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
Wilderness Adventures - Nov., Week 3/2011
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.
Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture
of the Day.
.... And even that may have frozen over by today.
As I mentioned the other day, we woke up to most of the
bay in front being frozen over to the big island. The
next couple of days we had wind and it succeeded in beating
the ice back slightly. And then we got a -25C or -13F
night. That pretty much took care of the rest of the lake
for the most part except for steam rising that we could
see just around the corner of the point, indicating the
Main Arm was still open. Since we haven't seen any fog
in the past couple of days, I'm assuming most of the lake
is frozen now.
The night that it went down to -25, I fully expected
it to reach -30 because the temperature had been dropping
so quickly throughout the evening. Surprisingly,
though, the temperature started to come up before I went
to bed. The same thing happened the next night with a
quick drop to -20C and then a slow rise later in the evening.
It did that three nights running until yesterday when
we finally came out of the deep freeze. Last night it
was only -7C or 19F when I went to bed and today we finally
topped the freezing mark by a degree or two . It's back
down to a couple of degrees below freezing but that's
We didn't go walking the dogs for two days because
of the temperature and bone chilling wind but
yesterday I finally couldn't stand being inside any longer.
The wind was still cold and temps a few degrees below
freezing, but at least it was fresh air and there was
sun. By contrast, today was wonderful. We had sun this
morning and while it got breezy, at least it was warm
enough to start softening the snow on the ground a bit
and made walking really nice without being bundled up.
We've managed to dodge a couple of major storms that have
hit elsewhere in the past few days but our luck may have
run out tonight. There's a massive storm moving
in from the Pacific that is supposed to dump a lot of
snow throughout the province tonight and tomorrow. The
weatherman had numerous snow warnings on the news tonight
and looking at the radar, it looks like we could be right
on the edge of it. At least that's what I'm hoping, even
thought it has been peppering down lots of feathery little
flakes for that past couple of hours. It hasn't amounted
to much so far but we'll see what the morning brings.
Hopefully not two feet of snow which is what is
being called for in some areas.
I finally put out seed in the bird feeders yesterday.
We don't have a lot of snow and until it got cold, I figured
the birds are better off hunting for their own food, for
a couple of reasons. One is that I don't like to put out
food too early or it seems possible that some of the birds
that should be heading farther south could end up being
stuck here, which I've seen happen before. The other
is that we have a half grown cat that looks to be a wicked
hunter and I really didn't want the bird feeder
to make his life any easier and become his personal snack
bar until there was some snow on the ground and it got
cold. He doesn't seem to be quite as thrilled about being
outside now as much as he was this summer, particularly
since the cold came. The snow he seemed to be accepting
but he's definitely a real weenie with the chill,
especially when there's a wind, not that I blame him.
At least when he starts getting out of hand in the house,
putting him outside for a little while really seems to
change his attitude somewhat.
We've got some monster cracks in the ice out front and
even in the back bay, probably caused by wind whipping
up waves while the Main Arm was still open, and moving
the water under the ice. Surprisingly, though, the
ice isn't making a lot of noise freezing up this year
and you would think with the variation in temperatures
we would be hearing something. I've only heard one funny
burble so far and that's about it. There isn't that much
snow on the ice so you wouldn't think it would be insulating
it that much, although the ice does definitely make more
noise when it's clear and more directly exposed to sunlight
and air temperature differences. In any case, I
miss the alien sounds of freeze up. We didn't
get to hear them last time because the lake froze over
while we were gone this time last year, so I'm hoping
we'll get to hear something this year. Maybe when the
ice grows more.....
Ice Over or..... maybe not....
I think I mentioned before that the lake has not really
not frozen over to any extent because the wind has beat
back any ice that has tried to form. The exception was
in the back bay where the wind broke up the ice back to
the dock bay but that inner part remained frozen.
In fact only about three days ago we were coming
back along our driveway from taking the dogs for a walk
when I saw a bird. It was bobbing along the edge
of that ice and was too far away to identify with any
certainty, but we could still see the white breast and
fawn color that looked suspiciously like a young loon.
That was the last thing I wanted to see.
I grabbed the binoculars from inside the house and went
back along the driveway with Andy saying behind me, Don't
look. You don't want to know! But of course
I had to. Sure enough, even through the binoculars I had
to look hard, but there were the just developing spots
on the body of the bird, which although of good size,
was definitely still pretty young. Great. Another young
loon that is not going to make it out before ice up and
that the eagles will eat alive. All I could hope was that
as the lake froze over in that bay he would be pushed
down toward the river, which is actually a reasonably
safe place for a loon to overwinter because there's almost
always just a little bit of open water even in the coldest
What seemed strange is I had absolutely not seen
a loon there in the previous days and they're pretty territorial.
We had seen a lone grebe, the black and white ducks with
the funny flat head, and a few other ducks back there
in the last week or so, but no loon. It's highly unlikely
that a loon born elsewhere on the lake would move from
his nesting area, so it seems almost certain that this
loon came in from somewhere else and that would be a hallelujah!
It probably means he was big enough to start south flying
from lake to lake, but not strong enough to go any distance,
which if the case, was a huge relief because hopefully
he's still leapfrogging lakes because yesterday, it froze.
When I got up yesterday morning there was a smooth sheet
of glass nearly to the island in front, and the entire
back bay was frozen. I looked really carefully
coming back from our walk yesterday to see if anything
was frozen into the ice or if there were any eagles on
the ice. Nothing that I could see. Nor could I see anything
in the front. Big sigh of relief. I know it happens and
it's survival of the fittest, but I don't like to see
live loons trapped in the ice and be able to do nothing
about it. That just leaves the Main Arm now which hasn't
frozen up. Hopefully if any young loons are caught
this year, we won't be able to see them.
In any case, if that young loon was actually headed south
on his own, waterway by waterway, then it's the first
I've seen and I wonder if they're finally figuring it
I wondered to Andy why the young of a bird that has evolved
over hundreds of thousands of years and seem reasonably
intelligent, haven't figured out that they have to go
south, whether they can fly very far or not. There are
a lot of lakes and potholes in this country that a young
bird could hopscotch to until they got into warmer climes.
I have to wonder whether loons have developed to
the edge of their efficiency as a species. They
are a very tough, heavy bird and awkward fliers. While
they have developed tremendous power in and under the
water, they are almost too weighty to fly, need a lot
of water to take off, and if the young are born late,
they often don't get strong enough, fast enough, to fly
south with their parents. That probably works fine for
a species that sticks to waterways that don't freeze over,
but in fact, the loons need pretty specialized locations
and can be found as far north as in the arctic. So
why would a species accustomed to being first on barely
thawed lakes in spring have young that can't fly south
until very late in the fall? Mother Nature doesn't
seem to be at her best here, although she certainly got
everything else right about the loon. They are still my
favorite waterfowl, although everyone has noticed that
those on Nimpo Lake have gotten much quieter than in the
past. I don't if it's because there are more eagles or
what. Or maybe the mosquitoes have gotten so bad in the
past couple of years and as in the case of this year,
lasted so late into the summer, that we're not outside
where we can hear the loons when they're at their noisiest.
They were really quiet this fall so it was hard
to determine when they left, but most of the adults seemed
to have left earlier than usual.
Last night the temperature did its usual plummet and was
again nearly -13C or 9F by early evening. By the time
I went to bed it had climbed to -6C or 21F, clouded over,
and a breeze had sprung up. I figured for sure we would
have snow this morning but although the skies were pretty
low and grey, and it was snowing over the mountains, it
missed us. Not that it didn't try for a while, but it's
gotten really breezy, and the sun is shining at present.
The wind has pushed avenues through the ice in front
between us and the Main Arm, and is and piling it up in
places. You can hear the klinkers out there whenever the
wind dies down. The entire back bay and everything
to the east of us is frozen now and will probably stay
that way until spring unless we get a north wind in the
next couple of days. Even though the wind is pushing fingers
of water through the ice in front I expect most of it
will stay as well.
It's always interesting to take note where the lake freezes
early and where it freezes late, because if there's quite
a difference in time, then there will be quite a difference
in thickness or weakness of ice. The lake never freezes
exactly the same every year, but there are similarities
year to year. Right now there's a big pile of klinkers
that are NOT going to be fun to snowmobile or ski over
this winter, but I'm trusting that the waves pushing
them up will clear them right out. Though I'm not a fan
of wind, this time of year I actually like it. It's the
only thing that can keep the lake from freezing up and
I like it when Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have a
war. It's nice when Winter has to work for his biscuits.
I'm sure he's going to come back and bite me in
the butt later this winter for that comment.
West Branch Valley south of Tatla Lake had snow coming
thick and fast this morning and Williams Lake was getting
it by noon. I just talked to our friends from down in
Ashcroft and they were seeing light snow as well so it
looks like that big storm coming in got pretty much everyone
but us. I'm pleased about that! The longer the snow
holds off the easier it is to walk dogs and for Andy to
get wood without wading through snow and over ice.
High winds and possibly some snow was supposed to be hitting
the Lower Mainland so I guess we'll see what happened
with them on the news tonight. Tomorrow isn't supposed
to be much better with snow levels accumulating at lower
elevations, but hey, maybe we'll get lucky and it'll all
go around us again. I'm not ready for snowmobiling yet!
Last week's blog and the Retro Boat can be found at November
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!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!