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Wilderness Adventures - May, Week 4/2009

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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30/05/2009 7:58 PM

The Weather Change

Yesterday we had some wild and woolly winds! It rock and rolled all day and didn't calm down until around supper time. I thought sure we were going to lose some more trees. We made out okay, but the rear rope on the boat broke loose from the dock and swung the boat around to the front of the dock rather than along side. That put force on the dock all day until a nut loosened off the bolt on one side holding one section of the dock to the next. We were having a late supper after Andy got back from Williams Lake and probably wouldn't have noticed it if Cat hadn't started barking. She was out on the front deck and saw the boat where it wasn't supposed to be. I looked out the window and went, "Whoa!!! The boat's loose!" and we roared down to the dock. Andy got everything put back together again but had the wind lasted much longer, we would have lost half the dock and the boat!
It sure was a nasty one and the wind made it way too miserable to work outside. The neighbour was telling me today that he only lost one tree but a lot of the trees have cracks in the soil around the base and some roots have broken free. I guess I should check around the base of some of our trees as well. If we didn't have trees with a permanent bend in them before, we certainly do now.
I couldn't believe my ears when I heard an airplane engine rumbling somewhere in the back bay. I thought, "Man, anyone taking off in this is going to be airborne in a hurry but is it ever going to be a rough ride!" Sure enough, a small floatplane went shooting by our point into the wind and was in the air immediately, but he was getting rocked side to side pretty badly until he got up quite high. First you would see one wing dip drastically, then the other. I'm sure glad I wasn't a passenger or I would have been wearing my lunch.
I saw a couple of bigger boats out on Nimpo Lake yesterday morning but I think they skedaddled off the lake in hurry once the winds really got going. We had some pretty good waves coming in and it was not a day for fishing. By contrast, today was perfect for it. We did have a wind start up midday but it settled down into little more than a breeze. Our skies were a pure blue and you could just about see plants and grass growing with all the sunshine and warm temperatures. Even the leaves on the aspen and arctic willow are popping out like crazy.
It's still freezing at night which may be what is slowing down the mosquitoes. They're still almost non existent but that wind yesterday sure brought in a horde of black flies. I haven't seen one prior to today, and suddenly we're inundated with them. Especially if you're around water of any kind. They really seem to be drawn to sprinklers and such. The only nice thing about them is that they vanish as soon as you're in a breeze or wind, but they can sure be an annoyance buzzing around your face when there is no breeze.
Our temperatures were up to 17C or 63F today. They may have been much higher but I wasn't in the house until late afternoon and forgot to look at the thermometer. It's still 14C out there at 8:30 at night, which is amazing for May, except that the sun doesn't go down now until well after 9:00. I know the thermometer in the greenhouse read 47C or 117F in the sun at one point this afternoon, and that was with the screen window at the back and the automatic window at the front both open. We may have to get a fan in there sooner than expected.
There is a high pressure system building that is supposed to bring really nice weather to the whole province for the next four days at least. I very much look forward to that. I'm hoping we don't have high winds with it so that I can get lots of work done outside. We haven't had a really good stretch of sunny, warm weather for some time so I'm pretty excited about it. Now we just have to see if the weather forecasters are right or wrong.

28/05/2009 7:14 PM

Mixed Day

Our weather today has been very iffy. It's been pretty overcast most of the day although the sky has lightened up a few times so that you could feel the sun's heat. Not often though. For the most part it's been windy and although it was up to 14C or 57F this afternoon, that wind still has a real chill and it's just plain nasty when it blows. However, the few times it's stopped, the mosquitoes make an appearance, so it's just as well.
It was a couple of degrees below freezing again last night and I think that, as much as anything, has helped to keep the mosquitos down. There's still very few on the property but they're definitely noticeable in the woods where it's fairly still. I finally had time to go for a walk for the first time in a week and the faces on both black dogs ended up covered in mozzies. So far it's a far cry from last year when were inundated by both black flies and mosquitoes by the middle of May. Here we're almost to the end of the month and they're not bad at all. I'm sure that will change when it warms up.
It's still pretty dry out there, even after that snow last week. I noticed today that the moss in the woods is back to being very crunchy, a bad sign when it comes to forest fire danger. And of course the high winds we've been getting dry things out in a hurry.
It's official. Now I'm certain that Vancouver has stolen our weather. They had a gorgeous day today and will have for the next few days, while as usual, we've another nasty system coming in from the Pacific bringing more high winds and possibly rain. I'm starting to get a little P.O.d with Mother Nature and I know the grass and plants would sure appreciate some warmer temperatures, as would the fishermen. While several floatplanes took off and landed today, there sure weren't many boats out on Nimpo Lake. There were some pretty good waves rolling in with the wind today and I expect the air would be just plain raw out there.
It sure is nice to see and hear the charter planes again. We've a new service on the lake that is just using a single plane right now but presumably they plan to grow. I just hope there's enough tourism business this season for both businesses to make it. It will be a tough year for all the operators.
I have to make a correction to the story below. I had written that there had been a moratorium throughout B.C. on Grizzly bears. I had completely forgotten that there were limited entry hunts for them in other parts of the province in the Synopsis last year as well as this year. But there's still no season here where we need it and I really don't know why. The following excerpt from an article in the Globe and Mail a year ago is telling. The article is against trophy hunting grizzly bears and talks about a poll being done at random of people 18 years and older, and I'm willing to bet over 90% polled, lived in cities. This was pushed by bear viewing companies. Obviously it's in their best interest to have huge populations of bears to show tourists.... more money in their pockets. But most of those in favor of the return of a moratorium on hunting grizzly bears do not live in the bush so they could care less about the threat to wildlife populations and livestock, pets and people. Here's the excerpt:
"Last year, approximately 430 grizzlies were killed in B.C., with about 300 of them taken by sports hunters and the rest killed as problem bears. The B.C. government has argued the hunt is sustainable. But the poll found that just 18 per cent of British Columbians find such assertions credible, while 73 per cent said they agree with scientists who say the hunt should be stopped because of a lack of reliable population data."
First of all, look at the numbers. Of 430 grizzlies killed, nearly one third were problem bears. That's unheard of when you consider that grizzly bears rarely wander into cities and towns the way black bears do. As to the last sentence.... British Columbians are trusting the 'scientists', assuming that the biologists don't have their own agenda. Sorry, but they do. We've run into that time and time again out here where Tweedsmuir Park biologists call it 'their' park and as far as they're concerned, they would prefer that people not even be allowed in the park. They're also the ones who have tried to close most of the country to us for recreational use to preserve the Caribou herds, which in fact, are thriving. I find it hard to believe that the 'scientists' can't get reliable population data for grizzly bears. They have it for every other animal in this region, they know exactly how many grizzly bears are in the Atnarko River system, so how is it they can't get those figures for the rest of B.C.???? Mmmmm. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
So you close down all grizzly bear hunting. That means the population increases so one has to assume that there'll be an increase in the number of problem bears that have to be shot. After large populations of grizzly bears have wiped out wildlife herds, (They've already done a pretty good job of it.) where do you suppose they'll go for food then? Salmon runs are down and the bears need a high fat, high protein diet before they can den up in the fall. How do you suppose they'll sustain that diet? Well if they went into the cities and ate a few tree hugger's pets, then I wouldn't mind at all. But instead, they'll continue to prey on livestock and decimate wildlife herds. But there's only so much food to go around and when you have no natural predators, and the game herds are smaller than they were a hundred years ago, what do you suppose will be the end result? Hungry bears means more problem bears, which means more shot, and the bears will start to die from disease and starvation. As I mentioned yesterday, the local economy does not benefit at all from that result. In fact, no one benefits, including the bears.
27/05/2009 7:46 PM


Happy Hump Day folks! For those of you stuck inside at work, you may have missed a pretty nice day depending on where you live, particularly those in BC. I think the Lower Mainland has been getting some pretty nice weather, although since I missed the news tonight, I'm not sure. I know the weather forecasters are sure showing a lot of sunshine for the coast for the next week while central and north coast are seeing low pressure systems coming in from the Pacific. I'm reasonably sure that Vancouver has somehow stolen our weather for the last three or four years. We usually see nothing but sunshine in this country, winter and summer, but the Lower Mainland seems to be getting our share while we're getting a lot more of the weather they used to get.
Neither yesterday or today were bad days here except for the wind. We've had mostly sun both days but today the wind was out of the north and it had a real chill to it. In fact, if you could get out of the wind and stay in the sun yesterday, it was almost too hot while today it was just barely pleasant. Step into the shade and you suddenly had an arctic chill. I don't know where the cold came from but it dropped to a couple of degrees below freezing last night and took its own sweet time warming up today. I think it made it to 10C or 50F on the thermometer but that may have been in the sun since it was this afternoon before I thought to look at it.
Andy and the guys went quadding up the mountain today, or I should say, tried to. They only got part way up on our sled trail before running into snow and one of them got stuck, so they meandered around the countryside checking things out. Andy said it was the same up there as it was down here, bloody cold if you were in the wind. He also said they ran across a monstrous grizzly track over on the Telegraph and a smaller track at the head of the Atnarko valley. I can see the latter because the Atnarko River valley is a straight shot down into the Bella Coola Valley and is a well known grizzly corridor with approximately 75 of them claiming that territory. I don't much like hearing of them closer though, especially a really big one. We seem to be plagued with the things suddenly. A big grizzly was spotted on a walking trail behind Dean River Place at the other end of the lake, and there's one down around Towdystan causing problems, and apparently it's not afraid of much, including people.
I get thoroughly tired of hearing the tree huggers talk about how the provincial government has to keep the moratorium against grizzly hunts in place rather than reviewing and removing it after several years. The grizzly bear has no natural enemies in North America. It's at the top of the food chain and the only species capable of keeping the numbers down is human. The BC Government has for years, prior to the moratorium, had very strict regulations and quotas on the number of grizzly taken on hunts so it's not like there was ever a wholesale slaughter of the animal. Now they have become so overpopulated that they're moving into human habitat (and it's not like there's a lot of that around here). They are causing serious problems in Bella Coola arriving in back yards where kids play as well as killing each other, and up here on the plateau they're wiping out the game population as well as slaughtering livestock. I would like to see every tree hugger that wants to 'Save the Grizzly', which I assure you does not need saving, walk in the woods and stay in a tent in grizzly country for about a week, and we get to take bets on whether or not they become bear bait.
I think that if the grizzly population continues to grow, you may see people in the region forced to take matters into their own hands like the ranchers used to way back when. Which is unfortunate, because it's against the law to shoot a grizzly in BC, the shooter is going to end up getting nailed just for attempting to protect their livestock, pets, yard, or person. It makes more sense to have limited entry hunts for the bear to keep the population within reasonable bounds. It brings revenue to our area every time a bear hunter comes in which helps the local economy, and it keeps the guide outfitters operating, as well as making our residential areas safer. Instead, in the end, there will be bears shot and dumped in the woods, with the hide wasted and the local economy gets no benefit. Obviously the tree huggers haven't taken that into consideration, but then I've met few tree huggers that have a realistic view of the world.

24/05/2009 6:52 PM

The Canoe Race

Hi Folks. I apologize for the long stretch between blogs but it's been a busy week. I worked up at the car wash planting on Thursday, had a meeting all day Friday, and it was Andy's birthday on Saturday which required a feast to be prepared. He nearly went into the canoe races when Richard thought he might be short a partner but it turned out he didn't have to. I think he might be planning on it next year, even if it is crazy.
There were eleven or twelve canoes, three of which were manned by girls. One of theirs broke in half part way down the river and they ended up walking to Anahim Lake. Another pair that were in third place and going strong and up with a hole in their canoe. Baling water out of the canoe constantly slowed them right down until they could get to a spot where the river came close to the road and they could borrow a roll of duct tape. Since they had to stop to duct tape the canoe up, they ended up coming in seventh.
The only out of towners, a couple of guys from Bella Coola, won after they and the second place contenders holed each other's canoes. I guess the two pair were neck and neck but after the holes, both were slowed down considerably. I don't know if the Bella Coola guys carried theirs the rest of the way or if their canoe wasn't leaking as badly, but they made it in first. It's too bad. It's always nice to see locals win, but then again, perhaps this will draw more 'out of towners' next year.
It was sunny and hot yesterday. Perfect for a canoe race because nearly everyone ends up in the water taking the canoes over beaver dams and portaging short cuts, and that water is cold! But a few of the competitors ended up pretty dehydrated, which is to be expected when you paddle as hard as you can for over three hours straight, and don't take water with you. Well, I guess a few of the competitors had refreshments, but certainly not the kind I would consider refreshing when you're working hard and sweating. Those canoes came last, of course, but I'm sure the paddlers had fun in their own way. Gotta like people that don't take a competition too seriously.
There was a terrific turnout of people watching the race. I was amazed at the number of people over at the boat ramp for the send off. I took pictures of the racers as they swung down Nimpo Lake toward the bridge, swapped lenses, and then handed off the camera to Andy, who drove around by road to the bridge. He made it there in time to take more pictures as the paddlers entered the Dean River and then continued down the river to the next bridge. He said it was absolutely amazing how many people had turned out to watch and at one spot along the river, there were so many vehicles parked along the highway that they nearly blocked the road. I'm sure the awesome weather had a lot to do with the great turnout, but it's nice to see the spectators come out and support the racers from both communities.
It's still been getting down a little at night temperature wise, and in fact it's frozen a night or two this past week so it's kept the mosquitoes down, but our day time temps are great! Yesterday was warm and sunny all day and you could sit outside in the sun quite comfortably in the evening. Today I didn't get home until supper time but it was still over 17C or 63F and that wasn't in the sun. It was actually glorious for a good part of the day but by this afternoon a high haze started moving in and by supper, it was thick enough that there was no sun. That's okay, though. It'll keep the air warm overnight and I'll have to worry less about the plants in the greenhouse. Speaking of which.....
Would anyone know why my cucumber plants might be dying? I discovered Friday that midday it was 40C or 104F in the greenhouse before I opened up the door, which may explain why the cuc's are fading fast, but the rest of the plants are looking marvelous and don't seem to be affected by the heat at all. I hadn't been home the two days before so I'm assuming it got nearly as hot Thursday. The cucumber plants are definitely dying and I don't know if it's the heat, they have too much water, the soil is too rich, the sun is too bright, or if as one dinner companion suggested last night, they should have been planted in hills which provides for better drainage.
The plants are wilting badly and a few have turned yellow. The stems and leaves just lay on the ground instead of standing perked up as you would expect them to, and the stems are flattened out, wrinkled, and translucent, just where they leave the soil. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, please let me know! And here I was so looking forward to our own cucumbers this summer. At least I have one tiny zucchini coming, the Swiss chard is growing nicely, and the tomato plants are just basking in the heat. I don't think you can ever get it too hot for toms.
I think our weather is supposed to deteriorate a little for the next two days because there's a cold front moving in. That bodes well for the plants I still need to transplant up at the car wash and a little cool down won't hurt my feelings at all. But it is supposed to get really nice again on Wednesday and right through the weekend and that's great for the trees and lawn. The aspen and willows are just starting to bud out so we should see some leaves in the first week of June.
I don't guarantee that there'll be regular blogs here for the next week or so because I've got a lot of work on my plate coming up. Sorry about that folks!
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last week's articles at May 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!
Several canoes coming down the river.
Two canoes racing side by side.
Paddler in a cowboy hat in canoe.
Paddlers in their canoe from Bella Coola
Canoe going toward a beaver dam.
Two girls in a yellow canoe.
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