I have been incredibly busy this last week or so. After I saw the flowers in the burn, I went down to the Precipice to pick the little wild purple gooseberries that flourish down there. They were already past their best so if I wanted any, I had to go right away. The last time I was at the Precipice was in the spring when I went to the Cattle Drive Party. The berries are very prickly but make excellent jelly.
This was not to be a smooth-running trip, however. I phoned my friends, Dave and Rosemary Neads, when I was about to set off from Anahim Lake. There are no cell phone frequencies on the Chilcotin and not usually any other traffic along the 30 km of very rough road. Normally it would take me about an hour and a half to drive it (I must go very slowly in my low van) but I told Dave and Rosemary not to worry if I was late as I would check out other likely berry patches en route.
So when I got a flat, and found that my spare was also flat, I could not expect to be rescued in a hurry. I was about 9 km from Dave and Rosemary’s house. Nothing for it but to walk. I had left Anahim early afternoon and by the time I arrived they were indeed beginning to worry. A very welcome supper was just about to be served.
Dave and Rosemary’s original home on the property was a little cabin built by the original occupier, and that is where I usually stay. Either the builder was lazy or he was very short as I have to duck to get under the very low ceiling beams. Outside is a struggling apple tree (the climate is borderline for apples) that bears have trashed a number of times. Dave has rigged up an electric fence to try and protect it.
But, as Rosemary says, any smart bear will just climb into the truck bed and get at the apples that way…..
The most economical way in terms of time and effort to deal with my tire was for Dave to plan a gas/propane/dump run the following day. He had other business to deal with so would be gone several hours, and he figured I might as well stay down in the valley and visit Rosemary and pick more berries. Fortunately we were able to find a tire that fitted locally (Nimpo Lake, an extra 20 minutes east of Anahim Lake) – otherwise I would have had to wait an extra day or two while one was freighted out from Williams Lake. On his way up the hill Dave would take the wheel off the van, pick up the spare, and take both to the garage at Nimpo Lake. He would bring the fixed wheels back to the van, put the tire on, then drive back home, pick me up and take me back to the van. However, when he arrived home later that afternoon, it was to say that he had met another resident of the valley who had gone out to pick up some visitors. Dave had given the van keys with him – the visitor would drive my van back down. But then we found that the visitors were going to be delayed until late that night. I could have stayed over another night but I had things to do… Fortunately I had a spare key to the van. Dave drove me back up to it, and I was able to reach home safely. The other keys would have to languish in Anahim Lake until I paid another visit there. All this is typical of the logistics of a wilderness dweller.
Next was a trip to Williams Lake, something I must always do soon after I fly out of Nuk Tessli. Sometimes I do the 3+ hour drive there, shop, and drive back in the same day, but I wanted to spend time with a friend near 100 Mile. She lives close to the Walker Valley, a precious piece of Cariboo grassland full of ponds, which is a lovely area for birds. I like to walk there early in the morning and watch the world come awake.
The grasslands are wonderfully lush this year, as they are on the Chilcotin.
The rising sun is backlighting this salsify seed head.
And in another area there were a number of dewy spiderswebs anchored to the grasses.
It looks a magical place from the photographs, but houses encircle the rim and all the time you can hear the roar of traffic from Highway 97. There is a constant threat to develop this precious piece of environment out of existence.