A Taste of Winter

14-snowAlready we are having a taste of winter at Ginty Creek.  Clear skies always produce a good frost.1-frostThe cottonwoods had a brief attempt at providing some colour.2-golden-cottonwoodsFog is common most mornings.4-fog-finger-peakBecause of the rainy summer, the river is much higher than it would normally be at this time of year.4-tawny-riverAs has been the norm for this year, we would have a couple of sunny days, sometimes three, and then it would rain on and off for a week or more.  I had a wet trip to Williams Lake.6-rain-to-ws-lkBut about 2/3 of the way home, I drove into patchy sunshine.9-near-tatlaThe mountains were white with snow.  This is Nogwon.10-nogwonFinger Peak looks pointier from downtown Kleena Kleene.11-finger-peak

12-fp-and-hayRed sky at night – sailor’s delight!13-sunsetBut in the morning we woke to fresh snow.14a-pondPart of me thinks: Oh no! Not already, and part of me appreciates how beautiful it is.15-birch-abstract

16-branch-in-grassEvery day I rummage around for kale and swiss chard in the garden.  (The roots are all dug and in the root cellar.)  Every day I think it will be the last greens that I find.  And yet I continuously manage to scrounge enough for supper.17-chardThe ground was not frozen so I knew the snow wouldn’t last.  By afternoon, it had melted.18-rain-abstract

19-grass-rainTwo days later, the sky cleared and the temperature dropped to -12C.  (That’s about 10 degrees American.)18a-frosty-morningThe fog and frost compositions were gorgeous.18b-frosty-morning-2

18b-frosty-morning-3The pond froze over.18e-frozen-pondThe sun was warm later in the day, but the frost never melted in the shade.  Perkins Peak sailed above the river.  Looks like I won’t get up there until next year now.18g-ppThe following morning, the temperature was just as cold.18i-twigsFriends were staying, and we walked up onto the north bluffs.  Again, the fog effects were fabulous.  We could enjoy them thoroughly because the sun was shining on us!18j1-more-fog

18l-fog-ppBut once again, on day three, the storms started to come in.18-storm-coming

storm-2And last night it rained steadily.  The night temperature rose to zero C.  The pretty winter jewelry disappeared.  Most of the ice on the pond melted.  The forecast is total gloom for the next foreseeable future.18l-thaw



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Thanksgiving at the Precipice.

1-aaa-dinnerI had Thanksgiving dinner at the Precipice this year.  All the regular cattle drive party-goers were there.  It was lovely to see them (we are all scattered so rarely meet at any other time.)  Because of the distances and long, lonely road travelled, it is expected that we stay overnight – there are always enough rooms, cabins, and beds to go round.

It was snowing a little when I left home, and the temperature was such that the flakes dissolved on the ground but stuck to branches, highlighting them in an interesting way.20-snowy-treeIt took an elevation gain of only a few feet to make everything whiter.21-my-roadI have constantly bewailed the lack of fall colours this year, but the cottonwoods en route and down in the Precipice gave the best show yet.  The logging road south of Anahim Lake was very pretty.22-logging-road


23-coloursThe tote road is much narrower.23a-tote-roadIt drops steeply so soon I was out of the snow zone.24-tote-roadAs always, one must run the gauntlet between Fred’s stone people, which now number in the hundreds.  Higher up, they wore snow hats.24a-snow-hatsI have never yet managed to take a satisfactory picture to show the multitudes.  It is possible only to pick out one or two.25-stone-personNote the narrow base on the next one.25a-stone-person-2The bottom of the valley was rich with colour, as always, a whole different world.26-bottomPat was preparing the yams in their log, solar-powered house.27-patLee is fixing the potatoes.28-leeAs we have now come to expect, their organization was superb and the party went as parties should.  Thank you Pat and Lee for another wonderful visit to your precious hidden valley.30-pat

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Bella Coola in October

7-stupendousI took my Scottish friends down The Hill to Bella Coola.  Although it was October already, very little fresh snow graced the mountains.  At the top of the Bella Coola Hill, we walked for a while among the burned forest.1-burned-forestMost flowers had finished, but this creeping juniper had a great display of berries.2-juniper-berriesAs with the Chilcotin, everything was dulled with the lack of fall colours and a haze of smoke.
3-smokey-hillBecause the salmon are spawning, most of the river walks and campgrounds near my friends’ place were closed, so we had to be content with accessing the river from the bear viewing station, which is just up stream from their house.3a-bear-view-w-r-and-vWe didn’t see much, though.  The viewing station is right next to the boat launch and there was far too much human activity.  We  caught a glimpse of a grizzly, but he disappeared again at once.6-grizz-glimpseOtherwise, we simply had the empty river to enjoy.4-bear-view-1First stop the following morning was the big cedar trail. 8-big-treesAs with my previous visit, a number of spiders hung on large webs – this one must have been 18″ (45cm) across.9-spiderAnd of course we visited the petroglyphs, where we were lucky enough to encounter Brian, who once again told us the stories associated with the carvings.10-petroglyphsOn our way back up the Bella Coola Hill, we saw a fine black bear.  We stopped to photograph, but he suddenly trudged towards us.   I rather fear that people have been feeding him and that will cause him to be shot.  I drove on, but Vida got a great shot of him giving us the eye.13a-bb-on-hillHowever, these were not the only adventures we had at Bella Coola.  The main event was something totally unexpected.

Vida had come with me down to Bella Coola, but Ruth had felt unwell and stayed with our hosts.  She had a pain in her hip and was unable to sit comfortably in the car.  When we arrived in Bella Coola after seeing the big trees and the petroglyphs, I stopped at the hospital to drop something off for my hosts.  Vida happened to take this photo.14-ambulanceI noticed the ambulance and briefly felt sorry for whichever poor soul had needed it, but otherwise gave it no thought.  Vida and I started heading back up the valley and called in at the Hagensborg store to pick up some groceries.  The manager, who always stops and speaks to me, asked me if I’d spoken to our host.  “Not since this morning,” I said cheerfully, thinking she had phoned to ask me to pick up soething from the store.  “She asked if you could phone her,” said the manager and handed me his phone.  (No cell phones here of course.) Apparently our host had gone into our cabin to check on Ruth, and found her in terrible agony.  Our host would have taken her to the hospital (a 40-minute drive) but it was impossible to get her into the car.  So they had to call the ambulance – which meant rounding up the driver and paramedic (all voluntary) so it was an hour before the ambulance arrived, and the best part of another hour before Ruth was in the hospital.  It was her ambulance we had seen. So of course we drove back down to the valley and found Ruth in the emergency looking exhausted.  At first the hospital wanted to discharge her as such tests that the Bella Coola hospital could do had shown nothing life-threatening, but she was still in a huge amount of pain, especially if she tried to sit or stand.  In the end they decided to keep her overnight and keep pumping morphine into her.  A kidney stone was suspected but did not show up on any x-ray, and Bella Coola can’t do cat scans.  Ruth had never experienced anything like this before.

Vida and I went back up valley to stay.  It was mid afternoon the following day  before we received word that Ruth could be discharged.  Because Ruth was British, Vida had to contact the insurance company.  Naturally, emailing the necessary forms was made difficult as no one was at the computer in the Bella Coola hospital over the weekend.  In the end the forms had to be faxed to our hosts.

Ruth could not sit, so we arranged for her to lie on the back seat.  A cooler helped prop her feet up.  Unfortunately, she easily gets motion sickness so this greatly added to her discomfort.  We would stop at our hosts and make a decision as to whether or not to stay a third night or continue to my place, a further 2 hours.  Ruth felt she would rather keep going.  She and Vida had left their rental SUV at my place, and they would go to Williams Lake the next day.

The drive, for Ruth, was an absolute nightmare.  She asked to stop at one point and we weren’t sure if we could get her back into the van.  I drove as gently as I could on the windy, bumpy road, and it was dark when we arrived home.  Ruth was in terrible pain.  The head nurse at the Tatla clinic has been there for donkey’s years and knows everything so I phoned her for advice.  “If the morphine is not helping,” she said, “she has to go to Williams Lake as soon as possible.  Best get the ambulance.”  Would you believe that I didn’t even know how to call the ambulance?  (I might have tried from the stores in Anahim Lake or Nimpo Lake, but all were closed as we passed through.)  The nurse told me to dial 911.  So I did this, but the problem is that these central offices haven’t a clue where anyone is on the Chilcotin.  I have been given a house number supposedly for emergency services, but the dispatcher couldn’t make head nor tail of it.  I knew the only ambulance would be in Anahim Lake – again, voluntary – and the drivers would know where I was, but the dispatcher sounded very confused.  I said we would drive back out to the highway and meet them there.  He noted that we would be waiting in a sandy van.  I told him there would be no one else parked for miles, but sandy van was what he put down.

Poor Ruth.  We didn’t even unload her.  Vida got a few things and a change of clothes and out we bumped the 4 km to the highway.  It was by now 10.00:pm.  It was drizzling rain and there was no moon above the clouds so it was very dark.  The drive for the ambulance is 45 minutes, and it can’t have taken too long to alert the staff for they were there within half an hour of our arrival by the highway.  I knew both the driver and the very well-qualified and caring paramedic.  One was taking notes.  “I believe the patient is called “Sandy Van,” he said.

Ruth had been taking morphine pills but was in an absolute hell of pain and fatigue – she had been suffering various degrees of agony for 36 hours by this time.  It took a while to ease her out of the van and onto the stretcher.  The paramedic put her on a drip at once.  They would not drive all the way to Williams Lake (3 and half hours) for the Williams Lake ambulance would meet them half way.

I phoned the Williams Lake hospital the following morning.  Ruth was apparently sleeping.  That was a first so I figured it was a good sign.  All the tests had been done again and she was ready to be discharged. Uh oh, I have heard that one before.   When I called later, however, I spoke to Ruth and she sounded much more alert.  She was still in a lot of pain, but the site of agony kept moving down, so it would appear that the diagnosis of kidney stone was correct.

I am glad to say that today Ruth is much better.  She is still in pain but she and Vida are slowly heading towards Vancouver: Ruth is supposed to fly back to Scotland in a couple of days.

What a way to spend a vacation.


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October at Ginty Creek

2-marsh-bushesVery little colour is left at Ginty Creek.  Summer has segued straight into October.  Some areas are completely bare of leaves.1-bare-trees-bestLast winter was the dullest on record.  This summer was full of rain.  I thought we might get an autumn blaze to help cheer us up before winter again, but the weather continues spotty and rainy although there are a few hours of sun now and then.  Clear nights mean -8C to -10C so I had decided it was time to dig the potatoes.1c-potatoesYes, the potatoes are purple!  They are just as purple inside.  Here are some mashed potatoes on a plate.1d-mashed-potsI am constantly trying to find foods that don’t aggravate my fibromyalgia.  Most potatoes aren’t good for me, but these purple ones seem to be OK!

As we plunge into the dark half of the year, the iffy weather has brought a selection of dramatic sunrises.1a-red-sunrise

4b-2nd-sunrisePerkins Peak.4c-perkins-peakIt was necessary to hunt for the best fall colours.2a-fence3-red-birchThe orach seeds in my garden are fading from a vivid maroon.  This doesn’t stop the chipmunks enjoying them.  If you took away his background, it would look like he was doing yoga…1b-chipmunk-yogaI was expecting two friends from Scotland.  They had hired an SUV in Vancouver and were touring round for 3 weeks.  Just before they arrived here, the loggers started slash burning and filled the air with smoke.5-smokey5a-smokey-mtsI first took my friends to Tatlayoko Lake.  The pond just before the lake reflected the Niuts beautifully.5b-niutsThey are so close, the smoke haze is less visible.5c-picnic-spotBut looking down the lake the smoke was thick.6-tatlayoko-lake

7-tatlay0ko-lake-2From there, we cut across to Eagle Lake.  It was one of those rare, gorgeous still, warm, fall afternoons.8-eagle-lake

9-eagle-lake-2The beach of this tropical-looking paradise, however, is not sand.  It is some kind of alkali mineral sludge that you sink into if you get close to the water..10-beachIt deposits onto the rocks.11-alkali-deposit

12-alkali-deposit-2Eagle Lake is drying up, no one knows why.  Even our wet summer has failed to put much water in it.  A whole special ecosystem of plants are scattered along the high water mark.  This cheat grass is an introduced weed that takes over grazing areas.  It makes pretty colours in the fall, though.12-cheat-grassI don’t know the name of these grasses.  I liked the way they caught the light.13-grassesIt is the only place I know where the owl clover grows but I am sure it is not rare.  Most were long dead, but this one was still blooming.  It is a relative of the Indian Paintbrush.14-owl-cloverOn the way back to Ginty Creek, we encountered a fine black bear grazing by the road.15-tatla-bear-1

16-tatla-bear-2That was a pretty good day for my British friends.  The next day we planned on going to Bella Coola.

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Fall Equinox

1l-rainI anticipated good weather by the time the fall equinox came round, as September is often a beautiful month, but the rain keeps falling.  We were promised a week or more of sunshine,  We had 3 absolutely gorgeous day, then one mediocre day, and that was it.

One oddity about the summer (did I say summer?) weather, is that we have had no frosts since mid May.  This is very unusual.  But of course, as soon as the sky cleared we got zapped.  Not just a touch of frost, but an immediate -6C.  Before that, my veg garden looked quite pretty.

Potato flowers.2-potato-flowers-2Behind are the sunflowers that the birds planted.

3-potato-flos-2After the frost, they looked like this:8-frosted-potatoes

9-frosted-sunflowersThe potatoes won’t be hurt – part of the plants were protected by row cover and the tubers will be safe underground, although I will have to dig them soon.

Kale can take a lot of freezing7a-frosty-kaleUnfortunately, I spent most of the good weather wrestling with my greenhouse roof (scroll two posts down.)  But at last I was able to sneak a hike or two in reasonable weather.  It was the first time I have been able to hike around the place for months.

The dwarf birch is turning red.1n-red-birchStrawberry Bights have been amazing this year.  The one in the foreground is very untypical – pretty, though.  I will have to see if it grown there next year.1o-strawberry-bite-bestI’m not sure what kind of a fall display we will get.  The aspens never even turned yellow before most of the leaves were blown off.16-aspen-lost-leavesThe cottonwoods are still half green, though – here’s hoping we will still get some colour. The fine evenings have given us a beautiful light.14a-rock-garden-evening14-river-eveningWalking through the meadow, the seed heads were selectively backlit by the low sun.12-evening-seedheadsRock cress alway makes interesting scribbles.13-rock-cress-seedheadsAt last my greenhouse roof was finished (scroll down 2 posts.)  I had one glorious day before the wind and rain started once more.  Needless to say, because the night was clear, it froze quite hard again.7b-frost-rimmed-leaves

7c-frosty-fireweedAnother anomoly: the pond has stayed full all summer.  And the ducks have stayed in residence.7d-mallard-in-sedgesSo, for some inexplicit reason, has a female hummingbird.  They usually leave mid August: the adults go first, and the young, with no parental training, follow soon afterwards.  This one seems to have missed the bus.  I quit feeding for a while, but she was always around so I made up some more sugar water.    She will likely not survive the colder weather.  I think it is amazing that she is surviving at all.  She visits the feeder only a few times a day and there is absolutely nothing else for her to eat.10-hummerThe sun highlighted the fluffy willow seeds in the wetland.21-willow-fluff-1

22-willow-fluffThe constant cold rain is putting new snow on the mountains.20-new-snow-ppIt is also giving us occasional dramatic sunrises.9a-gloomy-fresh-snow


5-fp-sunriseAnd we are still getting rainbows.18-rainbow

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