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 - May, Week One/2011
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of the Day.
Still Flooding - Bella Coola Road Closure Notice
few hours after I wrote the blog below, there were a couple
more blowouts on the roads. There was a big ruckus
on the radio while Highways tried to get flag people and
as many trucks and excavators to the Nimpo Lake Community
Hall as quickly as they could. That little rivulet there
that I mentioned normally only ran about three days every
spring had been a gushing torrent for the past week. It
had built up a huge pond next to the community hall but
still seemed to be draining okay. I guess our newest RCMP
member was just coming back from the south Nimpo Lake
road where the bridge was being undermined by water, when
he came by the Community Hall. He could see that
the culvert there was sticking up into the air and while
he watched, chunks of road edge started falling into the
hole left behind. While Highways guys scrambled
to get equipment, he kept track of the rate at which the
water was undermining the road and it was fast! I think
that's why the highways maintenance guys got on it so
fast. There's a good little dropoff on the other side
of the highway so if they couldn't get the water under
control, they stood to lose the highway there. They managed
to get the culvert reattached to the piece under the road
and big rock around it so that the water wouldn't keep
eating into the road bed.
Since they had to put a really big excavator with a long
reach on that job, they were able to bring Len's excavator
up from south Nimpo where they had been shoring up the
bridge there with rock. They were hoping they wouldn't
lose it but last I heard, water was hitting the bridge.
But at least that excavator was able to start working
on our bridge on north Nimpo road, that Andy had been
working on keeping open for the past week with his little
Bobcat. While that machine is a good one, without bigger
rock, some pit run and decent fill, there wasn't much
he could do but just keep one lane going each day. With
the big excavator and a few truck loads of huge rock,
they were finally able to repair the road properly on
both sides of the bridge Sunday and Monday.
I haven't heard the status of south Nimpo Lake road yet
other than no one is allowed to drive across the bridge,
but everything else right around here seems to be settling
down somewhat. I think Highways put some big equipment
down at Towdystan to shore up the highway there where
the Dean River crosses the road. Normally a placid
little creek, it's just been ripping through there and
I've fully expected it to be the next waterway to tear
up the highway.
We've been watching the lake carefully and it doesn't
seem to have come up a very measurable amount today, which
is positive. We've been getting isolated thunderstorms
and squalls for the last two days, but they haven't put
down the massive amounts of rain that we were seeing last
week. If the weather stays cool with no sun and little
For those of you thinking of traveling to Bella Coola,
the following is a road closure notice for the next two
Interior roads: Hwy 20 will be
closed May 25 June 12 in the following location
for work on the hill, with 2 daily openings.
Closed area: 77 km E of Bella Coola to 101km E of Bella
Coola Openings: 6 7:30am and 6 7:30 pm.
I written this blog a week ago, I would have titled
it High Water, but we're a little beyond that now.
It's been an interesting spring this year. May
14 was to be the date for the annual Nimpo Lake, Anahim
Lake Canoe Races except.... the ice wasn't off yet.
It finally started going off on Friday the 13th but
since the races start in the back bay, and that's the
last place the ice goes off, we all kind of wondered
what was going to happen. Saturday morning I heard this
godawful rattling and crunching sound out there and
went out to see Johnny running his motorboat through
the ice along the shore opposite to us and down toward
where the Dean River exits the lake. He ran his
boat back and forth trying to break up enough ice for
the canoes to get through. He succeeded. There
was quite a racket made by the guys paddling their canoes
through the broken ice, but they made it to the Dean.
I figured it should have been put off for a couple of
weeks because the river was high and COLD! Anyone falling
in was risking hypothermia, but the band had been booked
already for the dance later in the evening, and the
date wasn't going to be changed. Those young guys
must be pretty tough because most did get wet and one
got caught under a log jam when their canoe
went under, but they all made it through to Anahim Lake
Like the rest of BC, our spring was cold. We were well
into May before most of our snow finally melted, but
when it did, it went within a week. As a result, we
watched the lake come up, but that's normal. It usually
drops again after ice off. Not this year.
We had a much higher than normal snow load this year
which all melted at once, and then we got rain. It wasn't
a huge amount at first, but for the past week, it hasn't
stopped. In just one night alone we got an inch of rain
and while up at a friend's the other day, the way the
rain started pounding on her roof, I though we were
in the middle of a war zone. Extensive flooding has
been the result.
Some places started sandbagging in Anhim Lake
two weeks ago and several places have their feet in
water now. We've been watching the Dean River
come up steadily and Nimpo Lake was climbing slowly,
but in the past week it's been climbing several inches
a day. Some estimates are that it has come up between
three and four feet. I would say that's about right.
We have a two to three foot drop down to low water level
off our shore in front of the house. Right now the lake
is well above that and well up into our lawn. It
has probably come up a foot just in the past four days.
Our docks are covered with water, as are most
everyone else's located on the lake, some completely
unreachable. Last night we had to pull the water pump
up off the shore because it was going to be going under,
as well as the canoe because there was a risk of it
floating away. Our next door neighbour's road has been
under water for some time now, and our other neighbours
are watching the water climb up to their driveways.
The road at the bridge on our main road keeps
blowing out. I think this morning is the fourth time....
or maybe the fifth. The first day it was on
this side and highways called Andy to see if he could
fill it in with his Bobcat and hoe. The second day it
blew out on the other side and that's where it's been
going every day since. Highways hasn't had the time
to come down with big equipment and rock to fix it properly
so Andy's just been trying to keep it filled in and
one lane open for all the traffic on our side of the
lake until highways equipment can get here.
We took a drive down to McClinchy Thursday evening to
see how it was faring. It was high, muddy and just rocking
along, but no danger yet to the huge boulders placed
to protect the highway after the flood last fall, but
the water we saw on the way down was incredible!
A little rivulet that normally only flows about three
days every spring by the community hall was just boiling
out through a culvert under the highway. Just a little
way farther down we could see the resort there had its
fences and new road under water and was having to use
their old driveway. Farther on at the subdivision at
the other end of the lake there is a creek that flows
through a culvert there and has been raising the water
level in the meadow at that end for the past two weeks.
Now it was boiling into the culvert and boiling out
the other side. By the next morning it had exceeded
what the culvert could handle and was flowing over the
Len had to go in with his excavator and place
rock along the highway to keep it from being undermined
any more than it already had been the night before.
Same with another place just a little farther down the
highway where the water was starting to collapse the
edges and the pavement crack down the middle, he tried
to get rock tucked in under the edge of highway as much
as possible to keep it from washing away completely.
The road into the subdivision had a creek washing through
to the lake that normally is never there, but while
we saw a lot of water flowing on our little evening
drive, it looked fine. By the next morning it
had blown a hole across the road big enough to bury
a pickup truck.... or two. Our Post Mistress
had to boat back and forth for a couple of days until
they got it fixed to one lane yesterday afternoon.
The place that most concerns me is Towdystan where the
Dean comes in from where it originates up in the hills.
Normally a placid little waterway that barely moves,
it too was rushing through its culverts with water literally
boiling up on both sides and rolling over two heights
of snake fence. If there's any water that might really
take out the highway, I think it could be there.
Highways maintenance guys have their batch of
problems Anahim Lake way as well. The Dean River
road past the Stampede grounds blew out the same morning
all our washouts happened along with a couple of other
washouts, so no one has been able to get through on
that road. I overhead someone on the radio talking about
the Morrison Meadow road being washed out as well. The
biggest problem the highways maintenance guys have had
is that they can't get into a number of their gravel
pits to get fill or big rock, because either the pits
are under water, or the roads going in are, or are so
wet that you would sink out of sight if you tried to
get a big truck over them.
Ground saturation is the biggest problem of all
right now. Everything is so saturated that there
is no place for rain to go except to flow to the lowest
point. We figure that all this started last fall with
that big rain we had in September that caused all the
floods then. The ground was still saturated going into
winter and then froze. When over five feet of snow at
this elevation (much more higher up) melted in the last
week of April and first week in May, only a bit could
soak in, and the rest had to find the lowest point.
Throw several inches of steady rain in on top of it,
and it too had to find its lowest point. That
would be us and Anahim Lake. Anahim Lake is
so backed up that though the Dean can flow out of our
lake, and has exceeded its banks, it can still only
flow so fast and take so much water, so then Nimpo Lake
if we got a couple of days of no rain, but not too hot,
the water should start to go down a little bit. What
we don't want is wind, because if the
waves start whipping up on the lake right now with water
up on ours and everyone else's land, it will cause some
erosion as well as some damage where flotsam has been
floated in by high water.
Our lake water is the color of weak tea now and
I've stopped drinking it. On our little drive
the other night I could see the black swamp water going
into all the waterways that will eventually end up in
our lake, and I think Giardia (beaver fever) is a very
real threat now. We have a number of filters on our
water system, but not an ultra violet one that would
kill the bacteria.
I think we'll be okay once this water starts to recede
because unlike Anahim Lake with Corkscrew Creek, Nimpo
Lake does not drain any real mountains. We do have hills
surrounding the area, but once the snow is melted from
them and the rain stops, that should be about it. But
I do think the rest of the province is going to have
some serious problems in late June and July when the
snow pack in the high mountains start to melt.
Most mountain ranges throughout the province, including
ours, got a higher than normal snow load this winter
and once it really warms up, that's all going to come
at once unless we have an extremely cool summer. We
saw how much the Fraser River came up a couple of weeks
ago in a very short period of time, and it doesn't even
really start to rumble until the higher elevation snow
begins melting. I know that there are a number of areas
around the province now that are under flood warnings
and watches, but I think it's going to get a whole lot
worse before it gets better.
The only bonus out of all this so far? No mosquitoes.
Can you believe it? Once the sun comes out and
the water starts to go down I'm sure they'll be horrendous
but to this point, it's been wonderful! Sad for me because
for the last five months up until yesterday, I haven't
been able to get outside and enjoy the lack of bugs,
but starting today, I'm on my way. No more stuck on
the computer day after day. My job is done and I'm back
in the blog writing saddle again! I keep getting mournful
emails from my husband wondering where the blog is,
so I've got to get back to writing on a more regular
You'll find last month's poor single blog at April
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!