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Wilderness Adventures - June, 2010

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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27/06/2010 10:48 AM

The Long June

Or maybe it's been a short June. All I know is that it has flown by so unbelievably fast that I have no idea where the days have gone. Although I was away for about two weeks there so that makes the time go fast. Then, as I'm sure you all know, when you leave, you leave work behind. So that when you come back, you have the usual work load plus two weeks worth to catch up on. And this time of year there's a lot to catch up on!
It didn't help that on my last trip out I came back with about fifty or sixty plants from a nursery up in Quesnel. That meant those had to be planted out in the rock garden as soon as possible. Never mind that I had to bust my heinie trying to get all the tomato plants put in the greenhouses before I left. I didn't manage to get the cucumbers and zucchini planted until just a couple of days ago though. For that matter, I only just got my beet and spinach seed in. Yeah, I know, I'm waaay behind.
I had to transplant about eighty delphinium and columbine plants that had self seeded in my garden about a week ago so that they can go into town tomorrow to my sister's and that set me back about a day. But I need a spot for one of my newly purchased rose bushes. I splurged on new plants this year since the mice had such a heyday through the winter under the snow. Destructive little buggers.
I still have a bunch of plants potted up and sitting out in front of the porch that I have to do something with. I scavenged some maple seedlings (some of them Japanese Maple) out of my friend's rock garden down in Kelowna, potted them up and brought them back up with me. Now I have to decide what to do with them since it's readily apparent that they're going to survive. I know that the Japanese Maples won't survive our winters outside, so I have to get them into pots that can be left outside over summer but still be taken inside in winter. The rest of the maples I have to find nursery beds for until they get bigger.
So far so good on the tomato plants. I gave away loads of them this spring because I didn't have the heart to thin them out but I still have enough to fill two greenhouses and I already have both cherry tomatoes and larger ones setting fruit. So far I'm not having the dreaded mold problem in my greenhouse that I had last year when we went to the Yukon, but I'm keeping the house pretty dry and I'm stripping a lot of leaves off the tomato plants as well.
It's pretty darned dry outside as well. We're dragging a lot of hoses around to try and keep everything watered around here, and while our temperatures are very pleasant, it is by no means as hot as it was last summer yet. Since the snow melted we've only gotten slightly less than 1 1/2 inches of rain. And we haven't seen anything at all in the past two weeks. Little spits here and there like today, but it doesn't add up to anything. We took last Sunday off for my birthday and went on the fourwheelers to look for morel mushrooms for the day. There was no worry of finding them in this area. Everywhere we went in the woods, walking on the lichen and moss was like walking on corn flakes. The woods are deadly dry. We found three large morels up in last year's burn near Charlotte, but they were already dried out. We tried climbing much higher but the bugs just got too wicked for us because there was a lot of snow melt higher up.
People were bringing in morels by the bucket loads from around the Anahim Lake area and about 1 1/2 tons of mushrooms were being shipped out every week. But I think they've gotten more rain over their way this spring than we have. We're in deadly shape for forest fires right now, so we're just keeping our place nice and green.
We went down to Bella Coola this past week and I finally got good pictures of Grizzly bears. They were all on this side of Heckman Pass between the top of the Hill and the Beef Trail near Anahim Lake. We kind of wondered what we were going to see because we kept seeing very large piles of scat along with small piles every few hundred feet along the road. Finally we came on a Grizzly sow with two cubs feeding on the edge of the road. They crossed the highway in front of us and then proceeded to eat on the other side. I was really, really surprised at how nonchalant she was about her cubs, although they were last year's so perhaps she wasn't nearly as edgy as she might have been with young ones. And she sure wasn't bothered by people or traffic at all. It was really cool to see, although her coat was a bit rough looking, they were all in good shape. Strikingly, all three had an off white stripe just behind their shoulders and that distinction will come up again in a moment.
Finally getting good pictures of Grizzly bears just made my day and we continued on down the Hill and on to Bella Coola. All of the water down in the Valley was running high and fast and many stream beds that are often dry when we go down were full to the brim. One river that we stopped at had flooded way up into the trees and left mud in its wake. We have to go back down again this week and I want to take our gold pans. That's a glacial river and if there was any gold up in the mountains, it would show up in that silt. When I came back from Williams Lake a week or so ago, the rivers were all up along Highway 20 as well. The McClinchey at Kleena Kleene was just rushing along while the Klinaklini was as high as I think I've ever seen it - up in the bushes in many places. The Chilko was really high as well, and just about topping its banks. Surprisingly, though, the Fraser River wasn't unusually high at all. But the mountains it drains are a lot higher and there often isn't a major melt until into July. In any case, there were lots of waterfalls and rushing rivers and streams down in the Valley as well.
We stopped down at the Bella Coola harbour after a bite to eat and Andy spotted a seal that was pulling himself up onto a dock. He lolled around in the sun the whole time we were there. I didn't even know we had seals!
On the way back up the Hill we talked to one trucker who commented on the Grizzly sow and her cubs that were hanging around Green River and their distinctive white stripe. So she's been hanging around the area for some time. The trucker said he hadn't had a chance to get a picture yet of the bears but would sure like to. I was keeping an eye out for the male Grizzly that's been hanging around the gravel pit east of the Pass and who I just missed getting a picture of last time. Sure enough, there he was on the edge of the road ahead of us just chewing away at the grass, clover and dandelions. I didn't get many pictures of him with his head up because he was so determined to keep on eating, but at least we were able to warn the trucker behind us that the griz was on the side of the road so that he could stop in time to take pictures. Four Grizzlies in one day! Imagine that? It was a great day!
It wasn't until I got home and started looking at the pictures that I realized the male grizzly also had a white stripe behind the shoulder. So he's either an older offspring of the sow or her father. Funny that they would stay in the same area. It seems more likely that he's a son of hers.
We also saw a red fox at the top of the Hill on our way home. He started to run away and then came back toward us when we slowed down. So we stopped and he just kept coming closer. He was losing his winter coat and was a scrawny looking thing. We didn't have much to give him but had some potato chips open in the truck and threw him a few. He was pretty happy about that. I don't imagine the salt on those things would be good for an animal, but if he needed the food maybe the potato and fat part will help. I'm not in the habit of feeding wild animals but this little guy looked like he could really use a helping hand. That or else he's pulled that ploy on all the motorists going along the highway. If he has, good for him!
Our bugs have finally arrived. And they have come in force! Surprisingly, they didn't come until just a week ago. Prior to that it wasn't bad at all except in certain places where it was swampy and without a breeze. But the water levels must finally have dropped enough to start exposing mosquito eggs for hatching. If you stay out in the sun where there's a breeze midday, it's still not too bad, but put your head near the dirt to garden, especially where there's no breeze, and you will be swarmed. Still, I'm pretty happy. We got bugs a month later this year than last year and we shouldn't get them much past the middle of July, particularly if it stays this dry. I think having such a dry forest fire year last year helped that a lot. One more dry summer and it will knock the bugs back for a couple of years.
Okay, onward ho. I've got loads of stuff to do and I'm still playing catch up outside and on the computer so this may be my last post for a little while. But I had to put something up. My other half has been complaining bitterly that, "How can I keep up on what's going on in the Chilcotin when there's no blog to read?" You really have to stop and think about that one, folks, especially since we do most everything together. So you'll find the last posts (I know. A month ago. I have been reminded repeatedly, let me tell you. And yes, I know it's never been a month before. Stuff happens, honey.) at May Week Three and I can only thank you for your patience.
Oh, and another thing. A fellow named Bill Laws that worked at Rimarko Ranch when it was operating years ago sent me some wonderful pictures that I'm going to try to post here and on Picture of the day along with the bears, so enjoy. That's Bill below haying on Rimarko Ranch I'm assuming around 1972. As he noted, the truck you see is the one on the Wilderness-AdventuresSep3-08 blog and was still running then. That's the Morses and their son on the beach up top, and Mrs Morse and her daughter running bar at the ranch second down from the top. Thank you Bill!

Photo property of Bill Laws. Bill Laws Haying at Rimarko Ranch

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!
Three members of the Morse family.
People at a log bar at Rimarko Ranch.
A grizzly crosses the road.
Two grizzly cubs in the trees.
Grizzly looking back.
Grizzly cub.
Harbour seal on a dock.
Red fox molting.
Big grizzly bear looking at the camera.
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