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Wilderness Adventures - May, Week One/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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Check out the Picture of the Day.

07/05/2009 8:53 PM


This won't be long but I know there are a few people away right now that want to know how the ice is doing on Nimpo Lake so here's the update. There pretty much isn't any. Leah and I walked down to the neighbour's place on the Main Arm again today and there was still lots of ice nearly as far as we could see, to the north anyway. Andy and I went back down there this evening and there's not a bit left, nor was there any when we checked farther down the lake. The only person that has ice is Mary down at the end of the North Arm. There's some ice covering most of the bay there but we've had a high wind all afternoon and it's going fast.
Op! Richard from the store just called. He spoke to Mary and they figure the ice down there will be gone within an hour or two. Unfortunately, that puts it after dark so that means it automatically goes to the next day and next 'ice off' time in the pool, which oddly enough is my mother. Drat! She's in for 4 pm and I'm in for 8 pm, which means she's going to beat me out. I would really like to have seen Richard get it because it's his first time in the pool and because he's so close. He was in for 5 pm this afternoon and would have won the pool if the ice had just gone out before dark. We've all been calling back and forth all day to make sure we had an accurate time for ice out to be fair to everyone. It's sure been fun and half the pool winnings goes to the Nimpo Lake Community Association so in a way, everyone's a winner.
Richard made a suggestion for next year's pool. He suggested that we have it for the month of February. At the end of the month, the pool closes. That way no one will have any idea based on weather as to when the ice will go off. It will make for more of a challenge and hopefully more people will buy in on different days. Now if we can just rig up something that falls into the water at a certain point on the lake when the ice goes out, we'll have a more accurate way of determining the time and we won't have to keep calling and driving around the lake. It may be that some bays might still have a bit of ice in them, but that wouldn't matter.
It's amazing that we had a long, cold winter with good quality and depth of ice, a cold spring, and the ice still came off on the 7th, or effectively the 7th of May. And that is the average date that it goes off. Except in really warm years, the lake pretty much always freezes up by the end of the first week in December and pretty much thaws by the end of the first week of May. It just goes to show you that Mother Nature really does have a schedule and she generally keeps it!

06/05/2009 7:53 PM

Still Waiting

By this evening I thought for sure all the ice would be off of Nimpo Lake overnight. An ice sheet half way between us and the island was literally dissolving before our eyes, or certainly appeared to be. It's been like that all day with any ice left floating around on the Short Arm, it's just disappearing. But I was down at the North End of the lake at Mary's resort today and noticed that her ice still goes clear out to the point, almost as far as the eye can see. I mentioned that I thought she still had the largest ice sheet left but found out later that I was wrong.
I suggested to Andy that we run down to a neighbour's place that's about a third of the way down the Main Arm to see how much ice was left there. Lots! The Main Arm is open for as far as we can see from our place, but once you get around the corner there's still loads of ice all the way down. It won't be going out tomorrow, that's for sure.
Friends dropped off a dump truck load of manure for us at supper and the one asked if I thought the ice would be off by tomorrow. I told him I didn't think so, and now I'm certain. He'll be down in the mouth because he picked the 7th in the 'ice off' pool. But you never know. Sometimes a good wind will come up and the ice has candled enough that it just falls apart.
When we came back from our quad ride down the Main Arm this evening, we saw that the ice sheet that had been between us and the island has now drifted to our shore. Andy just called me out to look at it again. You can see it moving past our shore now toward the eastern shore and eventually it will start moving down river melting along the way or crushing up on the shore behind us.
One thing I noticed this spring is that there are no klinkers. Sometimes when the ice is breaking up and the wind is moving it around, all of the little bits of ice klink against each other making a really neat sound, like glass tinkling. Actually, the other thing we didn't have this spring were the lake monsters. Usually this lake makes some pretty wild noises in the spring just before break up but it's been really quiet this year.
Today was a pretty nice day. It started out beautifully with lots of sun, but then more cloud started moving in so it wasn't a really bright day overall, but there was no wind so it was great that way. Good thing too, because the chill coming off of that cold water is not nice. It went down to -5C or 23F last night so it was pretty cool this morning. Still, it got up to 12C today or about 53F at one point and it was a great day for working outside.
I put on some waders and slogged out into our swamp to scatter some mosquito dunks today and I managed to talk Andy into dragging out the Mosquito trap and starting it up. After a couple of hours when it didn't catch even one mosquito he turned it off because he decided there were no mosquitos around. There actually are very few this close to the lake because I think it's just too cold for them, but if you get into a warm, still area, they're there and I don't want to miss the opportunity to knock off as many as possible before the real season gets started.
This is going to be a pretty short blog tonight. Yesterday I did something to my wrist and while it doesn't bother me doing anything else, it sure does when I type and I can only do it with it wrapped in a Tensor bandage. Maybe I'm developing an allergic reaction to my keyboard and won't be able to work on the computer for the whole summer and will have to be outside gardening instead. Oh Darn......

05/05/2009 7:25 PM

The Battle for Water

There wasn't a lot of open water around the shore line this morning, causing two loons to encroach on each other's real estate. While the ladies stood by encouraging their partners, the males engaged in a life and death battle. We were following them around from the north side of our peninsula to the south facing side while the one loon continually tried to drown the other. He almost succeeded a couple of times, I think.
I was standing right there when the one male drove the other right up the bank onto our shore and he was squawking all the way. I think he was hurting and just wanted to get away from the other one for a little while but unfortunately, our Lab appeared on the scene to check out the commotion right about then and the loon slid back into the water. I don't know if the loon had accidentally encroached on the other couple's territory at the back or if he was trying to push his luck with the matron on that side, even though he seems to have his own girlfriend. More likely it was the former. The loon was probably fishing underwater around the point, a great place for the trout that are moving down the river, and came up for air in the middle of someone else's territory. We were standing at the back looking at the ice when I saw all three of them pop up at the same time and said, "Oops! There's going to be a fight!" It was quite the battle but it ended quickly when one of the ladies called a warning. A bald eagle came barreling in to check out all the noise, and possibly looking to finish off an injured loon. The next thing you know, all is calm, the two couples were back in their personal stretch of water, and proceeded to preen all the ruffled feathers. I don't think there's anything so territorial as a loon and they've got stamina for battle on water like nothing I've ever seen. I'll post one of the pictures of the fight on the
Picture of the Day.
The ice is melting at an amazing rate. It's also moving around in great ice sheets in this wind, first one way, then the other. That breaks it up more than anything will. Logs from an ice fishing fire left on the ice this winter by friends moved 80 feet in a couple of hours this morning and I think they're gone completely now. The Main Arm was still frozen over this morning and by this evening it's almost completely open water with just a small ice sheet here and there. I don't know who bet on the 6th or 7th of May in the 'ice off' pool, but I suspect they will be the winners if this wind keeps up. It sure is cold though! That wind sweeping in over ice cold water to shore cools the air down in a real hurry. Talk about a giant swamp cooler!
Last night it was still 7.5C or 45.5F at midnight and I don't think it went below freezing this morning. As long as it doesn't freeze at night it makes a huge difference to how quickly the ice thaws even though it didn't get all that warm today.
The otters are out and about now. Yesterday evening after I got home from a meeting in Tatla, I looked out on the ice and could see this big black thing flopping around. I grabbed the binoculars because at first I thought it might be a dog that had gone through the ice and was struggling to get out. Then I realized it was an otter. I went to get my camera while Andy checked things out with the spotting scope and said, "It's two otters!" It certainly was, and one of them was absolutely determined to breed the other, except she wasn't having it. It was quite something watching the lovelorn suitor pursue missy around the ice. She must finally have found a hole in the ice because they disappeared in front of the island. This morning we watched another otter on the far shore of our back bay where the docks are stored, play around in the grass before he caught wind of us and disappeared into the water.
While two days ago I was thrilled to hear a loon over a phone, today the lake was alive with them. There's quite a large number around and they're certainly making their presence known. I talked to someone that lives on Anahim Lake and they haven't seen any over there yet, but the ice is just starting to go off there, so there isn't a lot of swimming, landing, or take off room for birds that big. So it's very possible that some of the loons that we have on Nimpo Lake actually belong to Anahim.
I saw something pretty cool on my way down to Tatla Lake yesterday.... a whole bunch of Sandhill cranes. They were standing in a meadow along the highway and there were probably at least ten or twelve of them. Although I've seen them before, I've never seen that many at one time. They're certainly a big bird. They stood at least three feet tall and all looked quite serious studying the water-filled pot holes in the meadow. I'm assuming they were looking for food but I have no idea what they eat. It was pretty cool to see them.
I have no idea what the weather is supposed to do tomorrow other than get worse. It certainly wasn't great today with little sun and a lot of cold wind. It tried to spit a little rain while I was walking today and it looks like it's trying to snow over the mountains, when you can see them, that is. It must be spring....

03/05/2009 7:57 PM

River Picnic

Today was one of those few Sundays where we got to do what working folks do on a Sunday.... take it off. We were invited to a wiener roast (known as a picnic elsewhere) along Willy's Creek by one of the guys we snowmobile with. A small group of us left Nimpo on our ATV's and followed directions and the ribboned trees to get to this spot. We parked our machines assuming there was only a small number of us, walked around the base of a small ridge, and lo and behold, there was about half of Nimpo! Well, maybe not quite, but there was quite a bunch of our snowmobiling buddies relaxing in the woods in the middle of nowhere on lawn chairs, refreshments in hand and a fire in a rim burning cheerily on the bank of the stream.
One of our friends found the secret spot about five years ago but apparently there were signs that a trail had been cut into it probably as much as twenty years ago. A couple of the guys have been going there and clearing out beaver dams that back the creek up and stop trout from spawning upstream. There was a good supply of fire wood, blocks for sitting on, and a safe fire in this very sheltered spot. Even though a cool wind kicked up and the sun wasn't always shining, it was still a really pleasant place and we had a great afternoon there listening to the stories and jokes told around the fire.
It was probably just as well that we had a breeze for most of the day because when we first arrived at that spot and before we rounded the corner into the open, there were quite a few mosquitoes making their presence known. I know we haven't seen even one on our point on the lake but it's pretty obvious that the population is building up in the deep woods now. It's time to get our mosquito action plan ready for the year.
I have no idea what the temperature got up to today, but it was nowhere near as high as yesterday. I doubt if it even hit 8C today because the morning started out with heavy cloud and it actually looked like it was going to rain. While the sun did show itself quite a bit later this afternoon, and even though we had a south wind, it wasn't a warm one by any means. I think the weathermen forecast a cool down for a day or two and I guess it's here.
I was blown away by how dark the ice on the lake looked when we rode back into the yard around five. It's even darker than yesterday and quite a bit more water has opened up. I'm really starting to back pedal my prediction for ice off now. The only thing that's going to save me is a real cool down.
It's a really special time of year now where things happen quickly. Someone from across the lake called me this morning and while on the phone to him I heard a loon calling in the background. I said, "Hey, you've got a loon!" He said, "Yep, right out in front of my house." It was only a short time later when I looked out and saw one cruising past our shore. Then we looked over at the open water in the reeds and there were a pair of them there lying low in the water like a couple of half submerged submarines. About that time we could see that a duck had just caught himself a fish and it was apparent his eyes were bigger than his stomach. The fish was large enough that he struggled with it for quite a while before he succeeded in getting it down his gullet. Out in front just off of our shore I watched a duck trying to walk on the ice to the water. He was slipping and sliding and falling on his belly just about every step, but he would plunk in for a little while and then climb back out onto the ice for awhile. Suddenly, there are all kinds of quacker and seagull sounds around the lake. It sure livens the place up and you can really tell it in everyone's mood. It's time for blue water again!
02/05/2009 6:52 PM

Painting in the Wind

I fired out of bed this morning expecting to paint the new greenhouse before the glass goes on. The sun was shining and it was already 8C or 46F so I even canceled an afternoon appointment so that I wouldn't have to quit part way through. Then the wind started. No small wind this, but a howling gale force wind that nearly whipped the flags right off their poles. I decided to do another chore and wait it out in the hopes it would get better because it probably couldn't get any worse.
The weather forecasters have been calling for a change in the weather to cloud and possible showers. You could tell this morning that there was a real change coming. There were a few high, hazy clouds moving in and where the wind had been coming out of the north for the last few days, this morning it was out of the east and by afternoon it was roaring out of the south. Of course it doesn't help that we have lake on three sides of us so the wind is worse. I went for a walk late this afternoon and once I got away from the lake there was only a mild breeze and it was really hot. As usual, it's always cooler near the ice and the water in the spring. We'll be warmer in the fall than anyone else that is located away from the lake for the same reason.
By eleven this morning I bit the bullet and decided I was painting regardless of the wind. I filled up my little plastic tray with paint, set it on a box while I got a couple of fourteen footers ready to paint, and the paint tray promptly blew over with, you guessed it.... paint side down. I globbed as much back into the tray, as I could with the brush, wood chips and all, and then ran to get water on the puddle of paint as soon as possible since it splattered all over our cement floor under the deck. Thank heavens it was a water based paint. I decided if that was any example of what the day was going to be like I should probably just go back to bed. But! I got everything painted that I wanted to including the greenhouse framework. All that was left to paint was the new back wall.
While looking for some paint this morning, Andy came across a five gallon pail of dark brown paint, exactly the color I had been looking for. He also pulled out his paint sprayer. Now I knew he had a sprayer but have never seen him use it. He decides, high winds or not, he's going to paint the OSB siding on the greenhouse with the sprayer. Well, does that thing work like a hot diggety damn! I don't think I've ever seen a sprayer in action before. It's got great coverage, great penetration, which is real plus with chip board, and it's fast. I couldn't believe it! It would have taken me hours to paint both sides of that wall and the studs with a brush. So now I'm wondering why I spent many hours last fall and the last three days painting boards by hand when I could have done it with a sprayer??? Andy hasn't answered that question satisfactorily yet.
It made it over 15C or nearly 60 degrees Fahrenheit today. That's phenomenal for the first of May! And that was without sun. By shortly after noon it had completely clouded over and actually looked like it was going to rain.
That's always a good thing to have on fresh paint.
The wind seemed awfully bloody chilly today, but as I said, as soon as you got away from the lake, it was actually hot. Apparently we aren't the only ones. A wildfire has taken off in the vicinity of 70 Mile just south of 100 Mile House on both sides of Highway 97 and several homes have had to be evacuated. It just goes to show you that we're drier than we think.
I walked down to a neighbour's place on the Main Arm of Nimpo to have a look at the ice today. If these warm temperatures continue, the ice will be out in a week. Out on the Main Arm, there's a huge area where the ice is really green. Either water was laying on top of it and rotted the ice from the top making it look more transparent, or it's actually very thin ice.
The reed bed in our bay out front is all water and now that open water has joined with the ever widening strip of open water in front of our neighbour's. The strip of open water on our shoreline widens by several feet every day and today the mergansers were paddling past our place via that narrow water highway. I saw a couple of loons go over today and heard one somewhere out on the lake, but they need a lot bigger patch of water to take off and land on than what they had this morning. By this afternoon, however, no problem.
We've had a big spider hole develop in front of our place and I decided to take a picture of it today so that you folks will know what I mean when I mention spider holes in the ice. The lake will be covered with them now. There's no logical reason we can find for them, and you never know where they'll appear, but I suspect that a spider hole under the snow is what caused Andy to get a little dunking in the water there a week or so back while burning a dock in front of another neigbhour's place.
Right now the ice is holding steady, although some monster cracks have developed off our point just as they do every year. It will be interesting to see if this strong south wind will start pushing the lake ice into our shore the way it did last spring, or if it's still attached to the far shore. Sure makes a mess when it crunches in.
We're going fourwheeling tomorrow with friends for a wiener roast. Since I don't know how long we'll be out, I don't know that there will be an article tomorrow. And since I have a meeting all day Monday, there probably won't be one then either.

01/05/2009 7:21 PM

May Day

We made it to the first of May folks. I'm always surprised when we do. First it's winter, winter, winter, then Break Up, then boom, first of May! Although technically we are still in Break Up until the ice goes off of Nimpo Lake.
Today was glorious. There's just no other word for it. There was not a cloud in the sky all day, it was warm, and although there was a breeze out of the north, temperatures were high enough today that you didn't mind it much. It got up over 14C or 58 degrees Fahrenheit today and it's actually still holding at that, even with a north wind.
When Leah and I went for a walk with the dogs today I didn't want it to end. It was so warm and beautiful in the woods, other than a couple of mosquitoes that were flitting around, that I didn't want to turn for home. The first thing I noticed when we came out on the road just past our driveway at the start of our walk was moose tracks on the road. Normally they would have been very hard to see on the hard surface, but the heel of one hoof was leaving two circles of blood. Obviously blood was running down the animal's hock at the back of its leg and onto the hoof. I don't know if it was attacked and wolves or other animals tried to hamstring it, if it injured itself in the woods, or if it crossed the lake and one leg went through the ice. That would cause a cut on the ankle.
It's a pretty rough world out there for the wildlife. Logan just sent me several pictures of a young caribou that's all by itself and hanging around their place. It has a severe cut on its shoulder where a patch of hide is missing and you can see a large bit of pink meat. It's hard to say what caused the injury but since it's decided to take up residence near humans, you can probably assume it was attacked by some predator.
Today was a great day for working outside and like yesterday, I spent a good many hours on the wrong end of a paintbrush, but the opportunity just couldn't be passed up to get lumber for the greenhouse painted. It's not very often that we get temperatures warm enough to dry paint at this time of year and I wanted to take advantage of it. I'm hoping for just one more good day so that I can repaint the greenhouse now that it's been assembled and paint the new back wall Andy put up today. Once that's done, we can start putting up glass. Man, am I excited about that!
The ice on Nimpo Lake is looking really dark today. Open water close to shore is rippling in the wind so it's doing a good job of warming up the edge of the ice. Looking at how much water has opened up out around the reeds, I'm beginning to wonder if I didn't set my 'ice off' guesses for way too late. The lake already has that look it gets only a week before it's open water, but then it depends on the weather too. If this warm weather were to continue, I think it could very possibly be opened up in about eight days, but if we get a cool down, that will set it back.
We were watching a pair of blue birds fluttering above the ice this evening and can't figure out what they're after. There must be some kind of insect either caught in the ice or emerging, although I don't know what it would be. Andy was talking to a neighbour farther down the lake who mentioned they were seeing blue birds around their place as well. Like us, she had never seen them anywhere but out along the highway occasionally, so I have no idea what they're doing here. I wish we had a blue bird house in case they're looking for a place to nest. On the other hand, I would hate for that white hawk to get them. Perhaps that's what has driven them close to human habitation, too many hawks around lately.
The pictures of the caribou up on the right are courtesy of Logan Sudeth and were taken today.
It's the start of a new month and so the start of a new week. If you would like to read last week's articles you'll find them at

April Week Four.

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!
Red eyed loon.
Loon with wide spread wings.
Loon rising out of the water.
Duck holding a fish.
Duck swallowing a fish.
Duck on ice.
A caribou peers out from brush.
Mountain caribou in water.
Caribou swimming in Nimpo Lake.
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