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Wilderness Adventures - Nov., Week Two/2012

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 some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.


20/11/2012 12:05PM

The Heron

Hey Everyone!
I've finally, FINALLY, finished my calendar season and maybe now I can dedicate a little time to the blog. I do have some other stuff coming up but for a change, none of it has to be done yesterday. Whew! Leisure time. Woo Hoo!
Yeah, right. That doesn't really happen around here, mainly because now the winter projects will start raising their ugly heads going, “Pick me, pick me!!”
The other night it dropped to -13C or 8.6F and the ice grew from our shore at the front to a third of the way to the island. Last night the temperature dropped to -15C or 5F and the ice is all the way out to the island so the whole South Arm of Nimpo Lake is now frozen over. I don't expect that to change unless a good wind comes up. Half the ice at the front is covered in snow from our little snow storm last night while the remainder is glassy clear because it froze up after the sky cleared. The back bay froze over about a week ago but every time the ice tried to grow in the front here a wind would beat it back over the course of the day, so we've been hearing klinkers for at least a week now. I love that sound. It's like a series of glass chimes ringing all day.
As usual, heavy fog rolled in this morning and while it has lifted slightly it's still heavy enough to block out the sun which is low on the horizon this time of year. So even though you can see blue sky above, it just looks like a gloomy, frosty, grey day. Hopefully things will get better once the lake freezes over completely but for now, when a breeze from the south rolls Charlotte Lake fog over us, and we have our own lake producing copious amounts on its own, the grey will continue.
November has been a remarkably gloomy month this year. It's always our worst month in terms of grey overcast and fog, but this year it seems especially bad. I don't know if that's because it came on the heels of a gorgeous, sunny summer and fall or we really are having fewer sunny days. On the rare day we have sun, it seems we are in Williams Lake or down in Bella Coola and so miss them anyway. On Sunday, the sun broke out for a little while so we went for a walk. It didn't last long before cloud moved in from over the mountains but it certainly made the day seem glorious for a while and improved my mood drastically. However, given another day or so of this and I think I'm going to have to break out the SAD light because I can see my mood spiralling downward.
Thankfully, our loons have been long gone now and there have only been a few little duck type birds, grebes and mergansers out on the lake for a while now and for the last two days there have only been two on the entire lake, but we did see a very strange sight yesterday. A blue heron, or what we think was a heron, was picking his way carefully across the newly formed ice just off our shore. He went out for quite a way toward the edge and then kind of bent over, turned around and came back. No doubt the ice was moving under his feet and he decided closer to shore was safer. Then he moved carefully and slowly across in front of our shore and headed around our point, nearly falling on his beak a couple of times on the slippery ice since there was no snow on it yet. The last time I saw him he was headed past our flags and around the point. I stepped into the kitchen for a moment, came back around the counter to look out the window again and he was gone. I don't know if he went through the ice or flew off but we never saw him again after that. I have no idea what he was looking for or what he was up to. Nothing that he was doing made any sense at all. It was as though he had never seen ice before and he was on this little tour. I'm guessing he was an immature, this year's young, because he wasn't as big as the size in the bird book shows he should have been, and his long feathers weren't as long as they should have been.
The illustration in the bird book shows that the mature Blue Herons have long fronds of brown and white feathers flowing down the chest, a cap of longer feathers along the back and a long crest of black feathers flowing back from the top of the head. This little guy was kind of feather challenged. He did have longer feathers on his chest but it definitely didn't fit the elegant trail in the bird book illustration and the crest on his head was equally sorry. He looked more like a punk rocker with a very bad hair day. It didn't help that a breeze was blowing his do every which way. In any case, he didn't look too sure of himself and I don't know what eventually happened to him but I hope he succeeded in his quest, whatever that might have been.
We went for a walk this afternoon and with the fresh snow and grey sky, everything is pretty much black and white with shades of grey now. The sun never did make its way through the cloud and fog and the trees have no color with no sun. Besides, pine and spruce tend to take on a black hue in winter. It never did get above -3C or 26.6F this afternoon but it might not drop much tonight if it doesn't clear off. Mind you, as usual at this time of year, it often clears off at night, the mercury plunges, and then it clouds over in the morning before the sun can warm things up.
Things don't look very good in the weather forecast either. There's some heavy stuff coming in from the Pacific and on the radar it looks thick enough to not let a lot of sun in for the next week or so. They are forecasting rain for the next seven days for the Lower Mainland so it doesn't look good for them either. But then, the forecasters aren't always right so maybe things will pick right up.
There's not much new in the back woods. There doesn't seem to be many creatures moving around and with a fresh skiff of snow nearly every day, if they were there, we should be seeing evidence of it. There are lots of little squirrel tracks and the odd grouse track but I haven't seen a single rabbit track yet. I don't know what's up with that. No moose or deer tracks at all although someone has been driving the back trails every morning with a vehicle. I heartily hope they aren't hunting because it's way too close to a lot of residences for one thing, and I always hate to see an animal slaughtered this close to home. Especially since there are enough roads and trails farther out that a hunter can tap into.
You'll see from the photos on the right that we went down the Hill last week. We had to go to Bella Coola on Friday and noticed the same thing we did two weeks before.... the water is still flowing. There are lots of little streams and creeks that are running right now that should have been dried up long since this summer, and probably were. Certainly this time of year is when you normally see the lowest water levels in the rivers and creeks. You can't quite walk across the Fraser River but it looks to be darned close at the bridge at Sheep Creek. So we were really surprised to see water running down in the Bella Coola Valley this past week. Two weeks ago most of the creeks were running but since there had been rain high up as well as snow and some melting, it did explain the extra water. But to see it running more than two weeks later was really surprising. We did notice our own mountains were showing a lot of black a few days ago that they hadn't had the week before, so the only thing we can think of is that there has been an inversion layer with warmer air aloft or it's been raining up there. Or the sun has been shining like crazy up there while we've been socked in down below here.
We left a beautiful day up here on Friday morning and even from the Hill we could see that the mounmtains were in the sun. But as we dropped down into the Valley as we neared the bottom of the Hill we could see the heavy overcast and fog moving in. The mountains towering over the valley had a good dusting of fresh snow and while it stayed reasonably dry while we were in Bella Coola, it started to spit rain as we were leaving. HorseTail Falls was running both times that we went down, which is rare after July from what we've ever seen. There is another set of falls on the right coming back up the Valley toward Anahim that we've never seen running past mid-summer but there was a huge ice waterfall when we went by so it too has obviously been running up until very recently. Boy, something has sure been happening at higher elevations that we haven't been enjoying under the cloud cover below. It's too bad it's not possible to have a webcam on one of the towers up on the mountain. It would be interesting to see what goes on up there at times when we can't see past the clouds we're under.
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last month's blog at November Week One
.

Anahim Lake Highway cam looking West.




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!
The lake frozen with snow on it, and glassy ice with no snow out to the island.
 
A young blue heron on the ice.
 
Broken ice plates.
 
The Hill.
 
Yellow warning sign.
 
Snow covered mountain hangs over the Bella Coola Valley.
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