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 - March, Week 4/2007
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
of the Day.
Taking Down Beetle Kill
spent most of the day in the salt mines today. Well...maybe
not quite hard labor but we worked pretty hard at knocking
down eleven beetle killed pine, cleaning off branches
and cutting the wood up. Unfortunately, the wind was howling
again. Gee, what a surprise! As a result,
we lugged a lot of branches a lot farther than we normally
would have, carrying them down to the lake where they
could be safely burned on the ice.
A few of the pine were big old hairy things, with
big branches and lots of needles, but we've kept
it cleaned up pretty decently around here. I think that's
the secret. Clean up the branches after every tree you
knock down and that way you don't end up with a really
horrendous mess to clean up. Obviously there's still a
lot of needles on the ground that fell off the branches,
but it's pointless to spend the energy raking all of those
up when the next tree down will just dump more. Once we
get all of the dead trees down in one area, I'll go around
and do a really good rake to get them all cleaned up.
I wouldn't mind leaving a good layer on the ground to
suppress weeds and form a mat to protect the soil, but
I think they may pose a fire danger this summer.
I'm not positive, but I think this puts us at about
50 trees knocked down on the property so far,
most of the work done by Andy. Today I could spare some
time from the computer and since I was out there, we could
knock down trees close to the house. I get to pull
on the rope Andy has tied up in the tree while he cuts.
Sometimes the tree goes off a little from where it should,
probably more because of wind than for any other reason,
but most land where we want them to. There is
a dent in the gutter from a 'miscalculation'
a few weeks ago and I would prefer to not have that repeated.
It was a lucky thing the tree was a small one or it would
have messed up the deck and put some serious hurt on the
Unfortunately, we've got a couple dirty buggers that are
leaning drastically the wrong way and could do some damage
to the house if we can't get them pulled and wedged away.
Definitely want to leave those tricky ones for a day with
no wind. Mind you, at the rate we're going, we could be
waiting a long, long time.
It's calmed right down out there now, but the wind
was howling all night last night and gusting pretty good
today. We had huge lenticular (I think that's
the name for that particular cloud which looks like a
UFO saucer to us laymen.) cloud formations above us this
morning, indicating high upper level winds and the
kind you do not want to be caught in while flying a small
Our temperatures never got much below freezing last night
and were really warm today. The North Coast got nailed
again today with nasty weather, bringing two feet of snow
to Terrace and Stewart. Again.
The first Juncos arrived today sometime.
Suddenly, we looked around and there was a small flock
kicking around in the dead pine branches and needles just
fallen from the trees we had knocked over. They've a really
pretty song that's different from chickadees and it's
nice to hear, over the wind that is. :-)
The red winged blackbirds are still throwing a hissy
fit over the empty bird feeder, but enough seed,
plants and bugs have been exposed by melting snow that
they won't starve by any means, regardless of what they
may want me to think.
I'm really excited about the new batch of pictures I got
on cd yesterday from our friends Bill and Anita in Quesnel
that they took while down to Nimpo Lake on their last
trip. So check out the Picture
of the Day
for the next while because their pics are always
I'm not sure yet if there will be any articles for a day
or two. I would like to see what more we can accomplish
in the next couple of days...provided I can move tomorrow,
and it's my poker night tomorrow night as well. Sorry
folks but I don't get out much, and sometimes, the blog
just has to be sacrificed!
Have a good weekend.
Resort For Sale
pleased to announce that a new resort/motel has been listed
on the Commercial
Properties for Sale page.
Located right on Nimpo Lake and just a few feet off of
Highway 20 west, it's handy to travelers while having
lots of treed privacy. This is a year round business attractive
to return business clientele. The Waterfront has five
ground floor motel units as well as a suite with a fully
equipped kitchen. There are three nearly new Pioneer
Log Home built chalets with good views, decks and completely
equipped with everything a guest could need. The
largest sleeps six to eight people while the two smaller
ones will sleep a family of four and five respectively.
There are approximately six acres with lots of lake frontage
looking out over the Coast Mountain Range and loaded with
spruce trees, providing shade and privacy to guests. At
the back of the acreage there are six RV Sites with electrical
and water hookups that are provided with a central sani
In addition to a workshop, office, caretaker's trailer
and fish house, there are numerous storage buildings and
over 200 feet of docks providing lots of moorage for boats
This property has good access and is centrally located
with a first class Lounge
and Restaurant next door
and a complete general store carrying everything, including
fuel, just across the highway. This is a well priced piece
of property folks, and the owner is willing to negotiate.
Our weather today came under the category of cold
and dreary. Overcast for most of the day, it wouldn't
have been so bad if there hadn't been a very
chilly wind blowing all day. Too windy to
knock down trees it just wasn't one of those days where
you even wanted to be outside. I confess I didn't even
bother going for a walk today. The thought was just too
It was funny that I happened to write yesterday about
Nimpo Lake ice making noise. The ice talked all
night long and steadily. There was not a single
moment when it was quiet. If it wasn't making noise close
by you could hear it cracking from all different directions
farther out on the lake. It even had the cats shook up
and they sat on the logs outside with their ears flicking
back and forth constantly like antenna. The temperature
was dropping pretty fast last night, which was probably
why the ice was so noisy. I expected it to be pretty cold
by morning but the clouds must have moved in some time
past midnight because as far as I know, it never did drop
The weatherman is forecasting a fair dump of snow for
us and lots of wind so I guess we'll see what tomorrow
brings. You never know what you'll get this time of year
so you just take it as it comes.
Describing A Lake Monster
have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to describe
the sounds that Nimpo Lake ice makes. I was actually on
the phone to Andy's instructor last night and while
we were laughing about the sounds, I finally became aware
that she had never heard lake ice make noise until she
came here. I had just assumed she had because
although she lives in Vancouver, she does spend a lot
of time in her cabin on a lake.
Mazy also suggested that she may not have realized that
what she was hearing were explosions in the hangar fire
when the fire first started, because she had finally become
accustomed to similar noises that the lake makes. When
I got to thinking about it I realized how right she is.
The sound that the lake ice has been making anywhere from
every few seconds to every few minutes the last few days
sounds very much like a muffled explosion. Like
the wumpfh of of a far off bomb or mortar round.
I have no idea what makes that sound or the others that
I describe as grumbling and muttering. You know that it
has to be the ice either cracking or one ice plate moving
against another much like the continental plates that
the earthquake guys talk about.
Like the good old earth under our feet, ice can be stressed.
There is no more terrifying sound when you've never
heard it before, than that made by the ice when a vehicle
drives over it in the middle of the lake and you
are standing on the same ice wearing a pair of clunky
cross country skis. You know you aren't
moving anywhere as fast as that sound says you should
be. That particular noise is actually a combination of
sounds and you have to get used to it before you can pick
them all out.
I think that the rumbling roar is the water moving in
a wave under the ice in front of the vehicle. In fact,
if you go too fast in a straight line on ice, that
wave can eventually break up the ice in front of you.
Which is why, when you build an ice road, as you near
shore you curve into the exit from the lake rather than
go straight at it. That way the wave is not hitting the
shore directly in front of you. That wave is also the
reason I get really freaked out and you'll see me
waving wildly at my mother when she barrels straight
at me on the ice while I'm out on skis. It isn't that
I don't want her to stop or that I'm worried she's going
to run me over. It's that she drives on the ice really
fast, (She doesn't know how to drive slowly. The word
just does not fit into her vocabulary.) pushing the wave
under the ice right toward me, creating enough energy
to potentially break the ice out from under my skis.
I don't know if it would actually happen but enough
trucks have gone through the ice up north where they have
an extensive ice road system in winter, that there
is a strict speed limit on the ice roads and a curve before
the off ramp to keep that destructive wave from building.
And personally, I don't want to be the one
to test the theory here.
Another noise that you'll hear when a vehicle comes driving
down the lake is a steady crackling. Presumably the ice
is cracking under the tires but whether that's surface
ice or the deeper layers buckling, I don't know.
You can also hear a deep rumble and I'm guessing that
it's the sound of the vehicle's motor reverberating off
the ice and through the water beneath. As for the 'chuf,
chuf' sound, I don't know what causes that sound but the
ice only does it when there's a vehicle on the lake.
Then there's the 'woof'. Similar to the
sound your boot makes when taking a step in old or crunchy
snow. And you will only hear it when there is old snow
on the lake. That is made by one ice plate separating
from another and the one either rises or sinks in relation
to the other, usually only a fraction of an inch. The
reason why I know what makes that noise
is because I have been standing on the lake when a crack
suddenly goes snaking past my foot and a piece of ice
about the size of the State of Texas suddenly drops half
an inch from the piece it used to be attached to. It's
one of those split second occurrences that makes you want
to pull your heart out of your nose and contemplate checking
the state of your underwear.
Don't ask me to describe what a giant crack going a distance
across the lake sounds like because I can't begin to describe
it to you. Suffice to say that if it's big enough, and
off our point of land, it shakes the house.
The same goes for the UFO sounds the lake can make. That's
usually when the ice is building or going out and we don't
seem to hear it when there's a lot of early snow on the
lake as happened this year. It seems most prevalent with
good, clear, fast growing ice. And no, I can't describe
The lake is just like your ice cube tray.
Leave the ice in it for a long time and it will begin
to bulge up in the middle, crack, become cloudy, and sometimes
will pull away from the walls of the ice cube tray. The
ice on the lake seems more firmly attached to the shoreline
than the ice in a tray, so you can imagine there would
be even more stress on lake ice as well as more extreme
Run your ice cube tray under a hot water tap and
the ice will begin to snap and pop. I think the
same goes for the lake when the surface temperature differs
a great deal from the ice, and when the temperature of
water flowing into the lake is vastly different from one
end to the other. There are two streams flowing
into Nimpo Lake from opposite ends, while the Dean River
runs out on yet another arm. This time of year
there's warmer meltwater flowing into the lake, changing
the temperature of the water flowing in a long line under
the ice. But until that warmer water spreads out, mixes
with the lake water and is diluted, it must come in contact
with the ice in that part of the lake, and I can only
guess that it would cause some major snap, crackin' and
poppin'. Of course, you realize, this is all speculation
on my part and most definitely should be taken with a
grain of salt!
I've had many people look at me strangely whenever
I've tried to describe how Nimpo Lake talks in the winter.
I've finally had to conclude that lake ice elsewhere doesn't
make the sounds that it does here, which really doesn't
make sense because it is described by writers that live
up north. Yet Mazy, who is often at her cabin during freeze
up and breakup, has never heard her lake make these sounds.
It must have something to do with the shape of a lake,
water intake and outlets, surface of the lake floor, and
Or... it could all be in my head.
All I know is that if you step outside of our house
right now, the lake sounds like a living, breathing thing
making all the noises I've tried to describe above including
some undescribed gurgles and 'glubs'.
same little herd of caribou that were on our road and
crisscrossing the back trails last week are still hanging
Yesterday afternoon when I went out for a walk I saw quite
a few tracks that had been made the day before just before
our last little snow squall. But I also came across
tracks quite near our place that were really fresh.
I kept crossing the herd's tracks as they meandered back
and forth on the trail and eventually came out on it further
down and walked down the middle of it.
I didn't realize how fresh the tracks were
until I came out onto the road and came across their prints
again, this time over top of Andy's truck tracks that
had been made only an hour or so before.
Phyllis from over at The Dean called me this afternoon
and asked if I had seen the seven caribou on the lake
just off our point yesterday morning. Nope. But
that explained the dogs letting out a few tentative woofs.
I should have gone out and checked on them but on a Sunday,
it isn't uncommon for people to walk, ski or snowmobile
around our point and I figured that's all it was.
Phyllis watched the little herd for a while until they
moved around into our bay regretting the same thing as
I often do. No camera.
I have the worst timing with those rotten buggers.
I have been wanting to get a picture of the caribou hanging
around the lake all winter and always seem to be somewhere
else about the time they pass through. First, I was out
skiing while they were in front of our house, and many
times they've been too far off when we've been on snowmobiles.
Here I find out that they were again near our place and
I didn't even know about it. And sometime yesterday they
were walking up the road while I was walking on the back
trail. I just can't win!
At least my estimate in the past of the size of the herd
was pretty close. I figured somewhere between six and
eight of them were wandering around, just from the different
sizes of tracks. Smaller tracks follow some of the larger
so I have to assume those are last year's calves, while
a pair of really big tracks usually wander through the
woods a little farther away. There's one really humungous
set of tracks so I'm still guessing that there's at least
one bull in the group. Or a cow with really, really
fat feet. Poor girl.
Andy's flight instructor, Mazy, did manage to get a picture
of a caribou down at the other end of the lake a few days
ago. Mary from Nimpo Lake Resort had been driving her
grandson around on the ice when a caribou went running
by her with its tongue lolling and looking pretty exhausted.
Mazy was just starting out in the other direction on the
ice in her vehicle when she saw the animal over in the
bay. Although too far away for that little camera of mine,
she still got a whole lot better picture of the
caribou than I've managed all winter so I'll put
it up on the right. Mazy said she saw a dog farther up
the lake and took a picture of it because at a long distance
it had at first looked like it might be a wolf. Yep, a
dog, and hopefully not the one that was chasing the caribou.
It was quite a way up the lake and it seems highly unlikely
that the caribou would have continued running that distance
if that particular dog was the culprit. Something
had to have put it on the run though.
I was pleased to see today that there were no dog like
prints following the caribou tracks I saw yesterday. There
certainly was the week before but although both tracks
looked about the same age, it's impossible to tell if
there actually was something following right behind the
Even though our temperatures have not been extreme by
any means, Nimpo Lake has still been thumping steadily,
usually until afternoon, anyway. Then it seems to settle
down until late evening when the ice starts grumbling
The red winged blackbirds have been cut off and
are they ever cheesed off about it. I feel bad
for the chickadees because there's no longer any food
in the feeder, but the blackbirds are mobbing it so badly
now that they went through a two pound sized tub of the
little black oil sunflower seeds in one afternoon alone.
Enough is enough! I wouldn't mind so much if the stores
didn't charge a fortune for the things.
I'll have to see if I can buy one of those hanging finch
feeders that only small birds can use the next time we
go into Williams Lake so that I can continue feeding the
More and more blackbirds have caught onto that feeder
every year so that it's not only become impossible
to feed them all, but you can't hear yourself think.
That first trill of spring is really refreshing to hear
after a long winter, but after awhile, it just becomes
a cacophony of sound and enough to drive you crazy. Rather
than wait until it gets really bad, I'll cut the flock
off now and they can go back to finding seeds over in
the meadow. They sound much prettier from
that distance. :-)
The Poker Run
dawned with a blizzard for the start of a community poker
run put on by Len, a local business owner. The advantage
was fresh snow on Nimpo Lake, making it a faster
trip down to the north end where everyone was meeting
rather than having to go the long way around through the
woods. The disadvantage was in standing around in the
wet, sloppy stuff for the hour and a half required for
everyone to arrive and offload their machines if they
were hauling them. The snow let up a bit once we got started,
and you could see a watery sun trying to burn its way
through the clouds.
Snowmobile riders bought the number of hands of poker
they wanted to play and their 'boards' (index cards with
their name and number of hands they would play marked
on them) were issued to each rider at the start. Periodically,
the riders stopped at a designated spot where they reached
into a bag full of playing cards and picked a card.
The suit and number of the card is duly recorded and initialed
on the rider's board and they're off again.
It isn't a snowmobile race by any means, but rather a
large trail ride intended for everyone, including families.
By the time we got to the lunch spot and a fire was started
for a weenie roast, the sun was shining and it was really
warm. It was a fun stop with a nearby meadow for the riders
to go roar around in. Snowball fights broke out
all over the place and it was difficult to get
everyone up and moving again because it was such a nice
spot to stop.
A small number of us zoomed ahead to the abandoned Nimpo
Lake airstrip where we fooled around waiting for the rest
of the group to catch up and got at least one person unstuck.
It's surprising, but even with as much snow as we have
lost to warm weather in the past month, you will still
sink thigh deep if you step off of a packed snowmobile
track. Which is why it isn't all that difficult to get
stuck when playing in among the trees. It also isn't
that easy to get the machine unstuck when you're wallowing
around like a helpless walrus.
Len was a little disappointed that more kids didn't attend
the ride but the ones that did definitely
pushed the limit of both themselves and their machines.
One doubled up pair didn't hesitate to tackle a steep
little hill at the old airport that got them lots of air.
Besides kids, we had some teenagers as well as lots of
women, a couple of cowboys and more than one crazy guy,
so we had a great mix. Of course, the liquid refreshments
may have contributed to the craziness a little
but it was a pretty safe ride overall. The front end was
wrecked on one machine when one woman accidentally rear
ended another. Someone broke their skis right at the end,
and I understand Oscar hugged a tree once and flipped
his machine once or twice, cracking his windshield, and
that was before the liquid refreshments!
Of course he wasn't the only one that flipped a machine.
The packed trails were extremely icy under the fresh snow.
Nimpo Lake itself was deadly slippery with the
new snow providing no traction at all. You could
only go so fast down the length of the lake, making sure
to keep your speed as steady as possible. Slow down too
much and you couldn't get going again. Speed up too much
and you were either fishtailing the whole way down the
lake or turning 360's. I think more than one machine was
flipped playing around on the lake.
We started down from the old airport back to our starting
point and it was a signal for the good weather to end.
By the time we reached Nimpo Lake again, it was
a full scale blizzard and driving the machines
back home over the ice through whiteout conditions was
not fun. I kept having to wipe my faceplate because I
couldn't see through the snowflakes that built up on it
in just moments, all the while trying to keep up a steady
speed on the lake ice without turning circles. Unfortunately,
I couldn't go fast enough and kick up enough snow to keep
my engine light from coming on and overheating close to
home. I wonder how many other machines were overheated
yesterday running on gravel and ice?
We drove from our place up to Len's shop where we could
choose our final playing card for the poker run but a
lot of people rode up and didn't have the
best surface to take their machines over. Len kindly donated
hamburger while Richard and Leah from the Nimpo Lake Store
donated their time, the condiments and chips and Richard's
Bar-B-Quing expertise to provide a wonderful supper.
The winners of the poker run, (both top three poker hands
and the worst hand) made out handsomely with cash prizes
and I think that everyone really enjoyed themselves.
Thanks, Len, for getting the whole thing organized. I
sure didn't think you could pull it off this late in the
More than one person got some great pictures so
I'm going to try to post as many as possible for the next
My apologies for the lack of articles the last couple
of days. I donated a little time to the event myself on
Friday and then went on the run yesterday so I wasn't
really up to writing last night either.
You'll find last week's articles at March,
Week Three .
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!