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Wilderness Adventures - Oct., Week Two/2013

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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12/10/2013 2:00 PM

October

Yesterday I was going to say that we were finally getting our October weather with blue skies, calm days and warmer temperatures. Then it kind of fell apart today. It’s still calm out there so that you can see a zillion fish jumping all over the lake as they have been all day, but that’s about the only thing to recommend it. It is overcast, still, and chilly. The temperature has finally reached 5.2C or 41F but it’s had to struggle all day to do it.
I think that I mentioned before that we’ve been dealing with our standard autumn winds which can really cool things down but the last couple of days haven’t been too bad. Especially if you can get away from the lake and into the woods. I can’t wait to get off of the road and onto the back trail in the trees when we go walking with the dogs.
We haven’t been seeing a lot of fresh animal sign on the trails at all other than a deer that’s been hanging around the area for the past year or so and some little fox tracks. There are lots of squirrels around though and a surprising number of grouse. Every time we’ve driven up our neighbour’s driveway this summer we’ve been treated to a whole flock of young grouse and sometimes their mother. It would seem that momma picked a good, safe spot to raise young and keep them fed through the season. It’s amazing considering just how dumb she is if it’s the same one we often see on the side of the main road. She doesn’t move much when you drive by and why she hasn’t been run over I do not know.
It’s been a surprise to all of us that there has actually been some fall color, although late in the season. A lot of leaves on the aspen have simply turned brown and blown away after a long dry summer and fall but in some places there’s still lots of gold where somehow some of the bigger aspen have found an adequate supply of water to keep them going. The leaves on the wild rose bushes are a stunning red but those things are like weeds and don’t ever seem to need much in the way of water. The willows and a lot of the buck brush have not fared so well with most of the leaves on them dropping long ago. But still, we’re getting color and to have leaves on the trees in the middle of October is remarkable. But then, the frosts were pretty late this year and there are still nights like last night where it doesn’t freeze.
Starting tomorrow it’s supposed to turn sunny for the next week and our temperatures are supposed to climb by nearly 10 degrees. Man, I sure hope so! I still have veggies shivering out in their boxes and in the greenhouse waiting for a decent day to go dig everything up. We still need to get out there fishing too, but again, we're waiting for it to warm up. I’m sitting in my office here freezing even with a fire going down stairs. I can’t imagine what sitting still out on the lake in a boat would be like right now but there's actually someone out there so they're more determined than I am, I think.
The last of the charter planes left a couple of days ago, one to the south and the other put away in the hangar for the winter. Yesterday we had some poor guy in a pretty little red and white plane circling the lake looking for fuel. Unfortunately Nimpo Lake is listed on some charts as providing fuel for float planes but it’s hard to find this late in the fall now. I called my Mother down at the other end of the lake to see if they wanted to call him on the radio and let him know where he could find fuel, but by the time she found Terry, the plane had taken off and headed northwest. Hopefully he found a source somewhere else. There was a time when there were about four or five resorts and charter services on Nimpo Lake that could provide a plane with fuel but that’s down to zero this late in the fall and a plane would have to rely on a private plane owner or for someone to bring a barrel down to the lake somewhere where it could be pumped in to a floatplane.
Well, the temperature doesn’t look like it’s going to improve much so I might skip a walk with the dogs today and buckle down to more office work instead, especially if it’s going to be nice for the next week when I would rather be outside. Happy Columbus Day to everyone to the south of us and Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all you Canadians out there!
07/10/2013 11:00 AM

Overcast

The docks are moving now. One is going over to the dock bay as I write and I expect more will move within the next few days. This year we were blown away by the lack of snow on the mountains until about the third week of September and yesterday morning when we got up, it was all gone from the lower mountains, which means there must have been quite the inversion overnight. But this morning it has returned so I expect the resorts are taking it as a warning that it’s time.
We got really lucky with our weather yesterday. For the past few days it has been cool and spitting rain off and on with a whole lot of very chilly fall wind. About a week ago I had started planning to have a few people over for a last 'kick at the cat' campfire and a little party that was important to me. The problem with that is you never know what the weather is going to bring and that can be awkward if you’re serving a whole lot of food outside. Not only will it chill down fast if it’s cold but the wind can blow everything around and generally just make things miserable for everyone. Well our temperatures have not made it above 10C or 50F max during the day for the past several days, but yesterday it hit 17.4C or 63F in the shade, which is downright balmy this time of year! We got a little sun but it was pretty windy yesterday and Andy tied a large tarp up to the south of our fire pit area in the hopes of cutting some of the wind toward the food but it didn’t really help a lot. However, about the time everyone started to arrive the wind died right down and stayed down until later in the evening when it kicked back up again ahead of a cold front moving in.
We were under a rain warning the night before and were supposed to get whacked pretty hard here which would have made a sopping wet mess of everything, yet we only got a few drops because the storm moved north of us. And finally, most nights have been wicked cold and well below freezing and yet the night before last it didn’t drop below 6C so it was quicker to warm up during the day. As a result I got really lucky, got my party, and now I can say goodbye to summer. I would rather not…. But you know, there’s not a lot of choice in the matter in this country. :-)
I had hoped we might see northern lights last night while we sat around the fire after the clouds cleared out, but no such luck. About a week ago we saw some spectacular lights of a sort that I haven’t seen in years, and never the reds that we saw that night. I’ve only ever seen green here but one of our long timers around the fire last night said she has seen red northern lights here before.
Andy downloaded an app that I found a couple of months ago that gives 3D images using probes in orbit around the sun. The app lets you know when there has been a CME or coronal mass ejection from the sun, and whether it is pointed toward the earth. A week ago there was one that was not pointed right at earth but it was thought particles would hit earth with a glancing blow and might cause northern lights. It certainly did with lights being seen well into southern BC! That’s more than possible because the northern lights we saw were not just north but were overhead and to the south of us and were bright enough to light up the ground.
Dawn, one of our long timers told us a cute story about northern lights last night. She said when she was working in one of the camps up north an Indian explained to her what really caused the northern lights. Apparently it’s their ancestors that have gone before bowling and the lights glimmer and shine when one of them has made a strike. I thought that was hilarious. That must mean that the Indians invented bowling. Really…..??
In any case, the lights
sure were nice to see. I was beginning to think they had abandoned us! As it was the only reason we saw them was because it looked really bright outside before I turned the lights on in a back room and I knew there was no moon. Even then I might not have gone outside if Andy hadn’t mentioned the CME that had just occurred that day. We have no large north pointing windows (for obvious reasons in cold country) so we have had northern lights before and not known until someone told us the next day. So I can see how the app just might come in handy this winter. For any of you interested in downloading the app for your own use you can find it at http://3dsun.org/i3dsun It's really interesting to see some of the real time information on the site to do with the sun and the videos are amazing!
Oh, and if you're techo-computer challenged, don’t worry. We have no idea really what an ‘app’ is but this was easy to download and use so anyone can do it. Apparently an app is just the same as a program which I’m used to so that was easy enough. I’m not sure why programs or software has been changed to ‘app’ (presumably standing for application) but I guess most of the human civilization understands the term so we might as well get on board. :-)
I had to start a fire a few minutes ago just because it’s cold in here and I don’t think it’s going to warm up outside. It’s only 5C or 41F, spitting rain and a cold breeze has come up that’s blowing over that fresh snow on the mountains. I can see bits of blue above but I think chances of seeing the sun today may be slim if you guy by the weather forecast. On the other hand, the forecasters are rarely correct about our area so who knows?
There’s still a pair of young loons out on the lake that we think are the twins born over in the west bay this spring. They’re large so they shouldn’t have any trouble getting off the lake before freeze up this year and heaven knows the fishing is good. There aren’t that many left on the lake though because you don’t hear them much now except when a plane takes off.
Surprisingly, Duncan still has planes flying at this late date, probably mostly for hunters and possibly cleaning out his cabins. Up until last fall he was leaving earlier and earlier in the season but I think that our nice weather the last couple of years has encouraged more people to come here in the fall. A lot of us also tell folks that the fall season is the very best time of year to come to the Chilcotin because the bugs are gone and generally the weather is nice through September and for the last two years, October as well. Apparently that is not going to apply this year. It’s hard to make myself go outside now because I just haven’t acclimated to the chilly temps yet. Gotta do it sometime though, for the dogs if nothing else. Besides, I still have a whole lot of stuff growing out there including in the greenhouse!
We had an interesting mystery plant this year that kind of reminded me of the one in the cult movie classic, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. This spring I moved my asparagus from the greenhouse to a brand new raised box outside full of compost and cow manure, the perfect growing medium that hopefully will give us a mess of asparagus for our plates next year or so. Shortly after planting the stalks and roots in there, a bunch of shoots started up throughout the box. We tried to decide if they were cucumber or zucchini and since there was lots of room for them, I let them grow. All these tiny plants grew all right.... into honking huge-leafed plants that took over the box, grew down onto the surrounding ground, and up into a nearby tree. It soon became apparent that there were at least two types of squash in there and a gourd type thing growing that a bee cross pollinated from the two main types.
All summer long the plants grew bigger and sucked up massive amounts of water, apparently thoroughly enjoying the manure and compost they had sprung from. Compost just doesn’t heat enough in this country to kill seeds and it’s obvious that all the squash we had purchased from Ashcroft last fall and eaten through the winter had come back to haunt us in the form of new plants.
I have never grown spaghetti squash before but I questioned the clerk at Desert Hills in Ashcroft this year when I was down buying tomatoes and she assured me that what I described, even though a bright green, was probably spaghetti squash. After I described where I lived and that I was already having to cover the plants to protect them from frost in August, she also told me that even if they didn’t have time to ripen on the vine, they would keep well in a cold room and ripen through the winter. I’m not sure what the other type of squash is but our neighbour thought they might be Hubbards, which would also be good.
The last thing that I wanted was a bunch of melons or crosses that can’t be eaten but we tried one of the smaller squashes the other night and though still somewhat green, there is no question that it is spaghetti squash. Bonus, because that’s one of my favorites! The only problem is that I picked these things and they fill two very large produce boxes in my cold room and the lower half of my downstairs fridge. I have 17 of the spaghetti squash left, some of them huge, five of the green ones that I have no way of knowing what they are until we try eating one. I left the rest on the plants because they looked like they might be too small to do much with them. I picked two squash that look like gourds and that I suspect are crossed squash. I don’t know what I’ll do with them but they’re interesting looking. They take up a lot of room though! I know what we’re eating for veg all winter, anyway. Had anyone told me you could grow squash in the Chilcotin without a greenhouse I ’d have laughed them out of the country. It would have been impossible 25 years ago when I lived out here and when it was a struggle to even grow lettuce. I know that climate change has serious implications for the world but all I can say is if this is global warming, bring it on!
This last Saturday a memorial was held for Dick Wright at the Anahim Lake Community Hall. I'm sorry folks, for those of you that knew Dick, but I didn’t find out about it until two days before. Dick had been in this country for quite a few years first ranching and then as a contractor to the mill and will be missed by many people that knew him. He had some good stories to tell.
Well, it’s 1:30 now, the temperature has come up to 10C and the sun keeps trying to break through the spitting rain. I don’t know whether it will succeed or not but my dogs are looking at me and letting me know it’s time for a walk.

Last week's blog is at October 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!
A blue day in October overlooking Nimpo Lake.
 
A Canadian flag waves among gold leafed bushes.
 
A few bright aspens light up the fall.
 
A plane takes off of Nimpo Lake in October on a very grey day.
 
Boat pulls a dock across the bay to a protective area.
 
Huge green leaves and blossoms on squash plants.
 
Green and yellow squash in a box.
 
Large pink tomatoes freshly picked are a Polish heirloom.
 
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