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Wilderness Adventures - May, Week 3/2009

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.

20/05/2009 7:01 PM

Yet More May Snow

We don't normally get a great dump of snow this late in May but we most certainly did today.
The intermittent snow and rain we were getting yesterday evening turned to straight snow and it came down steadily until I went to bed. It was melting underneath while it was snowing on top so it was settling quickly with snow so heavy and saturated with water that it was hard to shovel this morning. It had settled a great deal and there looked to be only about four inches by the time I got up, but Andy figures there was at least six inches on the ground early, early this morning when he got up.
A little snow cap formed over the rain gauge last night and I should have gone out and cleared it off so there would have been a more accurate reading by this morning, but even with that there was still two inches of water in the gauge. It's good because we really, really needed the moisture.
The beauty of snow is that it melts slowly and soaks into the ground where a hard rain just runs off. But it sure made everything mucky today. I was planting flowers up at the car wash in ground that was just saturated and I was sinking up to my ankles in mud. I came home looking like I had been slopping around in a pig pen all day.
Our weather was not great today. It was clouded over a lot, which for transplanting perennials is a really good thing, but since my back was soaked from being under the drip line of a gazebo roof while the snow melted off it, more sunshine would have been much appreciated. I was freezing my butt off.
The temperature right now is sitting at 8C or 46F but I expect it to start dropping pretty quickly. They're warning of frost in the Cariboo so we'll probably get it too unless it stays clouded over. Last night it sat just half a degree above freezing all night while it snowed, but had it cleared off it would have chilled right down. We've had one storm after another coming in over the mountains today so it's hard to say what it's going to do.
It would seem the Lower Mainland has been and will be enjoying sunny weather and warm temperatures because of a high pressure system moving in from the southwest. I just don't know if it's going to move far enough north to let us have some nice weather as well. It would certainly be a welcome change getting some straight sunshine. Although this chill has certainly kept the bugs down.
For anyone on North Nimpo Lake Road, I understand that the closure for the bridge may be until noon tomorrow and then the work should be done. I got lucky today when I crossed at noon because they let me right through. But I've gotta say, I was not thrilled crossing bridge planking barely the width of a vehicle and with no railings. It was so not cool! It may be my imagination but I'm pretty sure that if Andy had taken his dually across, at least one outer tire would have been hanging over the edge.

19/05/2009 7:18 PM

Snowing.... Again

It's a little late in May for it to snow off and on all day, but it has. It's done just about everything else possible as well.
The rain yesterday evening turned to snow at about one a.m. just before I went to bed. It was still above freezing but that didn't stop it from accumulating to about an inch of wet, sloppy stuff on the ground this morning. While it did get up to 7C today the ground has chilled off enough now that there are still little snow banks here and there where snow slid off the roof.
We had heavy, low cloud for most of the day, although we got a few sunny breaks, along with sleet, hail, slush, and more snow interspersed with the odd rain shower. It's been quite a day of yuck.
Naturally, everything's pretty wet and mucky but it's actually great to see the moisture, regardless of the form it arrives in. I'm certain my perennials, which have only just poked their heads out of the ground very recently, have just about doubled in size overnight. The lawn, which had been just a sorry looking mess of yellow grass with a little green has turned a whole lot of green and I'm pretty sure it's grown quite a bit in the last 24 hours. Now if we could put just a little heat on all the growing things, they would take right off.
Several people around the lake have taken great advantage of the moisture to burn some slash piles. We've three sets of neighbours up right now that are going great guns taking down red trees and it's nice when they can get rid of the slash right away instead of having to wait until late next fall or until we can burn it for them in the winter. Even better is that for every dead and red pine they take down, they reduce the fire danger to surrounding properties.
Our temperature this evening is already just barely above freezing and Andy and I had to run another cord down to the greenhouse and add another ceramic heater. One heater might have held the temperature above freezing but we have a high pressure system moving in so if it clears off tonight, the temperature could easily plummet. No point in losing all the plants I just put in there. At least this will give them a fighting chance.
I was supposed to go do some planting or landscaping up at the car wash for Len in exchange for a truck load of manure he brought me a little while back. He called today and said don't even bother coming because it was just too mucky around there with the snow and to wait until tomorrow instead. But the next couple of days is going to be dicey for getting out of here because the bridge over the Dean River on our road is being worked on. There will be wait times up to two hours but I don't think they have a set schedule for when that will be. It would be nice if we knew. I don't relish trying to head up to Nimpo, which is only five minutes a way, and have to wait for two hours to get there. Normally I could care less because there's usually nothing so pressing in Nimpo that I have to get there, but I would really like to get this job done. It's going to take a lot of plants and several days to complete it.
So just to emphasize: For you folks on North Nimpo Lake Road, there's a BRIDGE CLOSURE on the Waddington Bridge across the Dean for the next two days.

18/05/2009 6:52 PM

The Fishing Derby & Quad Party

The fishing derby put on by a young local turned out to be successful. We didn't participate on Saturday because of the quad party at Charlotte Lake that day. That was a great party with a really good turnout and our hosts have a great set up with bonfire and super food. Thanks to Chris and Linda Mclean and Bob and Sherry Morrison for the wonderful meal and awesome hospitality!
A few people came in on quads but most of us in our vehicles. I would love to go out on a quad but then I would want to tent overnight. It's a long way in there and it's just too rough making your way home in dust or a rainstorm, after dark, or if you've had anything to drink. Maybe we'll figure out something for next year. I would love to take our travel trailer in a couple of days ahead, then quad in on that day and stay overnight in the trailer. Unfortunately, lux accommodations like that might be percieved as wimpy by those that rough it home in the evening on their quads or that tent overnight. The ribbing for the next year would be endless.
The weather was kind of off and on throughout Saturday. It was actually quite warm and on occasion the sun even made an appearance, but the wind gusted pretty wildly at times. Our hosts had strung a huge tarp between the lake and those of us sitting around the fire pit. It actually protected us from the wind quite a bit until the wind tore it down at one point. The guys got it tied back up again but a couple of times when that wind was whipping at it from the other side I figured if it came loose it was going to wipe more than a few of us out. It was just too bad that the Victoria long weekend was a week early this year. I'm sure the weather would have been just that much warmer. But even with the wind, it still turned out well and I know everyone really enjoyed themselves. I certainly did!
I had promised young Clint, who was organizing the fishing derby on Nimpo Lake, that I would help him with it on Sunday. I arrived over there at about 10:00 and after he showed me how to weigh and keep track of the fish, he skedaddled so he could go fishing with his family. I hung around the boat launch for nine hours waiting for people to come in and weigh their fish. There was mixed sun and cloud and I ended up with a sunburn, but there was a wind off the water and it was chilly. It was really cold out on the lake, especially in the morning, because poor Andy wasn't the only one to come to shore after a couple of hours looking like an ice cube. Still, remarkably, other visitors that came in thought it was a beautiful day. Maybe they just don't know how really beautiful it can be when Nimpo Lake is at its best.
We had a few teams that came in that had limited out but the fish weren't big. They never are this time of year after coming out of a cold winter under the ice. Many only ranged between a pound and a pound and a half, some under a pound. We definitely should have put the derby on in the fall when the fish will have gained several inches and at least another pound or more. They're better fighters, their mouths aren't as soft, and we wouldn't have to worry about spawners then. We might still try to arrange another derby yet and I'm sure there will be a better turnout.
Seven year old Jayden Walker in the kid's category won for biggest fish. His fish actually beat out any of the adults', which was kind of cool. So he got cash and a prize, as did one of the guys that took both best fish and combined weight in the adult class. Actually, I think he got most of the prizes, because I think he also got hidden weight. It was a decent turnout, but I think that it would be a really great turn out later in the season.
For the last three nights the temperature has not dropped below freezing and I know that it was still over 15C or 60F when I got home after seven last night, but that's soon going to change. We've had overcast for most of the day and some spotty rain showers, but the temperature is really supposed to drop for tomorrow. Day time temps will come up for the rest of the week but it looks like we'll see frost every night. There's a little cold front in the west that is expected to move through bringing snow at higher elevations and then sunshine after that. I'm not too sure what that's going to mean for the plants in the greenhouse. I just planted some more seedlings in there today and threw their fates to Mother Nature, with a little help from a tiny ceramic heater. We'll see what happens over the next couple of days.

16/05/2009 10:04 AM

The Long Weekend

Victoria Day traditionally brings cruddy weather to the city, and it's nice for us. This year the weather system coming in from the Pacific is farther north than usual which means north and central coast will get rain and some of it has moved inland. I got up to rain drops on the window and a dreary looking sky this morning. I suppose I should be congratulating the Lower Mainland on a decent long weekend, but I sure would like to have seen a nice day, today.
We're going over to Charlotte Lake this afternoon for the annual 'End of Snowmobiling season and beginning of Quadding Season' get-together at a friend's place on the lake. They had quite a bunch of people last year and I'm sure this year will be as good, but an improvement in the weather would be much appreciated, especially for those people that plan to tent overnight.
We debated taking our quads over rather than driving, but we decided against it mainly because it's a hoot to ATV over during the day, but not so nice trying to find your way back over rough trails after dark. Initially, Andy had an appointment in Vancouver this past week and I'd planned on quadding over and tenting overnight with friends while he was gone, but once he realized these 'ace' medical types had set the appointment right before the first long weekend of the year, he changed the dates. Probably a good thing since the highways and border crossing looked like a real zoo yesterday.
Yesterday was an absolute stunner, for the first half, anyway. It was completely still yesterday morning, full sun, and warm. By noon a high haze started to move in but it was still pretty nice until late afternoon when it clouded over completely and a bit of a raw wind started up. Still, the morning was so special that everyone commented on it. We were both out early getting things done in the yard when I mentioned to Andy that if we just had one day like that a week, I would be one happy camper!
I was working in the greenhouse with the door open because it was so warm in there when I realized I was going to have a major problem. First I had to devise a jar and lid system so that I could remove a very large bumble bee beating itself up against the glass. Then I had to catch and release a hummingbird. That turned out to be easier than expected. The poor thing kept fluttering against the glass trying to get out and I was afraid it was going to hurt itself. It finally settled down on the framework for a moment and I came up behind it and grabbed it, half expecting it to be frightened off when I reached for it. It ended up in my hands with a surprised squeak and me just as surprised I'd caught it. I took it outside where it could fly off and then I told Andy I was going to have to leave the door shut until we could get the screen on the open panel, which we did right away. No more incidents.
After getting my irrigation system set up in the greenhouse, I planted some of the cucumber plants and all the zucchini plants I had started in the house to see how they would do. We had to put a little heater in the greenhouse last night and I see this morning that all the zucchini leaves are pointing toward the heater rather than the light. Weird plants, those. The cucumbers have that 'circle the wagons and huddle up' look to them, which is hardly surprising since I didn't even harden them off and the temperature yesterday evening was already down to 9C or 48F, which is considerably colder than anything they've been used to in the house. It's doubtful the chill will kill them. It will probably just set them back a few weeks, is all.
If we had the kind of temperatures we did yesterday, at least 15C or 59F, most days, it would make a huge difference, but when you get cloudy, cool days like today, it's going to cool down in the greenhouse as well. I should figure out how to hook up some little wood stove set up in there.
Hope everyone is off having a great long weekend. I probably won't write again for a couple of days. Just a reminder about the fishing derby on Nimpo Lake this weekend, registration at the boat ramp, and the canoe races on the Dean River to Anahim Lake are next Saturday, takeoff from the public boat ramp on Nimpo.
This is the start of a new week. You'll find last week's articles at May Week Two

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!
Sun reflects on water and snow in May.
Greenhouse and snow.
Snow on the ground on May 20.
Fisherman holds fish on a scale.
Young fisherman holds up his prize.
People at Charlotte Lake.
Fisherman reels in a trout on his line.
Loon in water with markings very clear.
Male loon spreads his wings over water.
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