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 - West Chilcotin Blog
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of the Day.
Spring Before Spring
we thought February was the warmest any of us have ever
experienced out in the Chilcotin, our month of March wasnt
We had a cool down in the first week of March as I mentioned
in the last blog, perfect for a fellow weve come
to know that was arriving from Texas to experience a good
old fashioned Chilcotin winter. Except that the day he
arrived it started to warm up and it just never quit the
whole week he was here. No more booming lake because it
rarely got much below freezing at night, the fresh snow
we had received melted and then froze, so snowmobiling
wasnt that easy, and within a couple of days, it
was way too warm for him to go snowshoeing.
We took Bob snowmobiling the day after he arrived
in Nimpo with a couple of friends and neighbours up to
Lillie Lake and then Mud Lake on the east side of the
highway, thinking it would be a nice, short, easy ride.
Except that it did freeze a little the night before after
a warm melty day, making the lake ice hard as cement.
We decided to get up off the lake using a neighbours
ramp, except that the second machine in line couldnt
even make it up the slippery path, which is kind of hilarious
because these were all mountain machines designed to go
up vertical slopes in deep powder, but therein lies the
Our snowmobiles all have deep paddles (high rubber
tread on the track) designed to help give the snowmobile
traction in deep snow, but does absolutely nothing for
traction on ice, never its intended use. Nor does
it kick up much in the way of moisture onto the sliders
or onto the tunnels, which is the radiator fins up under
the seat and back end of the machine, which again would
not normally be a problem in deep snow. But when your
radiating system is sitting two feet above the ground
and little or no moisture getting to it, your machine
overheats, which is where scratchers come in. Theyre
spring steel pieces attached to the side of your machine
that stick down into the snow and ice and are designed
to break out enough ice and throw it up onto the track
and radiating system to keep the snowmobile from overheating
and the sliders from melting together.
We all backed down from trying to get up the slippery
slope and decided to take another route from the east
end of the lake as suggested by one of our neighbours.
However, we had only made it part way down the icy lake
when Andys big Polaris started to overheat. It was
the only machine among us without scratchers and it didnt
take long for the lights to come on. We stopped at the
shoreline, threw some snow onto the fins and then came
back home to pick up the old wide track I borrowed for
the winter to pull the ski trackers that is fan cooled
and has a short paddle so it doesnt overheat. I
rode it and gave Andy my machine and we rejoined the group.
The new route took us out to the highway but we had to
follow along it for some ways before we could cross and
reach a trail up toward Lillie lake, and in just the few
days since we had last been up, a lot of melting had gone
on. There is no sound like hearing your track and
skis grind over mud and gravel. Its kind of like
scraping your fingernails down a chalkboard. But
we made it across and back onto some snow, thank heavens,
and headed up a trail that would take us to the old Lillie
Lake ranch. It was really, really warm that day. We made
our way into an old, old homestead on Mud Lake, and I
took a walk around a dilapidated log home that had a lot
of time and effort put into it at one time. A big old
black fly buzzed out of my way as I crossed in front of
the sunny side of the building where green grass was poking
at the foot of the logs. Still snow on the ground, the
seventh of March and theres a fly buzzing around
and grass growing. Unbelievable.
While the situation wasnt ideal, I think it
was still a good day for our friend from Texas and I certainly
enjoyed the ride, even if it was a little too warm.
One thing we have seen up there on two different rides
this winter was a lot of wolf tracks, and some of them
pretty big. You can see that in the photo up on the right
where I have my sun glasses next to a set in the snow.
It's no wonder the moose moved down early in the season
A couple of days later we took Bob up to Trumpeter Mountain
and even though we left much later in the morning than
we usually do, we still ran into a few difficulties. Andy
had put scratchers on his Polaris so it wasnt a
problem but Logan was having a heck of a time with his
snowmobile overheating. Strictly a mountain machine, the
tunnel is really high on it and while I followed him I
noticed that most of the snow and ice his scratchers was
kicking up was going out under his mud flap
instead of being thrown back up onto the track and radiator
fins. The result was that he was constantly having to
stop and shovel snow onto the top of his tunnel to get
it cooled off until later in the day when the snow softened
up and he could get off into the ditches a bit.
I normally really like spring snowmobiling because
you can go anywhere, but when its that warm with
now fresh snow at all, its a problem. However,
it worked out great for our Texan because he could go
anywhere without getting stuck
. For the most part.
He did put Andys 600 into the trees but we were
on Henrys trail and the guys before him had gouged
out the snow enough to where it caught him and pulled
him in. And he certainly wasnt the only one stuck
that day so he did pretty darned well.
Surprisingly, when we went up on Trumpeter there was still
a lot of snow on the mountain. Often at this time of year
youre running over shale where the wind has blown
the snow off, but maybe all the freezing and thawing this
winter kept the snow in place. Other than few cement like
drifts we had to ride over, it wasnt bad. The six
foot cairn at the top was buried with only one rock showing,
quite a contrast to when we took Lloyds ashes up
a few years ago when way more rock was showing.
We had a laminated photo of a soldier killed in
Iraq in 2009 that his parents had asked to be placed by
people in a place special to them, and I dont know
of many more special places in this world than the top
of Trumpeter Mountain with its 360 degree view of
snow capped peaks, glaciers, and mountain ranges.
Since I have a brother that has survived two tours of
Iraq it was important to me to put the photo in a spot
where one of the best views around can be enjoyed for
As the week progressed it just kind of got warmer so while
he and I went walking on the back trail, it just wasnt
that great for outdoor winter recreation. It certainly
wasnt great at all for snowshoeing which I know
he had really looked forward to doing, but winter comes
here every year, so maybe next time
Toward the end of the week our friends organized a picnic
on Dot Island so that Bob could see how we have fun here
in the winter even if it's not much of a one. The wind
was a little cold at first but we had a good fire, comfortable
chairs, great food, and by evening the wind had dropped
and it was down right balmy sitting there, although the
liquid refreshments might have helped with that impression
a bit. :-)
This has been kind of like the winter Olympics held at
Whistler in 2010 where they were having to truck in snow
and the one time that they really, really needed to have
winter, they didnt. This time when we really needed
to have winter because we had a visitor, we didnt.
But on the selfish side, Ive been loving it!
I feel really badly for the poor folks on the east
coast that have been getting slammed with blizzards, snow,
wind and cold temperatures for months, but I am so grateful
its them and not me.
Watching the snow melt for the past two months, temperatures
in the teens in February and flirting with it for most
of March, and having few nights much below freezing has
been marvelous. We had a lot of snow to melt from our
blast earlier in the winter, or it would be gone from
everywhere including the woods. But most of our yard is
dry and most of the lawn is bare, so pretty soon the spring
work will start.
We did get snow four days in a row this past week with
another skiff on the ground this morning but our temperatures
have been so warm that it hasnt lasted the day.
We got a bit of a downpour this morning, but it was pretty
short and sweet.
Weve been really fortunate that the ground was so
dry going into winter this year because aside from the
still melting winter snow, we have had enough little snows
and rain in the past week that the ground could easily
have become a slimy mess. I was a little concerned
that our road was going to become the mud hole it did
a few years ago when we were walking out for a month,
especially when the frost is still coming out of the ground,
but its holding up really well. I think
its because the ground was completely saturated
going into winter then and this time it wasnt. I
dug a hole down four feet late last fall to sink a big
metal I beam for a gate post, and that soil was dry as
a bone. So as long as the frost doesnt prevent the
moisture from soaking in, it will just continue to. Probably
a good thing. We were seeing a lot of tree and shrubbery
die off by last fall after a long, hot summer and no moisture
left in the ground.
We were able to drive on the ice road up until about
two weeks ago. There is still all kinds of ice, but the
ramps up from the lake are starting to deteriorate.
Once the dirt starts to run onto the ice, it degrades
it fairly quickly and a vehicle, especially heavy pick
ups like ours, tend to punch through coming up off the
ice. However, its still lots safe enough to walk
and ATV on. In fact thats how we hauled all our
chairs and food and what not down to Dot Island for the
picnic with our neighbours while Bob was still here. And
if it snows any amount at all, Ill pull my skis
back out and give the lake a shot.
All the moose seem to have moved back up into the higher
ground now. Im seeing very little fresh sign around
but the snow has gone down so much and its been
so warm that theyve probably moved back up into
the high country.
Well I didnt manage to get the blog finished back
when I started writing it last week and since its
the end of the month, I figured I had better get it posted.
Our weather has definitely been up and down in the
past week but weve also had a couple of days of
really high temperatures such as 15C or 59F yesterday,
and its still not getting much below freezing at
night. That means projects and other cool stuff
have been getting in the way of finishing this blog. We
spent a couple of days getting firewood in and doing some
burning and I did some burning down in my garden where
we took a big pine down next to the house this winter.
Boy, that thing had more limbs on it than most four trees
put together! Ive still got a lot of garden clean
up to do but it has kind of fallen behind work on our
wood working shop that were still plugging away
Ive also been slogging around in the bush
for the past few days trying to map out a new ski trail
and made the mistake of deciding to do it while there
is still snow on the ground. I figured as I wandered
around out there I could keep track of where I was going
and where I had been by the tracks I left in the snow,
except that the snow is right at melt point and its
still knee deep in many places. That means me and the
dog drag our butts back after pushing around in the bush
for up to four miles soaking wet and pooped out. I would
never have thought the snow could still be that deep but
if you get back in the deep woods and away from the sun,
theres still lots of it.
I have a little more than half of the trail figured out
but still have to put some pieces together, which I might
do today. Im trying to find a route around a red
willow swamp and I did go around it a few days back but
ended up in an aspen grove in eight inches of water under
the snow so I have to see if I can get a little higher
up on a ridge behind it this time.
We got snow again last night, not an unusual occurrence
at all now, but the sun is shining and even though
were getting weather dropping out of the north now,
cooling our day time temperatures off considerably, it
still looks like it might be a good working day out there
if I can get this finished and uploaded.
Happy April Fools Day tomorrow!
last blog is at February
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Lake Highway cam looking West.
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!