Camp at Anahim Lake

This past week (June 20th-23rd) I’ve been in camp at the Eagle’s Nest Resort on beautiful Anahim Lake, located about three and a half hours west of Williams Lake.

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Figure 1. The beautiful skies of Anahim Lake

West Fraser is fairly new to this operating area; initial planning began only in 2012 and the first actual harvesting commenced in March of this year. West Fraser has worked very hard to do right by the First Nations and the small communities of the area before operations began, and they continue to do so. Even after their first cutting permits were approved by the government, West Fraser had meetings, consultations, and negotiations with the Chief and Council of the Ulkatcho People before they began harvesting (out of their own good will). Consultations are ongoing not only with the First Nations groups, but also directly with community members and local ranchers, in order to please these groups and give them more control of what goes on. This strong set of ethics within the company also extends to a small, local mill called West Chilcotin Forest Products. West Fraser wants to see this company growing and thriving to support the locals, and they help out by hiring as many of their band members, employees, and contractors as possible, by buying cut wood from them when their mill isn’t running, and by selling them some of our logs that are better suited to their production line when it is running. The goal is to help with their sustainable development; this is so admirable to me!

The purpose of our three night trip was for all the planning foresters and summer students to work together and cover lots of ground doing recconosaince work. This basically entailed working the landscape by foot, in partners, to decide on some areas that have potential harvesting qualities, and mapping out areas that should be considered for harvesting layout in the future. The regular working and driving groups were split up, and I had the opportunity to work with a full-timer named Jason. This was a great opportunity for me; Jason gave me great field tips and quizzed me on all aspects of the job. He also happens to be a hilarious and outgoing individual so I learned a lot AND had full entertainment! The first day of our trip included mostly traveling, but we did get into the field for just over an hour to take a quick look at the timber and make a plan for Tuesday’s work.

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Figure 2. Tuesday was an awesome day in the field! This is an example of beautiful country we had the privilege of working in.

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Figure 3. Another shot of ground we have the joy of traversing. It was pretty easy hiking out there compared to some of the nasty slopes and blow down I’ve had to work in the past!

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Figure 4. Jason is doing a prism sweep here. Prisms can be used to estimate the volume of wood in an area. Our recce work included data collection from these sweeps, as well as general observations and using our working knowledge of forestry to make decisions on harvesting options. The other two images in this collage just showcase again some of the neat country we were in! There were several stacks of these rocks along the road, placed by a machine operator.

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Figure 5. Jason and I had a great interaction with a black bear at the end of the day on Tuesday. The bear was very well behaved and just continued on with his day after he realized we were no threat. I always enjoy a positive experience with a bear in the field. Shortly after this, we headed back to camp to enjoy a meal and relax around the fire for the remainder of the evening.

There was also a large team building aspect to this trip. West Fraser takes the whole office on an adventurous trip every year to encourage teamwork and comradery. This year, they decided to combine the recce work trip with a fun trip. Us planners and students worked Monday and Tuesday but then we were joined by the rest of the office on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday for games, evening events, and hiking. This is where the real fun began!

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Figure 6. We woke up Wednesday morning and decided to drive down to Bella Coola and check out the harbour and the Bella Coola River while we waited for the rest of the office to travel out to the resort. This was such a treat. On our way down the hill we encountered a larger black bear laying on the road, guarding a fresh kill. On our way back up, we saw a fox with a rabbit in its mouth!

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Figure 7. We had an incredible BBQ lunch when the rest of the office came on Wednesday afternoon. The chef at the Eagle’s Nest Resort was absolutely amazing. Each meal was a real treat!

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Figure 8. After the BBQ, we were split up into teams of four participants each and began the first annual West Fraser Special Olympics! This consisted of 5 timed games on point systems. Each team had mandatory bandanas and, as you can see, our team “colour” was cheetah print. Things sure got heated with friendly competition! Here, my team works the technicalities of giant Jenga, homemade by a West Fraser staff. We were able to stack the blocks 47 layers high before our time ran out. There was an awards ceremony at dinner, and all the participants were awarded with gift cards for placing well and displaying sportsmanship. There were also three hilarious individual awards given out for fun moments during the games. My co-worker Matt, pictured in this photo grabbing a block, actually received one. I love that our office is close enough to celebrate each other as we are.

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Figure 9. Another one of the games, Frisbee throw. A can sits on top of each pole and the teams try to knock off each others can. The scoring was modified later in the evening to include some beverages.

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Figure 10. After the games and our final dinner at the resort, we settled down around the fire for an evening of singing, dancing, laughs, and snacks. The full timers insisted the summer students put on a talent show. I used to be a cheer-leader for my university so I quickly taught one of my co-workers, Taylor, how to put me up in a shoulder stand partner stunt. It’s too bad we didn’t get a photo! Don’t worry, we had spotters!

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Figure 11. Thursday we had a hike planned into the alpine in the Rainbow Mountain Range, but it was so rainy and foggy the view would be ruined. We decided to hike into the Precipice, a large canyon complete with a big staircase waterfall.

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Figure 12. I believe this is the first time I’ve introduced the whole office, so here they are! This group of people is fun, caring, and always looking out for one another. I’m so grateful to be a part of this team Also, I wanted to include this glorious photo of my co-worker Zach.

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Figure 13. The trail basically goes along the edge of the cliffs and eventually peters out. We turned around after about 45 minutes and headed back to the trucks, completely soaked!

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Figure 14. On the way home, a full timer named Dan took me to see some hieroglyphs just south of Nimpo Lake. Apparently, this massive boulder was used a point of reference for first nations travelers. It was nice to observe some ancient culture while being in such amazing country. We arrived back to the office in the late afternoon safely, ending the trip perfectly.

I can’t thank West Fraser enough for this trip. It truly was incredible. The company has opened my eyes to how successful an office can be. It’s things like these trips that encourage the respect and enjoyment of co-workers, and by putting its employees first, West Fraser has created a productive and thriving work environment.

Thank you guys for keeping up on my adventures! Next week you won’t want to miss out on my community special, featuring the 90th annual Williams Lake Stampede!



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