How Low can a River Flow?

We went for our much needed hike along the trails along Ferry Island, which is part of the community of Terrace, BC. The first leg of our mini journey was to walk up the sand bar to the northern most tip of the island. I marveled at just how low the Skeena River is, at almost the same levels as last February, when we last walked here.

When I drove over the old Skeena River Bridge yesterday, I noticed that the little causeway between the large boulders and the northern sand bar were almost joined by dry land. It was not until this morning that the ground between these two areas were completely dry, enough that we could easily walk up sand bar. This would appear that the water level of the Skeena River dropped almost 30cm, over night. So we decided to hike the area.

I would have thought that with the rain we had over the last couple weeks, this would add to the river’s water flow, but that does not seem to be the case in my mind. This raises a few questions. Could it be that the inland areas that feed the Skeena River are dryer than normal? Is this a normal water level for this time of year? I could be looking at a normal cycle that the river goes through year after year., so nothing to worry about–right?

I know a couple of factors. We did have an extra ordinary dry summer, reaching Stage Four Drought Conditions, over the summer season. We went nearly a month and a half with Stage Four. We also had a low snow pack from last winter, and I am sure that will still be effecting our environment. The river is very important for many in the community. Many depend on the river for food and revenue, if that is gone, that could be very disruptive. How low can a river flow?

Either they are getting Old, or it is Snow?

The tops of all the mountains were dusted with a fine covering of snow, about the 2500 metre mark. At first, when I saw this, it reminded me of grey hair, but I quickly snapped myself back to my senses, and knew that it was snow. According to Suz., this snow fall is early for this time of the year, by about a couple of weeks. Could this be a sign of what is to come this winter season?

The have been very cool, with yesterday’s lows of about 4C, then bouncing back to 18C, according to my home thermometer. We did just come out of a couple of days were it rained off and on, with lost of low level clouds, so it would makes sense that if cooled off, snow would blanket the mountains this time of the year. But it is a scary sight, knowing in just a few weeks, our summer like days will disappear and replayed with a white blanket of snow. Anything could happen with “The New Normal.”

Wetter Weather and Thoughts On the Great Melt-Down 10 Years Ago.

We are getting hit with rain, as the rainy season kicks in, though seemingly earlier than last year, it is welcomed. And I just realized that this week marks the tenth anniversary of the 2008 Great Melt-Down, that crashed the markets and change the world, unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In all, the week is going good. Work is chugging along, and I am almost finished unpacking all of my boxes from the time I moved here to Thornhill, BC.

I was surprised that the Forest Fire Rating was set back to Low so quickly. We are only less than two weeks into the rainy season, and the rains seems lighter this year, so I was looking at the Forest Rating sign a little puzzled, as the arrow was placed in the green section. I thought that this might be to soon. Well, even the website says it “Low,” so who am I to argue. The good news, the campfire ban is lifted, so get out, in the rain, and have a camp fire. Oddly, camping season is also over too.

I was checking my journals from a decade ago, and came upon an entry from September, 27 2008. At the time I was living in Fort Langley, BC, working for Bell Canada. I wrote about all the news of the Melt-Down, and how it seemed, “over exaggerated.” Boy was I wrong; the news was correct, as my work saw over 150 employees in October 2008 get laid-off. All around me, nothing seemed secure and talks of lower Interest Rates and Buy-Out for Banks, blanketed the news. The cause and effects, they said would last for years.

Reading an on-line article on the BBC’s website, today, about the effects of the Melt-Down, the developed nations around the world have been experiencing lower than predicted birth rates. Yes, I only need to look at the schools around the Skeena Valley, to see this. The schools are half the size they were when I went to them. Home ownership is another one, as more younger people are renting because they cannot afford the market value for homes. And then there are the lack of good paying jobs. Yes, lots of low-paying jobs to go around, but few sustainable jobs to build a family with. So it looks like Generation Screwed is going to morph into the following generation with these market effects. The BBC article did say it could take another twenty years before we see the glory days of the pre ’08 era back, but the Market landscape has forever changed.

This week, I should have all my boxes sorted and unpacked. A few weeks ago I bought four sets of shelves, and that so far, has made unpacking nicer. I have a very small “compartment,” and brought an entire house with me. So, a sizable amount will live in boxes, until need, but the good news is, have more living space. I hope I find better living arrangements soon.

Shooting RAW, at Night

You can feel it in the air, summer is almost done, as we enter our next season, the cold season. After the Skeena Valley Fall Fair, me and Suz., took a drive out to the lake towards Kitimat, then drove back. I had the camera with me, and thought why not try some nights shots, figuring that it is overcast with clouds from the North, and partly clearing from the South, I might get some interesting results with the weather from around town. If you know me, I do a lot of night time photography, and I have a 6TB drive to prove it, but every time I get out, something different always pops up to shoot that looks possible awesome. I shoot with a Sony Alpha 77v, with a variety of lenses, and the camera is still going after four years. Obviously I use long exposures times for the night shots, and shoot in the RAW format to get these images, which gives me huge editing options when I do the post editing. So, tonight I tried somewhere I never had being in Terrace, BC before, and set up my tripod along Kenny Street, and started shooting. After a while I moved on to the Old Skeena Bridge, and tried there.

Like I said, every time something different changes, and the shots become unique. In the above shot, what really stood out for me was the lens flare. This shot was a twenty second exposure, using a 28mm lens at f2.8 at ISO 100. The added bonus was a train had stopped on the tracks just below, so it added light to the trees in the foreground. Plus, there were low level clouds, or mist, just over head, and clear skies to the South. I took several shots from this spot, and found twenty seconds to the be the best exposure for my liking. I might print this one.

It was a good night. Now to enjoy what is left of the weekend.

Thornhill BC Fall Fair – Part Three – Horses to Flowers Then the Veggies

Part three of my Thornhill Fall Fair visit, or, I should have said it this way, “The Skeena Valley Fall Fair.” Yes, I forgotten the proper titles of the event, my apologies. This is indeed the Skeena Valley Fall Fair, not just Thornhill’s. OK, now that that is out of the way, let me get on with the final leg of the adventure. We did the Four H Club, watching the cows and chickens, along with the bunnies, but then there was the equestrian events, which I do not fully understand, but was fun to watch nonetheless. Then we ended off with the indoor events, where art and plants get judged, and you can view the results. There were some interesting things to see.

Every once in a while, I see something that catches my eye, and these flowers sure did. I love the colours that these flowers had. It was too bad there was not enough light to capture their full essence. These really would have looked awesome with the speed-light, or just some more sunlight. This was as good as I could get with the light that I had. It was raining by this time. I know Suzette likes these too… becuase of their purple colours. It is just eye catching.

OK, first off, this building was hard to get a good shot in becuase of how it was lit. Again, I needed a super strong flash to get the right colour and quality I want. Secondly, the ladies with their horses, how could you not walk passed an equestrian event, and not have a look. Sure, if you hate girls and horses, you could walk by, but I do not know anyone like that. I am not sure what is going on here with this event. I know there are judges who ask the riders to walk the horses around, make them stop, then make them move again. Most of the time they stand still, waiting for their turn. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, and the horses seem to not care.

Sometimes you just gotta laugh out loud, and enjoy the exhibits. These carrots made me go, “awwwwww,” as I stood there looking at them. Yes, “Two Carrots in a Loving Embrace,” is what I would call this, or something “twisted” like that. This one won first place, so others liked them too. There were many other exhibits to see, and a few booths with merchandise for sale as well. Sadly, at 4:40pm, it ended, and we made our way to the car to go for a drive around town.

Me and Suz., were thinking that it would be awesome to enter something for next year. I was thinking maybe a photograph or two, and see where I stand with the judges at the Fall Fair? Not sure what she would enter, but I am sure it would awesome too. See you all next year at the Skeena Valley Fall Fair!

Thornhill BC Fall Fair – Part Two – Racing Rabbits 4 H Style

On to the next event at the Thornhill BC Fall Fair, as we head off to the Rabbit Races at the Four H Club. Actually, this was more like an obstacle course, than a race track for rabbits. The idea here is to help and run your rabbit through a maze of obstacles. You can lead your rabbit, push it, and even give it treats through the course, but you cannot pick it up while in the race, though if the rabbit does leave the course, then picking it up and putting it back on the track is acceptable. This was fun to watch, and if you have ever owned a rabbit, you can see how much of a challenge this is.

Like all races done with animals, there is a level of unpredictability, and with rabbits, case and point. The above image, the owner and rabbit raced through the course in record time, and with no trouble at all. The rabbit was in top form, and easily navigated through the course in under a couple of minutes. However, the girl(s) before him were quite another story.

The rabbit, named after a a character from the motion picture “Star Wars,” was not so happy to be on the course. The tow young girls who were in charge of him, was having the most difficult time controlling what direction the rabbit was hopping to. Not once, but three times the poor rabbit hopped back to the starting line, only to be picked up and turned around to race the course–again. The girls did manage to get their rabbit through the course, but it took some might.

Most of the racing rabbits make it through the course in good time. And for the record, no rabbits were harmed throughout the event. All in good fun.

Thornhill BC Fall Fair – Part One – Off to the Zucchini Races.

Well, that time of the year already, it is the 2018 Thornhill Fall Fair, and just like last year, a little on the damp side. But all was good as we sped off to the fair grounds, which are just across the main highway from my house. We drove. I had no trouble getting a good parking spot, and after paying our fare, we headed off to the zucchini race trace, just making the beginning of the event before they start the races. The turnout was good, about the same as it was last year, and the number of participants look to be a little more too this year. The tension was in the air, as the racers got their zucchinis into position. It is race time!

The first event was the best looking zucchini. Of the thirty or so shots, I cannot find that one. As for the race track itself, conditions were good, with just a little rain on the surface, the Sun poked through the clouds just making the track dry enough for some good racing. The race ramp was set-up, and ready for the first group. The second part of the race was the fastest zucchini. They raced 24 zucchinis, in eight races. However, at any time, a zucchini could also go the distance, and win the furthest zucchini.  So zucchini number ten was the one to watch out for.

This was a shot of zucchini number 10, the Baby Zucchini, just before it broke the all time distance, by just reaching the other end of the court, by 30cm. I believe number 10, also came in third, over all, as the fastest zucchini, wining twice out of four races. Yes, the Baby Zucchini maybe still wearing a diaper and sucking on a soother, but she rips down the track like there is no tomorrow. And for the owner, well, she was unbelievably excited too, driven by an eight year old girl from Thornhill, BC.

I think the biggest entertainment was watching the zucchini racers enjoying themselves. This was a good turn out this year, and I was happy to see a few people supporting the Zucchini Races this year– my second year as a spectator. Job well done zucchini racers–well done!

The Wet Stuff Has Arrived

The days are getting wetter, and shorted, all signs of the impending season of doom, …er, humm, winter! Sure, we have fall as the next official season, but around here, we jump from summer, right into the winter, skipping fall altogether. But, hold on, they (the weather prognosticators) are saying that we may in fact have another one of the those El NiƱo winters, when it just rains the whole season. Which would be in stark contrast to last winter we got, in the first dump, up to 30cm, ending up with a combined 110cm, sticking around becuase the rest of the year stayed frozen. But nonetheless, I kind of look forward to this becuase it would mean less getting stuck in the car, and I can leave that shovel in the shed. But the snow was kind of interesting, having not seen so much of it in thirty years, from my old home.

In the image, above, is the top of Thornhill Mountain, showing the Snowmobile Emergency Hut, and an antenna (possibly the RCMP repeater) that I took from Suzette’s place. It sorts of gives you an idea of her Eastern view from her house. The mountain is about 2600 metres high, and I think this is one of the higher parts. But you can see the clouds, and they are all around–completely overcast with drizzle.

However, it has not all been just rain, rain, and more rain. The weather front is divided up into little cells, or mini-systems, so you get isolated showers instead of the all-day shower. Once in a while, the Sun’s rays do reach the ground, for an hour or so.

Rain–It’s On Its Way

The wet season is on its way, as is part of our normal weather ways, and already I am hearing the locals moan and groan. The wet season is part of the landscape, and a fact, but it is changing. No one could have predicted the two months of reaching a “Level – 4 Drought” conditions, over the summer months of July and August. So the question everyone is asking, what kind of winter will we have this year?

Winters, when I a young child, growing up in the Skeena Valley, I remember winters fell into one of three categories. One, a super cold and snowy winter. Two, a dry and cold with little snow. Three, The brown, supper mild, with nothing but rain. This year, all bets are off, it seems.

I drove by the fire rating sign on Keith Avenue (or Highway 16 west bound) today, and it was showing “High,” so I gather the forest is still far from wet enough to lower it. Even with the cool and overcast days, the forest could still, potentially go up in flames. Thankfully, we have had no forest fires near us. Very happy about that!

The Last Long Weekend of Summer Comes to a Close.

Sadly it has arrived, and we pay homage to its last moments, spending it out at the river, so we say can farewell summer, farewell. The day was awesome, bright and warm, and everyone was outside enjoying it seemed. We decided to spend the afternoon over at the Fishermen’s Memorial Park, where the Kitsumkalum River meets the Skeena River. Here, there are boat launches, the bridge that takes you to Prince Rupert on Highway 16, and the Train Trestle that also follows the river Westward, but best of all, it is a park just on the outskirts of town, just a five minute drive.

We sat and stared at the twinkling sunlight dancing on the water, as the Sun sank lower into the West. We knew that this possibly could be the last time we will see the waters like this until next year. Yes, coming soon is the wet season that the North West Coast is so famous for. And that is what makes today so special: it is the Sun, the summer’s heat, and everyone enjoying and relaxing in these moments. The kids go back to their schools, and the working class will ramp up to meet the demands of the Winter Markets, and everyone else should be preparing for the up coming winter ahead.

As I was exploring out by the shore, out on the rocks I came upon this, a painted stone of a Ladybug, glued to the rocks underneath the trestle. Right now, you can walk to it becuase the river is very low, but in a few weeks it might be under water. It was cute, as I walked over it. I thought someone had a great sense of humour, and some time, and extra glue they did not want any more. It made me laugh, and Suz., too when she seen it through my camera’s view finder. Could this be a “guy” lady bug, I wonder?

A picture perfect day, indeed, with blue sky and warm air, plus the glacier green water of the Kitsumkalum River, you could not ask for a better day to sit by the river. What a summer! Packed with many sunny filled days, and one of the driest seasons on record, I think summer 2018 will be one for the record books. Bye-bye summer…. sniff-sniff.