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Wilderness Adventures - June, Week One/2007

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' - 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.

07/06/2007 8:10 PM

Lucky Thursday

We finally got a dry day today, in Nimpo Lake anyway. The water level sat right on 5 cm this morning so we got two inches of rain over two days. Today turned out to be a really nice one with few clouds in the sky, very cool temps. and a brisk enough wind to help keep the bugs down, although not entirely by any means. We had to go heavy on the bug dope today and a few of the rotten buggers still got me. Even the dogs were begging for their rub down of Repellent.
The ground is well saturated right now but around here, it doesn't take long for the surface to dry out so you usually aren't dealing with mud for too long. As a result, we each managed to accomplish another one or two things on the 'to do' list outside.
The lake level is definitely still going down and although a few 'away' folks are concerned with flooding I can't imagine it being a worry here.
I watched an interesting occurrence at the nesting house today. We haven't been sure whether it's chickadees or tree swallows nesting in it this year because both are hanging around it. Normally, the tree swallows have it and by this time, one of them would be inside nearly all the time, with only its head peaking out on occasion or when the 'sitter' trades places with the 'feeder'. But we noticed early on this year that the chickadees are often in and out of it and I've seen a few arguments between the two species on several occasions. Usually the chickadee is on the offensive teasing the heck out of the tree swallows. But ever since Andy said he can hear little chirps coming from the house, we've noticed that the chickadee seems a lot more possessive than usual. Today, there was a tree swallow hanging onto the front of the house looking in through the little hole for the longest time. Suddenly, the chickadee arrived from somewhere and went after the swallow in a lot more serious manner than usual. You can see the tree swallow up on the right peeking around the side of the nest house where the chickadee has just arrived. There was quite an aerial display and although the tree swallows normally seem the more aggressive of the two types of birds, the swallow was definitely on the short end of the stick this time!
I don't understand why chickadees would nest in the house in the first place (it's built to spec for tree swallows) and I definitely don't understand why the swallows haven't taken over. I wonder if it's because we've had to cut down so many trees and lost so many nests that local chickadees have decided to try out something new. The only other thing we can figure is that both are nesting in there at the same time. I don't know if that's possible or not but I guess if you're a bird, an egg is an egg is an egg.
It looks like the Fraser River is going to come up by three feet less than was previously expected, probably because of the substantially cooler weather. I was watching the weather tonight and the temperatures are way lower than the record high temperatures seen in 1948 for this date. That leaves the Lower Mainland in not too bad a shape. Smithers and Terrace are still flooding, and will continue to do so for some time as the Smithers area still has 70% of the snowpack to melt.
Nothing else new around here so I'm off like a herd of turtles!

06/06/2007 7:42 PM

Raining, And Raining, And Raining

We're not getting hard downpours today, or even a steady drizzle, but it has been dripping all day. The rain gauge has inched up to nearly 4 cm, or 1 and 3/4 cm more but still less rain than we got yesterday. A rain warning for the Chilcotin was issued for today and as usual, the weatherman is a day late and a dollar short. But hey, at least he seems to know where the Chilcotin is! That's a good sign. Some of the rivers to the east of us also feed into the Fraser so eventually the Lower Mainland will get our rain, one way or another.
It's starting to get a little mucky around here as the ground becomes more saturated. The plants are liking the rain though, and I figure we can use it. Not so for the flood areas. It's raining to the north where Smithers and Terrace are being flooded out. Smithers will face flooding for weeks to come because they really got hit with a huge amount of snow last fall and winter.
Sadly, two people were caught in the slide that closed the highway going into Terrace last week. At the time of the huge mudslide, estimated to be the largest to close a highway since the Hope slide in the 60's, authorities had been fairly sure that no one had been caught in it. But on Monday they were informed that two people on holiday were overdue for their return to Williams Lake from Terrace. At the time of the report I looked over at Andy and said, "Man, that is not where I would want to be. Buried under tons of mud wondering how many minutes of oxygen I had left." RCMP took highly sensitive metal detectors to the slide area to try to locate the vehicle. Yesterday they showed it being lifted onto a truck, and thankfully, it was very, very flat. I don't think the couple inside would even have known what hit them.
When you see the slide from the air on a long, lonely stretch of highway that isn't even that busy at the end of May, you have to wonder what the chances are of getting caught in it. You know, there are numerous accidents every day on BC's highways and the huge majority can be attributed to speed, overdriving road conditions, drinking, etc. But to be caught in something like that for no reason at all.....had you overstayed by a few more seconds at a rest area or taken a little longer to eat at the last meal stop... that's just one nasty hit. I really feel for the family of the folks lost.
People to the south are still sandbagging like crazy to protect their homes along the river. Things may not be as bad as previously predicted though. They're saying now that the Fraser River may not hit the flood levels they saw in 1948 and it would seem that with such a good warning system in place, there have been a lot more preparations for flood now than there was then. That, and the really cool temperatures the last few days have slowed the snow melt quite a bit. In fact, the ski hills saw about a foot of fresh snow last night.
Alberta got nailed pretty hard though. A nasty rainstorm quickly and furiously swelled the Bow River that runs through Calgary last night, as well as numerous streams. Hundreds of drivers caught off guard driving home were stranded on flooded highways and streets. Over there flooding seems to occur without warning, much like the flash floods you see in desert areas like Arizona and Nevada. Banff is expecting severe flooding from the Bow when high water reaches their area. It's kind of wet everywhere. Oh well, look at the bright side. Before you know it we'll all be fighting forest fires.
The rain here made it a good day to burn and quite a few people took advantage of it. I noticed smoke from fires in quite a few places and Andy and our neighbour were able to get 11 more beetle killed trees down today and the brush burned. Same with the other neighbour. Burning in this weather is pretty safe and it's nice to be able to take advantage of it. The fewer dry brush piles around when the weather heats up, or standing beetle killed trees, the better.
It's unfortunate that BC Hydro hasn't gotten back on track yet with removing trees next to the power lines in this area. Our power went out Sunday morning for a few hours because of maintenance on the generators, but it's a reminder of what it's going to like around here when those dead trees start blowing over.
Here I thought our sky was lifting a bit and the rain slowing, but I just noticed that it's coming down pretty good again and we're at 4 and 1/4 cm. We might make it to 5 cm overnight and if so, that will put us at 2 inches in two days. That's quite a bit for us.
Oh, I almost forgot. I have to add a correction. I wasn't paying enough attention to Michael's email of yesterday and added an 's' to his last name when crediting him with the photo up on the right and yesterday's picture of the day. I didn't notice the mistake until today. My apologies Mike!

05/06/2007 7:48 PM

Spring Green And Rain

It rained for most of the day in both Nimpo Lake and Anahim today, sometimes a drizzle but more often than not it came pelting down pretty hard. It has amounted to 2 and 1/4 cm or nearly an inch of rain, which is quite a bit for us to get in one day. Personally, I'm really happy to see it. A lot of people were grumbling about the weather and it's true there's still a lot of water around but the surface of the ground was getting really, really crunchy, especially in sunny spots where the mosses and low growing ground cover dry out fast. As far as I'm concerned, a good rain like this buys us another week forest fire free, so I'll take it. Besides, you should see how green everything has gotten. Everything has just popped! I don't know how leaves on trees and shrubs just barely out can suddenly be completely out and full sized in just a couple of days. And now with this rain everything has that fresh, vibrant, spring green look. You know? The color that looks natural in nature but try putting it on a canvas and it looks dorky and phony.
I had to start a fire tonight. It's nearly 10 degrees cooler than it was two days ago and if you're standing outside when that wind kicks up, you feel like you're going backwards into winter rather than into summer. It's downright chilly all over the province, registering 3 to 4 degrees cooler to the south and north while the Central Interior is 7 to 8 degrees below normal temperatures. That's a good thing for slowing the snow melting in the mountains, however, that cold front that's moved in has run right smack dab into considerable moisture coming in from the south. That's bringing some rain to most of the province but there are rainfall warnings for three areas that will be effected by rivers that are already at flood stage.
Terrace, in the northern part of British Columbia, has already been cut off by flooding on one side and the mud slide on the other, so since the highways will be impassible, plans are being made to fly in food and necessities to the city. Smithers has started to evacuate a few homes in low lying areas because the river there is already above the highest levels ever recorded since record keeping began.
The Barriere area north of Kamloops has always been at the mercy of the North Thompson when she floods, and since some fields are already under water, people are moving their animals and belongings to higher ground. At the same time, while some homes in Prince George will be flooded, the Fraser River is only expected to rise another foot and a half before it peaks on Thursday in that region. I think people there are feeling pretty optimistic about what's happening there but things aren't so rosy for the Lower Mainland.
Some residents in Maple Ridge are now on evacuation alert and many are getting their belongings out of their homes or up to a second story, while folks in all low lying areas are sandbagging like crazy around their homes where there is no protection from dikes. It's back to that geography thing. Prince George is on the upper end of the Fraser River. There are a whole lot of swollen streams and rivers, not the least of which is the Thompson River, feeding into the Fraser between Prince George and the Fraser Valley several hundred miles down river. As the guy in Prince said on the news, the worst is probably over for them but it's all weather dependent. I think that's even more the case for the Lower Mainland, perhaps more than people there realize.
The Vancouver area is getting rain now but it's not heavy by any means. However, they're supposed to get really heavy rains over the weekend, just about the same time as the Fraser River crests in their area. That doesn't bode well for people there. Add backed up storm drains from a downpour to flooding from the river and I think their problems could be compounded mightily. I don't envy them their location right now.
I got a note from a fellow down that way today that comes up to the Nimpo area twice a year, and has been for many, many years. He and his friend Joe like to come up BBA, or "Before Bugs and After", as he terms it, for one to two weeks in the spring and three in the fall. Michael states that they love the streams, lakes, river, mountains and especially the nice people they've met through a friend of theirs that lives on Nimpo Lake. Michael especially enjoys horseback riding with Miriam Schilling over at Escott Bay, (You've all enjoyed her pictures that I've showcased on Picture of the Day.) and hopes to explore the mine up at Miner Lake this year. Since he sent a nice picture of he and his friend and one heck of a nice catch of rainbow trout out of Nimpo Lake, he gets to be posted up on the right and on the Picture of the Day.

04/06/2007 7:45 PM

The Water's Still Rising

The Fraser River is still rising and although the weatherman is now saying rains may not be as heavy over the Central Interior as previously expected, no one has dodged the flood bullet yet. Melting snow from the recent hot spell is still bringing the rivers up and although rains may not be as heavy, any rain at all on snow at higher elevations that is right at the melting point will add a lot more water to the river systems.
We had a laugh at the one weatherman's expense tonight. He was saying that there wouldn't be as much rain in the Central Interior as originally thought, so it wouldn't bring up the levels of the Fraser River as much, but the McGregor, McBride and Columbia areas could expect to see very heavy rain. He must think that the Fraser River originates north of Prince George and he obviously doesn't realize that the river actually meanders through those areas southeast of Prince George before passing through the city to turn south again. In fact, imagine that the Fraser forms an arrow shape covering a good area of the province, with the point just north of Prince George. Rains north of Prince George will have more effect on rivers like the Nechako than the Fraser, while rains southeast and south of Prince will effect the Fraser and the North Thompson River, which, as Andy pointed out, eventually flows into the Fraser River. And since the Nechako River is a principal tributary of the Fraser, no matter where it rains it's going to have an effect on the Fraser River whether directly, or by speeding up snow melt. I wonder if I should send a map to the weatherman?
In any case, some areas have already been put on emergency alert and many farmers down in the Fraser Valley near Vancouver are putting their cattle on trucks and moving them out of low lying areas. I'm pleased to see that the Provincial Government is actually picking up the tab for transport and feed for the first time ever and at approximately 10,000 dairy and non dairy cattle to be moved, that's a substantial bill. That's the first time I've seen tax money spent on something worthwhile for quite awhile.
No flood danger for us. The water level in Nimpo Lake continues to drop but was it ever a shock to see the mountains today once the clouds cleared away! Lots of snow has gone off in the last two days and there's more black showing now than white, I think. I don't know what happened there unless it was raining up high last night. It was raining here early this morning but stayed dry the rest of the day.
Driving home from getting the mail at Nimpo today I was struck by how many pine trees are turning color now after the recent heat. At first I was just seeing the odd tree turning yellow/red that the mountain beetle hit last summer, but the more I looked, the more I saw. The hit wasn't nearly as bad as the summer before, though. Not by a long stretch, which is a really good sign. I'm seeing some young trees turn, but thankfully, not all of them.
As I drove past where the motel burned down last fall, I could see a line of tulips in full color sitting on the edge of the hole where the basement used to be. The pretty pastel blooms stood like sad sentinels standing at attention, guarding all that's left of the Country Inn. Combine that with the deathly silence around the old restaurant, and things are pretty quiet in the area.
People have been talking about a resident grizzly that's been bumming around Anahim Lake this spring, but it turns out we've a resident of our own this year. A big Black Bear sow with cubs has been hanging around Nimpo the last few weeks and has been spotted by several people. Andy saw her today and said her head was so big and flat that at first he thought she was a grizzly. Bouncing along behind her were three tiny little black cubs. I would like to have seen that! I may take my camera for a drive tomorrow. Small wonder locals have been cautious about going for a walk to the south lately. A sow and cubs aren't something I would want to come on by surprise. Still though, having her around will liven things up a bit.

03/06/2007 8:04 PM

Broken Records

Temperature records for this time of year were broken throughout the province today, some by 10 degrees. We didn't get too hot today, although I did see it was at 26.9C or about 80 degrees at some point. Our high on the thermometer registered 32C but I think that was last night when the sun came far enough around the side of the house to hit the thermometer directly.
We actually had a lot of mixed cloud and sun today with high winds, which kept the bugs down but the dust up. We still don't have lawn in so everywhere that stumps were dug out is a dust wallow and watering them down isn't much help. Grass would be terrific but we still need to get a line on some manure.
I noticed some evil looking thunderheads building to the east and north of us this afternoon so I expect the Central Interior will be seeing some lightning strikes tomorrow. Just as long as we don't. Fire we don't need.
The Fraser River is still rising rapidly and they're still predicting mid week and weekend cresting from Prince George to the Fraser Valley. Most areas in danger of flooding seem to have their emergency action plans in place and I think everyone is aware they'll be needing to get out their emergency kits and lifejackets. That big low is still tracking in from the Pacific and it's definitely a nasty looking thing. Right now our wind is really warm but it's expected that temperatures will cool considerably over the next few days.
I'm not sure if there's a fire in the area or not but we're seeing a lot of smoke haze over the mountains now. But with the air out here, it could be coming in from several hundred miles away. Or further. I think I mentioned how hazy it was weeks and weeks ago and someone finally mentioned that severe dust storms in China were what was causing it. I suppose that's possible since a lot of our weather comes out of the west but that seems a long ways for dust particles to be carried on the wind.
There were lots of fishing boats out on Nimpo Lake today, even in those high winds that created a lot of chop. I don't know how the fishing was but it was either very good or there's a whole lot of very stubborn people out there.
I'm keeping this short tonight. I was working out in the heat all day which kind of sucks the sap right out of you, and I still need to get work done on the computer tonight. Hope you all had a great weekend!

02/06/2007 7:58 PM

Blistering Weather

Blistering hot for us in Nimpo Lake, anyway. At one point when I looked at the thermometer in the shade it registered 25.5C which probably puts it around 76 degrees Fahrenheit. That may not seem very warm elsewhere, but it's blistering for this area in the first week of June. That's also right by the water and since we're often 5 degrees warmer or cooler depending on the season, I expect it was a lot closer to 80F away from the water.
It was as clear as a bell the whole day and fortunately a breeze sprang up this afternoon or it would have been unbearable both inside and out. Yesterday wasn't quite as clear or pretty but it was really muggy, also unusual for us. The bugs were loving it though.
I always thought the Chilcotin would be a great place to train for marathons, especially for those who walk. This time of year there's really no such thing as taking a leisurely stroll through the woods. You might start out that way but before long your pace picks up faster and faster, arms swinging, in an effort to out walk the mosquitoes. In my case, it doesn't help much that my two walking buddies like running through the bush and stirring up the mosquitoes so you can't even sneak past the buggers. It also doesn't help that both dogs are black, the mosquito's very favorite color.
Everywhere you go this time of year you'll see the Chilcotin chicken dance. It's particularly vigorous when standing still in one spot, or attempting to. What would normally be a relaxed greeting and conversation with someone in a vehicle who has parked to chat most times of the year is an entirely different affair during bug season. No casual leaning on the door of a vehicle trading banter with the occupant, but rather a steady shuffle of the feet and waving of the hands to repel mosquitoes, while the driver waves at the bugs entering through his window, impatient to get on his way. Conversation is direct, to the point, and short!
I was watching some young people up at the store in Nimpo last night who had just greeted a family member and friends that came off of the school bus from Williams Lake. (High school kids have to board in town through the week and come home on weekends.) They were all smiling and laughing, talking a mile a minute and all were waving their hands wildly and prancing around in an unconscious attempt to ward off the hordes of mosquitoes. I wonder what aliens from another world would think? Would they just think all the wild hand waving a part of the conversation? Either way, the Chilcotin chicken dance will continue, as it does every year, until a hot spell hits that dries up the wet places. Or until a hard frost kills the bugs. Since we can get those in July, the mosquitoes are often gone, or fewer anyway, by then. August is a great month because there usually aren't that many around except in the cool of late evening. Maybe that's why so many of us here like the winter.
Aside from increasing the bug population and the fire danger, this warm spell effects us very little compared to those in danger of flood this spring. High temperatures in the Interior of British Columbia have significantly increased the snow melt at higher elevations and some rivers like the Fraser River are rising quickly. It's expected to hit peak flood levels mid week for the Prince George and Quesnel area, a day or so later for Hope, and the Lower Mainland, Vancouver area can expect to see peak flood levels next weekend.
There's a huge system coming in from the Pacific packing a lot of moisture that's expected to stall over the province. If that happens, and you add rain a lot of rain to the flood equation, things might get a little harrowing for some folks. In fact, some of the climate guys are predicting that we may hit a record set in the 1800's for flooding on the Fraser River. When you consider that there were very few people along the Fraser 130 years ago compared to the population now, there's certainly potential for devastation. It sounds like the people in most danger are those in outlying areas such as around Kamloops, that are not protected by dikes, particularly those folks with ranch land. The logistics of moving a bunch of livestock on short notice because of flooding isn't something I would care to take on.
At the same time, forest fire season is heating up with the weather, particularly around the Kamloops and Okanagan area, both in semiarid regions. Fire and flood, all at the same time. We must be in Canada, eh?
We are now in the month of June so if you would like to read last week's articles, you'll find them at May, Week Four.
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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!
Swallow at the entrance to a nesting house.
Two men with several fish.
Blue and white plane on the lake.
Red lifejacket on a fisherman on the lake.
Red plane through pine trees.
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