Thursday, December 31, 2015

Runnin' On Jumper Cables, In Bear Feet.

   Bit of a cold-snap going on right now, this last day of 2015, but I was all prepared for sub-zero temperatures.  Loosing the power in the cold is a big worry, and I try and cover all my bases as best I can to avoid or limit the possibility. I've fixed more broken pipes and stuff around here than I can remember, and climbed the mountain enough times to chip ice from the notorious screens in the intake-pond, or weld up a broken penstock to last a life-time. I always strive to just enjoy the cold weather inside with my feet up in front of the fire, but for some perverse reason, no matter how ready you are, some goddamn gremlin throws a monkey-wrench into things. 
  I snuggled into my cozy bed last night, with a two cat foot-warmer, and drifted off to a wonderful sleep. For about an hour, when I jerked up in bed realizing the power had just gone off. I can't just lay there, I got to go do something. So I get enough clothes on to go outside and my parka on and a flashlight and off I head once again, for the generator shed. It was a beautiful clear night, the stars and moon were really something. Regardless, I'd a just a soon been back in bed, and this fact was brought home when I stepped onto the road out behind and got that cold north wind square in the face, and all the time I'm half expecting to get jumped on by the cougar or chased down by a wolf-pack or something.
   The pelton-wheel had shut it's self down, but there is plenty of water flowing so the problem wasn't with the screens up the mountain, not this time, but electrical. I thought, oh sh*t, the coldest night of the year and more on the way, a fried electrical part or otherwise buggered little doo-dad could shut me down for some time,  and being New-Years eve before the week-end, it will be another 4 days before any suppliers open up again. I was sure hoping it was something that I was going to be able to fix, and quick. I'll save you the whole story, but the problem turned out to be a 'link', or a connection of one of the main power cables in the generator, which developed a crack from vibration and had broken. Why it picked the coldest night of the year to this, I'll never know, and at this hour of the night my language was just atrocious as you can imagine, and catching my boot on a stick and doing that face-plant into the snow didn't goddamn help any.
I needed to get the electricity going before things froze up, get the shop lit up and power-tools working and have a closer look at this after a nice warm sleep. I stared at it for the longest time...then ran back over to the house (remember the stick/faceplant episode??) and getting the jumper-cables out of my pickup and clipping them between and completing the generator 240 volt connection.
It was kind of haywire I admit, but it got me going again, so I headed back over to the Lodge.
   It was after three in the morning by then, it was bloody cold, and I was looking forward to tucking my feet down between them cats at the end of my bed once again, and do some more figuring on this whole turn of events in the morning after a nice breakfast. Back at the the house I checked on things around and find the hot-tub is not working. There must have been some voltage issue or whatever who the hell knows, and has blown one of its many fuses. Again, I can't just leave it, I have to do some goddamn thing, fix it, or drain it, or its going to be froze by morning. My trying to fix-it attempt with a volt-meter was short lived, and climbing under there draining the tub, pump, lines and removing the filter I could have done without. 
   Finally, I get back in my bed. Until just about when it started to get light, my slumber broken when the bedside radio goes off, a sure sign of electrical system unhappiness. Sure as hell, the power meter on the relay panel is swinging wildly. So I run over there again to find that the jumper-cable temporary fix is working fine, but the other hi-voltage line from the generator has burnt it's connection off. Holy sh*t..., so I thought I was hard done by out here with one buggered connection, now I have two to deal with. I hooked the other jumper-cable across the connection and turned on the water and fired it up. So now the whole Lodge here, including the shop, guest cabin, and the hot spring caretaker's cabin were all being run by a set of Canadian Tire automotive jumper-cables.
(For readers outside of Canada, Canadian Tire is a retail chain popular with us Canadians.) 

I headed back over to the generator shed after breakfast to see what I could do about my predicament.

My jumper-cable repair from the night before, but it was working.

I got to work out in the shop and fabricated some new hi-voltage links. I found a piece of aluminium around and cut some strips out, drilling them, bending them, tapping threaded holes, and they might be better than what was originally in there.
Back out at the generator, my custom, in-the-bush made connections worked great.
Its good to be handy at sh*t if you want to live off the grid.

Now I had some time on my hands, and before the sun went behind the mountain I took one last trip this year down to the hot spring campsite to see what was going on.

I was surprised there was only a couple outfits camped. It was mid-day, so I'm sure there will be more on the way this afternoon for New Years Eve at the hot spring.

Brrr, time to head back and enjoy the electricity, especially the baseboard heaters.

Despite the gremlins, I did finally get a little quiet time in, lighting a fire, opening a book, and kicking back in front of the stove in my bear feet.
Happy New Year from the staff and cats at Hotspringlodge.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fish Poking

   It cooled off a little after Xmas as expected, and snowed a little more.
Theres been a pretty steady rotation of campers and day-users down at the hot spring.  I've got some guests around for the holidays too, renting the trailer and camped out in back with their heaters plugged in and enjoying a holiday out in the wilderness. 

In between soaking down at the hot spring Craig and his outfit found time to retrieve some drift-wood off the bar out front and keep warm splitting it for the wheel-barrow fire-pit, and managed to fit in a frosty atv tour.

  The fish run is long over, only two big dead salmon remained in the deep part of the pond out front. As a rule most spawned-out fish are swept away, or if they are not too deep, the eagles, coyotes and bobcats will wade into the ice-cold water to retrieve them. Anyways, often one or several will expire in the deep part of the pond, and in that cold water last a considerable time. I've always gone out over the years and poked away at the dead fish to move them downstream, or drag them into shore and flip the carcass up on the rocks where it disappears pretty quick after dark. A stinky job I could do well without, but my efforts at fish-poking are in my own best interests. If the weather were to get very cold, and freeze up my intake system up the mountain, I would be reduced to chopping a hole in the ice here and bucket water up to the house, so the less dead salmon in there the better. 
So I looked at these two out there, I could see the buggers right from the front-deck, for about a week and a half hoping they would disappear.
 Well it got to the point I was going to have to go down there and fish them out into shallower water. I had a long hollow aluminium tent-pole around out back I took down to the creek and jammed a hooked stick into the end. I had been saving that long hooked stick since it drifted in during last Spring's high water, it had a natural cradle on one end, similar to what you might herd sheep with, that looked ideal for snagging any stinky Winter dead fish. 

 With the aluminium pole and the improvised 'fish herder' I had about a nine foot reach if I got right out balanced on the rocks, chancing a really cold dunking, and being careful not to bump the rotten fish out into deeper water, I managed to work them out of the pond and drag them one at a time over to the rocks.
 Best before date expired. Now what.
 I wasn't too keen on packing them any further than I had too, so I just flipped them up on the bank. There had been an eagle around, and bobcat tracks from the night before, so I knew they wouldn't hang around for long. 
A coincidence, there was a game camera under the Xmas-tree this year, and figured this would be the perfect opportunity to capture an un-suspecting fish-napper in the night. After a quick peruse of the instructions we strapped it to a tree near the well-aged fish banquet. 

 This morning there is bobcat tracks everywhere on the river-bank and where he walked over and inspected the game-camera, and the fish were gone, except for one big head he chewed off on the spot and left behind. 
Upon checking the camera card there were some interesting pictures. There were several of the living-room ceiling, a blurry elbow, and one really good shot of me standing there looking at bobcat tracks. After another study of the instructions, the camera was placed back on the tree above the fish-head, so maybe tonight the camera and it's operator can redeem themselves.

Colder weather is coming I'm told, I ran up the mountain on the machine this afternoon to tramp the road in and have a quick look at my screens and make sure I'm all set for cold.

 I took my snow-shovel up to dig a trail down to the screens. That wasn't the best idea I've come up with all week, but once I got on the steep under the trees it wasn't too bad a going.
 The intake-pond hadn't begun to freeze over yet, but was starting to fringe-up on the edges. The main screen looked in good shape, and my specially designed 'frazzle-ice' separator was ready to do it's thing. I hope.
Funny, the only tracks I saw up the mountain were that of another bobcat, he came along the ridge and used the dam to cross the creek, leaping the eight foot spill-way in one bound. 
There is a cougar that often crosses here in the same manner.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Day Before Christmas

   Just a quick post today, this Xmas eve. I know there are a few folks out there planning to come out and camp at the hot spring over the holiday week, and theres been lots of questions about the conditions out here. I've got a few headed out to stay here too.

I took the quad down today to see what was happening at the hot spring and did a lap around the campsite with the blade down.

 I bumped into this happy outfit at the gate, who braved the slippery road out to visit the T'sek hot spring for the first time. They all piled on the quad with me for a picture, and I got one myself too.

The only trees I pack inside are ones cut to stove-length size. 
I started putting Christmas lights on the pointsetta about 7 years ago. I'll leave the damper open on the stove-pipe so St.Nic can find me, although I'm not sure just how good I've been all year. 
I think theres even a treat or two for the cats under the Hotspringlodge Christmas 'Tree".
So..., to you, dear readers, happy holidays from the 'lodge, and a very special Merry Christmas goes out to my little girl Caitlin. :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

First Snow

   The first snow of the season is always kind of interesting, although after a day or two the novelty wears off pretty quick. We got our first dump several nights ago.

It melted off considerably the next day with the warm temperatures.
Last night a cooler front came through and brought the temperature down.
T'sek hot spring steaming in the cool air this afternoon.
The snow makes tracking easy, this raccoon was heading for the river in  search of fish. 
Out on the quad today I ran across bobcat, coyote, and wolf tracks, all within sight of the Lodge.

This time of year, mid December, the sun goes behind the mountain just after 1:00, making for a short afternoon, so if your going out to do something you got to get at it, because it cools off early.
I found the sun again today further up the mountain-side, making a trip up to my intake again to give it a little maintenance and prepare it for snowy, cold weather coming this way.