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Wilderness Adventures - July, Week 4/2012

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.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.


31/07/2012 7:30 PM

Sneakin' Away

We did a little sneak away for about ten days and didn't get back until this past Friday night.
Much as I love this country, I couldn't wait to go again after coming back the last time what with the mozzies being so bad. It's surprising how much they have improved just in the time we've been gone this round, but unfortunately, they're still bad down in my garden where the firepit is. When I designed my garden it was with a couple of things in mind. I wanted to create a calm area out of the wind off of the lake, and I wanted to raise the plant zone by one point where possible; a warmer microclimate where I could raise slightly less hardy plants. I succeeded in spades and the bugs love it! Conditions are perfect for them. Warm, moist, packed with greenery and no wind. I couldn't have done a finer job in making a home for them than if I had set out to do just that so it's my fault really that I can't go down there and weed or even enjoy my wonderful array of flowers except from afar. As a matter of fact, I just decided to go out and take a couple of pictures of my flowers this fine, sunny morning but decided to move the water hose first. I thought for a moment that, “Geez, with the sun shining down here, maybe I should come out and do some weeding. The bugs don't seem bad at all.” Only seconds later they found me and the cat and I both bolted for the front of the house and our mosquito 'airlock', the porch where we knock the bugs off that come in with us, before bringing them into the house. But at least now you can stand or sit at the back of the house at midday in full sun and visit with company, something not possible just three weeks ago.
I'm about at my wit's end with these buggers. Andy swears they don't seem quite as bad at other people's properties, but most of those are more open to the wind and many don't have an expanse of well watered lawn. Truthfully, when all our beetle killed pines had to come down I would never have replaced them with lawn had I realized how much it would attract mosquitoes. I would have turned it into a gravel parking lot instead! In addition to that, we've actually let the undergrowth on nearly five acres grow unruly over the past few years, mainly because of I like the greenery and and it provides a great degree of privacy.
I had hoped that taking off for a few weeks during the worst of it in summer would have solved the problem of dealing with the bugs but that brings other problems to the fore, not least of which is the looking after of our plants and lawn. We've a jungle of indoor plants that need watering once a week and while my garden is good for a while, even if the lawn isn't watered it becomes a hayfield by the time we get back. After three weeks of being gone in June it took us three days and a combination of weed eaters and lawn mowers at the highest setting to get it knocked down to where we could actually give it a proper mowing. Besides, I love being here in the summer but not when I can't get outside.
To that end, we've decided on a couple of possible solutions. Last year our friends and neighbours purchased a bush whacker, a kind of weed eater on steroids, that they've used to great affect around their place. They named it Freddy Kruger and I have admired it since first seeing it and what it can do. Andy purchased a similar contraption this time out that has already acquired the moniker of Freddy Junior and I look forward to decimating our thickets of wild rose, soapberry, willows and small aspen.
My final solution is to spray. Why not? Cities all across Canada do it to keep down the possible spread of West Nile virus. Sadly, our population is so small that the Government simply won't finance spraying the region, but I can certainly do it locally. It's just that it's a monstrous job to do it by hand carrying a two gallon garden sprayer if not impossible, and probably ineffective. We have an organic pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis that apparently have small bacteria that attack mosquito larvae before they can grow into adults. But you need a thorough application every two weeks wherever there is wet greenery, (pretty much our whole peninsula) and as I noted before, that's impossible to achieve with a little garden sprayer.
So we're going to start looking around for a sprayer that will fit on the ATV. The fourwheeler won't go many places on the property, but it can get close and I have it in mind that if I can get a sprayer with a long hose and wand attachment so that I can walk through the bush and meadow without carrying a tank or pumping it up constantly, I could probably spray the entire property fairly efficiently within a few hours every two weeks. It's just a matter of seeing whether such a long hose and wand exists for that type of sprayer. Because our property is so bushy and irregular at the shoreline, booms won't do any good. It'll have to be a hand wand. That's my next job is to do a little research. Man, I love the Internet for that if nothing else!
In any case, that will be the last ditch effort. If that doesn't work then I see us either doing a lot of travelling in the summer, an expensive proposition at best, or giving up on going outside for two months in summer. I have always made it a point of refusing most computer jobs in the summer but perhaps I should make that my main working time. That would be sad....
Our ten days away was enjoyable, even though we didn't go that far. We visited friends in Ashcroft for an evening and then hied on down to Kelowna to stay with friends and our summertime neighbours there. We had planned on going on to Slocan Lake in the Kootenays but the timing didn't work out for where we had expected to stay. Besides, with all the mudslides down there, I wasn't that keen on the idea of camping there.
But we did take our time coming back from Kelowna by a different route which I thoroughly enjoyed. It's been years since I went the Fraser Canyon route toward Vancouver so when we came over by Spences Bridge, I got to see some really different country. Desert like, but then that's my favorite being and Arizonian and all. There was a pretty little water fall in the rocks and an old church much the worse for wear, and of course, the rivers.
It was pure happiness to be able to sit outside in the Okanagan during the day or evening without being bothered by bugs. Even while sweating while doing some digging down in Kelowna we weren't bothered at all, even though here that would be a dinner bell to all mosquitoes and black flies in the area. Although with all the spraying done in the region for the orchards, I understand that bugs haven't been a problem for many years.
On our way out to Williams Lake two weeks ago we noted how dry it was around Alexis Creek and east and sure enough, we saw two major smokes just outside of town, one at Meldrum and one that ended up being down Chimney Valley way. Apparently we missed one that we drove right by at the Rod and Gun Club and there were others that we couldn't see from town. The one pillar of smoke at Chimney Lake was pretty massive and we could see it for over 30 miles driving south of Williams Lake that evening. I called my sister to see what had been going on and sure enough, they had a severe lightning storm go through the evening before that had caused a number of fires.
Down in Kelowna we saw two major lightning storms go through that might also have started a lot of fires if they hadn't been accompanied by a fair amount of rain that would have put out an oil fire much less a forest fire. We witnessed another wild lightning storm on our way back to Williams Lake but couldn't hear the thunder over the sound of the truck running.
We camped for two days down at the WillIams Lake Stampede ground attending appointments and got nailed with a massive storm there. I spoke before of that violent storm that hit us in Saskatchewan.... well this one was close on its heels for power. Andy had gone to an appointment and because of the heat, the awning was out on the trailer, again when I started hearing thunder rumbling to the south and west. As I counted it came closer until on one huge flash I only got to 'one' and there was the massive crash of thunder accompanied by that tearing zipper sound you get from really close lightning.
I don't know if that was the same one that Andy and his appointment receptionist experienced but she saw the lightning strike down in the Williams Creek Canyon as they sat talking. The heavens had already opened up where I was and the rain came down with hurricane force. I watched the little tree wells for the decorative shrubs fill up with muddy water in moments, while water built up under the trailers around me and presumably under ours where one of the dogs had crawled to get out of the rain. The other paced around discontentedly under the awning unable to lay down on the grass because it was now standing in a couple of inches of water. Finally he lay down on the water soaked mat at the foot of the stairs giving up his comfort as a bad job.
I had my boots and a rain coat ready to go because I was watching the awning carefully. There was a pretty wild wind whipping around out on the grounds but we had parked in between two massive motor coaches that made our laughable little 30 footer look like a pygmy but was I ever glad for it. The wind was moving the awning but not by very much and we discovered later that our neighbour on our south side was also watching our awning carefully prepared to come over and save it if necessary. I probably would have put it up but with the truck gone there was no protected place to put the dogs so I was going to leave it out until the dirty last. As it was, it stood up much better than it had in Saskatchewan.
Water was running everywhere but the storm had passed when Andy finally got back and folks came out of their travel trailers, motorhomes and tents, and stood around talking about the storm, checked for damage and picked up satellite dishes. The power had gone out for several minutes where Andy was and his appointment had been delayed but other than that, the storm didn't do any damage to speak of. It sure soaked the ground, though. I can't imagine that any forest fire still being mopped up survived the downpour and I'm sure the forestry guys working on them were probably grateful for the respite.
We're fortunate in that there have been enough spaced out storms carrying rain that forestry has not put a campfire ban on the Cariboo area yet. We are starting to get much cooler nights now so as long as August doesn't turn into a barn burner, we'll be able to enjoy evening campfires with our friends and neighbours when they come in.
The air has been clear of smoke since we got back and although a little cooler than it was, we're still getting sunny days mixed with cloud. It's been hanging around 20C or a little below 68F and the nights have been very pleasant. Last night it went down to 4C or 39 degrees Fahrenheit. What we need is a couple of good frosts to knock the bugs back and the rest of the summer will be awesome.
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last week's blog at July 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!
Smoke at Meldrum Creek billows out of the trees.
 
 
 
Waterfall in desert rock.
 
Reserve church.
 
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