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Wilderness Adventures - Nov., 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.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


21/11/2009 7:52 PM

Winter, Winter, and more Winter

We're definitely getting an early leg up on a full blown winter this year. We've gotten flurries off and on throughout the week but we ended up with another good four inches of snow on the ground yesterday morning and a skiff this morning. But it sounds like we haven't received nearly as much snow in the past week as other places, including Charlotte Lake, which has at least a foot or more snow than we do.
Even so, Andy has spent a considerable time this week on the Bobcat trying to get our own driveway cleared and the snow pushed back on the sides because there's no way of knowing how much more snow we'll get. Today he spent time clearing a neighbour's long, hilly driveway and clearing out the entrance to two of other neighbours' driveways so that when they do get in this winter, they won't have a hardened snow bank pushed up by the grader on the main road to get through. Now if the snow would just let up for a day or two, he'll be able to get firewood tomorrow instead of spending all his time plowing.
Anyone else with an ATV or pickup with a plow has been very busy this week plowing out people's driveways and business parking lots. We could definitely use one more person in the area with a plow truck to help keep up.
Our temperatures have actually been really good for the most part with only a few degrees below freezing most nights, and one or two degrees above during the day. But last night it went down to -15.5C or 4F and never got above freezing today because the sun never made it out much except early this morning. We have those clouds rolling along the mountains to the south and the sun is low enough in the sky this time of year that we just don't see much of it and it doesn't put off enough heat to burn the cloud off. Probably our nicest day this week was Thursday when it got above freezing, the sun was out for part of the day, and there wasn't much of a breeze. Otherwise, it's pretty much typical November weather and I finally had to break out my daylight lamp. Actually, that was on Andy's suggestion after he came home a couple of days ago to find me muttering about winters and the lack of sun. We've seen snow flurries every day this week and I'm just not used to that here.
Still, even though there isn't much sun right now, there's still cool stuff to see in the winter. The neighbour sent me great pictures of a muskrat living down on the Dean River where it exits Nimpo Lake. Andy has seen it several times and he pointed it out to me this afternoon when we went up to Nimpo. It's in exactly the same spot as where our neighbour took the animal's picture and he says there's a family of them there.
We watched a coyote taking his time crossing the frozen part of Nimpo Lake in front of our place today. Actually, he was over smelling around the same place where some bald eagles and ravens have been hanging out for the past few days, so he must have got scent of some carrion on the ice. It will have been something that fell in trying to cross that slush when it was still soft, or a bird or muskrat that was frozen in overnight. In any case, he took his own sweet time leaving that spot and then moseyed all along the shore in front of some docks just across the bay in search of food, or maybe just curious. He sure hasn't been going hungry. He's in really good shape.
Oh Geez..... Andy just called me outside because he was taking the dog for a walk and saw all the snow that has fallen in the past hour or so, unbeknownst to us. There's at least an inch already and it's still coming down. More decks to shovel. More long hours on the Bobcat for Andy.
Oh goody.
We're supposed to get a break in the weather tomorrow afternoon, and then the next system moves in early Monday morning with snow expected for the next three or four days after that, or possibly until the weekend. That will make the snowmobilers happy. A couple of people have already been out carving up the back trails, which is actually nice because hopefully those tracks will harden up so that I can start walking the trails again. At this point in time though, it might be better to ski them. Or strap on a pair of snowshoes like Andy did this evening in order to go check on a neighbour's place.
I haven't been walking for any distance for at least a week now, with part of the reason being that first big snow we had. It had accumulated on the trees so much that I did not want to walk anywhere near them while the wind was blowing, including along the main road. Some trees have snapped or bent over the road and I suspect the back trail has its share of sweepers on it now. But in most places along our road, the snow seems to have dropped off the trees to where they're quite safe now, the exception being down past the gun range where neither sun nor wind has affected a protected grove of trees. Now I just have to see if the trees are clear of snow in the woods where it's also protected from sun or wind. Maybe we'll take the sleds out tomorrow and beat a path down on the back trail that will give a good walking base through the winter. One may as well start doing winter things since it appears to be winter now.

17/11/2009 12:01 PM

Not So Winter Wonderland

We have a winter wonderland out there, but it's not so benign this time.
It started snowing on Sunday, hard. They were mostly fine flakes but they didn't let up and by Monday morning we had nine inches of fresh snow on the ground. I don't know how many times we went out Sunday to shovel off the decks, but at one point the snow was so heavy and wet that I could barely push it. Another wild snow storm started yesterday afternoon with such a strong wind that it was driving monster flakes into the front windows. It only lasted an hour or less but we ended up with another couple of inches of snow.
The sun succeeded in making its way through heavy, black clouds as one squall after another passed through but it wasn't around for long. I was really hoping the temperature would come up. It had stayed right around freezing Sunday night but had dropped to a couple of degrees below by yesterday morning and wasn't coming up very fast. I wanted that heavy wet blanket of snow to melt off the trees, but no such luck. Lots of them were bent over and once when we were outside yesterday the top half of a pine tree in our yard snapped off under the weight of the snow. There were a few more in the yard that were bent over from the weight so we've had to park our trucks well away from them. Andy tried knocking the snow off of the one tree before it broke, but the ice build up was just too much.
We've had pretty good winds yesterday and today that's helped to knock some of the snow off, but a lot of the trees are just too coated and too bent over, including trees along the power lines throughout the area.
We figured the power would go out with the combination of the heavy snow on the trees and wind and and it finally did yesterday morning. We had a bump Sunday night, and another at about five in the morning that knocked out power to neighbours across the lake. Ours finally went out around 11:00 and didn't come back on again until about 9:30 this morning. It didn't last long though. By 10:30 there were several bumps, power on, power off, and it finally went off for good for about three hours. This time it didn't just affect our road, it took out power in Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake. At least this time we didn't have to wait for so long to get it back. I saw the Hydro guy fueling up at the store this morning and congratulated him for getting our power back three hours earlier than expected. Shortly after I got home it was out so I don't expect he got very far down the road before he was called back again. Normally, since our Hydro repair comes up from Bella Cool or out from Williams Lake, we have at least a three hour wait before they even get here.
At least we have our generator so we can power up the fridges and freezers and water pressure tank if the power is going to be off for any length of time. It's a little awkward winding extension cords through the cat door and throughout the house, but it works! For a change I actually had a real lamp to read by last night instead of a flashlight. That is one benefit of a power outage. No power, no electronics. All that's left to do in the evenings is read a book and I don't get to do that very often.
While we were getting our snow, apparently the Bella Coola Valley was hit with a massive amount of rain and snow right to the docks. I guess there were trees down all over the place and the entire valley was without electricity, and in some cases phone, so their first taste of winter was no picnic either.
I just checked and it's nearly -2C now, so no more warm up for today. The sun has disappeared and it looks like another squall is coming in but at least the trees have shaken some of that snow in the wind. I'm still not liking the looks of a couple of them, though. We may just have to bite the bullet and get an arborist from Williams Lake to top a couple of trees when they're out this way next time. The one tree is a big spruce next to the house and could inflict some serious damage to the roof, the porch, or my truck if it breaks off.
I was amazed when I got up yesterday morning to see that it looked as though the lake had frozen right out to the island, except the 'ice' looked grey. Then I watched this muskrat pop up through it and decided it had to be slush. The snow came down so thick and so fast Sunday night that it lay in the water and because the lake is so cold right now, it didn't melt. Andy and I went down to the dock yesterday after a morning of shoveling and clearing the driveway with the Bobcat so he could test the 'ice'. It was slush all right. He put his foot right through it, which means it will make ugly ice. It hardened up enough that when we got another couple of inches of snow last night, it sat on top and stayed white. I think that the slush has turned to ice now, though, because the wind has blown some of the snow off and polished it. I kept hoping the wind would be strong enough to break it up like it has the better ice from the past few days, but so far, it isn't budging even though there are whitecaps out on the Main Arm.
The bald eagles are enjoying the slush. I've seen them several times out there this afternoon picking away at something frozen into the ice in a few different spots. I think that sometimes bugs or freshwater shrimp, or some sort of feed must end up on or in the ice when it first freezes over, and again when it thaws in the spring, because they're often out there pecking away at something. Aside from a few other birds, I've seen little moving around while it's been stormy for the last few days. Although I did hear a pack of coyotes on the eastern side of the lake the other night. They had someone's dog upset because it was just going nuts barking.
So, in the end, this fine winter storm has resulted in ugly ice, (porous ice that won't hold as much weight as good, clear ice does) one broken tree with more possible, a lot of bushes and small trees that may not ever stand up straight again, and a power outage that I'm hoping hasn't damaged anything. It's not bad when the power goes out and stays out, but we had four or five bumps this morning and another six or seven later on. That can't be good for some stuff like freezers and fridges. But hey! If you like snow, we've got lots of it! Unless we get a Pineapple Express, we're already well on our way to having a good base for snowmobiling this winter.
Last week's articles can be found at November 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!
A coyote looks back at the camera.
 
A muskrat looks up from an ice floe on the Dean River.
 
Pink clouds color the sky over ice covered Nimpo Lake in November.
 
An immature bald eagle and a raven take to the air.
 
A Slush bed has formed to the island from the snow.
 
Two eagles on ice.
 
Blowing snow out on the lake and beyond.
 
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