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Wilderness Adventures - March, Week 2/2010

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 stories like 'Lake Monsters' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.

12/03/2010 5:48 PM

Mother Nature's Little Sideways Slam

Our weather has just changed. Yeech.
We woke up to a little snow yesterday and pretty overcast skies. Then the wind started and boy, did it ever. It was a blizzard a good part of the day, not so much from snow coming down as from snow being moved around by the wind.
There were crazy snow devils out on the lake all day and you could even see these snow tornadoes on the Hooch way over the hill on the other side of the lake. I thought sure we might lose some trees in some of those gusts but I think the blowind snow made it seem worse than it was. At least it settled down by yesterday evening but then it cleared off.
This morning it was -22.2C or -8F and was a nice, cold little surprise for everyone, including our dogs and the wild birds. While Andy got up before dawn and rescued the dogs by bringing them into the porch, the birds were another matter. Some of them must have been wondering what the heck they were doing here this early in spring! I'll bet some poor bird leader was getting the third degree this morning!
It warmed up to just under freezing today but that was without the help of any sun. It tried to peek through the thick overcast but just couldn't do it or else I think it would have warmed up quite a bit more than it did.
It isn't unusual at all for us to get a good blast of winter in March, or in April for that matter. It's just that we got such a nice taste of spring that being jerked back into reality is never any fun. I don't think the Vancouverites much cared for it either. A few places down on the Lower Mainland got snow and Vancouver Island took a good hit on the north end while Victoria basked in warmth and blooms. Oh well, it was my New Year's Resolution to not envy those that can grow stuff for five months out of the year longer than I can. So I'm trying hard to not be smug when the 'others' get whacked with Old Man Winter when they least expect it.
There's one silver lining and the very one I look forward to every spring. This weekend is change the clock time, and boy, am I looking forward to it! Of course if you've followed this blog at all over the past few years you know that my other half and I have very different biological clocks, me being the night person, my partner being the early morning person. Last fall he took it upon himself to tease me unmercifully about the soon to be shorter day, shorter on the evening end, that is. One must fight fire with fire so I have taken great pleasure the last couple of weeks in pointing out that the shoe will be on the other foot Sunday morning, much to his chagrin. He's already mourning the loss of his mornings lit by bright light and sometimes sunshine. Too bad. I get bright afternoons and evenings. Yaaaay!!!
Even with heavy overcast this evening and any sunset over the mountains well hidden by high altitude snow storms, it was still a little light out at a quarter to seven. By this time Sunday night, it will be a quarter to eight. Make my day!!!! Sadly, Andy will be eating his breakfast in the dark..... snuffle.... smirk....(Sorry hon :-) the devil made me do it.)
Have a good weekend everyone. Enjoy the Paralympics and the time change!

08/03/2010 5:58 PM

The Little Spring Break

We've certainly caught a break from winter weather for the last while. Although that may be ending now.
Last week was pretty darn nice overall with warm, sunny days and even at night it didn't get all that cold until the last couple. But then when it dropped, it dropped, getting within sniffing distance of -20C or 4F last night and never got much above freezing today. You could tell that there was a sudden, vast, temperature difference because we could hear the ice on Nimpo Lake rumbling last night when we haven't heard a peep from it in months.
Saturday was clear, sunny, and gorgeous. Unfortunately, a snowmobile ride had been planned for Sunday which was predicted to be nasty. It was. It was about -5C when we got home from a wiener roast on Saturday night, but as the night wore on, the temperature climbed, so that by Sunday morning it was actually above freezing. Shortly after everyone left for the ride it started to hail and then snow and the temperature just slowly slid the rest of the day. The wind was switching in the morning but it had definitely decided to be a north wind by noon and could chill you to the bone. Andy was pretty sure that it was warmer and nicer up on the mountain than it was down here. I don't doubt that. The hail was probably a good indicator of an inversion layer.
The weather forecasters are calling for cooler temperatures over the next few days and a series of big systems rolling in from the Pacific. The one coming next is swinging down from the Alaskan Panhandle, so the air is bound to be a lot colder. It's been a while since we've seen the systems coming out of the north instead of the south. That southerly air can come back any time it wants to, although I suppose Olympic organizers are breathing a sigh of relief over the cooler weather. I'm not sure some of those venues were going to last for the Paralympics at the rate things were going.
I've really enjoyed the nice weather but it's definitely getting to the dangerous time of year for the four legged wildlife. All the thawing and freezing of the past couple of weeks has really formed a hardened crust on the snow. I was watching the dogs today when I went out for a walk and in many places they were able to run on top of the snow where an animal like a moose or caribou would fall through.
I went for a trip to Willy's Puddle Thursday and came back Friday and was shocked to see the lack of snow in places. Tatla Lake has way less snow than we do. Alexis Creek has very little in patches here and there and Williams Lake has none. We must be the only ones with a real abundance of snow and there's certainly no fear of losing it any time soon. I stepped off the back trail to ribbon a tree today and was in over my knees immediately! It's going to take a whole lot more melting before we need to worry about losing all of our snow.
I saw on the news tonight that places like Vancouver and the Okanagan are expressing a lot of concern over the lack of snow pack this year. Down 54% over a normal year! Boy, if they don't get a rainy spring or summer, there's going to be some big forest fires this year. Already the Okanagan is talking about sprinkling restrictions going into place.
Unless things change, we're building for another 2003-2004 duo when it comes to dry summers and forest fires. While we have loads of snow and probably will see a late spring unless it stays really warm for the next two months, places like Alexis Creek are going to be in serious trouble, as is Williams Lake and all points south. But who knows? While forecasters are calling for an unusually warm, dry spring, we could end up with a rainy summer throughout the province.
The warm weather we've had for the past couple of weeks has certainly fooled the birds. Besides the chickadees, woodpeckers and grosbeaks we've had at the feeder all winter, a swarm of little finches and redpolls have arrived along with the juncos. I saw two starlings yesterday that arrived with a couple of redwinged blackbirds. We ran off the starlings but the blackbirds stuck around for the day to sing their pretty song.
I checked out where that small moose died along the back trail a while back. Still nothing for critter tracks around the animal, although the birds, probably ravens, have been to work on its jawbone. It seems really strange that still the forest creatures aren't making short work of the animal. Unfortunately, I didn't see one single small moose track along the backtrail, probably evidence that it was the baby moose that died. And since no one else has seen it around for awhile....
I was surprised to see two moose right along the highway on Thursday just outside of Nimpo Lake on my way to town. It was right at nine in the morning and in broad daylight and both were in a meadow close to the road. One had his butt up in the air and face planted in the snow presumably trying to get at the green bases of the meadow grass. The other also had its head in the snow and I had to call before it would look up. I took pictures and they were so bothered about it all that they went back to eating, ignoring me completely. The moose seem to be pretty smart about hanging around human habitation this time of year when the snow forms a crust putting them at danger from the four legged predators. It's too bad they don't know about the two legged predators that love to see them that close to the road and the tailgate of their vehicle. I would feel a lot more comfortable if the moose were more shy of humans.
I haven't seen any sign of the caribou on Nimpo Lake this year although I hear they were seen earlier in the winter. I did hear today that our neighbour found the carcass of one frozen in the snow at Gus Meadow so it appears this has been a tough winter on the ungulates. It makes sense. The snows came early this year and we had some almighty cold there for a couple of months.
That heavy snow load has also had quite an effect on trees, power lines, and houses. Our neighbours are going to be without power or telephone when they first come up this spring because of a couple snow laden trees that took out the line when they snapped off.
A lot of people are going to have a problem with flooding from the massive amount of snow that has come off of their houses and outbuildings. Even we have a huge windrow of snow parked in front of the basement entrance under our deck. Not much can be done about it. You have to push the snow off the deck and it has to go somewhere. We're lucky. Because of the lay of the land we have little problem with drainage, but not everyone is that fortunate.
It will be interesting to see how high Nimpo Lake gets once the ice melts and the spring runoff starts.
Thanks to Ted Hlokoff for the snowmobile images on the right.
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last week's articles at
March Week One.

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!
Moose in a snow covered meadow.
People sitting on snowmobiles above a lake.
Getting air jumping off a cornice with a snowmobile.
Two llamas are behind sleds and riders.
Sledder jumping into the sky.
Snowmobile riders on the mountain.
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