Sunday 31 August 2014

On the Horizon

    This morning when we looked out of the window, we got a chilling reminder of things to come--the mountain tops were covered with a blanket of fresh snow.  While the flakes were falling up there, here on the valley bottom, it was rain that was hampering our activities on this Labor Day long weekend.

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Saturday 30 August 2014

Wasp Nest Cartoon

    Its cool and pouring rain outside, and I didn’t really have a photo or much inspiration, so today I thought I would give you a cartoon.
    This one was recently in one of the local papers.  Yesterday, when I was in the grocery store, an acquaintance came up to me and said, “I see that you ran into a wasp nest.”   While it is true that many of my cartoons are based on things that happen to me, this one was not, it is just an imagined situation.

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Friday 29 August 2014

McBride's Old Forestry Lookout

    Back in 1930, in order to spot forest fires, the BC Forest Service built a fire lookout building up on McBride Peak, which gave the lookout man a majestic view of the Robson Valley.  Perched on the edge of the slope, and subject to high winds, it had to be anchored by cables so it wouldn’t blow over.  The lookout has been recently restored and not only offers a focal point for hikers, but also provides protection if the weather turns bad.  Here are some shots I took of the lookout on the hike we did last Sunday.

Can you spot the lookout in this photo?

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Thursday 28 August 2014

Acquisition Ripple

    Last Saturday as I was checking my usual things on the computer before I started painting, I came across an item in Pete’s email.  Pete gathers up all the local info about what is for sale, who is looking to buy what, and who is needing a ride somewhere.  My eye was caught on an item about a big sale a local family was having because they were moving.  The fact that they were moving was what interested me, since I wasn’t aware of it.  I made the mistake of mentioning it to Joan thinking that she would be surprised at the move also.
    Joan it seems, already knew about the move, but she was extremely interested in the sale, and told me that we would have to get there early.  Luckily, that still gave me enough time to paint my square for the morning.
    After arriving at the sale, scanning the merchandise, and purchasing a few items.  We were about to get into the truck to go home, when Joan noticed a hutch sitting outside.  She was very interested in it for our pantry, which she was starting to have negative thoughts about, since everything was out in the open on the shelf that was there; she was looking for something with doors so the pantry wouldn’t look so cluttered.  She thought the hutch would be a lot more attractive in the pantry than the shelf we had.
    Our pantry has a very low ceiling and so we got out the tape measure and wrote down the measurements of the hutch, then drove home and measured to see if it would fit, it would.  We climbed back into the truck, drove back to McBride, then after learning that the hutch was still there and unsold, Joan walked down to the cash machine at the bank, and the hutch became our new acquisition.
    Then we encountered the problem of getting it back to our house.  It was in two pieces, a top and the bottom.  We were able to get the bottom into the back of my small pickup, but I couldn’t get the top because of the truck’s canopy.  Luckily, Ann, with her big pickup was parked next to our truck and Joan went to find her and she said she would bring the top half of the hutch out to our place later, so we loaded the top into her truck.
    If I thought my problems were over when we finally got both pieces of the hutch to our house, I was sadly mistaken, the problems were just beginning.
    The shelf in our pantry was a lot longer than the hutch, and was overflowing with items and food. It held a lot more than our new hutch would.  That meant that everything would have to come off of the shelf, and when the hutch was moved in to take its place, not everything we took off of the old shelf would be able to find a place in the hutch.  Joan went to work clearing off the old shelf, and I went out to the shop to put hinges on the middle cabinet door at the bottom of the hutch.
    When we bought the hutch we saw the middle door was missing.  It was there, but in pieces.  The owner had a package of hinges for the door ready to install, so I thought it wouldn’t be too big of a project to hang it.
    Unfortunately, once I got the door put together, and the hinges attached, I realized that the hinges that were provided, were the wrong kind of hinge, and so I was not able to hang the door, but no big deal, we could still stock the hutch and I could attach the door later, when I got the correct kind of hinge.  (I later discovered that the only hardware store in McBride did not carry the hinge I needed, so I ended up having to order it, and so that job is now put off until next week, when the hinge comes.)
    Once Joan had put the things she wanted in the hutch, there was a tremendous amount of things that no longer had a home, several garbage bags were filled with things to take to the dump, but still there were a lot of leftovers that had to be put somewhere else--the nightmare began.
    The shelf we took out of the pantry would be the perfect place to put all the leftover items, but it no longer had a home either.  The logical place for it was out in my shop, but that was already stuffed to the hilt with all kinds of other possessions, to dear to take to the dump.  I would have to clear out a huge amount of space in the shop to put in the shelf, before we could store all the secondary items.  
    Yesterday I began the gargantuan task of making space in the shop.  What could I do with all of the stuff I was clearing out of that space?  Well certainly, some of it could go to the dump, so I started filling up the back of my pickup to make a dump run, then I discovered that the dump was closed on Weds and Thurs, so the the stuff would just have to sit in the truck for a couple of days.
    Naturally, a lot of the stuff I was removing from the shop, were things that I wanted to keep, so I needed a place to keep it.  There was only one other place I could store it--the barn.  So before I could move the things from the house to the shop, I had to move the things from the shop to the barn, and since the barn was already pretty full of things of its own, a lot of that stuff had to go somewhere also--most of it to the dump, next time it is open.
    I know a lot of all this work is my own fault for always hanging on to things and not wanting to throw items away, because they are still useable and might one day come in handy, but all my storage areas are full, and so whenever we buy something new, everything has to be shifted from one place to another.  Getting anything new is starting to be a real headache.

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Wednesday 27 August 2014

A Unique Variety of Corn

    Because I grew up in rural Indiana, I feel obligated to plant corn in my garden every year.  This spring when it was time to plant the corn, I searched all over, but couldn’t find the 2 packages of corn seed that I had purchased just two weeks before. ( They did manage to turn up a few weeks ago, several months too late)  Since I never throw anything away (including old seeds) I was able to find a couple of old packages of corn seed which I put in the ground, with my fingers crossed, because I wasn’t sure if it would germinate.
    Lucky me, it did germinate and grow as you can see in the photo.  Some of it grew as tall as I am.  There is only one problem with my corn crop--there are absolutely no ears of corn on the plant.  Yes, it is a truly unique variety of corn, it has tassels growing on the top, but no developing ears to fertilize.  It was all a total waste of time.
    Growing corn is always a gamble in Central BC.  We often get a frost that kills the plant before the ears have matures, but sometimes we are rewarded with lots of corn to eat.  When the frost wipes out my corn crop, I can except that because with nature, sometimes you win and sometimes you loose, but this corn that didn’t even develop ears seems somehow unfair, since my chances of winning were nil from the very beginning.

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Tuesday 26 August 2014

Alpine Garden

    For me, one of the big attractions of being in the alpine is the flowers.  Parts of the alpine are rocky and harsh, and can’t support plant life, but the meadows can be lush and full of blooms.  Here are some shots of some of the flowers in the McBride Peak meadows.

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Monday 25 August 2014

The Big Country

    While standing down on the flatlands of the Robson Valley and looking up at the mountains, you get no real perspective of how much country there is up there.  I am always amazed whenever I get up into the alpine, just how huge an area it is.  It just goes on and on, mountain range after mountain range.  Yesterday, for the second time this year I went up to McBride Peak, this time with the Ozalenka Alpine Hiking Club.
    We bounced up the 11 km (7 mile) Rainbow Falls Road in the back of Glen Stanley’s pickup truck, then started on our 7 km (4.3 mile) loop hike that took us up past the old forestry lookout building along the ridge, then down to the two lakes, where we ate our lunch, back over a ridge, down through a big alpine meadows--it was wonderful.  Even though I have been up to McBride Peak many times, I couldn’t help but shake my head in amazement at the spectacular  mountain vistas.  Below is a Google Earth image of our hike, and below that are a couple of the 100 photos I took.

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Saturday 23 August 2014

Sunset After the Storm

    Quite often after the fury of a big storm, nature settles down a bit and gives us a nice sunset.  Here are a couple of shots I took after Thursday’s thunderstorm.

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Friday 22 August 2014

Reporting Forest Fires

    This has been a pretty active forest fire season in BC.  Although we haven’t had any big forest fires in the Robson Valley, we have had smoke from faraway fires, that often times blotted out the mountains.  Smoky haze has been with us for a month.  
    Yesterday, when we were just leaving McBride to go home, I saw a lightning strike up on Bell Mountain.  As we were driving beside the Fraser River on Mountain View Road, we noticed smoke rising from where the lightning hit.  For a while we even spotted some flame, so Joan started digging for her phone so we could report the fire.  
    By the time, we got the phone out, found the number, got a person on the other end, rain was falling on Bell Mountain and the smoke was less visible.  (The lightish blur in the middle of the photo is the fire.)  We gave all the information we could to the fire centre and proceeded home.  As we arrived home the rain began at our place, which turned into a really heavy downpour.  I assume that all that moisture snuffed out the fire up on Bell.
    Amazingly, this is the second fire I have reported in a week.  On Monday, on our way back from Prince George, the air was filled with smoke, but between Dome Creek and Ptarmigan Creek, we saw some thicker white smoke drifting across the highway, and when we got close, saw a plume of thick smoke spiraling up from a spot about 80 meters from the highway.  Luckily, we were able to get a cell phone signal there and we reported the fire.
    Living is such a forested area during a dry summer, and having worked all those years for the Forest Service, has made me very paranoid about forest fires.  I think we have been really lucky this year, not to have any close by.

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Thursday 21 August 2014

Autumn Creep

    Even though August is set firmly in the Summer season, I am starting to sense a bit of Autumn in the air, particularly in the morning.  When we got up today, there was fog blanketing the pond and mountains and the temperature was a nippy +4 C (39F).  Yesterday, I ended up building a fire in the wood stove because we had left the windows open overnight, and the house was freezing when we got up and we got tired of wearing our down jackets as we ate breakfast.  
    On the up side, I did like the atmospheric effects the fog created, and was happy the way these two photos turned out.

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Wednesday 20 August 2014

The Flesh is Weak

    Every Friday during the summer McBride has a farmer’s market in the park.  Farmers and gardeners gather up healthy produce from their gardens and bring it to the market to sell.  The vender’s tables are overflowing with all kinds of lush and tasty vegetables from beans to zucchini.  With all this healthy food available, you are probably asking yourself, “After perusing all the tables, what do walk away with?”  The answer is shown above.  Actually what is shown is only 1/6th of what was purchased, the rest had already disappeared.

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Tuesday 19 August 2014

McBride Community Garden

    The McBride Community Garden was started up last year.  On Friday when we were in town, instead of driving by the garden, Joan and I decided to stop in to see how the plots looked.  They looked really good.  The individual boxes were brimming over with lush growth.  Joan thought that she would get a box next year and grow onions, chives, and dill, things that never do to well in our garden.
    In the photo above, you can see a couple of the raised beds.  Below are the rows of potatoes the line the entrance to the garden.

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Sunday 17 August 2014


    On this morning’s walk around the pond I came upon this spider’s web.  The spider took advantage of the curve in the weed to support its construction, and the morning fog provided the droplets to give it definition.

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Saturday 16 August 2014

Let It Rain

    I am one of those persons who is really effected by the weather.  When it is sunny I am automatically up and motivated, and when it is grey and cloudy, it is hard for me to get going.  However, after a summer of really hot 30C+ (90F) temperatures, and a sky-full of smoke from forest fires, todays rain is welcome, even if it meant a scared dog last night as the lightening and thunder crashed around us.
    We woke up to a dark cloudy day and rain.  The precipitation also seemed to suit this female hooded merganser that we unexpectedly saw swimming around on the pond this morning.  

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Friday 15 August 2014


    The other evening as I was driving home from town, I rounded the curve on Mountain View Road, down beside the Fraser River, just as this long legged youngster started to walk across the road, probably going for a drink.  My presence clearly caught him by surprise and he stood there for a long time, frozen, trying to figure out what to do.
    Eventually he got his wits together, turned, and scampered back into the safety of the bush.

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Thursday 14 August 2014

Doggie Bed

    For weeks now Joan has been knitting a shawl.  It has been tedious work, and at many points in the project she was overwhelmed by frustration, but finally she got it finished.  She had to block it out so she spread an old bath towel on the floor and pinned down the shawl so that it would dry in the correct position.
    A few hours later, Skye our dog came into the living room and decided that the shawl and towel would be the perfect place to take a nap.  Fortunately, she was gentle about positioning herself and later removing herself, so no harm was done to Joan’s work.

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Wednesday 13 August 2014

Remembering Charles

    While most of the world is remembering Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, I am remembering my old elementary and high school buddy, Charles Ruckman.  
    Yesterday afternoon, the phone rang, and the call display said, “Florida,” and showed a phone number that I didn’t know.  My first impulse was that it was a spam call, and I was about to hang up because a voice didn’t immediately speak.  I actually tried to hit the “End” button, but didn’t have my glasses on and missed the button, it was then I heard a voice from the other end of the line.
    It was Charles’s wife, Linda, someone I had never met or had spoken to.  When I heard her struggling to speak and the fragile nature of her voice I knew immediately why I was getting a call, Charles had died.
    Charles and I grew up in the same neighborhood and became friends through countless basketball and baseball games, riding our bikes, and just messing around.  Our friendship grew when we timidly entered the scary new world of high school.   We arrived just as the Folk Music Revival began in the early 1960’s and shared the love of that music.  Along with a few others, we formed a folk singing group called the “Folk Club” and enjoyed learning new songs and persistently tried to teach ourselves how to play and sing them.  The photo is of Charles from an old newspaper article about the Folk Club
    I have a late birthday, so Charles got his driver’s license before me and with him behind the wheel  we explored the world of freedom.  We experienced the excitement of of being away from home at night and on our own, driving around, going to drive-in restaurants, and pursuing girls who were also experiencing their new freedom.  When we went to university, our paths began to diverge, as we both developed new interests, but we remained friends.  After graduating, I ended up in Canada, and I lost track of Charles.
    I attended several high school class reunions, but to my disappointment, Charles was never there.  I didn’t know where  he was or what happened to him.  No one seemed to know.  Then a few years ago, Neal, another childhood buddy, died and I wrote out some memories on a internet memorial site.  Charles read it, saw my email address, and wrote to me.  I was happy to hear from him.  
    He was living in Florida, and seemed to spending a lot of time mowing his lawn.  I was troubled to hear that he had had several serious operations, but he seemed to be plodding along.  He told me he would be going to the 2015 high school class reunion and I looked forward to seeing him there.
    I sent him one of my cartoon calendars, and he sent me about 15 CD’s full of blues and other music.  He, like me, still had the music bug.  I was embarrassed at receiving so many CD’s, and was touched at how much time he must have spent in making them for me.  
    He periodically sent me an email, which I immediately responded to, but there were always long gaps where I wouldn’t hear anything from him, so I would write another email, and after another long wait he would reply.  I began to realize he didn’t spend much time on the computer.  Another year would pass I would send another calendar and again a big box would arrive in the mail full of music CD’s and even a DVD of the Crossroads Guitar Fest.
    On July 13th, Charles sent me an email that was very troubling.  His kidneys were functioning at 38%, his medicines weren’t helping him, and the next day he was to undergo a renal arteries bypass.  He told me that there was a 50-50 chance of success.  Then at the end of the email, he told me how much our friendship had meant to him and how nice it had been that we had stayed in touch.  The email really scared me and I opened my contact book to find his telephone number so I could actually talk to him, and I discovered didn’t have it.  I failed to find it searching online, and so finally in desperation, I just wrote him an email expressing my concerns.  I never heard from him again.
    I sent another email a few days after his operation asking how the operation went.  I didn’t get a reply, but wasn’t too concerned since he always seemed to be slow to respond to emails.  Now of course, I know why.   

    Linda, in her phone call yesterday, said that Charles’s operation went well, but afterwards all his organs began to shut down.  She told me that my emails and calendars really meant a lot to Charles and that I was the only one he corresponded to via email.  Now I wish I would have done so much more.  I wish I would have tried to phone him earlier on, after he first contacted me, and I wish I hadn’t just relied on the occasional email.   I am sorry that  he won’t make it to the next class reunion and that I never got to see him again.     While most of the world is remembering 

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Tuesday 12 August 2014

Drying Garlic

    Our garlic has now been dug and is now hanging in the lanai so that it will dry.  We have been getting a lot of clear hot sunny days lately, and the other evening a slight breeze was slowly turning the bunches of garlic, as the low sunlight was illuminating it, giving it an orangish hue, prompting me to go and get my camera.

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Monday 11 August 2014

Plants of the Lower Goat River Trail

    Yesterday a group of us hiked the 11 km (6.8 miles) Lower Goat River Trail.  We started at the Goat River Rest Area on Hwy. 16 then hiked through the deep dark cedar/hemlock forests and old cutblocks to Crescent Spur, BC.  With so much green around it was the bright colors that caught my eye.  Below you see photos of Rattlesnake Plantain, the white Indian Pipe, and the berries from Devil’s Club. 

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Saturday 9 August 2014

Butterflies of the Robson Valley

    Last night the nature talks at the McBride Library continued with a focus on Butterflies and Moths.  Mick Callas, who has been collecting butterflies since he was a kid, gave an interesting talk and demonstration.  Members of the audience were offered the chance of preparing some dead specimens for mounting.  
    On display in the library/museum is a changing show of Mick’s collection which include butterflies and moths from around the world as well as examples of those found locally.  Below are some of those that can be found around here.  Rick explained that although Monarchs are not native to the Robson Valley,  he did find one which had been stuck to the front of an RV and was still alive.

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Friday 8 August 2014

Goat River Cable Car Troubles

    The cable car crossing on the Goat River had been been disabled all summer because of damage to the car during spring high river flows.  Fraser Headwaters had purchased a new floor for the car and the plan for yesterday was to put in the new floor and also to change the anchor on the far side of the Goat River, from a downed tree to secured bolts in rock.  We were joined on the project by members of the Sustainable Living Leadership Program, who annually Canoe down the Fraser River and camp at the Upper Goat River Trailhead (photo below).
    First job was to carry the tools and aluminum floor down the trail 3 km. to the cable crossing.  Then the work began on replacing the floor.  That done, Roy Howard gave the newly assembled car a tryout across the Goat River (photo above.)  
    Once the cable car was deemed safe, several of us made the crossing to the far side of the Goat River to see about anchoring the cable to the big rock that metal pins had been previously been bored into and secured.  We successfully transferred the weight of the cable and car from the downed tree to the rock.  It seemed that things were going our way, but then the problems began.
    We needed a few extra tools from the other side and as they were being transferred across to us on the empty car, the cable that supports the car went off the track of the pulley that held it.  In an attempt to get it back on track by jerking the cable, we made an important discovery:  the rock that we now had the cable anchored to, was starting to be dislodged.  It was not bedrock as was hoped, but just a large rock jutting out from the ground.
    This situation left those of us on the opposite side of the river, stuck there, since the cable car was no longer useable, and there really weren’t any other trees that we could securely anchor the cable to.  It was getting late, after 5:00, but fortunately for us, one half mile (.8km) further up the trail on our side, there was a ford across the Goat River, that was used by horses and hikers when the cable crossing could not be used.  
    We hiked up to the ford and had to fight our way across the strong currents of the Goat River.  It was a delicate operation, trying to find secure footing among the boulders and rocks below the swirling cold water, trying to move forward while our legs were being pushed sideways, and although the water was very clear, it was hard to judge the depth, so it was difficult to stay in shallow spots.  In the deeper missteps the water came up to crotch level, but we all managed to make it across without falling, with our pants and shoes full of water.
    Once again on the right side of the Goat, we were joined by the rest of our party and we began our 4 km (2.5 mile) trek back to the truck.  Despite all our troubles, we were very fortunate, that no one was on the cable car when it got stuck.  I was glad I had made the decision to keep my pack and camera on the base side of the cable crossing because I wouldn’t have wanted to jeopardize my camera fording the river.  I was also happy to have a big bag of chips still left in my backpack, because I was really hungry as I got back to the truck and ate and guzzled water, the whole long trip driving back to McBride.

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Wednesday 6 August 2014


    In the summer after I got out of the third grade, my parents took the family on a camping trip to Colorado.  It was the first time I had been in the West and it was planned mostly because of my fascination of American Indian culture.  When my mother pointed out an orangish western flower and called it an “Indian paintbrush” it registered deeply into my brain because of its association with Native Americans.
    There are many varieties of paintbrushes (Castilleja) growing in various ecosystems in the Robson Valley.   Below are a few examples of paintbrushes that I have seen this year.  The most common, grows on the valley bottom and is orangish in color.  The other examples I found growing in mountain alpine meadows.

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Tuesday 5 August 2014

Eating Kimchi

    About a month ago when Joan and I were in Costco, we were scanning the shelves, and Joan spotted a big jar of kimchi.  She said she had had some once in Hawaii, liked it, added that it was really healthy, and asked if we should get some.  Although I had never tried it, I had heard of it, and knew that the Korean food was made of cabbage and hot peppers, both of which I really liked, so I told her, “Sure, let’s get a jar.”
      A couple of days after returning from our Prince George shopping trip, Joan got the jar of kimchi from the pantry and was going to have some for lunch, first however she read the ingredients.  Listed along with the cabbage and red pepper powder, she discovered “Anchovy extract and Shrimp.”  Joan is very allergic to fish and seafood and so the whole big jar of kimchi suddenly became mine.
    I decided to try some for my lunch and dished a couple of spoonfuls onto my plate.  That first mouthful of kimchi was not exactly what I was expecting.  I found it to be very harsh.  It was a totally unfamiliar taste, and I did not really care for it much, but I had a whole jarful of the stuff to eat, so I cleaned my plate.
    I hate throwing food away, and although I wasn’t keen on the stuff, I figured that in maybe eating it a few times, I would soon develop a taste for it.  The fact that it was cold, because I always ate it after getting the jar out of the fridge, didn’t really add to my  enjoyment.  When we had the guests from Amsterdam, we put it on the table, hoping that they would eat it up.  They tried it, and Casper put it on a sandwich saying it made eating it better, but it was not a huge success, so the big jar of kimchi remained in our tiny refrigerator clogging it up.
    Since I felt obligated to slowly make it disappear, I decided one day to try it on one of my sandwiches.  This I found made it a lot more palatable, eating it in conjunction with the bread and meat really smoothed out its taste and gives the sandwich a bit of kick that I usually get by putting pickled peppers on it.
    I doubt that we will ever buy kimchi again, but I am pleased that I have at least found a good way to eat it.

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Monday 4 August 2014

Lucille, Another Mountain to Climb

    Mt. Lucille is the most prominent peak seen from the McBride, BC townsite.  It was the destination for Sunday’s excursion of the Ozalenka Alpine Club.  Lucille has always been my choice for taking people up a mountain, because it has such a pointy peak, it really feels more like you are on top of a mountain, rather than some of other nearby mountains, that don’t have such an obvious apex.

    The group once again started the expedition with the wind in our faces, bouncing along a very steep and rough road in the back of Glen Stanley’s pickup truck.  I have been up Lucille many times, but not for a while, and I was disappointed to find that the BC government, in order to negate responsibility for the road, had dug out all the culverts, leaving the poor road even rougher, now with deep gullies crossing it.  It was sad to see another impediment thrown up in front of local hikers on one of our few accessible mountains.
    Unfortunately, because the Robson Valley is hazed over with smoke from far away forest fires, the joy of seeing for miles and miles and miles was greatly inhibited, but when we got to the top of Lucille and sat down at 7,800ft (2,380m) elevation to eat our lunches we could tell we were on the top of the world.  We hiked up the edge of the mountain on the right side of the mountain (photo above), ate lunch at the top then came down the left side into the alpine meadow.  Some of us went skinny-dipping in the very cold clear water of the small lake you can see in the foreground of the photo below, with the McBride townsite showing through the haze.
    Once I was back home and looked at a clock, I was surprised to discover it was only 2:30 in the afternoon,  the whole hike had only taken us 6.5 hours.

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