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Wilderness Adventures - March, Week 4/2010

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.


31/03/2010 7:54 PM

March Goes Out

If March goes out like a lion and a lamb, what will April be like? Today was a real mixed bag. This morning started out sunny but cool because it dropped to -8C last night. That's the coldest it's been in a while. Then the clouds moved in from over the mountains and we had little mini blizzards off and on for part of the day. Andy came back from getting the mail and as he was crossing the lake with the ATV, he said he couldn't even see our house for the snow coming down. By late this afternoon it had cleared off again and was warmer than it had been all day. We went out for a short walk this evening after supper and it was beautiful out but it looks like it could get cold again tonight if it stays clear. That will help to tighten the lake up a bit hopefully. The ice road is getting a little too mushy over at the boat launch.
From looking at the satellite picture on the news tonight, there's a pretty big system coming in from the west which explains our cooler temperatures. For the past while most of our weather systems have been sweeping up from the southwest bringing in warm air from Hawaii's direction. Systems coming straight in from the west is more normal for us and since the east is getting really warm temperatures right now, I guess that means it's our turn to be cool. Speaking of which.... I guess Ontario has just seen the first March without snow since record keeping began in 1845 so it's already pretty dry there. And we thought we might have forest fire problems this year. Guess we won't be seeing the Ontario firefighters out here this summer!
We've been in Williams Lake for the last couple of days. When we left there yesterday just after noon it was 10C or 50F but it dropped quickly as we climbed up out the valley. They haven't had any kind of winter at all and Williams Lake is all open water already. Alexis Creek is pretty much bare of any snow and they're burning grass there. Tatla Lake still has some snow but what they still have is going down fast. And us? Well, we still have lots of the white stuff on the ground. It's going down but it's still got a long ways to go.
We saw hundreds of Canada Geese on the fields at Tatla Lake and loads of Trumpeter Swans on the river near Redstone and even a pair at Pollywog swamp but we haven't seen any around here yet other than fly overs. Even though the river is open in places by the bridge they're just not coming in. That makes me wonder if Lonesome Lake is still frozen over. In any case, it will
be interesting to see what April brings for weather and how soon our migratory birds can hope to get on our lake. At least the lake ice is finally making noise again. It was grumbling pretty good last night as the temperature dropped and I even heard it a couple of times today, so it's finally waking up. It's just been way too quiet this winter. Probably because it was so cold so early, and had so much snow on the surface, insulating it from the extreme temperature differences that seems to result in all the noise we normally hear.

27/03/2010 7:10 PM

The Blue Ice

The ice on Nimpo Lake is getting a very decidedly blue tint to it. Not the dark ice you get just before it goes out, although there's certainly some dark looking ice out on the Main Arm, but the baby blue you get in April. Yes, I know. It is nearly April. My partner reminded me of that today when I made this same comment. I meant mid to late April. There's no danger of the ice going out any time soon, because there's still just too much of it. But it's definitely in the process of breaking down and unless we get a cold spell, it may go out extra early this year.
Tonight I could see the first bald eagle sitting out on the point on fish surveillance. Or I have to assume that's what they're after. When that hole opens up in early spring (the same one the white pickup went into this winter) at least one bald eagle, and up to three, will spend hours by the tiny pool of open water. Later, if Trumpeters and Canadian Geese or ducks come in and can't find open water elsewhere, they'll camp on that little bit of lake.
We've been seeing more and more bald eagles coming in lately. I saw two matures swing over the bridge that goes over the Dean River yesterday.
For those of you that haven't put in your guess yet on when the ice will go off of Nimpo Lake, the Ice Off Pool is officially closed on March 31. So if you want to put in your guess, you need to do it quickly!
Next weekend is going to be fun. On Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. in front of the Nimpo Lake Store, some community members will be getting their hair dyed some very funky colors. Included in this brave bunch are Richard, the owner of the store, and Oscar, so named for a disposition that so closely matches Oscar on Sesame Street. It's mostly the guys that have agreed to do this, although there is one young Mom that has volunteered as well. Apparently a few of us are going to bleach the victims'.... er, volunteers' hair, so that it will take the crazy colors to be applied after. The reason for all this craziness? Raising money for BC Children's Hospital Foundation. You can donate at the event or send your donation to www.bcchf.ca. Everyone is welcome and the more the merrier. Oh yeah. I think we're serving up hot dogs and other goodies as well so there will be food, folks!
There is another little fundraiser/event on the weekend after. We're having a Bingo on Saturday, April 10 starting at 1:00 p.m. It will be held at the Nimpo Lake Community Hall and there will be hot and cold refreshments, hot dogs and pizza for sale. There are loads of awesome prizes donated by local businesses as well as businesses in Williams Lake. Fees from the sale of bingo cards will go to the Nimpo Lake Community Association. We need to raise some money this year for some desperately needed improvements on the Hall, including the purchase of Lifetime tables.
The last couple of days have stayed warm and when I came home from poker last night there was a warm wind blowing and it was still well above freezing. In face, it never made it below freezing overnight and got up to at least 8C in the shade that I know of. When we did have sun today it was much, much warmer than that. Unfortunately, it started clouding over this afternoon and is still heavily overcast out there.
There was a gale force wind today which might have cooled things down a bit but it sure did a good job of carrying away the moisture from melting snow. Mind you, our 'spring' got a bit of a set back the night before last. On Thursday I was on my way home from Anahim Lake and it was starting to spit rain. It got a little more serious about it Thursday evening, peppering the front windows with streaks of rain for a few hours. I'm thinking to myself that this is really going to muck things up around here when I noticed that the sound changed. Sure enough, the rain had starting to turn to snow, and by the time I went to bed it was coming down pretty good. I was afraid that we would wake up to six or eight inches of snow but we were lucky that probably less than half an inch fell not including the rain. The latter definitely did muck things up again, but at least the new snow had all melted by afternoon
I took a quick pass through to the greenhouse today so I could peek through the door. It's the first time I've been able to open the door even part way for months now. The rest of the garden is still well and truly buried under snow but the snow is melting. I haven't even ordered my seeds yet because with all this snow, I just don't think about it. But I know that suddenly the snow will be all gone and I'll want to be getting ready to plant in the greenhouse and out in the garden. I'm sure Andy would dearly love it if I didn't have vegetable plants occupying the window sills in the house for two months before they go out to the greenhouse. But.... it is prime real estate this time of year so it's hard to pass up a sunny window ledge.

25/03/2010 11:01 AM

Bella Coola's Spring

We were down in Bella Coola this week and their spring is, as usual, so much ahead of ours. While the Valley isn't the miracle of green that it is by the end of April, there was still lots of sign that their spring had arrived, especially the closer we got to Bella Coola and the warmer air that's just one side effect of living at the end of an ocean inlet.
Around Firvale and Stuie you could see little buds fattening up on the weeping willow trees and fluffy 'blooms' on the still leafless poplar and birch. Farther west around Hagensborg we started seeing green grass, the rhododendrons perked right up and the odd daffodil bloom. The closer we got to Bella Coola the more green leaves there were sprouting on willow bushes along the road and in the townsite itself there were several forsythia bushes in full yellow bloom. In ditches along the highway holding warm, stale water, there was skunk cabbage coming up so the bears will be out of hibernation soon if they aren't already down there.
While I still haven't figured out where the forest fire was at Stuie, we finally got a good look at the remains of the one at Hagensborg. I had only caught a glimpse of the tail end of it on the side of the mountain the last time we were down and coming back from Bella Coola. This time I kept an eye out for it and saw the whole thing where it had burned up the side of two mountains and part way down an intersecting valley. I was shocked at how close it had come behind several residences and a bed and breakfast there. There isn't much valley floor there on the south side of the highway before the steep mountain rears up behind the homes and since the whole mountainside was burned, I can only assume most of these folks had fire pretty close to their back yards. It must have been hell down there last summer while at least three fires were burning in or above the Valley. The smoke will have been terrific and since temperatures got up to 40C or 105F it would have been stifling in that valley. I'm just really surprised no homes seemed to have been destroyed. You would have thought that embers would have literally been raining down on the properties from the steep mountainside behind them but there didn't appear to be damage to any of the properties there.
No wonder there was concern, especially on the part of forestry officials, about how to evacuate Valley residents if it became necessary. The road up the Hill was closed at that time because of the Heckman Pass Fire so the only avenue of escape to anyone was to fly out or go by boat. Pretty hard to evacuate an entire population by boat. Small wonder so many resources were poured into the Valley to fight the fires and pretty gutsy on the part of residents to stick around through it all.
It looks like everyone's gearing up for another forest fire season this year. Hard to believe when I look out the window and see the amount of snow still on the ground. But other than around Puntzi Mountain, we're pretty much the only ones with snow. There looks to be about three feet around Heckman Pass but that's a drop in the bucket compared to what you often see up there this time of year. Once you drop down the Hill there's not much of anything, and there's very little snow east of Tatla Lake. I guess unless we see a rainy spring, things will be hopping this summer and personally, I do not want to see a rainy spring or summer. Maybe a couple of hot summers in a row will knock the mosquitoes back from their record numbers. Selfish, I know, but I'm not partial to the murderous little beasts.
Our weather right now is really strange. The weather forecasters keep promising us sunshine but we haven't seen it in days although annoyingly enough, it seems to clear off most nights only to cloud over again by morning. I think we're just getting stuff that's spinning off those systems moving in from the Pacific and the Lower Mainland is getting our sunshine, yet again. But our temperatures remain high for this time of year. It's only been dropping a degree or two below freezing at night while yesterday it reached about 10C or 50F and today it's already 8C or 46F and that without sunshine. I can't imagine how much warmer it would be if we had a little sun to go along with it. Even without sun the snow is melting nicely and the snow on the lake is looking decidedly mushy, not to mention the ice which is looking a little blue. While I know we have two feet of relatively solid ice on the ice road, Andy put a chuck hole in the ice just off the other boat ramp with his truck the other day and it's getting a little mushy there. That's where our ice will go first and unless it gets colder and starts to tighten up a bit more at night, I think I'll start traveling the road pretty soon. No point in taking out the tranny on my truck again because of the ice going out.
Today I'm showcasing another place out on Charlotte Lake, this one called Charlotte Lake Resort. They offer a wonderful wilderness experience away from the hustle and bustle, and though there's no electricity or phone, they do have a radio telephone if you need to call out.
They have three rustic cabins with propane fridge and stove as well as wood heater, and solar lighting. The cabins overlook crystal clear Charlotte Lake and the spectacular Coast Mountains. The Resort also offers RV and camping sites and the use of the lodge where you can gather with your group, sit, visit and enjoy the magnificent view. I've put some pictures of the resort up on the right so and if you would like to know more go to their site at chilcotincabins.com
I know I've been a little lax on blogs lately and again, I apologize. But it can't be helped at the moment. This is the start of a new week so to find last week's articles go to 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!


Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Two Canada geese in a field.
 
Two swans on the river.
 
Snowcapped mountains and lake.
 
Charlotte Lake behind parked RV's.
 
Lodge overlooks blue Charlotte Lake.
 
Gravel road of the Bella Coola Hill.
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