Saturday, January 31, 2015

Report For The End Of January.

    Well the weather has sure been nice. Freezing at night, the fog burns off and nice during the day, and the last of the remaining snow is going fast.  
Full moon coming, so going to be some cool nights ahead.

 The last lone fish in the creek spawned out finally.
The local critters came around at night to check. Bobcat track and an older rained on cougar track on the right.

Things going good down there at the hot spring too it looks like.

A nice time of year.

     I wrote awhile back about that huge rain we had in December, the one that really came down and closed the roads and stranded folks out here and made my lights go out. Bastard. There was a considerable amount of fine material washed down the creek behind here, the same creek that powers the pelton-wheel generator. There was the usual sticks and branches, moss, needles and roots etc. getting washed down and raising hell with my intake, but this time there was an extraordinary amount of a course material come down, quite a bit of it building up down here below in front of the cabin when it finally hit slower water and settled out. Of course the sudden, unexpected influx of this material in the creek got sucked into the intake pipe down the hill for the power system, anything minus half inch anyhow. This material had an adverse effect on the piped nozzle at the pelton-wheel, and the wheel itself suffered more wear and tear that it has in the last 13 years. I'll get a little fine sand once in awhile, or a slurp of grit now and again and it has caused nominal wear, but I can tell theres been some really nasty material firing through the nozzle at the cupped wheel. 
   The steep creek channel down the mountain gets washed out pretty regular, so this amount of decomposed bedrock grit that came down could only mean some major event upstream. Either a slide, or an access road washed out, the latter being the most likely culprit, and a culvert being it's weakest link. So as soon as it was a nice enough day to break out the Honda, and the snow line had got high enough I was itching to run up the mountain behind and see what the hell the problem had been up there. Or get as far as I could.
It was a nice day to go for tear anyhow.
 There had been water running over the access road and washing out the fines in the normal places, but it does not reach the creek. The road only crossed the main creek in a few spots, two short span log bridges, and a culvert or two way up high that where installed a couple years back during some logging up there and the road was extended a few km. higher.

The Honda kept going through the bad spots and chugging up and up and was I surprised there was no snow, even along this narrow shaded section up high that I figured would be clogged up and the end of the road for sure. 
 The end of the road came not too far beyond, about where I half expected. This small (usually) feeder creek had a large enough culvert put in, but had become overwhelmed by the flood and jumped the road in a big way. It looks like what happened is large rocks clogged the upper end.
It was a heavy rain, and started coming down on frozen ground, so things got out of hand pretty quickly. It happened early in the storm, obviously, before I even shut the machine down and resorted to the back-up genset. It jumped the crick' and over the bank and down the road for quite a ways. Once in the steep, fast moving, narrow creek channel the majority is washed straight down probably 2km, swirling around in the intake pond on the way by with the intake screen slurping in 250 gal/min. Ouch. So this one spot here accounted for about 80 percent on the crap in my system. After I shut the system down, material, probably the majority continued to come down the creek. When the water went down a week later and I could get in there, my intake screen had been flattened out on the bottom of the intake pond, and I had to shovel gravel to get to it. Bastard.
    I don't blame the loggers, ...really. Sh*t happens.We need to log someplace, and it helps out the locals with improvements to the main road etc. If I didn't generate my power from up there, I'd hardly know they had even been up there. And certainly, that road they built up the mountainside has made access to my screens etc up there easier, and saves me a pile of steep hiking. There were I think two smaller culverts up further on small side creeks, but this guy would be the worst of it I would think
    I wasn't into trying to fill in a spot with rocks enough to drive the quad across. That was a lot of back sore work for not much. This culvert could, and will probably sit like this for a year or several, at least until the next time someone decides to go up and haul a few more loads out. That's fine with me, the culverts open enough for normal conditions, and the channel is cleaned out for the most part, it may take years for it all to come down. So for the time being, the washed out culvert is not much of a concern to me. I was sure wondering what had let loose up there though. No real harm done, that rugged mountain road helps me out quite a bit actually, and me and the loggers are still pals.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Lodge Decor

   These two old drive sprockets from a 1950's bulldozer sat for years out under the hydro line. They weigh between two and three hundred pounds a piece. I went out one day years ago to bring them back here for interesting yard kitsch, and just about wrecked myself getting just one out to the road and into the back of my truck. I kind of lost interest in going through the whole process all over again, and managed to get by with just the one around here for a few seasons. One day my nearest neighbor out here ran across the other sprocket while hunting deer. He recalled the one set by my steps and decided to bring the other as a present, just so I could have a matching pair. He arrived here with his gift, he was sweating and his eyes were bulged out, "Seemed like a good idea at the time!" he quipped. Due to their weight and ungainly design they never got moved around very often. We flipped them out of the way when the addition was put on the main cabin back in 2001, then stood them back up against some skirting over on the orchard side of the place. There they sat all these years, I often thought about moving them to some better location, but I always managed to come up with some other, less strenuous project to do. Eventually, I put them to good use due to their proximity to the fruit trees, as a spot to keep bear stones. 
   Bear stones are handy to have around here in the Fall. I like to keep a selection of sizes there, so depending on the size of the bear, whether it was just there 10 minutes ago and got hit in the head with a smaller variety, or your level of frustration at that point, I always had something suitable at hand.
   The sun came out a few days ago and I started looking around for some quick jobs to do outside. I pondered moving those sprockets over to the steps I re-did last season. It began to sound like a lot of work and my back began to hurt just thinking about it. I decided to just go have a tea on the front deck instead. Heading towards the steps I couldn't help but notice those poor old cat wheels leaning there and not living up to their full potential as yard kitsch.
Being considerably brighter than I was the last time I attempted to move them, I got my much abused little wagon over and stood it up against the sprockets and attached a strap.

Laying the wagon back on its wheels it was a piece of cake to maneuver these works of art around into just the right spot.
There, I can scratch that project off the list, and they never need refinishing.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Road Closure, Again.

      Decided to go to town today as we were running low on cat food and gummy-bears around here.
An outfit has started a contract to upgrade a couple kilometers of the road along the lake, it was improved on either side in the past few seasons, and this remaining section will tie it all together. With the drilling and blasting and buggering around going on they close it for two hours at a time.  These two hour closures have become almost normal out in this country the past few seasons as they continue to upgrade the road in sections here and there. Its a pain in the ass alright, but I'm all for road improvements. I have a pretty good idea of how long it takes to get there without having to wait too long, and pulled out of here at 9 to connect with the 10 o'clock opening.
Didn't have to wait long, and spent 10 minutes chatting through the window to my pals Charlie and Vern before someone came and removed the barricades.

This was an interesting deal, and the first time I've seen one used. I stopped and asked one of the guys, he said it was an environmental measure, floating there somewhat like a net to retain run-off and silt to protect the lake during work along this narrow section here. Maybe they are going to fill in the corner a little and churn things up.
When you get to the traffic that is waiting at the other end, you get to wave to everyone you know!
Ran around Pemberton shopping, eating, filling up the truck and Jerry cans with that cheap gas we have right now and hit the road back, allowing an hour to the 2 o'clock opening, and arriving home just after 3, with groceries, gummy bears and cat food enough to last a couple weeks out here.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Great Diamond Caper

    I was out in the guest cabin a few weeks back, installing a new baseboard heater. I had moved a few items and rolled the carpet back, and was laying on the floor fighting with the wires and reached around for the pliers when something caught my eye.  A shard of glass I thought, and the range was just right, it is a wonder I saw it at all, sometimes I have a hard enough time finding my tools.
I'm staring at it and it kind of stared right back, that's a pretty fancy looking piece of glass I thought, and just had to pick it up and bring it in close.
Well I'll be damned if it wasn't a diamond! 
   Well it sure looks like one to me, not that I would really know,  but any fool can tell a diamond, and look at the size of that rock! Must be worth thousands, and somebody must really be missing this.
I went on-line to see just how good a windfall I had here. I sat down and googled...'how to tell if you have a diamond', and came up with a series of simple tests anyone with any sense is supposed to be able to accomplish. I wasn't the least bit surprised when my diamond passed in flying colors.
More or less.
Wow, this was some find compared to some of the stuff I've found in there. I figured I'd sell it for cash, and get something useful, like a new lawnmower or something along those lines.
Pretty soon my conscience began to pick away at me, some poor woman somewhere is completely heartbroken I'm sure. I went back through the emails with people who have stayed in there in the past while, asking them to 'check their settings' as I had found this very valuable diamond in there.
   Nope, no one missing a diamond, especially one of this magnitude. It was probably those rich Russian gals a few seasons back I convinced myself. They were all dolled up with expensive looking jewelry and probably knocked something loose on the fridge door, and I'm not sure how to get hold of them.
   A long shot, I thought of Jeanne, the weekly guest out there, you might remember her from the Attack Of The Grizzly Mouse post last June. She wrote back and said she wasn't missing any of the Queen's jewels, but would check with her co-hort, Ravleen.
   I pondered I might sell my diamond and get a new set of tires, a truck to put them on, and go on a party with the rest of the money.
I gave my huge diamond a name, The Star Of Skookumchuck. I may just open an interest bearing account and live a life of leisure, even more so than usual.
It sure pays for a man to have keen eyes, and a sharp mind.
  Jeanne, recalling the Attack Of The Grizzly Mouse post herself I'm sure, and hee-heeing to herself couldn't wait to email back later. She stated Ravleen had got back to her, and was not missing any valuables, although she recalled having a small, inexpensive rhinestone she had placed on the counter above the baseboard heater last visit. She noticed it missing, but had not bothered to look for it.
I promised I would keep an eye out for her rhinestone next time I'm in there...

First Storm Of The Year. *warning, may include references to power system.

    They had forecast a major snow event for southwestern BC right after New Years.
I was out in the Okanagan, and if theres one thing worse than being snowed in out here, its being snowed out of here. I got an early start for home and hit the connector in the direction of lodge country.      

Still staying ahead of the snow I started off down the final 2 hour stretch of gravel road home.

I arrived back sometime mid-afternoon, just as the first flakes began to fall.

The fangs of Winter set in with a steady fine wind blown snow for a day or so, the type that never amounts to much. Probably a couple feet came down, but the wind keeps it out of the trees and packs it down then turned into freezing rain so there isn't much more than a foot sitting around out there now, which isn't so bad. I was expecting quite a dump. When the snow comes straight down out here in big flakes is when it can really pile up.
There was some folks camped out at the hot spring that got a little stranded, their tents had collapsed under the wet snow, and they were in a couple of small vehicles that would to have to wait until the grader made it out. They ended up in the guest cabin and rather enjoying the whole thing, so maybe stranded isn't the right word.

I cranked up old Alfie to clear out the driveway then went down and made a pass or two around the hot spring campsite to open the place up. I'd a gone down and dug out the neighbors but old Alf started dripping transmission fluid, so I'll have to get under there and see what the hell.

I almost hate to bring it up but your probably all curious how the new intake screen fared up the hill.
It wasn't cold enough to form frazzle ice in the pond, but the fine snow falls in the creek, which is only a degree or two above freezing and it doesn't all melt. This slush all ends up circling around in my intake pond before it finally clogs up the screen you might recall from my last post. Just before dark after 24 hrs of snow I lost pressure in the penstock feeding the pelton wheel. I managed to get up the mountain in my pickup, but just barely, and it was still snowing like hell. I got down to the small dam to find the screen was a big blob of slush. Holding the flashlight in my teeth I pulled it off the inlet and dragged it up on the bank, and I can see it is sucked right flat from the suction! So when that happens I run the inlet open, I'm not concerned about sticks or anything going down the line this time of year. The water is clean except for the suspended slush, which when it goes down the line it just gets blown thru the pelton wheel nozzle. A worse case scenario would be for the slush to clog up the end of the inlet in the pond, that would entail a nasty hike up the mountain to clear as the road wouldn't be passable. Its possible to clog up at the nozzle too, but can rectify that at the machine. I had just climbed into bed one night and opened my book when the lights dimmed and the whole place went black. So I got dressed again and went over and opened up the valve a bit to clear it out. It worked fine until the next afternoon when I could tell something was not right, I went over and opened the valve again and a great bunch of built up slush spit thru the nozzle and the machine has worked great ever since. It gives me the creeps knowing theres no screen on the end of the intake, so as soon as the snow settled enough I attempted to get up the hill on the Honda.
 I could only get up the hills by going as far as I could then backing down, packing my trail down and getting another run at it, making another 20 feet or so then back down pack the trail and try again. I'd get up one hill and figure theres no way I'm going to make the next one. She's a good machine and got me up there once more, surprising the hell out of me and saving a long nasty hike.
Poor screen got pancaked by the suction, I patched it up and pulled it back into shape with a hooked rod then submersed it in the pond and worked it onto the end of the intake pipe.
Well it was sure easier going downhill.
So everything is back to normal, for around here anyways. So hopefully, that's the last either one of us will hear about the power system for awhile.
Did I hear something about some cold weather coming?