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 3/2007
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.
neighbour down at other end of Nimpo Lake posted this
interesting video on You Tube with bears he ran into
at the top of the Bella Coola Hill and has kindly given
me permission to post the link Logan
and the Three Bears here.
It's quite the video and well worth seeing, although I
admit I'm not sure I would have put my fingers down to
the mouth of a black bear cub.
Logan drives our ambulance at Anahim Lake and on a recent
trip at the top of the Bella Coola Hill he caught
this great video of a black bear sow and her two cubs,
one of which seemed determined to meet the human.
Surprisingly, the sow wasn't as protective as I would
have expected her to be, although she was
keeping a close eye on the proceedings.
If you take a good look at the video, you'll see all the
bugs both on the animals and wandering back and forth
in front of the camera lens. I feel so sorry for all the
wildlife out there suffering under our bug onslaught.
I expect all the animals will be looking a bit mangy by
the time the mosquitoes and black flies die off.
At least the bears will have an excellent berry
crop for dining on this summer. With all this
rain we noticed strawberries and raspberries are coming
on gangbusters this year.
Because the temperature stayed relatively high through
the night Wednesday night, and there was a small rain
yesterday morning, the mosquitos were absolutely ferocious
first thing in the morning. But we had sun and a good
wind later on, making it bearable to work outside all
day as long as you were armed with bug spray and mosquito
coils. I sure feel for our summer visitors right now,
especially if they're not used to bugs.
Today we're back to a mixture of sun and rain and wind,
and right now there's some wicked black clouds moving
in. For sure we'll see rain, yet again,
and possibly thunder and lightning, so I'm going to get
this up and posted as soon as possible before I have to
shut my computer down if the power goes out.
A new toy came into the yard today, just for that eventuality.
We finally got a generator, something I figure that in
view of all our red and dead trees, is just as necessary
for this country as a fire pump. Now if we get an extended
power outage, we can keep our water pump, freezers and
Just a reminder to everyone, the British Columbia
Floatplane Association AGM is next weekend so
if you're coming up, make sure to get your accommodations
booked as soon as possible.
Here comes the storm so I'm out of here!
was town day for us. Do the shop for things you
can't get here and we had to go up to Springhouse Airpark
so Andy could take a spin in a wheeled plane. Although
I realize there are a lot of early morning people out
there....I'm not one of them. And leaving the Chilcotin
to mingle with a bunch of people in Williams Lake is not
my favorite thing to do. However, getting out of
here by 5:30 in the morning is the only hope you have
of driving the 200 miles, getting everything done
that needs to be, and returning home at a reasonable time
so that you can get everything unloaded and put away before
bed time. Remarkably, we did fairly well yesterday and
managed to get home by supper time.
We stopped off at the rest area at the top of the hill
above Lee's Corner to let the dogs out. There was
a tent there and lo and behold, the two red bikes with
the trailer behind it that we saw down at Split Rock a
full week before. There was no sign of life so
we continued on our way and wondered if we would see the
bikers on our return trip.
Williams Lake was hot and muggy as usual, and fighting
traffic two days before the Stampede starts was not fun.
It's funny but when you're talking to people in town,
they all get ready to clear out by the weekend when the
Stampeders move in. I can remember doing exactly the same
thing when I lived in Willy's Puddle. Forget sleep or
getting around town during Stampede time. For visitors,
it's party time and that's just all.
Coming across the bridge at Sheep Creek just out
of Williams Lake the Fraser River is still really high.
You could see where it was probably about six feet higher
only very recently but even now, the river runs from bank
to bank with no shoreline. I think that the Lower Mainland
is probably very lucky that the weather turned so cool
and slowed the snow melt the last few weeks.
We topped out at Sheep Creek and around Riske Creek the
two red bikes we had seen parked at Lee's Corner that
morning were headed our way. We pulled over and
called to the riders as they rode up, explaining that
we had spoken to them down in the Bella Coola Valley the
Tuesday before. They were hoping to make it to
Williams Lake that evening but we weren't sure they could
without having a late ride. We told them when they asked
that there were no stores between them and the Puddle
and I offered them juice and groceries if they needed
it. Nope. They were fine. They sure are a self sufficient
and independent couple. I was pleased to see they had
made it up the 'Hill' and that the little tyke was still
smiling and happy, this time riding up front of his Dad
near the handlebars. At least the bears didn't eat them.
Although I got the distinct impression that the bugs did!
We actually woke up to some really beautiful weather
this morning with some sun and no breeze. That
actually wasn't a good thing because I wanted to work
outside today. The bugs were downright obnoxious all day
so I had three mosquito coils surrounding my work area
and I lost count of my bug spray applications. All that
and it was still only just bearable. I don't know where
all these rotten things are coming from but most locals
admit this is about as bad as they've ever seen it. I
know that after awhile they can drive you half crazy.
I can understand why some of the early explorers
and the miners during the goldrush would go stark raving
mad, as did many of their mules and horses. No
bug spray in those days.
I only got a chance to look at the temperature once today,
and that was later this afternoon, but it read 21.5C or
a little over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. That may not seem
very hot but when you've been registering little over
10C for the past while, it seems like a heat wave. Mind
you, we've got nothing on Eastern Canada, where people
have been suffering under smog alerts and a heat wave
with temperatures well over a 100 degrees. Manitoba has
been getting hit with numerous tornados while Saskatchewan
has been drowning under several inches of rain at a time.
So I guess I'm not going to complain too much about our
2007 Water Skipping Races
annual snowmobile races on the Dean River occurred
this past Saturday after being delayed for a week because
of high water. They were supposed to start at eleven in
the morning but I learned from experience last year that
we wouldn't miss much if we arrived after one. And we
This time I hooked Andy into going with me because he's
never seen them before. Two machines had already gone
before we got there but neither looked like they made
it past the second corner.
The Dean River makes some sharp S turns as it winds its
way through the Ulkatcho Reserve in Anahim Lake. Apparently
it isn't too hard to learn how to get through the first
two turns on the river. What gets everyone is a right
angle turn on the river with deep, deep water called the
Each snowmobile rider runs his machine down the
river negotiating the bends to the Stampede Grounds where
there's a spot wide enough on the river to turn around
and return. The rider that has the best time in
his class (size of snowmachine) wins that class.
Not long after we arrived one of the snow machines that
had been pulled out of the river and was sitting in the
meadow caught on fire when they tried to get it started
again. Eventually it came back in under its own steam
after a couple of more contestants sank trying to run
the river, and its rider took it through all the corners
and clear down to the other end where there's room enough
to get turned around and come back up the river. We figured
someone was finally going to make the whole run when we
heard the sound of the snowmobile as it screamed back
up the straight stretch. Unfortunately, the Swimming
Hole corner got him coming back and cheers turned to disappointed,
We walked along a path through the trees down to the swimming
hole hoping we would make it there before the next contestant
started his run. They were still trying to pull the snowmobile
up onto shore and through the tight grove of trees when
we arrived and shortly after you could hear the roar of
a machine coming down the river. A yellow skidoo came
flying around the corner but seemed to be losing speed
fast. The motor died and it just sank, the rider
sinking nearly as fast with his heavy boots and helmet
dragging him down. The rescue raft came around
the corner only just in time because Andy was beginning
to think he might have to get wet.
Once out of the extremely cold, extremely deep water,
the kid riding the machine said something went in the
motor just as he rounded the corner, which explains why
the speed dropped so suddenly. Otherwise, he might have
made it. The water is so deep in the river this year that
they had to use a long piece of rebar, curved on the end,
to hook the rope hung over the hood of the snowmobile.
Actually, it took them awhile just to find it in
8 to 12 feet of murky water, much less hook it
and pull it out using a fourwheeler.
Last year, most of the machines had a rope looped across
the hood with a jug attached to it. If the machine went
in, it would sink but the jug on the end of the rope would
pop to the surface. No one seemed to be using jugs this
year. Maybe it was considered bad luck to attach something
that you would only need in the event your machine drowned.
We heard another machine coming in the distance
as soon as the skidoo was out of the water but it didn't
even get past the first bend before the sound died.
Because all the machines were going in the drink, it was
quite a while between each run because every machine had
to be out of the water before the next one ran the river.
We finally tired of the mosquitoes, the rain, and the
long wait between races and left for home. I had seen
the races last year where machine after machine succeeded
in running the whole river and best time won for each
class, but I don't know if anyone did it this year. I
guess in that case the winner is judged on how far he
got on the course before sinking.
Needless to say, waterskipping is an extremely interesting
sport. Fun to watch but I'm not sure how fun it is to
do. I'm assuming you need a real A type personality
to risk hypothermia and drowning by running a river on
If you would like to know more or see lots of pictures
on last year's waterskipping, you can find it at May,
Week Three 2006 and June,
Week One 2006.
Last Of The Prairie Saga
up loose ends.
Our friends had a great laugh when we reached East Branch
at the top of the Bella Coola Hill, something I meant
to mention before. East Branch is the parking lot
and jumping off point for those who like to cross country
ski or snowmobile in the Rainbow Mountains in winter,
or hike in summer. At the parking lot there is
an outdoor washroom high in the air with stairs leading
up to the door. The girls wondered why in the world you
would have a bathroom in the air. I told them there can
be so much snow up there in winter that the door of the
washroom has to be that high off of the ground or you
would never get into it. Check it out on the bottom at
We had a lot of float plane traffic on Nimpo Lake
in the last few days that our friends were here from Saskatchewan.
It looked like a lot of the pilots were from down at Wilderness
Rim but the Dean on Nimpo had a barbeque and old time
fiddle playing at the resort one night this week. Tweedsmuir
Air has also been doing a lot of flying lately, probably
taking fishermen up to some of our great alpine fishing
lakes. In any case, our friends got to watch a few planes
taking off of the lake. I think they were a little concerned
about dodging them at first but the boats on Nimpo
Lake are always better off continuing to do what they
were doing and let the pilots judge where they need to
One thing that we've been seeing on the lake that is most
unusual for right now are loons grouping up. I don't ever
remember seeing anything but pairs this time of year while
the loons are nesting. Just a little while back I saw
six together in front of the big island. While fishing
on Thursday I was concentrating on trying to get a fish
in when four loons bobbed past us on the waves. And Saturday
I looked out in front of our place as two pairs warily
made their way toward each other. They passed, then circled
each other much like dogs would on passing in the street.
Then all four put their heads in the water and
went about the serious business of fishing for lunch.
It absolutely amazed me because all I have ever seen loons
do, particularly males, is to battle at this time of year.
However, Andy pointed out that all four of these birds
were quite small and were probably immatures that were
born here last year. We don't know if perhaps they have
to reach two or older before mating, if they are all males
or all females, or if they are mixed, perhaps
there's a shortage of nesting areas on the lakes. Loons
are pretty particular about where they nest and
it's partly because we have so many small bays and a few
islands that we have such a healthy population. It's certainly
nice to see that higher population continue to this extent.
I think I've mentioned before that we've had a black bear
sow with three tiny cubs hanging around Nimpo Lake on
the highway for several weeks now. I was lucky enough
to see her last Sunday while on the way back from Anahim
Lake with my two friends from Saskatchewan. The one girl
was thrilled because she'd never seen a cub in the wild,
much less three. The sow crossed the highway long in front
of us so I had time to get my camera ready and get the
truck slowed right down before I got to where I estimated
her to be. We watched for some time as she made her way
through a barbed wire fence and slowly up a hill alongside
an old log snake fence. She had to go slowly because at
least one stubborn cub was more interested in investigating
things along the way than it was in following her. Another
held back a little but wasn't too bad, and the third stayed
right on her heels. She finally went on, ignoring the
laggard and obviously expecting it to come along eventually.
We had heard that some people at Fishtrap got between
her and one of her cubs last week but that the sow did
nothing. I'm willing to bet that little guy was the loner
then too. It seems unusual that a sow would allow
her cub to be separated from her but maybe she's just
plain fed up with this little runaway and just doesn't
care. I expect the black flies are far more on
her mind than her straying cub right now.
The picture up above is one of the few in which I could
get all four animals in the same frame and I got this
one just before the little guy deked off into the woods
again. I expect the sow probably came out of a nearby
winter den and can't go that far with three small cubs,
which explains why she's hanging out in the same area.
I just hope someone doesn't decide to panic and dispose
of her. She's certainly not hurting anyone and we all
know to stay away from her, but sure enough, someone will
complain to the Wildlife Branch. I only hope she and her
cubs don't get too used to humans until
she can move them out of the area.
One picture I would have loved to have gotten but
only heard about, was of two grizzlies mating down in
the Bella Coola Valley the same day we were down
there. A friend of ours was telling us her partner saw
the bears along the highway and he and the occupants of
three other vehicles watched the activity for about ten
minutes. And of course, no camera. I'm sure anyone that
studies bears would like to see some video of an event
like that. I don't think I've seen any of that sort of
footage on the wildlife shows on television so I shouldn't
think it's caught on camera that often.
I'll try to get to the waterskipping event in an
article tomorrow, but I may have to start a new
week fairly quickly to show all of the pictures. Just
to remind everyone, the British Columbia Floatplane Association
has changed their AGM from the middle of the month to
July 6. That's the same weekend that the Anahim Lake Stampede
will be happening. For pilots that read this article,
Cora, from True North Expediting, can provide shuttle
service to and from the Anahim Lake Airport as well as
to and from Nimpo Lake and the AGM location. You can contact
them at 250-742-3508 or for more information, go to their
listing on this site under Business.
The Prairies Come West
delight in showing off our part of the Chilcotin to visitors
and I always hope that conditions are going to be just
right. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in yesterday's article,
sometimes you just can't win for losing. However,
bugs and bad weather aside, I did get to show our friends
from Saskatchewan around Anahim and Nimpo Lake a bit.
The general stores in both communities are unique and
interesting, in that they try to provide the necessities
to community members that include a good selection of
groceries, fishing gear, hardware, tack and gifts.
Our weather wasn't really clear enough to take them up
to some of the viewpoints where you can see all of the
mountain ranges and many of the lakes in the area but
I'm hoping that will give them a good excuse to come back.
I was really hoping to take them to the waterskipping
races because everyone needs to see a little insanity
once in awhile, but it was postponed until today
and they had to leave yesterday.
We did get to take our friends down the "Hill"
to Bella Coola and the view along the way can be pretty
breathtaking. Aside from deer we also saw eight bears
that day. They were all black bears and I was hoping
for a grizzly but the rivers are really high and
I don't think the salmon are running much yet. Judging
from the direction all the bears were moving though, I
expect they had fish on their minds.
We stopped off at the Fisheries Pool on the Atnarko
River to show the girls everyone's favorite salmon fishing
river. We had hoped they could try a little trout
fishing but the river was way too high and the water was
We did a little shopping in Hagensborg and then went down
past the marina in Bella Coola to Clayton Falls where
there's a hydro electric generating plant that provides
electricity to the entire Bella Coola Valley. There's
a recreation site there that sits out on a little point
of land right on the salt water inlet where mountains
rare up on the other side and you can see a number of
waterfalls fed by higher elevation snow melt. We enjoyed
a picnic there and then continued on to the Falls. There's
a short walking trail to a viewing platform that extends
out over the Falls.
That is one breathtaking view, let me tell you. The
river at Clayton Falls roars down over huge boulders that
have been smoothed by the massive volume of water, shooting
a fine mist into the air. A huge tree had been
uprooted at the base of the Falls this spring from the
look of it, and it was apparent that the water had been
much higher and wilder only a short time ago.
We came back past the marina to a small grotto where I
wanted to show our friends a beautiful waterfall tucked
in the trees just off the highway. In fact, Andy and I
never knew they were there. Other friends of ours from
Saskatchewan spotted them as we drove by a couple of years
ago and I still think it's one of the prettiest spots
I've ever seen.
Back in the Bella Coola townsite the girls wandered around
checking out the stores, one of which is an excellent
gift shop with just about everything under the sun, including
a vast array of oversized rods and fishing gear.
On the way back to the bottom of the "Hill',
we stopped off at Split Rock, the beginning of a really
beautiful hiking trail inside Tweedsmuir Park.
I swear, every time I pass that rock, the split is wider.
If it weren't for a tree holding up the one piece, I think
it would have fallen over. Never mind that it's bigger
than a truck.
We spoke to a young couple from Germany on mountain bikes,
one of which was rigged with a trailer/buggy in which
sat a small, smiling boy. They were going to try to pedal
to the bottom of the "Hill" by the evening and
then take it on the next day. We asked how they
bike up grades varying between 9% and 18% such as those
on the Bella Coola Hill. The girl asked if it
was pavement because then they can tack back and forth
across the road. When we told her it was gravel she said
they would have to push the bikes loaded with all their
camping gear up the hill. I wondered how they were going
to push a bike up a hill that steep that was pulling a
trailer and she said she would have to ride up a ways,
and then return to push the trailer from behind while
her husband pushed the bike. I looked at our truck trying
to gauge whether we could fit their rigs and them in it
but they seemed content to do it on their own. Since
we had just passed three bears behind them I was
a little concerned about their safety and their ability
to make the hill, but they seemed to know what they were
doing. We all thought about them as we drove up the hill,
trying to figure out how far up they could get before
they would have to camp each day. It's a good thing they
looked really fit because I don't think they had a clue
what was before them.
Andy was following the space shuttle Atlantis throughout
the week on the computer and we were fortunate enough
to have clear weather the one night when they were going
over us while the shuttle was attached to the space station.
Although the moving point of light looked a lot smaller
because of course, it was much farther away, it took a
full five minutes to cross the night sky, giving us all
time to study it and congratulate one another on our good
fortune. I'm glad to see the Atlantis got down safely.
Today's weather has been the usual. There
was actually mist on Nimpo Lake this morning because the
temperature dropped low enough last night. The morning
started out to be a really pretty one but as usual, it
deteriorated into mixed sun and cloud with some wind and
quick rain showers. The Jet Stream has really dipped to
the south of us, which is why I think we have such cool
weather right now. Add to that a low pressure system spiraling
out off our coast, being fed by another off the coast
of Alaska, and it all means inclement weather.
Today's the waterskipping races down at the reserve so
I think I'll quit now and go take some pictures of some
very creative snowmobile riding.
The Party's Over!
holiday with our friends from Saskatchewan is over and
it's time to get back to work. I know there were a few
of you wondering where the stories were and it's true,
I felt guilty. Honest! But sometimes it's
nice to get away from feeling obligated to write an article
every day and just take a break. Especially when friends
are out visiting.
I managed to sneak some time in here and there to work
on web pages when our friends were out fishing, but frankly,
I didn't miss this computer one little bit!
Since our friends are avid fisherwomen, we figured
around the first to middle part of June would give them
some excellent fishing, and we hoped for good
weather and few bugs. Unfortunately, things don't always
work out the way you want them to. If we weren't dealing
with driving rain, we were fighting high winds that didn't
slow down the bugs a bit. I think that the really warm
spell we had a while back and then extremely cool weather
slowed down the hatch. As a result, we had ferocious black
flies and swarms of mosquitoes all at once. It couldn't
have been worse.
In view of the wild weather, shortly after arriving the
one girl asked if we ever had bad hail storms. "Nah,"
I replied, "We get hail but just little stuff."
Less than a day later I was outside scrambling to
protect plants on the deck being shredded by giant hail
stones while trying to keep from being brained
by these things. They hurt! I had to accuse my friends
of bringing their Saskatchewan weather with them.
In addition to that, our friends have never fished
a high altitude lake for rainbow trout before.
Accustomed to fishing for pickerel, walleye and jackfish,
they spent a lot of time changing rigging trying to figure
out what our fish would like. They didn't get skunked
by any means, but rather than pulling in their limit each
day, they often only had one-fish days. I was extremely
disappointed for them, but they did mention a friend that
could have fun in a mud puddle. I would have to say the
same for them. They seemed quite happy with the situation
and took the rain, wind, bugs, and tough fishing in stride.
I look forward to the day they can come back and
see the Chilcotin the way it should be seen. Beautiful
mountains, gorgeous days with flat, calm water and great
fishing. Oh yeah, and late enough in the season that all
those flying little buggers are gone!
Trying to find a good location on Nimpo Lake to fish was
also a bit touchy. We usually fish the bay in front of
our place and advised our friends to do the same. But
when we went out we found the first fish we caught was,
unusually, the same as the one they caught. Very slim
and the meat was very pale. Andy suggested that they
were probably fish that had finished spawning and were
coming in from the Dean River, since that flow
goes past our point. I suspect he may be right because
once we all fished farther out, the trout were their usual
plump, red selves.
We finally put the big boat in and Andy and I decided
to go out and see what was happening with the fishing.
We did okay with five brought in, so I suspect the equipment
was the key. Ever since Andy got me onto using a sinking
fly line and rod with only a fly trolling behind us, I
have never gone back to a casting rod. I can feel a strike
much better and I love the action you have on a fly rod.
I'm a far cry from being an expert fisherman, but I don't
think you have to be with a fly rod. One of our friends
got to check that out on the last day and I'm hoping we
have her convinced to buy one and check it out on their
The downside of all the bugs is that the rainbow
trout in Nimpo Lake had an all day buffet and
convincing them to take a lure or fly was tougher than
usual. The upside was that you couldn't work outside in
any comfort. That meant we were left to enjoy good food,
good drink, good company, some card playing and some guitar
music. Oh yeah. The card playing. Don't ever teach
two aggressive Saskatchewan card players Texas Holdem'
unless you want to lose all your toothpicks and matchsticks!
The East meets West saga continues in the next article.
As you will see, this is the start of a new week so you
can find the second week of June at June,
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!