nimpo Lake.
Looking at a smoke plume through Goat Pass notch.
Itcha smoke plume rises above a resort on Nimpo Lake.
Smoke rises above the Itcha Illgatchuz mountain Range.
Smoke and flames from a forest fire as seen from the air.
Fingers of fire burn pine in the Itcha mountains.
A black bear turns away from vehicle.
Blue Nimpo lake and sky in July.
Three horses with a small colt.
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