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Wilderness Adventures - June, Week 2/2007

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.


13/06/2007 9:25 PM

Company's Coming!

Okay folks. This is just to update you on what's happening the next ten days. Or more to the point, what isn't happening. I've got company coming in tonight so no guarantees on when I'll be writing an article in future. It depends on how much fun we have. My friends are keen on fishing so I expect that will be the main activity for the next while. That and tipping the odd glass, but I won't say too much about that!
Quick update on the weather....no change. Rain, then sun, then rain, then sun. Pretty much the same old thing. We got about another 1/2cm of rain, which doesn't amount to much but it keeps the dust down and the fish biting. We're supposed to be seeing some nice weather next week if a big high off the coast builds in as predicted. However, we all know how often the weatherman is right so I'm not going to hold my breath. It would be nice though.
Have a great week, all!

12/06/2007 7:47 PM

A Typical June

Though not necessarily the case every summer, the weather in June is typically unsettled in this part of the country and that's certainly holding true for this year. Actually, I should probably rephrase that and take out 'this part of the country'. Pretty much everywhere I have lived, June is an unreliable month weather wise. It can vary from cool, cloudy, rainy days to blistering hot and dry year to year...or day to day, for that matter.
Today started off the same as a long string of them this month, where you have absolutely no idea what you're going to get throughout the day. Our temperatures topped out at around 15C or no more than 60 degrees Fahrenheit today and depending on whether the sun was out or not, or whether a cool breeze off the lake had kicked up, you alternated between roasting and 'freezing'. It seemed pretty humid today as well, which might have been the reason why I couldn't make up my mind whether I was hot or cold. The mosquitoes and black flies couldn't decide either. One moment all was peaceful, and in the next you were being swarmed.
We've got some heavy black cloud moving over us now that was over the mountains only an hour ago, indicating a mish mash of systems coming in off the Pacific. I like being able to look clear across to the Coast Range and watch long black streamers of cloud dragged down by moisture looking like mini tornados touching down. I guess if I lived in Kansas and knew they could be tornados I would feel differently. Then again, maybe not. If I lived in Tornado Alley I think I would probably be one of those tornado chasers. I love extreme weather. Lightning storms, hail storms, ice storms, snow storms, it doesn't matter. I don't think there's anything more awe inspiring than Mother Nature kicking up booty. Of course, I can see the wheels turning and more than one person out there is saying, "Yeah, but you've obviously never been caught in a disastrous act of Mother Nature!" Maybe not, but it was never for lack of trying....lol.
There's less and less news about possible flooding throughout British Columbia on television now so I guess the stories are no longer sensationalist enough to suit the networks. As a result, we're back to the sorry soap opera stories that our BC networks like to eat up the news hour with, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with news and effects maybe one or two people. But it's cheap to produce, doesn't require any journalists to actually use their brain, and cuts back on expenses incurred by them and camera men out in the field. It also leaves lots of air time for commercials. In fact, the news hour is so bad most of the time nowadays that the commercials are often the only thing worth seeing. I'm sure that makes the advertisers very happy. In any case, although I'm glad fewer British Columbians are going to be effected by flood than previously expected, I'm going to miss the news. It was nice to see real BC people being interviewed by the networks. Real, honest, down to earth people slogging around in their rubber boots, filling sandbags, faced with a problem that they were doing their best to deal with, and doing a damned fine job of it.
Quite a contrast to most of the drek you see on television now. I swear, I think the networks have a small pool of actors for the news hour that they keep putting in different clothes, in front of a different building, and give them different lines from story to story. One day they're an enraged parent because their kid's Kindergarten class has stopped offering free milk and cookies at recess, the next day they're protesting the closing of their local Day Care, the next is outrage over a sex offender released from prison, the day after that they're a street person, and so on. Even the cops used as information officers for each city all look the same. Just different stories. It might not be so bad if the networks didn't keep going back and revisiting what was already a lousy story the day before. But no, we can't just hear about it once and that's it. We're going to hear about the same news item all week, just with a different spin on it.
Everything the media serves up is the same old garbage, day in and day out. In fact, if you had to rely entirely on the news hour to help you to understand people as a culture, I think you would lose complete touch with reality. The crap served up on television from 5 until 7 every night has absolutely no relation to those people that are out there in the real world. How many amazing stories have we read or heard over the years about new immigrants that did a wonderful job of learning the English language, and understanding the North American culture, by fanatically watching television and using it as an educational tool? About all I can say is heaven help anyone trying to do that now! You'd end up creating a monster by accident. Or a complete moron. I'm not sure which.
Okay, that's my rant for the day. I'm afraid I don't know how you folks up in Smithers and Terrace are doing with the flooding because the Vancouver news networks have forgotten about you already, but I hope you're hanging in there.
I can't change the Picture of the Day because someone hasn't had a chance to see the Hotnarko Falls image yet, so it stays until tomorrow. Have a good one, Folks!

11/06/2007 3:29 PM

Hotnarko Falls

Yesterday we did something very rare for us. We took the afternoon off to visit the Hotnarko Falls on the other side of Anahim Lake. And they were a spectacular sight to see, indeed!
With the tremendous snow melt from higher elevations this spring we thought there might be a high volume of water in the falls right now and if you look at the pictures on the right, you'll see just exactly how different they can look from one season to the next. The top picture is one we took yesterday and although I understand that the falls are pretty all the time, yesterday they were simply stunning.
As we crossed the huge double culverts under the road where the water flows to the falls nearby, you could hear the thundering roar of it as it dropped over the cliff and a long ways down where it continued frothing in a narrow channel out to a wider, calmer, black Hotnarko River squeezed in at the base of steep cliffs on its way toward the Atnarko. There's a small parking spot next to the culverts and it's only a few steps from there on a trail to the top of the falls. You can follow quite a neat trail around the top of a cliff of rock, low juniper and the odd twisted bonsai tree to a point farther away from the falls with a better viewpoint. From there you can study the deep mesa topped canyon created by eons of flowing water that blasted through lava rock and left behind exposed basaltic pillars. Farther along you'll find a small circle of stones where more than one person has had a campfire and maybe a picnic lunch. With good, open exposure on the cliff face, there's a breeze to keep the bugs down while before you sprawls a magnificent view that includes a snow topped mountain in the distance. From the map, I'm guessing we were looking at Hotnarko Mountain, nearly 7,000 feet high, but I would need someone that knows the area well to go over a map with me to be certain of that.
There are a few ways to reach the Hotnarko Falls, which means that except for the last little bit, you can actually take a little circle drive and not have to repeat your route. Coming from the east on Highway 20, we turned onto the Kappan Road just before the highway works yard and followed it for about 6km or slightly less than 4 miles. When you hit the Beeftrail road, turn right and follow it until just after you see the yellow 19km marker, just before the gravel pit. Turn left and follow the trail in until you cross a huge double culvert where there's a pullout. You can't go any farther than that because the road has been blocked off. Along the way you will climb what I'm sure has to be an exposed glacial morraine composed of every kind of rolled stone, after which you'll see an old homestead down on your right hidden in the trees and sitting on a lush, green meadow. It sits along an old trail which may explain its presence, or it might simply have been a trapper or outfitter's cabin from a long time ago. It was a long, long ways from nowhere at one time though, that's for sure.
Once you park, take the trail along the creek and around the top of the cliff face, but I would recommend taking bear spray, wearing good hiking shoes or boots, and be careful where you walk. Don't forget your camera and for heavens sake, don't forget your bug spray! You'll need it in the parking area. My only regret about our trip yesterday is that I didn't have sun for pictures and I surely wish I had.
When we left the falls and followed the trail back out to the Beeftrail, we turned left instead of back the way we came. Just up the road I scored some awesome rocks! Some people go shopping for shoes, electronic gadgets or other stuff. I go shopping for rocks. I love rocks. And they're usually free. The only thing is that the dogs usually have to share space with them in the back of the truck going home, but they tell me they don't mind.
We followed the Beeftrail out to Highway 20 about 6km and turned east onto the highway, following it about 10 miles back to Anahim Lake. It's a nice little drive and although gravel or rock, the roads are in reasonably good condition, even for a bigger rig. So if you're visiting the area, try to make this a must see stop.
Our weather is still a little iffy with thunderstorms rolling through yesterday morning and a hailstorm and the odd rainstorm today. We accumulated about a 1/2 cm of rain over the last two days, which isn't a lot, but it keeps things damp. I haven't decided if that's a good thing or not but at least we don't have to water right now.
While Nimpo Lake is going down, Anahim Lake levels have been rising. I kind of wondered about that, but while talking to the owner of Escott Bay, he told me that Corkscrew Creek has been up to the bottom of the old bridge for some time now. Corkscrew empties a lot of mountain range to the east and since snow has been melting off the Itcha/Ilgatchuz Mountains at great rate lately, it explains the higher water levels in Anahim Lake. I think that mountain range tends to melt off quickly, since you see a lot more black sooner than you do on the Coast Range, so I expect levels will peak and begin to drop soon.
Here's an update on events. The snowmobile waterskipping races will be happening on June 16. They're a lot later this year but I expect organizers have been waiting for water levels in the Dean River to drop or a few riders could end up drowning. The Anahim Lake Stampede starts on July 6 and I believe that's the same weekend as the British Columbia Floatplane Association holds their AGM at Nimpo Lake. So there you go. Things are happening!

09/06/2007 8:12 PM

The Space Shuttle

We were fortunate last night to hear on the news what time the space shuttle was expected to pass through the night sky in Vancouver. They said to look for it at 10:45 in the north sky travelling west to east, which is where we were looking for it at that time. I had just stepped back in the house while Andy kept a watch for it when it occurred to him that north for Vancouver might be overhead for us. Just as he started scanning a different piece of sky he spotted it and sure enough, it was overhead if not slightly to the south for us. It was pretty thrilling to see it, even if all it looked like was a fast moving star, speeding from one horizon to another in less than three minutes. It was thought to be too cloudy in Vancouver to see it but we were lucky enough to have very clear skies and the sun just down so it was dark enough for us. I wish I'd had time to grab a pair of binoculars to see if we could identify what it was, or if it would have just looked like a bright bit of light. Pretty cool, anyway. I've never seen a shuttle before, although Andy has. He follows them pretty closely on the computer when one lifts off.
Our weather yesterday was actually very nice with a lot of sun and the bugs weren't entirely unbearable. Unlike today, which started off with rain and the air too still to make it possible to work outside. Mosquito heaven. It's turned sunny and a pretty brisk wind has started up this evening though, keeping them on the move. There's a wind warning out for the south and central coast which seems to be stretching inland far enough to get us and our temperatures remain cool.
The danger from flood seems to have subsided for most areas, although I understand Golden has declared a local state of emergency and Terrace and Smithers still seem to have a battle on their hands. Their rivers have peaked and water levels may even have gone down slightly so things have improved somewhat for them. However, as the one weatherman said, that could change quickly if temperatures heat up or a lot of rain moves in. The same for most areas with a heavy snowpack until around the end of June. In any case, it looks like we've got 'can't make up its mind' kind of weather for the next few days. June can be like that in this region and it's always good to have lots of stuff that can be done indoors if the weather turns outside. I certainly don't have a shortage of computer work to do but I'd much rather be working outdoors this time of year.
I took a bunch of pictures of ancient looking cowboy hats at the Anahim Lake Trading Store the other day and I thought I might post some of them up on the right this week. Some belonged to some pretty colorful characters in the area, some who's names you'll recognize from Rich Hobson's books about Pan Phillips. I'm pretty sure I recognize a couple of the hats while worn on the heads of those very same people years ago. Mind you, one of them looked a lot like the flea bitten old felt hat my Dad wore for years. You never throw a good, comfortable hat away which is why many of those in the pictures look like they've been to Hell and back. It seems ironic that hats like these still worn by nearly every cowboy in the country look like they have for hundreds of years, and yet you can look up at the sky above the range those boys worked, and see a shuttle moving overhead. Our world is truly amazing.
I've started a new week so if you would like to read the articles for the first week of June you'll find them at June, Week One.


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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!
Large Falls fed by Hotnarko Lake.
 
Hotnarko Falls at only a trickle.
 
A very worn out old cowboy hat.
 
Cowboy hat in good shape owned by Peter Alexis.
 
Al Elsey's cowboy and fishing hat.
 
Beat up old Lester Dorsey cowboy hat.
 
Old cowboy hat belonging ot L. Enquist.
 
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