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Wilderness Adventures - May, Week Two/2008

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.

15/05/2008 7:24 PM


Boy, I know we were all asking for it but now that we have some unexpectedly high temperatures, it'll just about drop you in your tracks! We're definitely not used to it!
I got up to sunshine this morning and the temperatures headed upward in a hurry. I don't know what the temperatures were during the hottest time of day since I was outside all day, but I know that around four this afternoon, it was at 22C or 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
I had been working for about an hour or two when I realized that I really needed to get a cap on because the sun was getting to me. Pretty bad, eh? Complain when it's cold and complain when it's hot. Actually, I most certainly am not complaining. I don't know how many times I commented to Andy today just how much I love this kind of weather. And no bugs! Only had to fight off one mosquito this morning. I don't know if it's too hot for them as well? Or if the warm weather is still too new for many to have hatched out yet. It's glorious in any case, and I'm taking full advantage of it before bug season does start and we get driven back inside.
I decided to get risqué today and actually clear away last year's leaves and mulch away from my perennials. So I guess if it gets cold again, they'll have lost their blankets. I started building a new garden area in a hot part of my garden while Andy helped friends get their dock moved across Nimpo Lake and hooked up. When he came back we finished it off. I had a raised bed that I built last fall for veggies this year, but put it in the warmest, and most protected part of the garden. That is now where we want to build the greenhouse which meant my brand new raised bed had to be moved out. I've been thinking about it for a few weeks now and decided to put a three tiered growing area on the back side of a dirt berm we built in the garden last year. The front side will be rock garden but I just wasn't sure what I was going to do with the back before the weeds took it over.
A tiered vegetable garden. Perfect solution! It's hot, protected, and if nothing else, I should be able to grow some zucchini and some salad greens there just in case the greenhouse doesn't get done until next year. :-)
A couple of people have been out fishing today, and what a perfect day it would have been for that, but most people were doing spring chores as was evidenced from different sounds around the lake. Our boat is in the lake now so perhaps a little fishing will happen tomorrow. I'm pretty pleased with what I got accomplished today and I could handle a break.
Last night was incredible. Right around midnight all the loons on the lake set up a ruckus. With the sound of their laughter echoing around the lake, it was impossible to guess how many there are, but I think the numbers might be up. The moon was shining on the water, little water skeeters were making trails in the water in the moonlight, and every once in a while you could see fish doing slow rolls up to the surface after the bugs. While I stood outside with the air warmer than it has been for nine months, the loons just went on and on. I considered going in for my camera to record them, but I was just enjoying the moment too much. I shouldn't have been so selfish though. It would have been nice to share the night with you folks.

14/05/2008 7:04 PM

Bug Patrol

Today was our first official day of spring. Actually, it may qualify as our first day of summer. Although I wasn't in the house much I saw that it got up to 20C or 68F at one point in time and it's still 15.7C or about 58F. That's a phenomenal difference from the last few weeks and since it was dead still until this afternoon, it made it seem even warmer than it actually was. In fact, it almost felt humid. It was a wonderful day!
When I got up this morning the lake was grey and glassy and you could see fish rings all over the lake. More than anything I would love to have gone fishing, but we had already laid out our plans for projects to be worked on today. Unfortunately, they mostly involved being inside. But that's okay. Maybe tomorrow will be better and if there's no wind, maybe we'll sneak out for a quick fish. I just about cried yesterday when I noticed that not one, but two fishing boats, were out on Nimpo Lake all day. We got beat on being the first out after ice off again!
I'm always so surprised at how quickly things pick up when spring arrives here, and it's particularly noticeable when it's so late coming. Everything's quiet, quiet, quiet, and then suddenly, boom! Planes are coming in, folks are moving their docks back to their summer mooring, summer residents are back, including our closest neighbour, and we even spotted our first osprey last night. I finally put a hummingbird feeder out today, which is a little late since apparently they have been around for awhile. But everyone that I've talked to that put feeders out had problems with them freezing at night.
I haven't seen any fresh bear tracks on my back trail yet but with this sudden warm up, the bears should be coming out of hibernation if they aren't out already. Mind you as cold as it's been, they probably stuck their noses out of their dens, and then promptly reset their alarm clocks for June. There was sign last week of a moose still hanging around, but the meadows have been ever so slow to green up this year. That's probably been a draw for keeping them here, because there won't be anything green up higher yet, but I don't imagine they'll be here for long.
If the first bug patrols out this evening on my walk were any indication, the mozzies will be getting too ferocious for moose to stay down at this elevation for much longer.
You know it's funny, but remember when I was talking about weather being the first topic of conversation, especially in Canada? Well, I think that the topic of fuel prices might soon supersede that age old priority in our passing conversations. Prices have come up enough that it's on everyone's mind and is definitely having an affect on some people's driving habits, although not as much as it probably should have. I've always been pretty fuel conscious but am even more so now, and I suspect that our summer tourism season is just not going to be quite as busy this year because other folks are really noticing how much those higher prices cut into their wallets. Watching the news last night they were doing interviews with people at the pumps and you could see that people are starting to feel the pinch. In an economic slowdown, what's the first thing to go? Luxury items and recreation, and cut backs on vacations. Throw high fuel prices in on top and the latter really takes a hit. Hopefully though, perhaps Canadians that might have traveled farther afield will opt to check out their own country or province, and maybe even check out the Chilcotin!
Oh, I see that there's a hummingbird at the feeder outside my office window already. It sure doesn't take them long to discover a feeder and I'm always amazed that they can do it in only a matter of hours. Especially since I have not seen a sign of one around our place this spring until now.

13/05/2008 7:10 PM

The First Beaver

The first Beaver took off of Nimpo Lake today. Since it belongs to Tweedsmuir Air, Duncan is probably just putting it through its paces before the season starts. It sure is nice to hear that big engine winding up before taking off of the lake. There's just no sound like it.
Of course the loons were complaining vociferously about the whole thing, as they usually do. I don't know what they have against planes but when they start sounding off it usually means someone is starting their taxi out onto the lake, or a plane is coming in for a landing.
Speaking of loons....we've had a lone loon hanging out in front of our place for the last couple of days. I don't know if it's the same one that kept getting caught in the middle of the mating pairs before the ice went out or not, but it definitely seems to be by itself. It's a big loon and definitely full grown male so it's not like it's a young one that was born here last year and returned to the nesting area. We figure it's more likely that its mate was killed over winter and there are no other singles on the lake that it could pair up with.
It has finally cleared up somewhat this evening and we actually saw a little sun. Otherwise it's been heavy cloud and either rain, or trying to rain, all bloody day. A breeze has come up now too so maybe that's what blew the system out. I didn't get much of a chance to look at the thermometer today since we were working on the cabin again, but at one point in time it was up to 9.8C.
Again, thank heavens for good neighbours. Both had been working around their places since early this morning but dropped what they were doing to come over and help us for a couple of hours to finish up the flooring. It looks awesome and we couldn't have done it without them. Well....actually, we probably could have but only with difficulty and not without a referee. Their help was certainly appreciated!
There's a big, nasty low pressure system pushing in onto the north and central coast tomorrow that is supposed to be bringing lots of rain, but after that, the weather is supposed to turn nice for a few days. Maybe even some sunshine! I'll believe it when I see it, of course. I started to clear away last year's stems and leaves from my perennials the other day and then stopped. It seemed foolish to take away that protective mulch when it's still as cool as it is. I keep telling myself that spring has to come sometime!
Oddly enough there was no mention made of the potential for flooding down on the Lower Mainland on the weather tonight, even though they're talking temperatures up to 30C inland away from the coast. Their weather has been pretty cool as well and you would think that if temperatures are going to rise that quickly, then there should be a major melt of higher elevation snow pack over the next few days. Or maybe they don't want to raise the alarm as they did last year and then have the flood danger fizzle out.
I just wanted to point out a mistake before I go. Last night I listed the earthquake that occurred in China as being an 8.9 rather than 7.9 on the Richter scale. I've changed it down below to reflect the true number, just so you know.

12/05/2008 8:04 PM

Grim Weather

It's hard to complain about our own overcast weather after seeing what's happening around the world. Getting up to news this morning that China had an 7.9 earthquake with thousands dead and that the States got hit yet again with a force 4 tornado and 22 dead, wasn't the nicest way to wake up. Between those disasters, last week's US tornados and the cyclone in Burma, you kind of have to wonder who teed off Mother Nature. She is most definitely in a butt kicking mood of late.
Andy wrote down the figures for me that he heard on the news this morning. Did you know that there have been 910 tornados in the States with 95 people dead already, and that in their worst tornado years prior to this they haven't reached that number of tornados until August? And what are the chances of one country being hit by a devastating cyclone and its next door neighbour being hit with a devastating earthquake within days of each other?
So as I mentioned before, I feel kind of bad to be complaining about our sorry weather. Still, it's the nature of the human beast to find something to complain about and weather is nearly always at the top of the list. Maybe it's because there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it.
If the politicians are screwing up, a niggling feeling deep down tells you that it's your obligation to write letters and get a campaign going, or if big business is taking advantage of the little guy, you should help with the outcry. Or if you disagree with how the justice system is doing its thing you know you should be getting on the bandwagon, getting petitions filled out, going to school to become a lawyer so that you can get into politics so that you can change the world.....hopefully for the better.
I don't know about you but I always have a little tinge of guilt if I complain about how things are being done in our world but I'm not making the effort to help affect change. But with the weather? There is really sweet patoot that you can do about the weather. It's just a great subject for a totally guilt free bitch fest.
When you gripe about the weather, you don't have to be politically correct, you don't always have to have a smile on your face or put your best foot forward, and you don't have to worry about sinking your fellow gripers into a deep well of depression. Chances are that if the weather's that bad, they're already there.
Oddly enough, there are probably few things in the world that can (legally) take the human mood from one extreme to another the way a change in the weather can. I'm assuming that's a world wide phenomenon and it's not just us Canadians that are obsessed with weather, although we may be a little more cognizant than folks in other countries. After all, I have to assume that in a place like Hawaii where the climate seems to always be pleasant, and it's warm or warmer with little seasonal change, weather may not be the first topic of conversation.
In any case, I haven't really gotten around to our own weather, but it's not great, I assure you. Cloudy, overcast, trying to spit rain, with a raw wind and temperatures that only made it to 12C or a bit above 50F today. Gray. Just plain gray.
Fortunately, we didn't have to be out in it all day today, although we did have to go back and forth in it. Andy decided to tackle the floor in the guest cabin first thing this morning. I gathered things weren't going well when he came upstairs to wake me up, and asked me how much we paid for the new flooring since it was probably going to be used as firewood or thrown into the lake. That's never a good sign.
Thank heavens for good neighbours!
One of ours told us earlier this spring that he had run into the same problem with clicky laminate flooring as Andy had when he tried to put it down. He finally figured out the best way to lay it and it had nothing to do with the instructions. In fact, I'm pretty sure the instructions were designed to keep the professional floor layers in business because our other neighbour ended up so frustrated with his project, that after days of fighting with it he called someone in to finish it up. He'd had it!
Our neighbour offered to help us lay the flooring whenever we wanted to get at it, and Andy finally decided that taking up his offer was the best course. Things were working okay, but they really started working when the second neighbour showed up after lunch and between all four of us, the flooring clicked together beautifully. But it does take at least three, and four people are better, to put the run together then hold it at the angle it needs to be in order to click in easily to the run behind it. The other half should be completed tomorrow and that will be absolutely wonderful! That doesn't mean there won't need to be a whole bunch more work to be done, but that will be one nasty job out of the way.
You gotta love it when all your neighbours are handy in one way or another and generous with their time.

11/05/2008 3:43 PM

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to those to whom it applies. As for the rest of you shopping for a Mother's Day gift.... Remember, flowers good...vacuum cleaner bad.
I wish I could claim that one but it was actually said by one of the young Ivy League type newscasters that deadpanned it after a little blurb on the things you should be getting for your Mother for her 'special day'. Pretty funny, actually, and it's definitely good advice that my own Father should have taken to heart long ago. I remember he got Mom a chainsaw one year, because he needed one. It didn't go over well. She hates getting practical stuff and while it didn't fit as a practical household item, in her books it still didn't qualify as a proper gift either.
When Andy and I were down in Bella Coola last week I picked something out that I thought my Mother would like as a Mother's day gift, then found something really cool that I thought sure she would like. She really likes wilderness stuff and these were hot pads (oven mitts) with grizzly bears on them. Cool! Andy looked at me and said, "Are you sure? Those do qualify as practical!"
Back to plan A.
Maybe from watching my Mom wanting non practical gifts throughout a ranching/farming childhood when money was short and my father would spend weeks agonizing over what the heck he was going to get her, I ended up going the other way. I hate getting impractical gifts from family. They know me so it makes no sense to me to spend money on things I will never use or never wear just because people are afraid to buy something practical, thinking the person getting the gift will think it offensive.
Don't get me wrong, I really like pretty things for the garden or the yard, and I have a deep and abiding love for wind chimes of all sorts. But I also love tools. Any kind of tool. In fact, I finally convinced both parents in my early 30's that tools would be much more appreciated than clothes, shoes, or jewelry that I would never wear. My Dad caught on pretty quickly and my first practical birthday present of a brand new Craftsman Skillsaw was a glorious gift!
It only follows that if I like tools, I'm going to buy tools for my partner. Of course I have to admit that I pull the same thing as my Dad did on my Mother. I like it, I want it, so I buy it as a gift for Andy. Fortunately, he doesn't seem to mind. Our only difficulty is that we both brought enough tools to our relationship that there really isn't much that we need. You know? All your young life you look through tool catalogues going, "Geez, I want one of those some day!" Except one or the other of us have it now. So you go through the catalogues going, "Darn, we've got one of those already."
Anyway, I digress.
Good luck to everyone that had to shop for Mom today, and hope none of you end up dead in the water as my Dad often did in years past because of bad gift choices. In the meanwhile, not a lot else happening on the home front. It's still darn chilly with the wind we've had sweeping over water barely above freezing the last few days. Even without it our temperatures haven't been anything to write home about. Although it hasn't gone below freezing for the last couple of nights, it hasn't gotten much above 10C or about 50F either. Throw a damp wind in, lots of cloud, and it's a little raw outside.
We're still staying pretty dry for this time of year. It rained a bit Friday night and spit some yesterday, but nothing major. Fortunately, it's staying cool enough to keep down the mosquitos, but don't worry, there's still the odd one out there.
We've got to go do the dinner thing so I don't have time to change out the picture of the day, but I like that one anyway. Hope you folks don't mind. Have a good Sunday!

09/05/2008 11:51 AM

Bella Coola Day

We had to go down to Bella Coola yesterday so we got our green fix at the same time. Wow...what a difference! It's like stepping into another world.
When we hit the top of the Bella Coola Hill there was still lots of snow on top of course. Probably between one and two feet in places. Then about half way down the Hill as we came around one corner after dropping several hundred feet and suddenly ended up on a south facing slope, there was the first tree with green leaves half uncurled. From there on the change was immediate from budding birch to looking down on a valley of nearly full leafed aspen at the foot of the Hill.
Going through Hagensborg is always a pleasure with neatly trimmed lawns and flower beds, bright bulbs and fruit trees flowering, while here and there the bright splash of huge rhododendron flowers perched above the bushes and the loud but welcome yellow of forsythia heralds a spring five weeks ahead of ours. Yet everyone down in the Valley complained how cold the spring had been.
We stopped off at the greenhouse on our way back from Bella Coola and I was surprised when I stepped inside to see how small most of the seedlings were. The proprietor said that it had been such a long cold winter and spring that it was pointless to start the seeds too early, as the plants would be far too leggy by the time they could be set out this year. I guess they've been having frost every night so even though they are ahead of us by leaps and bounds, they too are going to be way behind on the growing season.
For that matter, I set my plant purchases out in the warm sunshine on the deck this morning, but when I noticed it had clouded over I went outside to find my plants just about collapsed in the cold. I had to pull them back inside again and put them on the window ledge after the temperature dropped from 65 degrees in the sun to only 48 which is only about 9C. Some of the plants are still looking a little pathetic and I don't know if they'll make it now, or not. So much for trying to push spring.
But hey!! The ice hasn't been out three days and already our neighbour across the lake was out flying this morning after bringing his floatplane to his dock yesterday. I thought I heard a plane this morning and when I went rushing out of my office to the deck, there was Floyd just landing on the water. Sweetness! Everything in Nimpo is normal now! I don't know what I would do if the floatplanes from Tweedsmuir Air and locals weren't landing and taking off from Nimpo Lake throughout the summer. It sure would be awfully quiet, but I suppose with rising fuel prices, a real slow down in plane traffic might become a sad reality. I hope not. It's definitely the best way to see this country!
I've been working on enlisting existing and new operators on this site and I would like to welcome our newest on board. Moose Lake Lodge was described in the listings last year but now has a fancy new banner up, look up.....way up. (Canadians will remember the Friendly and are now listed on the new Guide/Outfitting page designed for those of you that are hunters. John and Mary Ann offer some extraordinary fishing adventures on the Blackwater and Dean Rivers, but they also offer unbeatable spring black bear hunts unmatched by Coast or Island black bear hunt operators. Also on board with a new listing, although they have had a side banner for some years, is Corkscrew Creek Adventures offering hiking, trail rides and hunts.
Coming up as soon as I get their new header banner built will be White Saddle Air Services and the Ranch Country Inn, both listed on their very own page for Tatla Lake Accommodation and activities. I'm pretty excited about their listing because they have the helicopter service which allows visitors to access country otherwise inaccessible. They take people into the Homathko Icefields, mountaineering Mount Waddington, heli kayaking, backcountry skiing and heli hiking all through the mountain ranges south of Tatla, so they're getting into country not accessible by floatplanes from Tweedsmuir Air.
Just a reminder to folks that Anahim Lake Resort will be operating this summer, and don't forget to go in and check out all of the other great operators and accommodations we have available here.
Oh, and on the subject of Bella Coola....did anyone hear about the grizzly bear attack down there? I guess a fellow was surveying a new route for a power line about 15 miles from Hagensborg when he was attacked by a grizzly bear. It grabbed him by his arm and then his head. He tried to hide under a log but it pulled him out again by the arm so he went limp. It swatted him about a few times and then left so he got up and made it out to his truck. He was flown out to Vancouver with injuries, but apparently none of them life threatening. He was really, really lucky and pretty hardy to get back to his vehicle under the circumstances.
Judging from the actions of the bear, it wasn't what I would term a 'predator' bear, but more likely a sow that he unintentionally got too close to, or between her and her cubs. It's pretty early in the year yet and a sow fresh out of the den would still be highly concerned for her cubs and would attack any perceived threat. Of course as soon as an attack like this happens, grizzly numbers becomes a main topic of conversation in the area. Ever since the government, through pressure from the Green Peace advocates, put a moratorium on grizzly bear hunting a few years ago, their numbers have gotten out of hand. To the extent in fact that they had to be opened up to hunting again. In a perfect world, grizzly bears would never have to be hunted and mankind and grizzlies could all live together happily ever after. Since this isn't a perfect world, and man has steadily encroached on grizzly territory, and grizzlies have no natural predator nor do they fear much of anything, it's all bound to become a problem.
Surprisingly, Bella Coola residents do a remarkable job of living every day with grizzlies, and parks people are pretty much on top of how many grizzlies are in the park and with alerting visitors in the area to problem animals and removing dangerous ones to remote parts of the park. While it isn't uncommon to hear about grizzlies living around or wandering through Two Mile Reserve or in behind Anahim Lake, we still are not faced with the numbers that they are in the Bella Coola Valley.
Right now, the valley has more grizzly bears than any place in British Columbia. With several major salmon bearing rivers and numerous creeks running through the narrow confines of the valley and an abundance of berries, it's not surprising that it makes for perfect grizzly habitat. However, there are complaints now that there are just too many grizzlies in that region and that the number of stalking cases are up. What to do? I really don't know.
Obviously the high grizzly numbers has been great for tourist operators that promote bear watching. I just noticed when we were down in the Valley yesterday that two bear/wildlife-watching tour operators have expanded their accommodations by about six times. Proof alone that there's growth in that industry presumably because of the increased number of sightings. Since that's the only expansion I have seen lately in the tourism sector in this area, I guess something good comes out of the high bear population.
Purists would say that it's our fault that there are problems or run ins with grizzlies because we live in their territory and we shouldn't be there. If that's the case then you could argue that humanity really has no business being anywhere on the planet, because face it, we pretty much mess up wherever we live. But since moving our species to another planet (which we would also mess up) or a space station or the moon just isn't realistic right now, then I guess that means that someday, something will have to give. In the case of the grizzly bears, if their population continues to grow and 'get out of hand' then more hunting may have to be opened up. Personally, I think many could be trapped and moved. I'm sure Indiana would benefit from having a few grizzlies right now, don't you think?
As you'll see, I'm on to a new week. It's going to be hard to beat last week. It was kind of exciting how everything was happening at once. You're in such a holding pattern coming out of winter here that when spring finally decides to hit, the season just kind of explodes. You'll find last week's stories, including the one about our cool chimney duck at May Week One.

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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!
Three fishermen in a boat heading out fishing on Nimpo Lake.
Bald eagle against dark blue sky.
Black bear looks at camera.
A green tree with snow covered mountain above the valley.
Green trees in front of huge mountains.
Deer at the entrance to Tweedsmuir Park.
Snow covered mountains above Bella Coola.
Muddy road winds around a corner on the Hill.
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