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Wilderness Adventures - March, Week 1/2007

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.

You can search this site for a subject of interest to you at the bottom of this page. Check out the Picture of the Day.

08/03/2007 6:14 PM

The Calm After The Firestorm

As with anything, things will never get back to normal after the fire at the hangar, and yet, as with all things, they will.
It doesn't take long for things to get around by moccasin telegraph in this country. By yesterday morning I had a call from my sister in Williams Lake about the hangar fire who had heard it from the co-owner of a helicopter business out Tatlayoko way. The guys at Springhouse air park had heard about it by yesterday afternoon and everyone I spoke to when I ventured up to Nimpo yesterday had also heard.
The aircraft community is a tight knit one in central British Columbia so when aircraft are destroyed it gets around pretty fast and every person involved in the industry is just heartsick.
Of course, there are also all the looky loos, which is to be expected I guess. I think Mazy was getting tired of playing tour guide but since she's living nearby, she felt responsible for making sure no one went into the burned out hangar until my Mom and Terry could get back from the States. Unfortunately, the husband of the owner of one of the planes chose to ignore Mazy's admonitions to not enter the hangar, even though the danger of injury is high and there is a liability there. It just proves there are annoying, self centered, pus gutted idiots everywhere.
Last night felt like a new beginning, with tiny, white snowflakes filtering down. Although the snow was giving everything a fresh, new feel, you had to kind of wonder where it was coming from. There were stars overhead and on every horizon. Where could the snow possibly come from with not a cloud in a sky full of stars? You've got me. This country seems distinct for this type of weird, weather phenomenon, but still, how does it happen? Enquiring minds want to Alas, only a meteorologist can answer that question.
Yesterday evening the coyotes started howling just across the lake from us and I was reminded of their sound in a calm spot between explosions during the hangar fire. To me, they sounded like a bunch of hyenas celebrating the loss of the hangar, they were so noisy. And yet last night they were at our end of the lake setting up a ruckus, young ones and old, showing what a distance they will travel in a single day. Hopefully they weren't chasing game but it would be unrealistic to hope otherwise.
For some strange reason or other our Rottweiler dog feels a need to join into any coyote howling session, so I was forced to bring the dogs in for the night just to get a good night's sleep. I don't expect it will take long for the dogs to make a connection between making noise and getting to sleep inside a nice, warm, comfortable porch for the night.
The picture of the day from yesterday stays as is simply because I should actually be started on a new week of articles right now but because I'm not, we'll leave be. There are actually lots of other pics of the hangar fire and the aftermath but I really don't have the heart to post them right now. Maybe later.

07/03/2007 12:46 PM

Unnatural Disaster

We had a sad disaster of no small import occur last night.
Terry B. and my Mom's 10,000 square foot hangar blew up around 10pm. The cause is completely unknown but it can be assumed that there may have been a propane leak, perhaps caused by our unusual snow load this year, or perhaps always in existence but because no one has been in the hangar for a few months, levels may have built up over a period of time. That's all guess work of course. But propane is heavy and would have filled up the building from the floor up. There were propane ceiling heaters in the insulated building so potentially there could have been 10,000 square feet cubed area of gas built up before something ignited it. All conjecture though. It could have been anything.
Andy's instructor, Mazy, is staying in the cabin nearby. She heard a series of explosions and the vehicle door blew off the front of the building with flames starting shortly after. She called us as soon as it happened. We notified a couple of other people as we ran out the door donning boots and gloves to grab our fire pump and hose to throw in the truck and haul booty down to the other end of Nimpo Lake.
When we got down there it was obvious from the flames inside the building and a steady rattle of small explosions that there wasn't going to be much we could do.
Since the police arrived just behind us Andy ran down to the two huge propane tanks next to the hangar before they could see him do so. They would have prevented him from going down there of course, with flames licking out the windows above his head, but if the valves were left open, propane would have been burning off all night until the tanks were empty. Or worse.
We handed Logan the chainsaw we'd brought and he struggled down to the lake to cut a hole in the ice while I tried slogging the intake hose down there over a soft snowmobile track through which I went to my knees in snow every step of the way. I could have gone faster crawling on my belly. I finally yelled up to Andy to bring the pump down a different way because he could never have hauled it through that snow. We got everything hooked up as the big hangar doors bulged out more and more and Andy ran the hose up toward the hangar, more to protect the nearby fuel tanks than for anything. Suddenly, there was a massive explosion with a fireball erupting from one corner of the building where it had ripped a hole in the roof and side. Andy was the closest and hit the snow rolling for the trees because of the fierily burning debris raining down while everyone else hit the ground or ducked behind whatever they could.
I headed for my truck parked closer to the hangar where we had offloaded the pump all the while watching a huge, black cloud of toxic smoke and gases mushroom above us and debris rain down. After that, the fire finally started to settle down somewhat with the pop of explosions sounding off now and again.
There were several planes in the hangar as well as a truck, ten snowmobiles, fourwheelers, a logsplitter, a zamboni, boats and motors, a generator and two fire pumps, many with fuel in them and ready to go. All would have had to have taken turns blowing as well as all the tires on everything in there.
Although Terry had several planes parked in there, so did several friends. As the only large hangar in the area, it was one of the few places where people could park their planes for the winter while they were gone. The only other alternative would be to hire someone that could be available at a moment's notice to keep the wings cleared off in the case of a heavy snowfall. And we've had several of those this winter. Unfortunately, like Terry, some of the owners of the aircraft had no insurance on their planes, so everything is a complete, and devastating loss.
Looking at it today, if you hadn't known what was stored in that hangar, you wouldn't recognize what's sitting there now. A huge DeHavilland Beaver that used to rear high above your head sitting on its floats is reduced to a small pile of scrap no bigger than a fourwheeler. Only the airframes and props help you to identify the other piles of scrap as having once been planes, some of them irreplaceable.
The row of handlebars jutting up in the back are the only sad reminder of numerous snowmobiles while the heavier built fourwheelers are only slightly more recognizable sitting on twisted rims. I have no idea where the big boat went, but it's melted down in there somewhere, and there's nothing left of the truck or of all the camping gear, clothes and Christmas decorations, stored on the rows of gorilla shelving.
Since we are not in a fire protection district it is impossible to find a company that will insure a hangar, even a relatively new one as this one was, or its contents in this area, so none of that stuff can be replaced. It makes all of us, especially those that appreciate fine planes heartsick to see this loss.
I suppose the only blessing is that other than Mazy getting the shock of her life, no one was hurt in the blast. Small comfort.
Thanks to all of you that tried to help out. Duke, for walking Len's excavator down in case the propane and fuel tanks had to be pulled away from the building. Wayne for getting everything going and Jordy for looking after the meter. And thanks especially to Logan for getting the plow truck out of there and hauling hiney down to the lake to cut a hole in the ice, all in the dark and soaking wet to the knees. My thanks to the young RCMP member who was willing to give me a push to get my truck off the ice and out of the way when everyone else standing there was busy covering their heads and backpedalling.
My heart goes out to all of you that lost something in that hangar. As Winnie said, "A landmark from the air that will be sorely missed."

06/03/2007 8:05 PM

Slush, Mush, And Baring Up

The warm weather continues and it is one awful mess out there, folks. Our snow continues to melt at record speed with our record high temperatures. There's still a couple of feet of snow in the woods but it's mushy clear to topsoil and we've a lot of bare spots in our yard now wherever it's exposed to sun.
Nimpo Lake is green with the shine of water on ice leaving only packed snowmobile trails, drifts and the shoreline in shadow with a little snow. Another day, and that will be gone as well. We'll have a bona fide skating rink.
Obviously, cross country skiing on the lake is now out of the question as is walking in the woods. I managed a walk yesterday on a packed snowmobile trail but by today, it was too soft and I was sinking up to my knees every step of the way. That leaves the road now, and it's pretty muddy. I guess that's why they call it Breakup.
The wildlife count is way down now. The dogs and I scared up three grouse on the back trail yesterday, and one on the road today. I watched a caribou saunter across Nimpo Lake and disappear behind the island yesterday, and Andy watched a herd on the lake with the neighbour down at the other end today, but no recent moose sightings. Either they're laying low or they've cleared out. Our one dog did let out a few questioning barks last night, so it's possible that our resident moose were moving through but with these temperatures, tracks are melted out by morning, so it's hard to say.
It doesn't look as though we're the only ones with warm weather troubles. Andy follows the Iditerod pretty closely and several dog teams and mushers have had to be scratched. Lack of snow in one rough, hummock covered area destroyed some sleds, and a few people were lightly injured. You don't picture Alaska as lacking snow, but it certainly does this year.
This will be pretty short and sweet tonight. I've undertaken the dubious process of submitting this site and some of its articles to an outfit on the Internet that in turn sends them out to specific ezines and newsletter groups. Since I've paid for the service I guess I should actually work on getting the chosen articles to them. I'm hoping that doing this will broaden exposure for the site, and therefore the area, thus expanding the tourism base for our lodges, resorts and other businesses that rely on visitors to the area. That is, after all, the whole point of this site. Well ...and keeping you folks up to date on what's happening around here should you be interested. LOL.
Check out the Picture of the Day. Our poor lake!

05/03/2007 12:05 PM

Goodbye Snow

I say that with great sadness because this winter has been one of the best snow years we have seen in ages.
Right about now people are shaking their heads going, "You've got to be kidding! Most people would be happy to see spring come!" Not so. Because of one thing or another, including Andy's effort to get his pilot's license this winter, and all the bull and hoops to jump through involved with that, as well as me being pretty busy in the last two months, we've had very little opportunity to enjoy the snow. That means snowmobiling of course.
According to the weatherman this Pineapple Express is here for at least three more days, if not longer. It's shocking to see how much the snow has dropped the last couple of days. I'm not sure I've ever seen a melt like this in the first part of March and it's made a real mess of things. Water is running everywhere, requiring some quick ditching in the ice to direct it away from our buildings, and walking anywhere in the yard is a perilous experience indeed!
Aside from warm temperatures, we've got a warm wind howling out of the southwest that only speeds the melt and you can stand outside and literally watch the ground become exposed. We have our friends from Quesnel coming down to go snowmobiling in a week but at this rate, they may not have much of a chance to do that without trailering to the Rainbows. The old saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait for five minutes." certainly holds true in this country so I guess we'll wait and see.
I ventured out onto the lake for a ski yesterday and as long as I stayed in the sun toward the middle of the lake rather than close to shore, the snow was mushy enough to not stick to my skis. I still came to a sudden jolting stop a couple of times though, nearly resulting in a faceplant into the snow. Anyone who skis knows that feeling!
There were a few fresh moose tracks and at one point River took off after something in the woods before I could stop him. Fortunately, I got him back fairly quickly but he's now on probation and in deep, deep trouble with me. That means his hide isn't worth a plugged nickel right now and he knows it. The last thing we need is for our dogs to be exhausting the wildlife for the predators.
At least the sun is shining and that's something everyone in British Columbia could use a little bit of. It looks like it's the East's turn now with a cold spell hitting them this week after last week's nasty freezing rain and snowstorms. I realize that a lot of people are talking about global warming this year because the winter has been so severe across the country, but last week I had the opportunity to watch a very interesting television program. It talked about the severe storms that hit the east in the late 1800's and throughout the first half of the 1900's, particularly New York and Chicago, forever changing how public utility lines and above ground transit systems were laid out in those cities. Judging from the footage, wild winter storms have long been with us, it's just that they haven't been as bad for the last 50 years as they were before.
I think it's good that our weather this winter has forced people to become more aware of global warming, its causes, and the potential devastation it can cause for future generations. But I still have to wonder, when you look at the big picture, just how much of our severe weather is being caused by man and how much is simply a natural cycle for earth? Are we in a natural warming cycle? And if so, how much is that process being speeded up by the pollutants we release into the air? There is no question in my mind that we need to do something about those pollutants, and the wild weather has forced voters who have forced governments on the North American Continent to take a long, hard look at what can be done. But my curiosity is piqued by the question and although I know that no scientist can answer it with any certainty, I'm still curious.

04/03/2007 12:22 PM

Another Pineapple Express

As most of you have probably noted, I'm about a day behind and a dollar short. Or so goes that old saying. Unfortunately, this past trip to Nevada and work that pays tends to get in the way of keeping up on this blog and website at times. And no, this site doesn't pay me except through advertising two years ago. I've built it, expanded it and kept up on it as a community service and I do get a lot of feedback from folks that read the blog, so I do it for them. Lately, I've been getting a lot of queries for the properties listed for sale on this site as well and trying to get back to those people with information takes a little time.
For the last two days we've been hit with yet another Pineapple Express, or a warm funnel of air coming off the Pacific with its origins in Hawaii. We've been seeing daytime temperatures in excess of plus 10C or about 50 degrees Fahrenheit with warm winds out of the south. That means our fresh snow is fast disappearing and our old snow is getting pretty mushy. Probably good news for the big game hanging out in the woods because it's a lot easier for them to get around in the deep snow than it is for the predators.
I went for a walk in the woods yesterday because facing a brutal south wind and sticky snow crossing Nimpo Lake on cross country skis just didn't appeal to me. Besides, it had been a while since I had checked out my old haunts and it was a good day to meander on the back trails out of the wind. I was really surprised to see that there were no fresh tracks since the last snow out in the woods, and yet we had fresh moose tracks walking up our driveway and down past the cabin yesterday. Our moose troupe hangs in close to our place or neighbouring properties, depending on who is making the most ruckus whether that be with the Bobcat, dogs or vehicles.
This morning a good sized pack of coyotes were howling across the bay, so those rotten little beggers are still around, presumably running game.
We have part time residents around the lake in for the week and there's a few of them as well as locals out skiing and even with these winds there's a couple of guys out flying. Folks that like winter sports tend to get out there and make hay while they can because you never know how soon breakup is going to hit in this country. Right now, you would think it already had. Our roads and driveways have turned from compact snow to sheer ice in less than a day and the tree wells around many of the bigger trees are down to the grass in our yard. Brown grass, that is. It was quite the thing to see green grass in Nevada and Vancouver last week. We won't see it for another two to three months. At least those people who's snowmobiles were buried in the big snowfalls this winter will be able to find them and get riding now. March is often the very best month to get out into the high country here with longer days, warmer temperatures and a solid base.
Okay, gotta go. Quite a few properties listed on this site have sold now and I really need to get that section updated. Oh, and I should make a note here. That haunting picture of Lonesome Lake Valley from the top of Trumpeter Mountain posted on yesterday's picture of the day was taken by Mazy Baker. Since it was taken on my camera I downloaded it straight to my computer but was remiss in listing her as the one with the creative eye! Hope you're all having a wonderful Sunday!

01/03/2007 3:07 PM

Moose On Our Property

It would seem that some moose have taken up long term residency on our property line. We have had to keep the dogs in the porch for the last couple of days except when I went skiing. Even then, I had to keep them close because River could definitely smell them as I skied off our shore and onto the lake. Andy hasn't been able to start the Bobcat up to clear our driveway of that fresh snow for fear of scaring the moose.
Andy saw a moose right down in front of the house on the lake yesterday morning and when he drove out our driveway shortly after, he saw the same moose on our neighbour's property just between ours and the second neighbour over. He said the moose didn't really move other than to turn its back toward him so I walked up on our driveway until I saw the moose just on the other side of the neighbour's brush pile. He was laying down with his head lying on the snow and although he looked up at me, he certainly didn't get up or move off but simply lay his head back down again. As much as I would have liked a better picture, I had no interest in scaring the animal out of its bed, and returned back down the driveway. When Andy came home a couple of hours later he commented that there were now two moose standing together in about the same spot.
From our deck you could see one of them feeding among the trees and it was such a bright brown copper penny color that were it not for the ears, could easily have been mistaken for a sorrel horse. A while later when I came back from skiing I could just see the silhouette of one watching me as I came from across the lake to our yard.
At first we had been concerned that the one moose might be injured, sick or exhausted from being run by predators but the fact that there were at least two or more debunked that theory. The only thing we can think is that since we've had coyote packs howling so close at night and we know there are wolves on the lake killing animals, perhaps these moose figure they're a lot safer between two occupied residences, one with dogs, than out on the lake or in the woods.
I went out for a short ski on the lake the day after I came home, trying to break trail through the several snows that fell while I was gone. I only made it to the far shore in a cold north wind before turning around after discovering that my track on the other side had been completely obliterated by snowmachines. I didn't have the heart to continue breaking trail so didn't see if there had been anymore moose or deer killed by the wolves. But I can only assume that if the moose are hanging in this close to our residences day after day, the slaughter must be continuing.
I almost wished we had some hay to throw out for those moose hanging around, just to help them out a bit. But there's a little bit of buckbrush in our meadow to keep them going for a couple of days. A fellow down at the other end of the lake has a bunch of hay in a shed where a cow moose and her calf were staying about a month ago. Apparently she would leave the calf behind secure in the shed while she would go browse in the meadows. I don't know if they're still down there but since the fellow commented on how small the calf was I think it more than possible that it was the animal killed by wolves on Nimpo Lake a couple of weeks ago. Who's to say though? It would seem there are far more moose than I thought in the area such as the copper colored one that I know I've never seen before.
01/03/2007 1:08 PM

Back From Across The Border

I'm sure you've all noticed I haven't been around for the past week. I ventured out of my happy little place in the Chilcotin for the bright lights of Reno to visit my brother for a week. Talk about culture shock! Between too many people, 20 out of 26 hours spent sitting in airports rather than flying, and security check points every step of the way, I'm thinking it's not going to happen again for awhile. Next time, I drive!
On top of all that, the weather in Reno was nasty for all but one day, laying down a fair bit of snow the night before I was to fly out, resulting in delays while our plane was de-iced. Of course there was an hour and a half delay coming down because the jetway wouldn't work. Old machinery is what I was told by the one attendant. Okay...I have a problem with that. Mother Nature you can't do much about but outdated machinery?
Then there's the terrorist threat level. The sign at Reno airport said Orange and the threat level was at high. I questioned the guy at the ticket counter who said it had been that way for the past year. If it's intended to persuade people to remain on the alert then I think you've kind of lost the effect after a year. It's human nature to become complacent when you see the same thing for a long period of time. So it would seem to me that the whole point of posting threat levels is completely lost on the general population. If that's the case, why bother at all?
At least the flying part is always pretty cool. I lucked out with a window seat on every connection and got to see the landscape from the air. It's been a while since I've flown though, and seeing the pall of pollution over Seattle and Vancouver was a bit of a shock. Flying over the Coastal Range coming out of Vancouver toward home was the usual breathtaking trip it always is in clear weather with jagged peaks row on row poking up toward the sky, a setting sun coloring the snow first bronze, then pink. Both the Rockies and the Coast Range are rugged looking mountain ranges from the air and should look the same, but they don't to me. I've a special place in my heart for the Coastal Mountains even if the air is often turbulent going over them.
I got to have lunch and good conversation at the floatplane base near Vancouver Airport courtesy of Andy's Sis who then drove me over to the terminal you fly from if you're heading home to the 'boonies'. It was great to be able to watch floatplanes, albeit big ones, land and take off of the Fraser River. We won't be seeing them here in our neck of the woods for another two and a half or three months and I always miss them through the winter, so it was kind of nice. Thanks Barb!
It's good I got my fill of warmer air in Vancouver too because temps sure dropped around here! We had to deal with mini snowstorms and icy roads coming back to Nimpo Lake from Williams Lake after I landed there and we arrived home to about six inches of fresh snow. Last night the mercury dropped to -30C or about 20 below zero Fahrenheit but at least yesterday's cruel north wind has settled down and we're finally seeing sun today.
Some of the locals, including Andy and Mazy, went up on Trumpeter Mountain snowmobiling earlier this week when they finally got a nice day. I'm posting a few of their pictures up on the right since we're starting to get into the best time of year to go sledding. I'm also posting a picture we took of a cow and calf moose we saw on our way into town last week that looked pretty complacent themselves about being that close to the road. A pretty dangerous place to be midday with it being our native brethren's favorite time of year to hunt, so we weren't unhappy to see our presence caused them to move back into the bush a bit where they were better hidden.
Since it's the first of March I am starting a new week. Last week's articles can be found at February, Week Three .

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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!
Flames erupt from a hangar at Nimpo Lake.
A moose rests in the deep snow.
A sunny day allows panoramic vistas from the top of Trumpeter Mountain.
Snowmobile falls over a drift.
Three snowmobile riders stop and enjoy the day.
A cow and calf moose stand watching us from the side of the highway.
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