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Wilderness Adventures - Mar., Week 3/2009

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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20/03/2009 6:43 PM

The First Day of Spring

Or it's supposed to be, anyway. You wouldn't have known it an hour ago, that's for sure! We ended up with a sudden little squall that dropped well over an inch of snow in a very short time. It's a good thing it didn't keep it up or we'd be trying to dig out tomorrow. I was coming back from Nimpo and the blizzard was so bad that I could barely see the tracks on the ice road in front of me. It was a complete white out.
We got a little over an inch of snow yesterday morning in the pre-dawn hours but most of that melted yesterday and today. It warmed up to plus 6 yesterday afternoon, even though it was cloudy for most of the afternoon. Today it was mixed sun and cloud and although I have no idea what the temperature got up to, it was warm. Wherever the snow has melted, everything has just turned to mud.
It's still getting down to about -5C or 23F at night so that helps to tighten things up for the morning, but it doesn't last long. I had to take the chains off of my boots yesterday when I went for a walk because the fresh snow was so warm it was balling up under the soles of my boots. I guess skiing is out of the question now unless our temperatures drop again.
I've got a few notices. There's been a price drop on a couple of properties on the property for sale page, and commercial property for sale page. You might want to go check it out if you're in the market for a resort or home. I'll also have a new listing up there sometime in the next couple of days.
For those of you locals that read the blog, the ice road on the Main Arm is pretty much impassable now from the Big Island to the North Arm. Snow has drifted over the ice road in the last couple of days with the wind we've had, and has proceeded to turn as hard as cement. Rob is no longer able to plow it and a few people have nearly gotten stuck in the last couple of days trying to go through, and someone did get stuck today and had to back all of the way up when he got out. The ice road on the Short Arm is still open.
Last but not least, the snowmobile Poker Run is on tomorrow. Be at the boat launch at Nimpo at 9:30 a.m. There will be a wieners roast up on Ptarmigan Flats unless the wind is really blowing hard, in which case, we find a more sheltered spot. The final card will be drawn at the car wash, and then there will be grilled burgers for supper and a wind down. Since I plan on attending, (I had to make burgers so I plan on eating one!) there probably won't be an article tomorrow night but if I've got some good pictures, I'll post them on Sunday.

18/03/2009 8:09 PM


There was some blustery wind out there today, no mistake about it! What was really unusual was that it started early this morning. Our early mornings are generally calm and if a wind is going to start up, it'll get going before lunch and sometimes calm down by later in the afternoon. Today, no such thing. It just howled out there and there were snow devils out on the lake all day. Our trees were bent over pretty badly too. I know the roots are frozen in so the trees can't go over but I was surprised that none snapped in the wind, although there were a few branches laying around here and there.
I talked to a friend of ours from down at the other end of the lake today. He had driven down the ice road to go to lunch with some of our sledding buddies. He wasn't gone that long but by the time he came down onto the ice to head back home, his tracks and most of the ice road was obliterated. He said it was a good thing he had four wheel drive or he wouldn't have been going anywhere. That's the only problem at this time of year is that the ice road is at the mercy of our wild spring winds both out on the Main Arm and in our bay here. We did see Rob out plowing the ice road again after supper tonight. Geez, we have good neighbours. Thanks Rob!
I had to get over to the mail to get a parcel off to Switzerland this morning and when I got back Andy told me to hop onto the quad with the camera and ride over to the neighbour's skating rink. He wanted to show me how fantastic the cracks were under the ice, and they were. You could see a crack that shattered the ice at least a foot down, maybe farther. It's hard to judge with ice just how deep everything is because it's so deceiving. It was pretty cool though, especially with the sun shining on it.
Other than those two times, I didn't venture outside again today. Two days in a row with missed walks and I'm sure the dogs will be thoroughly teed off with me. But it was so windy that you would have been blown off your feet out on the road and the back woods are no place to be in winds like that. Too many weak trees and I don't feel like being squashed. It seems like a heck of a sorry way to go.
Andy went down to the north end of the lake on his snowmobile today and he said the wind was just brutal both coming and going. It would be nice if it would let up but who knows when that will happen. You definitely can't go by the radar pictures on the weather. For the last two days those isobars have been spread so far apart you could hardly find them so their weather forecasting is way off! These winds are pretty typical for this time of year as I've mentioned below, but that still doesn't mean I have to like it.
The sun did shine today with some major cloud coming and going. Nothing sticks around long in that wind. Temperatures went down to about -8C or 17F at about midnight last night, then started coming up again. I think Andy said it was only -6C when he got up and it was right around freezing by the time I rolled out. I don't know how high it got today but at one point this afternoon, the thermometer out back read 6 degrees above freezing, but it may have been in the sun by then. Still, it was warm today.

17/03/2009 6:55 PM

St. Paddy's Day

I wondered why my very favorite weather man whom I rarely get to see, (Finally, the main moron that thinks he's a weather man is gone for this week.) was wearing what can only be described as a puce green shirt under his suit. This from a man who normally has an impeccable sense of style. Then I remembered it was St. Patrick's Day. Ah Ha!..... It's amazing what we'll put ourselves through for a tradition, isn't it? I hope you all had a lucky day, today. I wouldn't know what kind of day I had since I never even got to step out the door. I don't think the phone stopped ringing the whole day. If I didn't have a receiver hanging off my ear, I had numbers in front of me that I had to call, which reminds me, I have a number I have to call so this will be short.
The temperatures today were almost identical to yesterday's with the same lows and highs. At least we're consistent! The sun was shining for most of the day with clouds scuttling across the sky at great speed in front of a pretty good wind. It gusted all day as it usually does this time of year when you get warm sun, cold snow, and mixed weather coming in from the coast. The only benefit is that the wind helps to dry up some of the mess we'll have from breakup for the next couple of months. At least we didn't get the snow and rain they did down on the Lower Mainland and it looks like everything from the North Coast to the South Coast is expected to get hit with gross weather tomorrow, including over ten inches of snow on the Coquihalla highway.
According to the radar pictures, we should see some heavy snow tomorrow, but I'm losing faith in that. Yesterday's radar pictures showed that we should see next to nothing in the way of wind, and that was sure as heck way off!
Of Note: There should be a Poker Run on Saturday. It's just in the planning process now, (Yeah, I know..... we do everything last minute here. It's called 'Chilcotin Time'.) so I don't know what time it will start or even where the route will be, yet. So far, it looks like we'll be leaving Nimpo, running down the lake and up to Charlotte Main, from there to 24 kilometer, and then down the Whisper Lake trail, but that's not written in stone. The guys are going out Thursday to run a trail so I guess we'll know then. I expect Andy and I will go ahead on Saturday to start a fire for a wiener roast as we did before. Other than that, I don't know much, but for any of you interested in participating with your snowmobile, contact Richard at the store in Nimpo.

16/03/2009 6:59 PM

Blackbird Arrival

The red winged blackbirds have arrived. Both one of my great loves and my nemesis. I love it when they first arrive after a long winter and to me, their song is the first true herald of spring. There is just no other sound like that liquid bell-like tone when you hear it from a nearby meadow. But after a couple of weeks of the feeder being mobbed and whole herds of the things in the trees around the house and feeder, their song is more like a raucous cacophony and I'm usually thoroughly sick of it by then and I remove the seed from the feeder to get rid of them. Fortunately, only a couple have shown up so far and I'm no where near that point yet. Give me a couple of weeks though.
Actually, things just might be different this year, but we'll see. This is the first year that we've had a large flock of pine grosbeaks at the feeder all winter and believe me, do they ever know how to stand their ground! We often get a pair that will get into a bickering match in flight and will hit the window. There's more than one that Andy has picked up off the deck, petted, and put on the barbecue stand with some water and out of the way of cats until it gets over being stunned. That happened with first a female, and a couple of days later with the guy I'll call 'Boyfriend'. He's a bright red bird, the one on the top right, and he appears to be the only adult boy bird in the bunch. According to my bird book, anyway. There are lots of females and first year boys, but he's the only all red one. He's pretty friendly and seems to have taken a real liking to Andy ever since he picked him up after hitting the window. I know one thing, with that squabbling bunch of females, Boyfriend is going to have his hands full if he's still the only guy around at mating season! And that's the point I started to make way back there.
The red winged blackbirds are used to being the only big birds coming to the feeder early in the spring but they've got some competition this year, and the pine grosbeaks may just keep them at bay, or they certainly have so far. Right now there are only a couple of blackbirds but it will be interesting to see what happens when the rest of the flock arrives. Whether they'll mob the feeder and run off the grosbeaks, or the other way around, I don't know, but the grosbeaks are pretty aggressive in their own right and I've had to put out the finch feeder for the chickadees because the big birds hog the feeder. Besides, a couple of finches showed up the other day and they're definitely shy around the bigger birds.
In the midst of all the ruckus at the feeder you'll often see a woodpecker quietly minding his own business on the suet bag below. The bigger Hairy woodpecker is a little more shy and cautious but the little Downy that's always around just ignores everything around him, including us. Actually, for all I know there are five different ones because I can't tell them apart, but it's easier to assume there's just one.
It got down to -12C or 10F last night and warmed up to at least two degrees above freezing. I'm sure it got warmer than that but I was away for most of the afternoon and didn't see the temperature until after 4:30. I came home from Nimpo on our road rather than the ice road and the gravel road is starting to break up and get mushy, especially with the the sun shining most of the day and a good wind picking up moisture.
So now I've decided that our dogs are pretty much useless feed burners rather than watch dogs. And that I certainly can't rely on our dogs to save me from grizzly bears, moose, or anything else that might be in the backwoods during our walks.
I often step off the trail and go through the woods a short bit to a spot that overlooks a little meadow. Actually, you can't really see much of it through the trees, but it's still one of my favorite spots. It's also the one that River decides he's scared to death of every once in awhile, especially last fall. And who knows, with grizzlies around, maybe he had reason. Anyway, I take a little break there to let the dogs nose around, when quite some distance away I see a branch move. There was a breeze but beetle killed pine boughs actually move very little in the wind compared to green trees so I watched the branch a little more closely. Then I see a brown head move slightly beyond the brown of the branch and I can start to make up the broken up outline of a brown body. Okay... moose? The head moves forward a little more and about that time, a hoof reaches forward and paws the snow. Okay! Horse! (The natives let their horses run wild here to fend for themselves.) I immediately look around to see if any of the dogs had noticed it. Nope. Admittedly, the wind was cross wise to us and the horse so the dogs might have difficulty smelling it just as the horse would have difficulty smelling us, but still....
I watch the horse some more while I keep stealing looks at the dogs over my shoulder to see if anyone has noticed anything and now, I can actually vaguely hear the horse pawing the meadow grass below me a couple of times. Still no action from the dogs. Then suddenly, River spotted the horse and stood stock still, ears up, and alert, watching it. I wasn't surprised because he has eyes like a hawk, I was just surprised to see how long it took him to notice it. But he was a couple of feet to my left and the horse may only have been noticeable as it moved forward. Still nothing from the other two. "C'mon you guys! Are you dogs or mice?!!"
A couple of times I muttered, "Just stay there, Riv." Just to keep him from taking off down the hill after the horse, so he stayed put. Then I hear a low guttural growl from behind me. I'm pretty sure it was Cat, but when I turn around to look, she's staring at River. She hasn't seen anything, she doesn't know what he sees, but she knows from his stance that it must be something important. I hushed her and kept an eye on the horse, kept River in place, and kept looking at the other two. They still couldn't see or smell the horse so I decided it would be a good training exercise to back out of there slowly and see if I could do it with the two dogs never seeing the animal. Mainly because the occasion may come when I will have to do just exactly that if there is a bear, moose, or caribou nearby.
As I started leaving and the dogs came with me, albeit some coaxing required for River, I could see a new section of the meadow and two more horses behind the first. Unfortunately, so could River, so now he definitely wasn't into coming until he'd studied the new horses to death, and of course Cat's wondering why River isn't coming with us. So I snuck back to him, slipped a leash on and came away down the path with the other two dogs never even being aware that the horses were there. So much for thinking I had bright dogs. It's a sad day indeed when my hearing and eyesight beats that of at least two dogs and nearly three, all of which are hunting breeds. Maybe I'll start wearing bells on my shoes this spring after all.....
15/03/2009 10:34 PM

Lower Mainland Surprise

It would seem that the Lower Mainland got an itty bitty surprise this morning. I guess that big low pressure system out in the Pacific spun off some dirty weather that they weren't expecting down there, resulting in a surprising amount of snow and icy roads in Vancouver. They're expecting more snow and very high winds that have already knocked out power to several homes. Forecasters are also predicting ten to twelve inches of snow on the Coke from Hope to Merritt and in some of the passes. It definitely won't be pleasant traveling in the next 24 hours.
Our friends from up at the store went out to a snow golf tournament in Likely over the weekend and Leah called on Saturday morning all excited wanting to know how much snow we had gotten here. In Likely it had dropped eleven inches and was still snowing so she was quite disappointed to hear we had only gotten a little over an inch overnight. I'm sure they would have dropped everything and been out here snowmobiling in a jiffy had we gotten the same dump of snow as they did in Likely.
Not gonna happen! We're in the rain shadow of the Coast Mountain Range, while Likely is on the west side of the Cariboo Mountains. All that moisture being picked up between here and there gets dumped on Likely as clouds are forced up into colder air and there is just no geographical comparison between us. The same thing happens to McGregor all the time. Those poor sods have got to be buried in snow! Every other day we watch the weather it seems they're under a snowfall warning. In any case, it's been snowing in the mountains to the west of us for a couple of days now, so maybe our friends will find powder tomorrow. Everyone's supposed to be going up riding tomorrow if the weather is half decent. Except me, of course. My computer beckons.
Yesterday was no great shakes with a bit of a wind blowing and overcast skies but today was pretty nice, at least until a little later in the afternoon. Apparently we were supposed to get some real garbage for weather but it was fairly sunny and quite warm getting up to a degree over freezing, even though it dropped to -14C or 7F last night. It was way too warm on my walk today because I wore too many layers, as usual. It was a good thing in the end though, because Andy burned a slash pile and we had a little weinie roast. By the time we had the dogs over the coals it was getting a little ugly with heavy cloud, and too many layers of clothes was just perfect!
I'm going to keep this pretty short tonight. I've got a lot of work to get through tomorrow and may have to spend the first part of the morning just getting this finished up with new photos and all.
Last week's articles can be found at March Week Two

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!
Ice cracked under the surface from temperature differences.
Girl in red suit snowmobiling thumbs up.
Brindle dog looks up at the camera.
A red bird sits on a feeder with mountain view behind.
Woodpecker near fat in a net bag.
Different bird species crowd around a feeder in winter.
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