Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nusatsum River

We took a short walk today on the newly enlarged alluvial fan of the Nusatsum River.  It expanded quite a bit to the east after the Great Flood of 2010 and will probably require some work to protect Highway 20 on that side.  The power of this river is dramatic - it's one of the longer and biggest tributary streams to the Bella Coola River, originating in the mountains about 40 km south of the valley and flowing mostly to the north.  It has a lot of its surface area above 5000 feet which means it collects a lot of snow which can be a good or bad thing in a flood.  The bad is that it has so many high peaks and glaciers that it can start collecting snow in early September and if we get a big rain like we did in September with a freezing level up very high - then it liquidizes the drainage and it heads for the Bella Coola River.  The good part is that as we get more into late fall and early winter if we do get more big rains, there is a good chance a lot of the surface area of this drainage will stay covered in snow because it is so high.

The damage in September and amount of material moved and deposited in the lower Nusatsum River was quite impressive and it's hard to picture how the small stream it is today could be so violent. The view of Salloomt Peak with it's fresh snow and freshly disturbed river bar in the front was eye catching.  Grizzly

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pine Mushrooms

The dog and I haven't been getting out enough this fall, with all the interruptions caused by the flood, and I had a craving for some pine mushrooms and the dog for grouse hunting -- she's a Lab/Chesapeake and lives for the sounds and clicks a shotgun makes when you pick it up,  because she knows it means an outing.  We decided we would try to do both today.  There seems to be a reasonable crop of Pine Mushrooms this year, but not much money in them.  One picker I talked to this week picked all day and made $125, but #1's are only $5.00/lb (used to be $30-50 only a few years ago), so he must have packed a lot of mushrooms off the mountain.  We were strictly in it for the food.

It wasn't highly successful on either front, but three decent mushrooms and the dog flushed five grouse which the shooter managed to get one of.  We both came home happy and sore from all the climbing we did, but my wife and I enjoyed a good meal of grouse and mushrooms. The dog hasn't moved from in front of the fire...

Typical Pine Mushroom country in Bella Coola
It was raining lightly most of the morning, then steadier in the afternoon and evening, but we made the best of it. Grizzly

Friday, October 29, 2010

Flotsam but no Jetsam

Walking along the banks of the Bella Coola River anywhere downstream of the 'habitation' line in the watershed, roughly Stuie BC on the Atnarko River -- you are likely to run into 'stuff' that is other than logs, gravel and rock.  It's stuff that belongs to someone and all you can really tell is that it belongs to someone up river from where you are.  So far I've seen a nice little drift boat upside down on a gravel bar island, a canoe in a side channel and many smaller objects that each must carry a story.

I did learn from Wikipedia that there is technically a difference between Flotsam and Jetsam:
  • Flotsam describes goods that are floating on the water without having been thrown in deliberately, often after a shipwreck, while
  • Jetsam has been voluntarily cast into the sea jettisoned by the crew of a ship, usually in order to lighten it in an emergency.
A homemade gillnet marking light?
 I'm pretty sure few of us took the opportunity to jettison unwanted stuff during the flood so I'm calling everything I see officially beached "Flotsam".  It certainly did feel like a "shipwreck" around these parts the Sunday morning September 26, 2010 after the Great Flood of 2010.

While some of the 'stuff' right now might be just plain garbage, some will slowly be retrieved and get back to it's owner if it's any good, but some I hope just stays where it's at.  It will all be fascinating contributions to the archaeological record in the future when someone finds an interesting item like the one on the left and it's called an artifact.

We've had a couple more pretty acceptable days of weather in the Bella Coola Valley. It's feeling more like snow weather all the time, the temperatures aren't climbing as much during the day and the morning temperatures cooler.  Light precipation over night shows up as fresh snow on the mountains. Grizzly

Flotsam - Highway 20 morning of Sep 26, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bellacoolablog -- One Year Later

North Bentinck Arm looking east to the Bella Coola Valley
Today is the end of the first year of the  One year ago, inspired by other bloggers, I decided that I would try for a year to write a blog.  My goals were simple.

  • To improve my writing skills;
  • To commit to trying to say something worthwhile everyday;
  • To give people an idea about the weather and the trends in the Bella Coola Valley;
  • Most of all I felt I had something to say about the Bella Coola Valley, the Central Coast and the Western Chilcotin that some people might find interesting.
Did I succeed?

Not sure if my writing skills got any better, but I spent a lot of time and some late nights doing research to put some of the posts together.  I asked my wife a lot of times how to spell some words.  I know I've got more work on this front - especially when I read a blog that someone writes really well.

Initially I set a goal of making one post per day.  For the first month it was really easy, then from about month 3-5 it was a struggle.  I wasn't sure there was a point in it or how many different ways I could say "Grey and Dull", or whether anyone was actually reading it and getting much out of it.   I persevered and after about month 6, I started to enjoy it more and it became a daily task that just got done.  I watched less TV and wrote more.  I think I technically missed writing a post 3 days out of 365, but I ended up making more than 365 posts in total.  I'm giving myself a pass on this goal.

This last year has more than ever shown how important the weather is to life in the Bella Coola Valley.  Perhaps more so than many other places, we are really a weather dependent community - I find that part of our existence quite fascinating because it's so elemental to how humans have had to pay attention to weather to survive in our history on the planet.  When it was hot people were on edge due to the fire potential and the potential to lose our access through road closures.  The Great Flood of 2010 has reinforced that we all need to pay attention to weather warnings, wet trends, freezing levels, snow pack and wind storms; they can really mess up our valley.  When I was short on time or short on ideas, writing a post was easy, but probably pretty boring to some readers to just summarize the weather for the day.  My family would say, "Where's the picture?" I like watching weather and whenever I'm away from Bella Coola I was always asking my wife or looking on the internet to find out what the weather was doing at home, so one goal of my blog was to give people a sense of the weather and the trends in the Bella Coola Valley.  I'm giving myself a pass on this goal as well. I've found myself already looking back at a particular day or period to see what the weather was like, so it forms a good record if nothing else.

Did I say anything interesting or useful about the Bella Coola area?  Well it helped that we had one near natural disaster (the dry season with fires and road closures) and one real natural disaster - The Great Flood of 2010.  I could do without both though next year.  I covered a few tidbits about natural history and plants and some things and features about the valley.  I always go back to plants when I run out of weather and other ideas - it's in my background.  The comments I get are a pretty good indicator if I've said something interesting.  If I get no comments, then I know it was basically just a piece of information.

Is there anymore to say about this area?   I think so.  There is always the weather, but there are still interesting things to talk about.  It's a really interesting area with one foot in the coast and one foot in the interior and the change between those two climates and regions is short and dramatic -- it  provides for some interesting situations here.  Will I continue the bellacoolablog?   I think so.  I've got more work to do on the writing skills, and the weather will always be there to talk about.

What do the blog readers want to read?  Please give me your comments if you are reader and want to see more or less of something.  I don't intend to take the role of the local newspaper in reporting general valley news unless it's weather news, but I am sure there are areas and topics of interest out there.  I may not be as diligent in getting a post out every night, but I'll try. 

Thank you to the nearly 17,000 people who looked at nearly 25,000 page views of my blog and posted comments.  Grizzly - one year later.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bonus Days

Getting good weather in the Bella Coola Valley this late in October is always a bonus.  We haven't experienced heavy frosts that even require scraping windshields in the morning, so it's easy to get used to them and forget about what may lay ahead.  At 10 C with some afternoon sun after the morning valley fog cleared off it felt pretty nice.
Mt Nusatsum (8448') this afternoon
The skiff of snow on the mountains throughout the Coast Range is probably here to stay and will form the base of snow for all kinds of winter activities and animals.  Some of the cottonwoods in this photo have lost all their leaves, while others are prime fall colours. Grizzly

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cottonwood in The Fall

Every few years we get lucky with the extensive stands of valley bottom cottonwoods (Populus trichocarpa) in the Bella Coola Valley in the fall.  If the right conditions prevail they can put on a pretty nice show of golden yellow foliage colour which starts to really stand out.  My observation is that early frosts in September with a dry fall can help, but this year we didn't have those conditions -- but we did have prolonged dry weather throughout the summer and low water tables, all good conditions to stress trees a bit.  In any case, now that access in the valley is near normal after the Great Flood of 2010 it's nice to take a drive and enjoy them.  They won't last though, because any good east wind or westerly will really take them off fast now as we near November.  Grizzly

Monday, October 25, 2010

We're All Old Timers Now

Bella Coola, like any small town where everyone knows each other or if you don't know them at least you might recognize someone being new to town, has long term folks that tell stories about the past.  It might be at social events, the local coffee shop or in the grocery store line up.  When the talk gets around to weather or major events caused by weather it usually goes something like, "this was nothing like the winter of 50, when it was so cold that...", or "I remember the flood in 36 or 68 when so and so's barn floated away", or "...the winter of 72 when the snow was so deep that...", you know the kind of stories I mean.  I used to like listening to those stories because they provide that important oral history about a place that helps you form your own views about what might be possible.  Now with the Great Flood of 2010 behind us, the Fires of 2009 that almost took out a whole neighborhood and came with the hottest temperatures in recorded history in Bella Coola (41° C) and the dry summer of 2010 all in recent memory, we have to bench mark all those stories. Now anyone living in Bella Coola in 2009 and 2010 is pretty well an "Old Timer" as well.  It just means we'll behave the same as everyone before us and tell about the time Highway 20 was closed for 17 days because it washed out so bad or the time over 100 houses were damaged by floods and the water was 6 feet deep in Firvale and 4 feet deep in Hagensborg and people had to be scooped from the homes by helicopters with babies in their arms.  It means the old "Old Timers" have to find new stories or just be happy listening to the new stories being shared by everyone and be thankful that once in awhile something comes along to provide fresh new stories.

I liked it the old way though - when we could just listen to those stories and tell ourselves, "ah but that was years ago"; now we all have our own new reality and have to think about the unimaginable happening because we've all seen it for ourselves.   I just hope this isn't the winter we end up talking about, "the time the snow was so deep they had to send the army to dig us out..."  Grizzly

Sunday, October 24, 2010

More September Weather in October

Today was incredible - it hit 17 C at the Bella Coola Airport and it definitely felt like that when I was trying to finish up next years firewood.  Warm and balmy, even a few bugs out.  I was a bit behind on the two year's firewood supply I normally keep on hand -- with the interruption caused by the Great Flood of 2010.  I had a large cottonwood I have been wanting to take out and I decided I would make that my final firewood supply.  Regular bellacoolablog readers might remember I don't mind burning cottonwood.  Once I cleared out around the tree and had a good look at the situation I realized this tree was past my personal comfort zone for a firewood tree - it had a pretty hard lean on it and was nearly 24" in diameter.  Wisely I decided to get advice from my neighbor who used to be a faller.  It was a smart move, because he patiently explained the theory of what could go wrong and how I needed to make certain cuts to prevent that.  He coached me through the whole process, and it ended with a mighty crash that brought my wife out of the house to see if I'd finally done myself in - she didn't know I had the neighbor coaching me.

Oh and in case you are curious what kind of growing conditions we have for cottonwood trees on the Bella Coola Valley bottom, this tree was aged 36 years and measured out at 122 feet tall.  Grizzly

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bella Coola open for Business!!

The Atnarko River at Fisheries Pool
Today Highway 20 from Bella Coola to Williams Lake  was reopened with only minor pilot delays and no detours.  We are back fully connected to the rest of the province and thankful for that.  A lot of things will become fully normal now that we've gone from no road for 17 days to a road with 3 times daily openings, back to unrestricted access. If you've got business to do in Bella Coola or people to visit, then pack your winter driving gear (tire chains mandatory) and come on in!

Who wouldn't want to visit or live here on a day like today - it felt like a warm September day and seemed completely surreal looking around the valley and seeing the stunning fall colours - even the cottonwoods are golden - contrast with the perfect blue sky and a comfortable temperature of 15 C made it easy to forget about the last month. The Atnarko River while down to a more reasonable level remains amazingly still grey and silty, completely out of character from what it normally would be in October.  A lot of silty soils and fresh fine deposits were deposited in this highly productive watershed from the silty sandy soils at the headwaters of this drainage during the Great Flood of 2010.  It may take quite a few years for it to regain it's productivity for salmon and trout if it has been seriously impacted during the last month.  Grizzly

Friday, October 22, 2010

More Weather Systems

While weather forecasts are looking at more storms hitting the British Columbia coast in the next few days, it's not clear to me that any one of them is going to be a particular problem for the Central Coast and if it is a problem how big a rain event we could expect.  The best case would be more days of Octobery wet weather interspersed with some nice days.  That's kind of what today was like, not especially spectacular but certainly acceptable for a late October day.  A few weeks of this kind of weather going into November would really help to get the upper hand on the remedial works still going on catching up on the flood damage from the Great Flood of 2010.
New view upstream from Bailey Bridge - much less bank on the right side of photo
Typhoon Megi is finishing itself off over China tonight and then drifting off and dissipating into the cloud track that runs across the Pacific onto the west coast of BC. Hopefully it doesn't inject too much precipitation into that track and that it doesn't hit the Central Coast again if it does have a lot of rain.  Grizzly

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fishless in Bella Coola

I've been hearing of people continuing to have some issues with persistent bears since the flood.  It's not surprising given the near total lack of fish - this valley hasn't been so fishless in a long time.  This time of year there would be late chum carcasses to capture, spawned out Chinook in the Atnarko River, and live fresh coho starting to pull into the smaller creeks which the bears could get.  A few coho may still come that weren't in the river at the time of the Great Flood of 2010, but it doesn't look like a strong year for coho either.  It's a good thing there are still some fruit trees that people don't mind the bears eating in the odd abandoned orchard.  Is an abandoned apple tree off on the edge of some old homestead site, a bear attractant when there is a native mountain ash tree 50 feet away?

There are always interesting debates in Bella Coola about fruit trees attracting bears and whether or not it habituates them and then eventually leads to the bears demise as a problem in your yard or someone else.  I think it does habituate them to a good food source so if you care about your trees you need an electric fence to protect the trees otherwise with most of the fruit trees bears behave like bears eating wild huckleberries - they eat the food and move onto the next opportunity whatever it may be.  Just not fish this year.  Grizzly

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wild Creeks

Fall Leaves pounded flat by rain
Things worked out about as forecast last night for the high water forecast.  The Bella Coola River stayed pretty civilized, while most of the valley tributary creeks were high, some reported higher than the flood in September, some machinery worked to make sure bridges weren't compromised.  By the morning the creeks were coming down nicely.  A lot of low valley cloud hung around till noon, but after lunch we got some clearing and glimpses of blue sky at the end of the day.  We'll take any dry weather we get from here on in, with gratitude.  Grizzly

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall from Hell

Okay, so once in awhile something comes along and it seems to form a pattern and just won't go away.  That's what seems to be happening to the Central Coast and the Bella Coola Valley this year.  Just like we had a four month stretch of weather from June 1 to Aug 31 where we just couldn't get rid of the good summer weather (total precipitation of 107.4 mm or 4.2 inches in 4 months).  It seems like the later part of September and October are going to be just the opposite.  Parts of the Bella Coola Valley are again threatened by high water as a result of the rains that have mostly been hitting the outer Central Coast for the last two days, but last night slipped east enough to catch the lower 40 kms of the valley.  By noon today the side creeks which still have very high fresh bed load from the September Great Flood of 2010 and can't take a lot of water were getting high.  Remedial action is needed to deal with the fresh bed load - but the appropriate agencies just haven't had time and man power to get to that as they have been busy restoring public access so people and goods can move freely again.  Up until noon today we had about 40 mm of rain in the last 12 hours, but unfortunately the freezing level I spoke about in yesterday's post has gone up and some of that early snow came down which really pops the levels of water up in creeks like Nusatsum, Thorsen, Klonnik and Snootli Creeks quite quickly.  This evening it has slowed down and hopefully we stayed below the critical level in most places. 
Bella Coola River at noon
I've been watching the super Typhoon Megi on typhoon tracking websites.  It's an immense tropical storm with the highest winds recorded in the world this season.  It went through the Philippines yesterday and China tomorrow.  It was the tail end of another typhoon that hit the Central Coast in the September flood, so I've been paying more attention to what they do.  Many seem to trail off and track more northerly into Alaska as remnant rainstorms but not always apparently.  This satellite image from the University of Wisconsin, Madison gives you a really good look at it and the track of weather that carries east across the Pacific.  Tropical cyclones blow north and then eastward as they leave the warm waters of the tropics.  For now it's just more of the same in never dull for weather Bella Coola Valley.  Grizzly

Monday, October 18, 2010

Normal October Rain

In spite of weather warnings for significant quantities of rain (200 mm) on the outer Central Coast area around Bella Bella, in the Bella Coola Valley our mountains so far have protected us.  We've had on and off heavy rain last night and today, but it hasn't been continuous and relentless - both of which would be a bad thing right now.  Also in our favour is the fact that at higher altitudes it's piling up as snow. The 5,000+ sq km drainage basin of the Bella Coola River becomes smaller fairly quickly if you exclude all the land area above 1200 or 1300 metres or so where the snow level is holding, the trick this time of year is to keep the snow up there during the rainstorms down here.  Grizzly

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Race to Cleanup Yards

With everyone losing so much time to cleaning up after the Great Flood of 2010, a lot of the normal fall cleanup chores got left undone.  That's what kind of day we used it for today - it wasn't as nice as yesterday, but good enough for yard work. There was the final garden work - digging and moving an few plants, draining hoses and a little more driveway repairs. All will get done just in time for those potential early November snowfalls, which can be wet and heavy, and sometimes deep.  Grizzly

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Good October Weather

Today in the Bella Coola Valley the weather finally made up for some of the lessor quality days we've had.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the sun even had some warmth to it.  With the fresh snow on the mountains and taking a moment to take in the views while helping with some flood cleanup was a cheery reminder of why we love the Bella Coola Valley.  Residents and workers from out of town construction and care agencies are working hard to put the Great Flood of 2010's physical effects behind us so we can just talk about it and listen to all the amazing stories.  Grizzly

Friday, October 15, 2010

Snow Creeping Down

It's that time of year in Bella Coola whenever we get rain, there is a good chance it's coming down as snow on the mountains.  The surprise part is to wait till the clouds clear in the morning to see how far it came down the mountains. This morning it was down a long ways when the few sunny breaks allowed a glimpse.  It's not a steady progression of snow moving down yet, because it only takes one warmer rain system and the snow will easily go, but the trend is clear.

Progress is happening on Highway 20, tomorrow the road will start opening three times daily instead of two, much handier.  It's too bad that it has been so hard this last three weeks getting around the valley because the fall colours are really nice this year.  The dry summer we had must have helped stress the trees which always makes for nice fall colours.  Grizzly

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Things in the Bella Coola Valley are still progressing to something getting closer to normal after the Great Flood of 2010.  As my brother noted who went through the Great Ice Storm of 1998 in Montreal when 3"-4 1/2" of ice were deposited on everything and brought the city and the province to a standstill, "It was just so important to see signs that life was going to get there again someday and to know that the rest of the world is still doing (and sending) the normal stuff".  That's the period we are moving into, more people trying to do normal stuff, more goods flowing into Bella Coola that we need with the limited road openings and more people having freedom to move.

The only public side road that is not fully accessible is the upper Hammer Road area.  It had several hundred metres of the road completely washed away by the Bella Coola River. That was a road that had been there for many years as it was the route of the original road up the Bella Coola Valley before the present day Highway 20 was constructed.

Salloomt Road has been all repaired including the bridge abutment on the south side of the Bailey Bridge.  There were numerous sections washed out along that road as well between the crossing of the Bella Coola River and the crossing of Salloomt River.  The photo below gives you some idea of the changes looking downstream from the bridge.

Bella Coola River looking downstream of Bailey Bridge

It started out as a pretty decent morning in the valley, we even had some sunny spots but by the end of the day it was full on rain for periods throughout the evening.  Grizzly

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Old Noosgulch River

If you've been to the Bella Coola Valley to fish you will know where the Noosgulch River is - it comes into the Bella Coola River from the North Side, about 34 kms east of the town of Bella Coola.  You used to be able to see the confluence with the Bella Coola from the concrete bridge that crosses the Bella Coola River.  Not anymore.  After the Great Flood of 2010, you can't see a trace of the mouth - it completely scoured a new channel and left the old one literally high and dry and has moved downstream somewhere.  The little picnic/camp site up by the forestry bridge is completely blown away and a new channel is now going down that road that connected there.  Another example of the dramatic changes that can happen in big floods.  Grizzly

Old Confluence of Noosgulch River with the Bella Coola River
Looking down the old Noosgulch River Channel

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Five Highways to the Pacific Again!

After 17 days of being cut off from the interior of BC and the rest of the province, the Bella Coola Valley is hooked up again!  Highway 20 reopened at 4 PM tonight  (twice a day, escorted convoy each way for now).  What a lot of work has gone into achieving that feat in those 17 days, some good people put in long days to make that happen.

Highway 20 is important obviously to those of us who live here, but there is another view you could take about the Freedom Road.  If you look at a map of British Columbia you quickly realize there are only five ways to drive to the Pacific Ocean.  In the south Highways #1 through the Fraser Valley and #99 through Whistler are pretty well known.  In the north Highway #16, the Yellowhead gets you through some impressive country into Prince Rupert and an offshoot at Terrace, Highway #37 gets you to Kitimat.  A long way south of those highways and a long way north of the southern highways is the legendary Freedom Road, Highway 20 winding it's way to the coast through a vast inaccessible region of the BC Coast.

Highway 20 is an important transportation corridor for the province, even though when you drive it you might think it's not much of a 'highway'.  The basic route it takes has been in use a long time by First Nations and early explorers, with the last 50 km on the Bella Coola end being the route Alexander Mackenzie took on his great journey across Canada from Montreal in 1793.  Lieutenant Palmer was sent to survey a route from Bella Coola to the goldfields of the Cariboo in 1862 as well.   It's more than just a road for people in Bella Coola to get out to civilization, it's important to the regional economy and the province in general. It's a piece of our provinces history and once you've driven it, from the moment you cross the Fraser River near Williams Lake and start climbing and pop up into the eastern Chilcotin at Beecher's Prairie, you will know why it is so famous.  Highway 20 makes it possible to access a very remote part of the coast which would otherwise be even more costly to work and recreate in if it was only air or water access. It's a lifeline and supports fishing, forestry and growing tourism industries.
While Highway 20 was closed for 17 days, and was hard on businesses and residents in the Central Coast and the Chilcotin, life carried on in Bella Coola.  Merchants figured out a way to get stuff in on barges, a few people got in on ferries, and Pacific Coastal Airlines and Bella Coola Air and other airlines provided safe and reliable service for people that had to move. We are all glad to see it open so more normal can return the the Bella Coola Valley after the Great Flood of 2010.  Do yourself a favour and plan a trip to Bella Coola next summer - you won't regret it.   

On the weather situation - rain most of the day has been the order of the day, sometimes a little bit heavy, but not sustained heavy.  The big windstorm which the Skeena area got missed us luckily. Grizzly

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Landscapes

It must be human nature to continually underestimate and deny the potential and power of water to change things - I know I do it and I've seen quite a bit of flood damage in my years on the coast.  At the beginning of this flood event I made a post about this flood creating new features and people looking back in time wondering when and how that happened.  I'd like to show you one of those - it's a debris torrent that came out of a small rather unremarkable gulley that runs from valley bottom to 5-6000 feet up the mountain side on the west side of the Talchako River just north of the Gyllenspetz Creek.  All this material was deposited in a 24-36 hour period in what appears to be rather orderly and symmetrical pattern.  The forestry road underneath it is now under 15-20 metres of new rock and gravel over a 150 metre stretch.

Thank you to all the readers who post comments, it's nice to know people are reading the  posts and finding something of interest.  And thanks to the poster who alerted me to the website who used my banner photo of Mt Nusatsum without crediting my website - I contacted the gentlemen and he apologized and put a nice "Image Courtesy of" underneath it. On a side note you might be interested in the article he wrote and the links he provides - it's about the ground breaking energy project BC Hydro has installed in Bella Coola to produce hydrogen from surplus hydro electricity to reduce the dependency on diesel fuel for power generation in peak demands - essentially a way of storing excess energy for future use.

Some answers/responses to recent comments:

The Bella Coola town site - received almost no direct flood damage.  Some homes very close to the river on the west side of town were flooded because of the high tide/flood combination unfortunately and the east of the Nuxalk reserve was hit and will require protective structures to stop further encroachment which they already had a plan in the works for.  High water surrounded the Song House on the north side of the Nuxalk reserve near the river as well.

Highway 20 - The Hill. I haven't been up there to see it first hand, I've seen a few photos, talked to the road people and some pilots and the hill per se fared surprisingly well.  A couple little of debris flow/rock slides landed on the road, a small washout near Heckman pass and then the rest was intact - a big relief.

Documentation of the Flood - I'm working on putting a chronology of the actual event together for my records, I've done that for floods since the early 90's.  The publication, Rainstorm and Flood Damage: Northwest British Columbia 1891-1991 is an excellent book that chronologies 100 years of floods in the area from Bella Coola to Prince Rupert and should be a must read if you are thinking of relocating here or you are a resident and need some information on floods.  Since the book was published in the 1991 I figured I would keep some notes from then on so eventually someone could update it.  I'll capture whatever stories I hear around town as well. I did a post last November on some recent flood history as well.

And finally - where ever you are - a Happy Thanksgiving!  While we couldn't travel anywhere by road this year we enjoyed a nice turkey dinner and my hunting partners (nephew and son) phoned to tell me about the happy moose hunting experience they had and the nice moose they got without me - I hope they invite me next year now that they know how to do it without me....Grizzly

Sunday, October 10, 2010


In every flooding event when you watch on the news and hear first hand experience from the people affected they always talk about the mildew and mould.  It's why you have to get drywall pulled off and walls opened up as soon as you can after a flood.  It gets disgusting when it really starts growing and getting ahead.  That's the phase many people are in now in the Bella Coola Valley and time is not on our side.  We are going into cooler and more wetter conditions and not the best for drying. People are trying hard to get to the stage where drying can start on buildings after the Great Flood of 2010.

It's not just drywall and insulation that mildews and moulds though, pretty much everything seems to get it.  This piano that is in the back of my truck heading for the dump breaks my heart.  A beautiful piece of wood craftsmanship is how I look at, but to the owner it was piece of history going back to childhood.  It was under six feet of water for 12 hours and is completely and totally ruined.  I have to regrettably push it into the scrap heap for them this week.  

Bella Coola didn't get the big windstorm that some areas on the coast received last night.  We just got a fairly heavy rain all night until midday today, adding about 30 mm of rain to our wet basins, but that's a pretty normal fall rain for these parts.  It was cool during most of the rain, with fresh snow getting down lower on the mountains this evening. Grizzly

Mount Nusatsum this evening

Saturday, October 9, 2010

This Ain't no Beaver!

While up the valley today helping a friend clean up after flood damage a large male grizzly bear stepped out on the river bank.   He sized us up from about 50 metres away and wanted to go downstream, but didn't want to walk through the area where we were near the river. He nonchalantly jumped in the river, swam around us and downstream a ways and climbed back out of the river and carried on with his business, which I am sure was patrolling for something good to eat.  Fish and fish carcasses are not overly abundant right now, so we wished him luck.  He was a beautiful colour.

Flood cleanup is ongoing, as are road repairs.  The more stories you hear from people and the events they went through during the flood the more you have to admire the human spirit to persevere.  I wish I had time to collect them all for a book or something because in the lore of Bella Coola history the Great Flood of 2010 will be passed from generation to generation.  Grizzly

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fresh Fruit & Veggies

Another good sign that where possible normal has returned to the Bella Coola Valley.  Rick the farmer has his self serve fruit and veggie stand going and his potato harvest is in full swing.  This week he had potatoes (a whole bunch of different kinds), carrots, and apples - all grown there and all looking good. I think his field stayed dry in the Great Flood of 2010.

It was another pretty good day for weather, even though they are forecasting rain for the weekend.  The stores got the fresh turkeys in just in time for Thanksgiving on the barge they are using for freight with Highway 20 closed so I'm looking forward to a nice turkey this weekend, even though my hunting partners are in the happy hunting grounds without me because I couldn't drive out to meet them.  There is always next year. Grizzly

Thursday, October 7, 2010

WD 40 To the Rescue!

I'm  building a mental list of essential 'flood kit items', something to work on for next time.  So far it includes a pressure washer, lots of helicopters, plywood and saw horses to make tables and a tractor or excavator would be handy as well.  Now I have to recommend about a gallon of WD 40.  We all have some around and we've all heard the various claims about what it can do, but the Great Flood of 2010  convinced me of one thing.  It can't be beaten for displacing water.  I did some research and checked out their website.  As it's been rumored to me before,  the name stands for "Water Displacement - perfected on the 40th try".  A friend and I while cleaning up another fellows shop, used it a lot.  Nothing else seems to get in and replace the water that is in every tiny little nook and cranny in a tool, but spraying it with WD 40 eventually seemed to just leave an oil residue and stopped the rusting that was already progressing.  Blowing things off with an air compressor seemed to clean stuff up pretty well.  Their website has a 2000+ uses feature, you might check it out and see a lot of interesting things people have used it for.

Some of the valley tributary streams are back to low and clear condition - although a few of them look a little bit different after the flood.  The Bella Coola River is still coming down a bit each day, but is still pretty dirty.  Grizzly
Sunrise on Mount Nusatsum today

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Play Ball

One of the projects that a bunch of volunteers undertook last summer was to upgrade the ball field located in the Walker Island region.  Ball has long been a favourite activity in the Bella Coola Valley.  The ball field wasn't spared in the Great Flood of 2010 either.  You can get a sense of the height of the water and the flow that took out all the fences in this photo.  More work required, by more volunteers. 

Fortunately the weather in the Bella Coola Valley was great again today. Some sun, and comfortable temperatures. Still lots of machines working to get Highway 20 open, but we're not there yet.  Grizzly

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Floods Are Hard on Bears

This has been a bad year for bears in the Central Coast.  The prolonged dry spring, hot summer and lack of moisture prevented the production of even a half decent wild berry crop - there really wasn't much of a feast to be had there.  Then the chum and pink salmon runs in the Central Coast were very low this year which compounded the problem of the summer feeding regime which would have been heavy on berries and then from August on till late fall heavily feasting on fish.  Then there was the Great Flood of 2010 - any salmon still spawning in the tributaries and the main Bella Coola River were wiped out.  The better quality fresh carcasses that would have sufficed if live fish weren't available are also widely spread and most gone.  It's going to be a tough winter for bears.  There's a lot of sign of bear tracks patrolling along the river in the newly deposited sediment probably looking and waiting.   Their  only possible source of fish for food now is to hope for a strong late coho salmon run, something close to last year would be nice, but unlikely.  Last years run provided fresh coho right into January.

On the weather front there was some talk earlier that we were going to get another dump of rain, but so far it hasn't materialized and looking at the satellite photo I think it's going to be Prince Rupert and Terrace's turn for a big rain.  Grizzly

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dike Repairs

The cleanup and repair goes on from the aftermath of the Great Flood of 2010.  Progress each day is noticeable with more filled in road washouts, and comments from people about things underway.  One of the top priorities was to repair the breach in the dike which protects the Bella Coola Airport at the east end.  The water over topped the dike shortly after midnight on Saturday September 25th and quickly eroded out a piece of the rip rap then flooded the airport.  That area has all been repaired and now hopefully will be there for a long time again.

Good weather helped again today, but the Bella Coola River while getting down to a brisk fall level, is very brown, but I saw some hardy fishermen give it a try, but came up empty.  Grizzly

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Have Helicopter - Will Fly Bridge

While we enjoyed the unexpected bonus of another warm October sunny day and continued to work on assisting people with flood cleanup, there was a steady pattern of large helicopters going over head, carrying bridge parts destined for one of the bridges in the valley where residents are still cut off.  Helicopters have been another essential item in this flood, lots of people would have been in a bad way without them on the Great Flood of 2010.  Progress on dike repair and bridge work continues, hopefully another day or so and the road will be open for the Salloomt River area residents. Grizzly

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cleanup Continues

A week after the Great Flood of 2010 in the Bella Coola Valley everyone is still busy trying to make something of their situation. Those that were directly impacted are either cleaning and throwing out, drying, washing or ripping drywall off.  If you weren't directly impacted, then almost everyone is helping someone that was in dozens of different ways.  Many people are offering temporary accommodations to those that have had homes ruined or in some cases cut off.  The disaster assistance program is functioning and people who had to leave their homes with nothing are getting help with basic assistance and needs.

It's hard to believe but a week later, the Bella Coola River is still high and muddy brown.  There is still a lot of water draining from somewhere and to see it 7 days later at such a high flow is amazing.  The stories of 'above and beyond' are starting to come out and all of them are fascinating and human in their dimension. 

The photo above is taken from the Burnt Bridge Creek - bridge looking downstream.  Amazingly the concrete bridge survived intact while huge quantities of logs passed underneath it.  Other bridges on some of the forestry roads weren't so lucky.  Grizzly

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pressure Washers

If there was ever a tool or machine you need after a flood - it's got to be the pressure washer.  It should be listed as standard fair in any post flood disaster where communities need help.  A friend and I, along with another kind helper dropped off by the hatchery crew spent the day helping a flooded couple begin to clean up.  The house is real bad and the furniture all destroyed, they are trying to sort out if it will livable again.  We needed to start somewhere so we decided to completely gut the workshop because it had a lot of valuable tools, is large, has plywood walls and concrete floor that we could wash.  It would be an important psychological gain that we have a clean space again, but also a valuable place to put stuff that is salvaged from the house.
Hydro meter, still working!
My friend had experience already, he's been to two other houses and done this routine, he had the ultimate tool - a three foot rubber squeegee on a long broom handle - what a tool for pushing 2" of fine river silt muck on the floor.  We set up a 32' long table of plywood under a covered overhang and moved all the stuff onto the table.  The big stuff like saws and welding equipment we put on the lawn and a trailer.  When the shop was empty, we turned the power off,  powered up two pressure washers and began the wash down, right from 6" below the ceiling to the floor and out the door.  The windows were a real pain, every time I thought I had them clean there would be more silt show up in the frames. Finally we could see results, concrete floor and wood walls.  Our extra helper sorted out 100's of beautiful wrenches and sockets, Snap on and Craftsmen.  He laid them all out on a shelf on wood sticks so they will dry and not rust anymore.  Myself and the other pressure washer master had to force ourselves to blast water at big electric motors on saws and drill presses until the water started running clean out of the motors.  Another friend said you have to do it - and hope they dry without damage, the silt has to go it's too abrasive.
By the end of the day we had declared victory.  There was order and cleanliness in the workshop.  The ladies were busy sorting out clothes that are salvageable and our washer is going 24/7 (at least it feels like it).  Our neighbor is laying out treasured photos from another flooded friends house on any flat surface we have to try to save them - she has filled all the flat surfaces in her own house. So much work, but it has to be done.

Another day of great warm weather in the Bella Coola Valley, we even had some westerly wind which really helps to dry things out.  Too bad the forecast is for rain for the next few days now, some more dryness would have been nice.  October is the 'between' month in Bella Coola.  Between the best month September and the worst month - November.

And to end with a happy note - Highway 20 - The Freedom Highway has won the Great Canadian Song Quest - it's officially Canada's favourite highway in British Columbia, I can't wait to hear the song.  Grizzly