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 - Oct., Week 2/2007
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like
'Lake Monsters' - 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.
Son of A Beaver nailed us again last night, taking
three more aspen, this time from in front of the cabin
on the opposite shore of our peninsula. One of the trees
was a really nice one and it only leaves one tree left
in that area. I don't know if the beaver heard us
thrashing around on the other side of our peninsula
all morning when we were putting chicken wire around the
trunks of some of the aspen, or if we just left a lot
of scent that he didn't like. I'm assuming there's a reason
he switched places, although on a walkabout on the property
today we discovered a large willow branch that had been
chopped down just behind the garage and that's in a totally
different spot again. I'm expecting the rotten little
bugger to go after the aspen in front of the house
or on the east side now, since he hasn't been there yet.
We got hold of more wire but it was too late to put it
on so we'll try to do that tomorrow.
I'm really starting to get cheesed off at this oversized
rat. Most of the aspen that we have are only a few years
old because the beaver cleaned out a lot of aspen and
willow a few years ago when Nimpo Lake and the creeks
and river were really overpopulated with them. There's
only about one really large aspen on the entire place
and that's only because Andy got it well wrapped with
chicken wire just in time when a huge beaver got everyone's
trees a few years back. In the last two years there didn't
seem to be that many beaver around and we figured disease
from the huge population may have knocked them back. Careful
vigilance every fall has given our little aspen trees
a chance to grow. Apparently not for long.
At the rate this bugger is going, he'll have us cleaned
out of trees in no time. It wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't
already lost most of our pine trees to beetles, we definitely
can't afford to lose our aspen and willows too. Unfortunately,
this beaver isn't coming around at dusk and dawn as most
do. It's nocturnal all the way so I'm not sure how we're
going to catch up to him. But I can tell you that
my dog is extremely disgruntled right now.
River is the laziest goof on the planet. He's also scared
of the dark. I know, a Rottweiler breed scared of the
dark would appear to be a contradiction in terms, but
sadly, it's true.
This overgrown meathead goes and hides in his doghouse
as soon as it gets dark and he doesn't come out
until after it lightens up fully in the morning. River's
one and only concern in life is his food dish. Oh, and
getting as much attention as he can possibly muster from
us.... the cat.... visitors....it doesn't matter as long
as someone pets him.
Since Mocha seems to be the only one on guard duty at
night, I have decided that the pathetic Rotty has
to start earning the huge quantities of food that he consumes.
After all, man's best friend was first brought into the
fold for a purpose, not just to be spoiled, and has spent
millennia as working dogs for mankind. So I kicked River
out of his doghouse. Yep, blocked off the door. It's lots
warm enough at night and he can always go sleep under
the deck with Mocha or curl up in the leaves under the
bushes where it's cozy and comfortable. Most likely though
he'll sleep where the cats can protect him. Hopefully,
he won't sleep well and will actually make an effort to
chase a beaver if it comes onto shore. I threatened to
stake him out on a line over where the trees were cut
down night before last but he looked so horrified
at the thought that I figured we would try this
The day started out gloomy and spitting rain but it turned
into a pretty nice day shortly after noon. The sun was
shining and there was very little breeze, so we decided
to go out fishing. I had planned on going for a walk but
after discovering those trees down and surveying the rest
of the property looking for more, we both decided a pick-me-up
like fishing would be just the ticket.
We caught four nice ones, of which only one was mine,
and Andy caught a big beauty. They're definitely strong
fighters right now and good for lots of action if that's
what you're into. There were fish jumping all around
the boat today, some of them jumping easily four
feet into the air. I don't know if they were jumping for
food, shaking lice, or trying to get clear of the algae
on the lake. There's a pretty bad bloom right now. I would
have thought it too cold, but apparently not. I know that
while sitting along the lake shore last night the fish
were plopping steadily into dusk in the back bay. It's
pretty green back there with algae but there's quite a
few bugs on the surface of the water too so the fish are
getting their fill of grits before ice on.
We've got a young loon that has taken up residence in
the back bay now, as well as several more scattered over
Nimpo Lake. While out in the boat today an adult
paired with a baby started with that sickly panic call
they make when an eagle is around. Sure enough,
a bald eagle was flying fairly low and straight as an
arrow toward these loons but was probably half a mile
away when the adult started calling. They must have wicked
eyesight and an unbelievable instinct. There's no
way that loon would have any reason to think the eagle
was coming for it, yet in the end it did and the
baby loon had to dive. It's nice to see such a good crop
of baby loons this year, even though it seems several
didn't survive. But it's getting awfully late in the year
for them and you would think they would be heading out
by now. The young ones all seem to be pretty small though
and still mostly grey. I didn't think adults hung around
this late but it looks like the odd one does. Perhaps
that's to protect their young for as long as possible.
There was a bad car accident on Highway 20 between
Alexis Creek and Williams Lake this weekend that
shut down the highway for several hours. A head on crash
so bad that both vehicles, a pickup truck and a Honda
Civic, burst into flame. Five people killed and two critically
injured. According to the newscast alcohol and speed were
a factor with the driver of the Honda and everyone involved
were from Quesnel or Williams Lake. I can only hope that
it didn't involve anyone that we know and that our friends
from Quesnel are okay. Drop us an email and let
us know, guys!
Oh, and I realize two articles in one day is probably
a real shocker for those of you that waited patiently
for over a week just for one, but I've got a reprieve
from manufacturing my calendars. I have to take them to
the printers for cutting and they couldn't do it until
next week. That means I can catch up on other stuff and
this blog for a few days. Check out some of the sunrise
pics up on the right. Andy was up at five and out looking
for beaver this morning when he got a picture of this
spectacular dawning of the morn.
The Nazko Cone
an interesting little tidbit about this interesting little
cone on the news yesterday. Actually, Andy told
me about it so we tried to look up some information on
it but couldn't find anything recent. According to the
news item Andy saw on television, scientists have
been recording earthquake tremors in the vicinity of the
Nazko Cone very recently. Strong enough that folks
above ground could feel them and reported them.
I'll try to give a little history about the Nazko Cone.
I think that I've mentioned this before when talking about
Anahim Peak and what a rich trade commodity it provided
in the form of flint for native Indian tribes in the area.
Our region sits on what's known as the Anahim Volcanic
Belt, a 400 mile long volcanic belt stretching from Vancouver
to Quesnel in central British Columbia.
According to Wikipedia; 'The volcanoes in
the Anahim Belt were most likely a result of the North
American Plate sliding westward over a small hotspot,
similar to the one feeding the Hawaiian Islands, called
the Anahim hotspot.' Major
volcanoes of the Anahim Belt include the Rainbow Range
at over 8,100 ft., the Itcha Range at over 7,700 ft. and
the Ilgachuz Range at over 7,400 ft. And if you read this
blog much at all, you know that those ranges form the
eastern and northern boundary of our plateau and I get
to look at them, if not from our back door, then when
out in the boat or snowmobiling.
Now in geology, a hotspot is a location on the Earth's
surface that has experienced active volcanism for a long
period of time and geologists have identified some 40–50
such hotspots around the globe. In looking at the map,
the majority of those hotspots look like they're out in
the ocean and few are actually under a continent. And
that part's important as you'll see.
Again according to Wikipedia; 'Most hotspot
volcanoes are basaltic because they erupt through oceanic
lithosphere (e.g., Hawaii, Tahiti). As a result, they
are less explosive than subduction zone volcanoes, which
have high water contents. Where hotspots occur under continental
crust, (That's us!) basaltic magma is trapped in the less
dense continental crust, which is heated and melts to
form rhyolites. These rhyolites can be quite hot and form
violent eruptions, despite their low water content. For
example, the Yellowstone Caldera was formed by some of
the most powerful volcanic explosions in geologic history.'
here's the important part....
Rhyolites that cool too quickly to grow crystals form
a natural glass or vitrophyre, also called obsidian.
And guess what folks? As I said before, that black glass
was an extremely important trade item for our tribes and
has been traced throughout Canada and the US.
But I digress. That's because I have long admired the
obsidian arrowheads, knives and scrapers that people have
found all along the shores of Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake
over the years.
Anyway, to go full circle, Nazko Cone, to quote Wikipedia;
'is a small dormant basaltic cinder cone located
75 km west of Quesnel and is considered the easternmost
volcano in the Anahim Volcanic Belt, which was formed
by the Anahim hotspot. The small tree-covered cone rises
120 m (nearly 400 ft.) above the Chilcotin-Nechako Plateau
and was formed during the Pleistocene. Its last eruption
produced two small lava flows that traveled 1 km to the
west, along with a blanket of volcanic ash that extends
several km to the north and east of the cone. The volcano's
oldest eruption is approximately 340,000 years old.'
But, get this! The
Cone's last eruption was only 7200 years ago which is
the Belt's most recent eruption and in geological terms,
that's not very long ago.
There were some lava flows and then some explosive eruptions
that left rock and ash 9 feet deep nearby which thinned
quickly to a few centimetres only a few kilometres away.
Apparently that indicates that these were not overly large
eruptions, but since charcoal was found inside this layer,
it would seem the hot layer of pyroclastics probably started
a forest fire.
I think that I mentioned before that we came across two
layers of ash when we dug out our root cellar, one of
them quite thick. It seems that ash from the Nazko Cone
did not drift south, or for any distance, so that
ash is from a different volcano and from a much older
And the final quote from Wikipedia; It is
worth noting that the Nazko Cone is now largely gone.
It was staked for mining its cinder and scoria in the
early 1990's by the Canadian Pumice Corporation, and has
since been steadily reduced to produce red industrial
aggregate for landscaping. There is little left resembling
Now is that humorous or what? Most of our poor little
volcano is scattered along sidewalks in front of corporate
offices and languishing around Mugo Pines and Weeping
Birches in peoples' front yards. Wouldn't it be ironic
if the Nazko Cone erupted and built a cone again? Mother
Nature's way of bringing back the status quo perhaps?
Boy, I'd be there in a heartbeat! That would be awesome
a four legged critter out there that's now a marked animal.
We discovered that six really nice aspen got chopped down
along our driveway yesterday. Although we could see the
stumps and the drag marks, we've still not found the trees.
I don't know where the beaver took them once he
got them into Nimpo Lake but they're well hidden.
As a result of that loss, we spent a good part of the
morning wrapping the base of many of our aspen in chicken
wire. Unfortunately, we've got so many baby aspen coming
up where there were none six years ago, (the beaver
had cleaned them out) there's just too many to
wrap. We did what we could to protect the
larger trees in the area where the beaver is cutting them
down. We don't have enough chicken wire to protect all
the trees so we'll see where it heads to next before using
up the last of the wire.
It's funny, but our neighbour lost three nice trees, all
about the same size as ours, about three weeks ago. Although
we all kept a lookout for a beaver, we never saw it. Nor
did it cut down any more trees on that property. My partner
had hoped he was just passing through but that's a vain
hope in light of the trees we've lost now. This boy is
building a lodge or a feed bin. More likely a feed
bin for the winter and he's got it planted well underwater
somewhere, which would explain why we can't find
it. Well, at least I know what we'll be doing for our
next few evenings until dark. He's got to go.
It takes a long, long time to grow a tree that size in
this country and for those of you that might want to sympathize
with the 'industrious' beaver, consider this. Imagine
painstakingly planting a large number of blue spruce throughout
your yard and lovingly watching them grow for ten to fifteen
years. Then imagine waking up one morning just
before Christmas to discover that someone has cut down
over half of them for Christmas trees and left lonely,
bare stumps standing on your lawn. Yep. You'd be mad too.
The difference between you and me though is that I know
who did it and I can hunt him down, where you must rely
on the police to solve your theft. There's definitely
and upside to living in the boondocks!
No longer that bright spring green, the kinnickinick is
slowly flushing bronze and most of the leaves on the shrubs
in the woods are gone now. Some of the aspen around here
still have their leaves but many lost them in that vicious
little wind we had a few days ago. We actually got a pretty
decent autumn display this year. Not as nice as last year
perhaps, but a whole lot nicer than some years when
the leaves turn and are gone in the first week of September.
There are still a few loons around but mostly young ones
that are that pretty grey and only just now developing
their necklace. Unlike their parents they aren't nearly
as raucous in their song. Rather, you only hear the odd
tentative call. Keeping a low profile I suspect. It's
awfully quiet floatplane wise as well. Most of the planes
are gone now with only the odd hunter flying in and then
on to hunt camp.
There are still lots of ducks whizzing overhead at dusk
and not a few grebes dotting the lake here and there.
The fish were jumping like crazy tonight while
I was out watching for beaver, some of them jumping several
feet into the air, so there's lots of food for the birds.
Our temperature was pretty nice today going over 12C or
about 55F and once it cleared off this morning, it was
sunny all day. A bit of a chilly breeze with winter on
its breath, but once you got into the trees, it was remarkable.
Yesterday was town day, and when we left for Williams
Lake in the morning, it was -5C here but by the time we
got to Towdystan, it was -8.5Cor about 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold enough to keep my side window frosted up on the truck
until half way to town.
We saw a beautiful big black bear near Bull Canyon
just below the caves in the bluff there. He's
probably prowling around for the last berries and fishing
down in the river below before heading off for his winter
snooze. Saw a huge white bellied hawk blow up out of the
ditch up at Riske Flats but we went by too fast to see
what he was. There was an immature bald eagle hunting
up there too and I saw him sitting in a tree in about
the same place on the way back. Saw another bear just
on this side of Alexis Creek on those bad corners where
you usually see a lot of deer and it's a good thing I
had slowed right down because the sun was in my eyes.
Otherwise, he was sauntering so slowly across the
highway I could easily have hit him. Coming back
I was driving a separate vehicle and I radioed back to
Andy to take a picture since he had the camera. But it
was too late by the time he reached the spot where the
bear entered the bushes and it could no longer be seen.
It must be hunting season though. Never saw a single deer
going in or out, which is highly unusual. But the deer
are just like the moose during hunting season. They all
have calendars and they're all telepathic.
Gotta go but I have to tell you about the Nazko
Score One For The Cowboys!
everyone! I got really lucky and John Brecknock, the fellow
I told you about yesterday, has kindly given me permission
to pass on some of his stories. It sounds like there are
a few that I very much look forward to hearing but won't
be allowed to pass on. But hey, there's got to be some
benefit to being the blog writer, right?
Hang on for the ride folks, you're in the Chilcotin
now. I've left out some names changing the story
slightly but tried to leave first names in.
I passed on some of the names below the beat up old cowboy
hats hanging in Anahim Lake Trading to John yesterday.
You'll find pictures of some of those hats at Wilderness
Adventures June 2 His answer
to that email was this:
Boy you bring back a lot of memories mentioning the names
Andy CHRISTENSEN owned Clespocket when I worked there.
I think I was twelve years old when I spent part of my
first summer there as chore boy. 1958/59 I think. My sister
Judy had married D'arcy about then. I worked every summer
after that for D'Arcy and when we finished haying at Corkscrew
Creek, we would go work for Andy at Clespocket. I forget
who bought Clespocket from Andy, and what year the ranch
sold but must tell you this little story.
We used to have a movie night at the Stampede Hall in
my later years at Anahim which virtually everyone attended
who was close enough to attend.
You know how hot the days can be and how cold the evenings
and night can get.
Anyways... Came to Town for show night (every 2 weeks).
Did not have a coat and got cold as hell. D'Arcy owned
the store by then. I could not stand it and broke down
to buy an all wool Mackinaw from AC & C. D'Arcy offered
to flip a coin double or nothing. I did and won the Mackinaw.
Feeling lucky I then went to purchase a pair of good work
boots I had admired. Dayton's. (They were like a lace
up ridin' boot). Won those too. A rancher watched this
and of course was interested in what we were doing. D'Arcy
explaining that we were flipping double or nothing for
the purchase. Of course he wanted a piece of that and
decided to flip for his purchases. His grocery bill for
the ranch was a lot more than my purchase. Flipped and
lost. Picked out a new Stetson, flipped and lost. Tried
one more time and lost that flip too. I was happy as a
clam. D'Arcy of course by now way ahead. Rancher p~ssed
right off. D'Arcy would flip double or nothing for any
purchase in the store in those days and I suspect did
'til the end.
I must also take credit for the sign: "If we don't have
it:; you don't need it"! Some might argue, but I remember
giving that gem to D'Arcy way back when.
name under one of the cowboy hats) and
I go way back. We and his half/brother, Larry (Cowboy)
Smith (of Iditirod fame) ran together when kids. As well
as several others of us.
I of course know all the Squinas girls, and forgot some
for sure. The girls & I would communicate by whistles
across the Corkscrew creek. Those were the days. Remember
most all the Dorseys of course.
(The Dorseys are mentioned in Rich Hobson's books, are
an old family in the Chilcotin and run trail riding and
guiding outfits out of Anahim Lake. Check out Six Mile
Ranch on the Resorts
you know Tommy ask him about when Ann owned the old cafe
across from the Store. What a Cafe. Anyways when Tommy
got mad at her he would pee in her well. That was quite
the place. No kidding whatsoever, she would hang her clothes
to dry up in the cafe. It was a very low ceiling and you
might be sitting at the counter with her bloomers hanging
down around your head.
I recall you referring to 1966 and how wet the summer
was. That was the last year I worked for D'Arcy. I remember
we could not even start haying 'til September and were
still haying well into October. What a year. I then went
back to Alexis Creek and worked for Norman T. at Canyon
View Ranch right up until I got into the MP.
(John is referring to the year that my parents immigrated
to Canada dragging five snot nosed kids across the border
in a bread van determined to purchase a homestead in the
Chilcotin, all because of Rich Hobson's books about he
and Pan Phillips. When we arrived in Anahim Lake it had
been such a rainy summer that many ranchers could not
get out except by horseback and we were never able to
get into the ranch to see it. Which is probably the only
reason why I wasn't raised in Anahim Lake.)
As for D'arcy flipping double or nothing on groceries
until the end? He did. As I related in an email to John,
D'arcy always tried to get someone to flip for their groceries
or dried goods. He only got me to go for it once
and of course I lost. (There was a standing joke
around here that if you flipped with D'arcy you better
bring your own coin because his was weighted!) I walked
out of that store $120 poorer with only $60 worth of groceries
wondering why on earth I had just done
that. Never did it again but I would stand and smile any
day while some poor sod flipped. I don't think I've ever
seen anyone win. Once, maybe. I think it was for a measly
Hope you guys had as much fun reading John's tale as I
did. On to a quick weather report. Gorgeous day today.
Sunshine, lots of fish jumping, temperatures between 8
and 10C again which is up to 50F. It did freeze
again last night but that's just to make sure the mosquitoes
don't decide to make a reappearance....lol. The
weather isn't supposed to be too bad for the next couple
of days. We'll see. Hopefully the roads will be good.
Tomorrow is town day so probably won't get an article
up, unless John is willing to fill the space again!
that's an understatement. There's a ruddy gale force
wind blowing out there right now. My apologies
for such a long time between articles but I'm still up
to my neck in business stuff so this is going to be short.
That snow melted from last week and though it spit rain,
some hail, and a little more snow, it wasn't too bad until
a big low nailed us with over an inch of rain on
Sunday. The weather has really been mixed. It
was cool for the most part until two nights ago when it
actually started warming up in the middle of the night.
Since then I'm not even sure it's frozen at night and
for the last two days it's ranged between 8 and 10C or
between 47 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yesterday it was dead calm and when a breeze did spring
up, it was actually a warm one. I can handle that. Unfortunately,
another huge low pressure system has been swirling out
from Vancouver Island for the last couple of days before
turning north and heading up the coast. It's brought high
winds that have wreaked havoc in many parts of the Vancouver
area and it definitely got pretty wicked around here today.
It's not very often that we get whitecaps rolling straight
into shore like we did today.
I watched friends catch a pretty darn nice rainbow
trout on this side of the big island yesterday
and the same people went out this morning. It wasn't that
rough at first but once it got going it really
got going and I'm hoping they made it back in okay. I'm
glad Sad Sack was taken down (the leaning tree down on
the right) because I don't think he would have made it
through the winds today.
Hey, I got a pretty cool email the other day and only
got a chance to reply to it today. I'm glad I did because
folks, this fellow knows the Chilcotin from quite
a few years back and I'm willing to bet he's got some
great stories to tell. I'm sure hoping he'll let
me repeat them here.
John was in this country from 1956 to 1967 and is not
only related by marriage to D'arcy Christensen whom I've
spoken of many times, but rode for him through the summers
back then on the Corkscrew Creek Ranch and on the Clesspocket.
In 1967 he left the Chilcotin to join the RCMP in Alberta
and retired there in 1999.
John has already given me a few slim details of his time
in the area including his close acquaintance with Pan
Phillips's family and it sounds like there could be really
great book there. Grizzly bears and all. He spoke of,
"One of a million stories. Got chased myself
one time or so I thought. Walking home from the meadow
to the Ranch house. Came across a grizz with two cubs.
I ran faster scared than she did mad. Don't know that
she actually chased me, I never looked back. Ran about
a mile and half. For sure would have been in Olympic time."
has also mentioned an interesting trip pushing cattle
up to Itcha Flats in 1966 with D'arcy Christensen and
Al Elsey along with three other guys whose names are now
legend in this part of the country. Apparently one of
the cowboys that rode up with the group stayed in the
Itchas all summer to herd cattle. They built a little
log shack up there for him with small logs skidded in
using a horse's tail and with a Grizzly Bear hide for
Now D'arcy ran the trading post or general store in Anahim
Lake when I first moved here and is quite the character,
as is Al Elsey, famous for taking movies all his life
of everything in this country. So trust me, this is a
story I want to hear! So I'm crossing my fingers and hoping
John will see fit to tell me a few. In the meanwhile,
I'm knee deep in alligators and will be for a while longer
as I explained before. So articles may be few and far
between for the next little while. Thanks for your patience
Oh, and one last note. Sadly, I just got word and
a few pictures showing that the Snow Buddha met his demise.
I won't say how because I'm sure the antigun faction would
throw a fit, but as a salute good-bye, my favorite little
buddy gets to be the Picture
of the Day
will seem a little confusing since I've switched to a
new week but carried over the last two articles, so you'll
find last week's articles at October
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!