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!
Wilderness Adventures - March Week Two
The Canada Geese Are Here - But There Ain't No
| Canada geese started arriving in the area last night,
all dressed up and no place to go. Two formations went
over just before sunset last night heading north. Probably
to the mouth of the Dean River on the north end of Nimpo
Lake. Two lonely swans went over looking for water as
well, and finally settled on a tiny patch of open water
off the point on the lake. Today, a formation of geese
circled every bay on the lake looking for water. The Dean
is probably getting pretty crowded with migratory birds
that have already arrived. Too crowded for a flock of
geese this size. They too finally settled on the water
off the point this afternoon, huddled together on the
ice and water, because there isn't that much room. Unfortunately,
it will make them a prime target for predators such as
coyotes and Bald Eagles.
Still Melting - More Swans
| Early spring is still causing local flooding.
Surrounding forest is still standing in meltwater wherever
there isn't enough of a grade for it to run off because
the ground is still frozen. There are several places along
Highway 20 where the water is starting to run across the
highway or is very nearly up to the pavement. One spot
just before Alexis Creek has major mud sliding across
the highway and into the Chilko River from property that
was recently cleared of trees. The Chilko and Fraser rivers
both appear to be up much higher than is the norm for
this time of year. And apparently Highway 20 west of Anahim
Lake to Bella Coola is one giant mud hole. Normally it
isn't that bad in spring, but this is a very unusual spring.
A few more Trumpeter
Swans flew over this afternoon. No sign
of any other water birds yet though. Which is a good thing.
There is still lots of time yet for winter!
Trumpeter Swans Are Here But No Geese
| Trip to town yesterday which entails 200
miles to Williams Lake turned up a number of Trumpeter
Swans along the way. The odd pot hole here and there as
well as Williams Lake itself had about four Swans per.
Just to show you how much this early spring has taken
migrant birds by surprise though, there were no Canada
Geese, ducks, anything besides the swans. Usually there
are hundreds of geese standing on ice and snow in the
fields at Tatla Lake just waiting for the first thaw.
But not this year. Did see six Trumpeter Swans at the
mouth of the Dean River at Nimpo Lake last week which
is very early. It's the only open water on the lake at
this point in time. Thursday, a bald eagle sat at a small
bit of open water off the point on Nimpo all day, waiting
for some unsuspecting fish to rise to the surface I guess.
Saw one moose and many, many mule deer both going into
town and back out right along the road. Then proceeded
to kick myself all afternoon because I had the camera
with me and didn't think to take any pictures of the deer.
I don't have much for pics and missed great opportunities
for close ups yesterday. I guess they're just so common
that I just don't think to pull out the camera!
Rock Slides on The Bella Coola Hill
As a sign of things to come, the Bella Coola Hill was
shut down until Wednesday morning due to a rock slide.
Hwy. 20 West of Anahim Lake was closed due to a rock
slide that occurred shortly after midnight. The highways
guys got it open to single lane traffic the next morning
by taking down a loader and clearing the boulders off
the road, but it will stay to one lane until the Geo-Tech
boys can fly in and assess future slide danger.
The Hill in Tweedsmuir
Park has been plagued by slides all winter
and in view of the early spring melt (see story below)
the problem may only get worse. The 'Hill', as it's
called, on Highway 20 through Heckman Pass and down
to the inlet is the only road route to Bella Coola.
So when it's closed, groceries get a little scarce down
in the valley. The Hill has a long history to go with
its 18% grade, the steepest on any highway in Canada.
The highway was actually built by locals from the Bella
Coola valley, Anahim and Nimpo Lake area after the government
refused to help. Putting together their resources of
cats, loaders, tractors and other equipment, as well
as some stump blowing expertise with dynamite, and a
lot of back breaking work, locals from on top worked
to meet those coming up from the bottom. The two groups
met in the middle in 1953 with their respective newly
completed roads. It was an incredible engineering feat
and a marvelous example of several communities working
together to achieve an end.
Early Spring Could Have Serious Consequences
| Flooding and Fire could be of disasterous
consequence to the region if what looks to be an early
spring melt continues. Right now the West Chilcotin is
enjoying unheard of high temperatures for this time of
year as is the rest of the province. However, because
of previous cold weather, the ground is still frozen,
so there is no place for all the melting snow and ice
to go. Where there is some sort of grade, it melts into
lakes and swamps but it is not melting into the ground.
Which is a huge loss, because normally we would see melt
dissolving into the ground in late April to late May.
This means the forest floor and flora would not start
drying out until well into June or July. That would normally
mean little or low forest fire danger before August. This
year, we may easily go to extreme fire danger by June.
At the same time, the snow pack is melting so quickly
as well as lower level snow that flooding is going to
be a real problem throughout British Columbia this spring.
Good Things Do Come Out Of Fire
Even though devastating, the massive fires in our region
can be a boon to wildlife and the forest. Although the
forest fires in the region the last two years have displaced
a lot of wildlife it will in the end expand usable habitat.
Almost nothing can eat what is in our vast pine forests.
But once that is burned over, a different flora will
grow up to take its place. Aspen, birch, willow, low
bushes, buckbrush, rose bush, kinnickinick, berry bushes
and a myriad of others will grow quickly to replace
the lost pine and spruce. All of it a better food source
and providing better cover for birds and wildlife in
the area. In the meanwhile, wildlife forced to move
out of the burns and into non burned areas increase
tenfold the opportunity to see an incredible array of
wildlife from moose, caribou, black bear, grizzly bear,
cougar, deer to lynx, coyote and wolf. What was already
a photographer's paradise has just become more so! See
Wildlife page for more info on what our
area has to offer.
Lonesome Lake Fire Continued
| More information pertaining to the largest fire in
British Columbia in 2004. The fire started in the last
week of June while the Forestry Service was fighting a
large fire at McClinchy just south of Nimpo Lake. There
were numerous lightning strikes in the space of a couple
of days and Intitial Attack crews were run ragged trying
to keep up on the strikes. Three bolts struck just behind
Lonesome Lake high up in the alpine on a shale slide that
would have been dangerous for initial attack crews to
access. Since it was inside the Tweedsmuir Park boundary,
the Park heads chose to let it burn as they have priority
over Forestry unless a forest fire threatens homes, etc.
The fire quietly trundled along for a month until July,
when it broke loose with high winds and extremely dry
conditions. The fire burned pretty much out of control
until the end of August when Mother Nature and her rain
put it back under control. Which was really fortunate
since we rarely get rain of any consequence in August.
Crazy Bear Lake, Charlotte Lake residents and John Edwards
of Lonesome Lake were evacuated and the communities of
Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake were on evacuation notice for
several weeks. The fire eventually burned about 20,000
hectares and cost around $10,000,000 dollars to get under
control and put out. A fire camp was set up at the Anahim
Lake airport to fight both the Lonesome Lake fire and
several other fires in the surrounding area. There were
upward of 500 firefighters and Forestry personnel at the
camp as well as 22 helicopters ranging from lights to
heavies bucketing because smoke and steepness of the country
prevented planes from being used.
Body Found in Burned out Hotel
Fire Investigators have discovered a body in the burned
out remains of the old Lakeview Hotel in Williams Lake.
Four tenants had been reported missing after a fire
swept through the landmark hotel early Sunday morning.
RCMP Sgt. Dan Fitzpatrick says that while firefighters
haven't been able to get into the building yet because
of hot spots, they managed to spot the body overnight.
"Some of the firemen were examining the building through
the windows, as we're not able to gain any access the
building," he says. "And they've located one body in
one of the windows. And we're currently in the planning
stages of removing that body from the scene." Three
other tenants of the hoteL – which was a home for low-income
people. – are still missing. But Fitzpatrick says police
are following up on a tip about one of them. He says
someone reported seeing the tenant in town. The cause
of the fire is still not known.
A Landmark Burns - Four People Missing
An old Landmark in Williams Lake burned in the early
hours of Sunday, four people are believed dead. The
Lakeview Hotel on Mackenzie Avenue in Williams Lake
burned down early Sunday. There were 17 people living
there. Four are still unaccounted for and it is believed
they died in the building. Since it is still burning,
officials won't know until they can get in to clean
up. One woman jumped from the third story and sustained
serious injury. Another was carried out unconscious.
The building went up pretty fast as the wood was old
and dry. The Lakeview has been around as long as I can
remember. I believe it was one of the original buildings
in Williams Lake. It has fallen into a state of disrepair
over the years and the pub section downstairs has not
always drawn the best cliental. Apparently, however,
the Hotel just underwent renovation under new management.
Extent of The Lonesome Lake Burn a Surprise
| The extent of the burn caused by the Lonesome
Lake Fire from this past summer came as quite a surprise.
I had never really gotten an opportunity to see the full
extent of the burned area caused by the Lonesome Lake
fire in 2004 which was the largest fire in British Columbia
this past summer. Not until I went up on Trumpeter snowmobiling.
The fire burned right up to the edge of the alpine where
we snowmobile in winter. It also burned around the base
of that range right up to the firebreaks on the Nimpo
Lake side of the mountain. We were under evacuation notice
for a period of time in July 2004, and Charlotte Lake
residents were evacuated. John Edwards lost his homestead
on Lonesome Lake at the foot of that steep hill going
down to the lake in the picture at the right. Although
I flew over the fire while it was still burning in a helicopter,
you really couldn't see the extent of the damage for the
smoke. Well, you can sure see it now very clearly against
the snow in winter. Everything behind the snowmobiler
in the picture on the right, has been burned up to the
alpine. Had the fire come over the mountain, it would
only have had about 15 miles to go to my house. Since
it burned 12 miles in a two day period at one point, that
wouldn't have been hard.
be patient with this site. It's still under construction!
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 aim 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. Which is why it's taking so long to complete
the site! :)
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!