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 - June, Week 1/2009
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like
'Lake Monsters' about the
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.
Quick Storm Update
had a lot of lightning around for the last two days but
we've been fortunate in that it rains shortly afterward.
Yesterday started out quite sunny but it just got hotter
and more and more sultry the later the day got. Some big
thunderheads started building early in the afternoon and
thunder was rolling all around us. Suddenly the temperature
dropped and we ended up with quite a downpour. It didn't
last long but it amounted to over half an inch of rain,
which was badly needed and much appreciated.
It really cooled off last night but this morning it started
heating up again really fast and hit 21C or 70F by noon.
Then the clouds started building again and the thunder
started rumbling in all directions. We didn't lose our
sun until about two and it was easier to see the lightening
flashes. The temperature dropped eight degrees in less
than an hour and we got another good downpour this afternoon.
There was enough rain to leave some pretty major
puddles out there so it should have dampened down any
fires that might have been started by lightning strikes.
It's really nice to see the rain. We really needed it
in the woods and it's going to be nice to back off on
watering lawns and flower beds for a few days. I'm sure
the mosquitoes will be having a heyday with all this new
moisture but they haven't been too bad yet. Besides, I'm
always up for a good thunderstorm even if it does bring
the bugs out and there's a chance of a fire being started.
There's just something about listening to thunder rumbling
that can't be matched by anything else!
Someone mentioned up at the store that they saw
a fire from a boat while fishing out on the lake yesterday
but didn't say where it was, or whether someone was just
burning in their yard, which they certainly shouldn't
have been, but it depends on whether it was before or
after the rain yesterday. They're supposed to be coming
back to the store later so I asked Leah to get a description
of the location so we can go take a look. It's more than
likely that any fire was put out by they rain but if it
got down into the duff, it can burn for weeks without
being all that noticeable. If you do see a fire and don't
want to report it officially, leave the information at
one of the stores and ask them to contact us. That way
we can at least check it out or know what direction to
look for smoke.
weather has taken a turn. Yesterday was not a bad day
but the air was weird and it was pretty smoky out there
and the mugginess brought out the mosquitoes in the evening
in a big way. Today was similar but twice the weather
broke and it rained. The first time it rained,
the temperature had already climbed up to 17C by eleven
this morning. An hour later it had dropped five degrees
and then we ended up with a tiny little downpour. It actually
got sunny and hot this afternoon and I decided to grab
a walk before the mosquitoes got too bad. Then big thunderheads
rolled in, we heard the rumble of thunder a few times,
and then we got another downpour. It didn't last for long
and it will be dry by morning, but anything that helps
to damp down the woods a bit is a big help. It helps to
hold down the pine pollen and dust a bit as well. But
the sultry air and damp ground are a real boon to the
mosquitoes and lots of other bugs. They haven't been unbearable
at all, but I expect that to change now.
There's nothing prettier than the bright, spring
green of new aspen leaves popping out and the
heat this last week has certainly changed the scenery
that way. Aspens create an immediate privacy screen all
around, along with the willows and wild roses that have
finally leafed out.
I can't believe how much my garden plants and the lawn
have grown in just the past week. You can pour the water
to plants but they still need that sunshine to really
take off. Add a little rain full of nitrogen and you get
conditions you just can't seem to duplicate with chemicals.
We've had beautiful sunsets in the west for the last few
days because of smoke and cloud on the horizon, and last
night the rising moon was something to behold! It was
a big, fat, red-orange moon and it reflected those colors
on the water as it was rising. You could see fish
rings on the surface of the water in the moonlight all
night. This morning I watched young fish playing
and feeding near our shore from the breakfast table, and
this evening you can see the fish rising all over a flat
calm lake that's pink from the sunset. I have to admit,
everything just seems quieter and the air smells fresher
after a little rain.
Well, I've written all the news stations I can, contacted
the newspaper in Williams Lake, the CO from the local
RCMP Detachment, an emergency coordinator from the Regional
District, and our MLA, about the lack of lookouts in the
Forestry towers. I can't think of much else that I can
do to get some attention on the problem and get the ball
rolling. However, I was told by one of the above that
none of the lookouts are being manned in
BC, so it may not be just the Cariboo Fire District dicking
us around. We also found out tonight that the Tweedsmuir
Park fisheries campground in the Bella Coola Valley is
still gated and locked, and this is the first week of
June! It seems that suddenly whole swaths of things
no longer have money budgeted for them. Andy figures
that the BC Government is so deep in debt with the Olympics
and now the recession, that if there's anything outside
of the Lower Mainland and big city centres in the southern
part of BC that requires money, we're out of luck and
on our own. In other words, we're screwed because we're
rural and our votes don't count so why give us anything?
So in return I guess about all I can say is you'll find
our gates closed should there ever be an earthquake, weather
event, or other natural disaster on the Lower Mainland
and people need to move north or into the rural areas.
You're more than welcome to sit in your own cesspool.
The way I figure it, what goes round comes round and we
never particularly needed the government before, so I
expect we can do without them now. It's just too
bad they continue to suck every penny they can out of
us in property taxes, income taxes, and sales taxes, because
we sure as hell don't get anything in return.
I expect all rural areas in BC would be much farther ahead
assessing, collecting, and using all taxes in their own
districts. I pretty much guarantee we would get a lot
more out of it than we do now. I'm suspect the cities
benefit far more from our taxes than we do.
This is the start of a new week and should be start of
a new blog, however, I'm not sure how much I can write
this week. Because the weather was so nice and I wanted
to get things done outside I let computer work slide for
a week. As a result, I'm kind of booked to the max so
unless something major comes up, it might be a few days
to the next blog. Thanks for your patience folks!
Oh, I almost forgot. Marie's students are
putting on their end of the year dance recital at 7:00
on Saturday night at the Nimpo Lake Community Hall. Everyone
is welcome. If it's anything like it was last year, you'll
be really impressed!
Forestry Putting Our Lives in Danger
happening with Forestry is two paragraphs down. First,
a quick weather update, folks. Our temperatures are much
cooler but it still made it to 20C or 68F this afternoon
and is holding. We are actually slightly warmer than Williams
Lake which is pretty unusual, but I think it's because
there is a cool air mass moving down from the north through
the central interior of BC. We're still on the warm side
of the jet stream and that high pressure system that gave
us all of the marvelous weather this past week.
Thankfully, that same air movement from the north
has pushed the Lillooet smoke out and we were clear and
sunny all day. Little or no haze over the mountains
so it would be much easier for a lookout to see smoke
from a fire. However, it would seem that we are screwed
in that regard.
For all the years that I have lived in the Cariboo or
Chilcotin, the Forestry lookout towers have been manned.
The lookout is on the front line of forest fire
detection, although spotters (planes and helicopters)
have been used quite extensively in the past few years,
but high fuel costs makes them much more expensive for
If you look at the picture at the top on the right, that
is only a tiny portion of the country that the lookout
can see from the Forestry tower, and as you can see, they
can see a fire from a long, long way away, even though
the day this picture was taken, there was a lot of haze
in the air from the fire at Lillooet. There are several
lookout towers located strategically throughout the Cariboo
and Chilcotin Regions so that what one lookout can't see,
We've all wondered why we had no lookout up in the
Forestry tower this year. We've also wondered
why we have no IA or Initial Attack crew located at Nimpo
Lake as there usually is. That's a three man team trained
to go in on a fire as soon as it's spotted, try to contain
it, assess it, and prepare landing spots for a helicopter
and more crews if the fire warrants it. They're fast and
mobile, and we've had a crew posted here every year that
the weather warrants it. Apparently no longer.
I called into the Fire Control Officer at the Cariboo
Fire Center yesterday evening and asked why no lookout
and no IA crew and I pretty much got a run-around from
him. He should have been a politician because
he certainly did not give satisfactory answers to my questions.
First he tried to deny that we normally have IA crews
posted out here. That didn't work. Then he said that all
IA crews for the Chilcotin are being operated out of Puntzi
in the east and they can be here in 20 minutes.
I know that it's more efficient to base tankers, Bird
Dogs (spotters), and even helicopters at Puntzi because
of the big air base there, but I don't agree with IA crews
being based at Puntzi as being efficient for us. First
of all, an IA crew at Nimpo can go out 20 minutes from
here in any direction and cover most of the West Chilcotin.
So if they have to head out west or north of Anahim Lake,
that's that much farther that a helicopter has to fly
from Puntzi. If the fire is close in, even on the ground
those guys can cover a lot of area without losing 20 minutes
getting here from Puntzi in the first place.
I also have to question the FCO's insistence that
an IA crew can be here in 20 minutes from Puntzi.
As I understand it, the maximum speed of a Bell 406 L-4
Long Ranger helicopter is between 137 and 143 miles per
hour. Since none of these guys are going to max their
machine out, especially loaded with three guys in full
gear and a helicopter full of equipment, I think the very
best you'll see that helicopter do is about 120 Mph and
100 Mph is far more likely. At 51 air miles from Puntzi,
and taking time to fire up the helicopter and get these
guys loaded, I think that 30 minutes is a far more realistic
figure for the very best possible time to get here. The
A-Star is a little faster at 155Mph cruising speed and
that makes 20 minutes a more realistic number but that's
not taking into account start up and load time and that
they aren't all A-Star helicopters.
But I think what blows me away the most is that
we are not getting lookouts in the Forestry towers in
the Chilcotin. They are our eyes and the first
to detect fire. In a country that's extremely dry, full
of standing dead beetle killed trees with several inches
of dried fuel on the ground, to not have a lookout is
like deliberately blinding us. It's insane. Especially
if you look on the BC Forestry Protection website where
it says in their words: "Fire
fighters are most successful when wildfires are discovered
and reported while they are still small. Through early
detection and aggressive initial attack of wildfires,
the Protection Branch is able to keep the cost of fighting
wildfires to a minimum."
The FCO that I talked to claimed budget was the reason
why we had no lookout. It's budget all right. I know how
the Fire Center works. I took their course, worked for
them out here during the McClinchy fire and then the Lonesome
Lake fire a month later, and I did some dispatching for
them. The Fire Center has a set number of positions that
their budget allows for every fiscal year. Under the previous
Fire Center Manager, Roy Simpson, there was always a forestry
presence where needed and there were always lookouts manning
the towers throughout the Cariboo Fire District. Now suddenly,
under the new manager, Darrell Orosz, there isn't. Apparently
he's from the Island, which we all know, gets a tremendous
amount of rain. This would lead me to believe that
this guy doesn't have a clue just how dangerously volatile
those red trees are out there. For that matter,
green forest has been burning for millennia without the
help of red trees when conditions are right for a forest
fire, and those conditions certainly exist throughout
British Columbia right now. So where are the lookout people?
Well something has to have happened to those positions
that the Government budgets to the Forestry Protection
branch every year. So where are they? I don't know, but
you know something, I'm willing to bet that CTV, CBC or
Global TV news journalists can find out. For that matter,
maybe a journalist from the WL Tribune newspaper can.
And I intend to find out if anyone out there is interested
in following up on why we are being screwed. If any of
you folks have any ideas on who else we can contact about
this, please let me know!
those of you living in the Chilcotin and that read this
blog: We've been informed that there is a high probability
of dry lightening strikes in this region tonight.
There is no one manning the Little Kappan Forestry lookout
station so we're on our own. I realize that it's extremely
difficult to see a smoke when the air is already hazy
with it, but if you see a plume, report it to the Cariboo
Fire Centre immediately. Please let residents in the vicinity
know (even if that's 50 or 100 miles away) so that they
can prepare their properties. I would suggest that if
you own them, that you get your fire pumps and equipment
ready to go.
It's 24C right now so it's still pretty warm out there
and it's pretty breezy. With no initial attack crew posted
in the vicinity as there is most years, the response to
a forest fire in the area, especially with this wind,
is going to be slow. Keep your eyes peeled, folks!
remarkable little heat wave is a lot like the Energizer
Bunny. It just keeps on going and going. That's not something
I mind at all since I love blue skies, and sunshine, and
having been born in Arizona, I'm definitely not afraid
of the heat.
It's been heating up through the week with today
being the hottest day so far. Yesterday evening
it got up to 25C or 77F in the shade and this evening
it's at 26C or 79F in the shade. The sun won't go down
until 9:30 so we've a little heat for a while yet. By
the time we've had this kind of heat for a week, it starts
getting pretty warm for sleeping, but having a heat wave
this early in the year means it still cools down decently
by early morning.
I know there are a few people, especially folks down in
the southern States, that are laughing at what we call
a heat wave here. Down there 77F is considered wintertime
temperatures but here, 80F is on the high end for us.
We rarely see temperatures much higher than that. Temps
are definitely way above normal. The environment
Canada spokesman said last night that this is the hottest
first week of June in British Columbia since they started
keeping records over 70 years ago. This, compared
to last June, when we had the wettest and coldest June
in 50 years. That's quite a marked contrast. I think that
about 18 temperature records were broken around the province
yesterday and I'm sure several records fell today.
We're pretty lucky right now because we only got that
smoke from Lilloet for one day. It's still hazy over the
mountains but we're not getting nearly as much smoke as
Vancouver is. Their air quality is pretty nasty right
now with an inversion layer, smoke from the Lilloet forest
fire, and smog from too many cars on the road.
Speaking of fires, the Lilloet fire has now grown
to nearly 5000 acres in size and is still less than 15%
contained. A new fire broke out in BC on Monday
at the junction of Smith and Liard River and has grown
to 25,000 acres. There have been evacuation orders issued
for three communities and the highway is closed between
Fort Nelson and Watson Lake. Right now, firefighters are
mostly concentrating on keeping the fire away from the
Alaska Highway and protecting homes in the area because
the fire is 0% contained.
Initially the weather forecasters on BC news stations
were saying the Lower Mainland would see rain by Saturday
which would bring relief from the fire danger, but they've
changed that to a couple of days later. I wondered about
that because if you watched the high pressure system on
the weather channel, it wasn't moving anytime soon and
it looked like we were going to be in straight
sunshine at least until Monday. The news station
weathermen have finally revised their forecast, so it
looks like we'll continue with sunshine for a few more
days. There is supposed to be a cool down coming in from
the east but I'm not sure that it will make it as far
west as where we are for a few days yet. But who knows?
Good luck with trying to follow all of the colorful graphics
and pretty little pictures the weather people have up
on their screens because they cover such large areas of
BC that the information they give is often just not reliable.
Sometimes they remind me of kids with crayons.
For me, I'm just happy if this great weather continues.
Yes it's hot and you start getting exhausted enough working
in the heat that you start walking slower and slower.
But we've lots of water so we can keep things nice and
green, and keep things damp around here to reduce the
chance of fire. Our fire pump is all ready to go, and
while the mosquitoes have gotten downright ferocious in
the evening, as long as it's this hot during the day the
heat keeps them at bay for the most part.
I'm not sure that there will be an article tomorrow night
as I have to go babysit a house, and I'm certainly not
going to waste a gorgeous day that I can work outside,
to on the computer inside! :-)
The New Radio Repeater
has a new amateur radio repeater in the area, open to
all licensed amateur radio operators. Andy and
Bill went with our new neighbour, Ed, up onto TV Hill
on fourwheelers to install the new antenna today. Ed suggests
it could even be the first 'ham' radio repeater here,
but that is hard to confirm. We do know that it is the
only one here now.
Ed says it should provide radio coverage over an hour
driving each side of Nimpo Lake and fill in a lot of the
gap between Williams Lake and Bella Coola. He gives the
following info: "The repeater is on UHF, as
to not interfere with other existing equipment at the
repeater site. The frequency is 444.825 MHZ within the
usual plus 5.000 MHZ split and requires a tone of 88.5
Hz. Thanks to Andy and Bill for their help with the installation!
Thanks to Ed from all the amateur radio operators out
there. I'm sure they'll appreciate the holes being filled.
The guys noticed that there is no one in the fire lookout
up on TV Hill yet. That seems extremely odd in view of
how dry the country is and the increased danger from forest
fires. Either Cariboo Fire Center has been caught flat
footed with the sudden warm weather and hasn't hired anyone
yet, or the Liberal Government has cut back their funding
and it's a budget matter. I can't see that happening though.
As far as I know, the TV Hill or Little Kappan
lookout station is part of a fairly important triangle
of lookout stations for the Chilcotin. Although
today it would not have been all that easy for a lookout
to spot smoke. Our sky has gotten pretty hazy as the day
progressed. Our wind has been out of the north for the
last few days and our skies have been really clear, but
today it switched and was blowing from the south. My guess
is it's our turn to get smoke from the Lillooet forest
fire, which incidentally, is still only 20% under control.
They've had a real problem with winds down that way just
as we have, and of course, that just fans the fire.
We had yet another magnificent day today with very little
breeze. That did increase the bug count
somewhat, especially when working around damp dirt, but
it wasn't too bad at all. This evening was another matter!
It was such an incredibly warm evening and the
lake nearly flat calm, that we decided to go fishing after
supper. We should have taken the bug spray because
I don't know if we kept going through fresh mosquito hatches
on the water or if the rotten things were just keeping
up with us from shore, but we were inundated with those
little light colored mosquitoes. They're fast as hell
and hard to smack, and they were driving me half crazy.
We caught one fish and then came on in because I just
couldn't deal with the bugs. They weren't bothering Andy
much, but if I don't have bug spray on, they drive me
around the bend. I know, I know ..... I'm living in the
wrong country if I can't stand mosquitoes! I don't have
a problem with a few mosquitoes. I just don't like them
when they come in hordes.
It was bound to happen that we would start getting a lot
of the little buggers because it's just been too warm
for too long. Our temperature in the shade got up
to nearly 22C or around 71F, which is pretty warm for
the first few days of June. A few temperature
records were broken around the province today. It's still
holding at 21C here and it's after nine in the evening,
so it's going to be a muggy night. The bugs oughta enjoy
that. No frost tonight!
We're finally getting enough sun and heat that you can
watch the lawn green up while you water it. Today was
a busy day just running around trying to catch up on watering.
With this dry weather, it's suddenly all gotten away on
me, mainly because I haven't hooked up my little irrigation
systems up yet. I'm right at the stage where I need water
on stuff, but it's still been freezing at night and you
risk splitting the fittings on the system if it freezes
too hard. Sadly, I already did that with the neighbours'
sprinkler who's lawn I was watering. I didn't
unhook the hoses a couple of evenings ago because there
was no way I thought it would freeze. Sure enough, it
froze hard enough to split the brass fitting on the sprinkler
stand, rendering it useless. And I was the smart ass that
was telling them a couple of weeks ago that they should
be disconnecting the hoses for just that very reason.
Apparently I'm no good at taking my own advice.
This beautiful weather is still supposed to hang in there
through Friday. Tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest
day for the coast while Thursday is set to be the hottest
day for inland sections. By Saturday there's supposed
to be a cool down and possibly rain for the Lower Mainland
but the long range on the weather channel looks to be
good through Saturday for us. I have to congratulate the
weather forecasters because they all seem to be right
for a change.... so far. Long range forecast from
Environment Canada for the next three months is calling
for unusually warm, dry weather for the western provinces
and Yukon, while cool, wet weather is predicted
for the eastern provinces. It's about time! I was getting
tired of the rainy summers. Even one dry summer could
make all the difference in the world to next year's mosquito
crop. It's too bad we couldn't market those things. We'd
all be rich!
I couldn't resist putting a picture up on the right under
that of the antenna array on Little Kappan, of the rainbow
trout we caught tonight. I've mentioned to people that
the trout in Nimpo Lake has flesh the color of salmon,
and many have not believed me, so aftern filleting the
rainbow, I decided I was going to take a picture of the
meat before we have it for supper tomorrow night. The
proof is in the pudding! Or in this case, image.
I don't know if anyone cares out there, but last night
my Sister-in-law expressed an interest in knowing where
I was getting the information on active forest fires and
fire situation maps. I'll post the link for all of Canada
which has fire maps and gives maps for the same month
last year so that the fire hazard can be compared: http://fire.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/firereport/report-rapport-eng.php
while the BC link is http://www.bcwildfire.ca/Situation/.
and is a good source of information for the status of
finally made it to June, and if the Environment Canada
was right about most of the last three months being unusually
wet and cool, they were wrong about the last week of May.
Although admittedly, we did get several inches
of snow last week, it's actually been quite pleasant and
the last two days have been absolutely magnificent!
Temperatures got up to 17C yesterday but today they've
been holding steady at 20C or 67F all afternoon. Yesterday
was fantastic with not a cloud in the sky and very little
wind. Although the wind kicked up a bit more today, still
not a cloud in the sky and you couldn't ask for a nicer
day to be working outside. The bugs haven't even been
all that noticeable except at certain times. It was such
a beautiful evening that I decided to sneak outside and
put some solar lights together. Everything was okay for
a few minutes until I tried to put stakes out in the grass.
Then I got swarmed by mosquitoes and I decided to call
it quits. The bugs won. Still, if you're not on land,
you're okay. There were a few fishing boats out
on Nimpo Lake today and I see there are more out there
This warm weather will definitely bring a hatch on fairly
quickly and working outside will become unbearable except
during the hottest time of day, but at least we got a
few excellent days in without having to pull out the bug
Andy and a few of the snowmachine bunch went quadding
yesterday to clean up some old trails. I almost
went but I couldn't imagine missing such a wonderful opportunity
to work outside in my own yard. I certainly would have
gone had it been really windy and miserable here because
wind here means wind on the trail, which helps to keep
the bugs down. Andy said they were just atrocious out
there in the bush. No kidding, Sherlock!
The guys never, ever tried to go out to clean trails until
late fall when most of the bugs have been frozen out because
there's nothing worse than clearing brush and stirring
up mosquitoes on a closed in trail. The mosquitoes and
black flies will just eat you alive.
Our newest additions to the quadding bunch found
that out to their dismay last summer when they
talked the guys into going quadding and clearing trail
during bug season. Andy refused to go because he knew
how bad it would be. Sure enough, the mosquitoes were
so bad that when they stopped for lunch, they couldn't
stop for lunch. They had to drive up and down the trail
and in circles on their quads while eating their lunch
because if they stopped long enough for the bugs to find
them, they would be absolutely swarmed.
Bug season this year is already two weeks later than it
has been for the last two years, testament to our cold
spring, but it just might not get all that bad this year.
(I'm hoping.) We hadn't had much for moisture before that
snow last week, and we certainly haven't had any since.
It's been warm and dry with high winds up to yesterday,
and only breezy since. Still, it's all the right
conditions for a forest fire.
Several forest fires have broken out all over British
Columbia and there's a particularly nasty one down around
Lillooet that has grown to some size. There's an evacuation
alert in place because some homes are threatened. Two
homes have been burned at Buffalo Creek northeast of 100
Mile House, and of course several homes were burned a
few weeks ago at 70 Mile House. I was just looking
at the fire situation report for BC online and was surprised
to see how many fires have been out west here in the Chilcotin.
Of 20 notable fires in the Cariboo fire district, nearly
half have been on our side of the river. I guess we're
a lot drier than I thought. If you look at the national
map, western Canada is definitely in trouble with large
parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and central Yukon showing
extreme, British Columbia next in line ranging from high
to very high fire danger, with a small area in the south
central interior showing extreme fire danger. There's
no moisture in the forecast so things might get interesting
As you can see this is the start of a new week. Last week's
articles can be found at This is the start of a new week
so you'll find last week's articles at May
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!