Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Frozen Mango Surprise.

   After my previous long-winded post on my antics keeping the electricity going during the recent arctic outflow you are probably wondering how its been going. Things finally got to the point where there was not much danger of further ice related problems up at the intake pond any longer and I could get a good nights rest. Probably the only worry I had beyond the chance of any more really cold nights, would be the chance of one of those wet Pacific fronts rolling in and raising hell with everything. And there was not much chance of that, or so I didn't think.
   No rest for the wretched, this past weekend a weather advisory was issued for the south coast about a large Pacific front due to roll into the south coast within 48 hrs. It was expected to bring about much flooding in the outside world, and certain to make life miserable for any poor bugger trying to generate his electricity off a mountainside. And of course the best part being that it would be the first of a series of three 'Mango Express' to pound into BC over the next few days.
   It was still freezing-ass cold, and as often as its happened over the years, it is still hard to believe that heavy rain was on its way, soaking through the mountain snow-pack and hitting frozen ground, then taking a direct route to the nearest stream. The increased flood washing ice, snow and debris downstream and into my mountainside intake pond, after sucking debris down the line it will clog the screen and shut down the pelton-wheel generator, then more than likely the rising waters will rip my intake screen from inside the dam, fling it over the falls and smash it to pieces on the rocks below. Just like all those other damn times.
   The smart thing to do in an instance like this is shut off the water to the pelton-wheel, light the wood-stove, dig out the candles then hunker down and wait out the storm like a chickenshit, then venture out days later and repair the damage when the water goes down. That might be the smart way of doing things, but not necessarily the cowboy way.
That last dump of snow we had really buggered my trail I had beaten-in up the mountain to the intake. But as it was there was no real need to go up there with things working so smoothly. But now with the Mango Surprise on it's way I needed to get up there and get something over the end of that pipe.
First thing the next day while it was still below freezing I went down and dug a hole to get through the bank the grader made. I didn't think I was going to get very far up the intake road but after much trying clawed and cursed my way most of the way up...
...and bogged down for what I hope is the last time this year, then continued  off on foot, once more.

I got to the intake and axed-out enough ice out of the pond to get at the end of the intake. I fished-out the open Winter intake and swapped it out for my monsoon screen. It has a tighter screen and an elbow that allows it to hunker into the edge of the pond, held onto the pipe by the force of the water and has survived some mean-ass conditions. Within 24 hours this would be a raging torrent.

   A few hours after I got back the first specks of rain began to fall, turning to a steady hard rain shortly after. Though still not that warm, the snow turned to muck, and the creek began to rise. By the next day, when the first of the fronts rolled in big time the screen was still doing an admirable job up there. That evening I had intended to shut it down like a chickenshit and wait out the worst of the night, and then turn it on the next day or whenever the creek had cleaned-out. Just when I was thinking about going over and shutting it down the lights started to dim.
   Getting over to the pelton-wheel shack I see the penstock pressure is down so as I'm not surprised, I know the screen up in the pond has been overwhelmed by slush and debris, and been sucked almost flat with the suction probably. I turned the main valve off, the water would slowly build up in the penstock again overnight, and once negative pressure was on the screen the pounding water would tend to blow it free of whatever was clogging it, and once cleaner water prevailed it would be safe to turn it on again. At least in theory. So after a night of roughing-it with limited heat and no lights I went over this morning and opened the main valve and spun the generator up to speed and it has been working like a top all day. And I suppose if I can get through tonight the worst of the storm will be over, I hope.

    The continuous rain has turned the road into a skating-rink. People are warned to stay off the roads, and without chains on each end your not going anywhere. Several outfits have been marooned at the hot spring, and several more are camped where they are out on the road next to their vehicles where they slid off. A grader from the logging outfit is working its way slowly out from town, going to be a few days no doubt before it reaches here.
 And the rain comes down.

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