Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Fleet

The Bella Coola Harbour while busy this time of year, it's busy with a mixture of private and pleasure boats and commercial fishing boats.  It wasn't always that way, it used to be predominately a harbour for commercial fishing boats and a few tugs associated with logging.  Bella Coola and the surrounding inlets has a history of commercial fishery going back over 100 years.  There has been a small fleet of commercial gillnets based in Bella Coola for a long time.  Sometimes the actual number of boats fishing during the openings are much more than the local fleet, all depending on what is happening elsewhere on the rest of the coast.  These days the salmon fishery is much less all over the coast, but there is still a small fishery in the inlets here.  It starts in early June with weekly openings for Chinook salmon which are probably the finest wild Chinook salmon on the coast by the way.  They have a unique and special taste because they are caught by the fleet after they have stopped feeding as they enter the long inlets and it starts to change the body chemistry when they are not actively feeding anymore.  About this coming week the fishermen start to switch to smaller nets and begin to target Chum salmon.

Its a nervous week coming up for most of the fishermen, because this will be the week that tells the story about the strength of the chum run--a good showing this coming week bodes well for the rest of the run.  Unfortunately the run last year was poor and affected by floods we had four and five years ago, which may mean the run this year could be weaker because some of the returning fish this year will also be the older fish which came from the spawners in those flood years.  Time will tell - the chum salmon is the bread and butter fish for the remaining commercial gillnet fishermen in Bella Coola. Grizzly

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Showery Day

Another day of showers and some nice sunny and warm periods.  That pattern repeated itself most of the day after mid morning and culminated tonight with a fresh dusting of snow on Mt Nusatsum above about 6000'.  Hopefully the weather cooperates for Bella Coola Rodeo weekend, showers at night are ideal - it keeps the dust down in the riding area.

Today's pictures is of galls formed on the Nootka Rose leaves - quite common and caused by a wasp, they make an interesting looking structure.  Grizzly

Monday, June 28, 2010


I'm not sure if it's my imagination or fact that we seem to be getting a lot of wind this year.  It might be because I'm working on a building project handling plywood and the gusts of wind are always unwelcome, but it seems the long period of cloudy warm weather intermixed with a few cooler days with rain squalls has meant a lot of unstable air moving through the valley and maybe it has been windier than other springs. 

Today had periods of  nice sunny and comfortably warm spells followed by afternoon and evening showers.  Still no weather talk of a big high pressure 'haying weather' system out in the Pacific.  Grizzly

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cooler Week

This last week was much more of a typical June week, with cloudy days, wind, showery periods and today was showering on and off for much of the day.   The next 10 days will tell the story for what kind of July we'll see, we should be seeing forecasts for a major Pacific high pressure system that would typically bring a week or more of beautiful summer weather, but it's not in the forecast yet.  Grizzly

Saturday, June 26, 2010

School House Falls Trails

My daughter made a hike last weekend to the eastern falls behind the high school (Sir Alexander Mackenzie School).  You follow the boardwalk across the valley bottom and can either go right or left at the base of the mountain. The trail to the right is School House Falls, which is a moderate hike with a few steep sections coming out at a falls with a nice view. The other branch to the left (east) goes to a second falls further east which is quite a bit more difficult and has a few rock scramble sections.  I've never hiked that branch, but my daughter enjoyed it and successfully navigated the rocky steep parts the required a scramble.

It provides some nice views and in this photo she took looking towards the Salloomt River Valley to the north you can see some evindence of one of the forest fires from last summer.  It sounds like a difficult hike, so be forewarned.  Grizzly

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cottonwood Sprouts

It was only barely three weeks ago that I posted Cottonwood Snow which showed the masses of accumulated seeds.  Now these seeds which collected where there was a bit of moisture along the highway have all sprouted and if unchecked will turn into trees weighing many tons and 1 metre in diameter in less than 75 years.  Fortunately they don't all grow though, it would be tough to keep the bush  back from your yard if they all survived in the little nooks and crannies where they sprout.  Grizzly

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Famous Botanist

This time of the year is a reminder of the famous Swedish botanist  Carolus Linnaeus who died in 1778.  He is famous because he realized the chaos in the scientific community with the system of naming plants and animals that other scientists were using and realized a better way was needed.  He brilliantly developed the binomial system of naming plants and animals with the Genus species system that group plants and animals with similiar features together under one genus.

I'm reminded of him when on roadside walks or sunny dry open areas in the forests because of the dainty little flower called Twin flower or Linnae borealis named after him.  It's a small shrubby plant that stays very close to the ground  and puts up nice little stalks of twin flowers.  It is said to be one of Linnaeus's favourite plants. Grizzly

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Almost anywhere you go in a slightly mixed coniferous/deciduous forest in the valley right now, you will run into mats of the plant Asarum caudatum or wild ginger.  It's not too spectacular of a plant in itself, but it does have an interesting flower that you don't notice unless you turn some leaves over and look around a bit.
While it's common name is wild ginger, I wouldn't say it's anything like what you buy.  If you crush a piece of root  - which is small - or a piece of stem which grows along the ground there is a distinct gingery/citrus smell and taste.  Grizzly1

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fields of.....Buttercups

One thing that is not unique to the Bella Coola Valley are buttercups, (Ranunculus sp.) but they certainly are pervasive and worse in some areas than others.  Some hay fields eventually get to the point where the fields have to be reworked and that seems to slow them down for a few years.

They are nasty plants when you mow them or cut them with a weed whacker - the cutting action breaking the leaves causes a chemical called ranunculin to be released which further breaks down into toxic chemicals that can burn skin.  When you are mowing the lawn it stings your eyes and can get hard to breath if there is enough of them as the mower chops it up and expels the mixture.  Cows and horses eat all the grass in and around the buttercup and will leave a whole field standing, but apparently the buttercup which is in dried hay gets eaten because once it dries, the toxic chemicals break down and are gone - something redeeming about another wise annoying weed.  Grizzly

Monday, June 21, 2010

Medby Rock

One of the short, but nice hikes in the Bella Coola Valley is the Medby Rock trail.  This trail starts about 200 metres east of the Nusatsum River Bridge.  There is a slightly hard to read sign at the base of the East Nusatsum Forest Service Road.

 If you want the full hike enjoyment just leave your vehicle on the wide parking area next to Highway 20 and start the 1600' climb.  The first portion is on the Forest Service Road, then along an old side road for the next few hundred metres.  It comes to a beautiful clear mountain creek and then starts to basically head up the flank of Mt Nusatsum.  Over the next while it goes through advanced second growth forests and a bit of alder.  Finally it hits a nice stand of old growth Douglas-Fir, cedar and spruce.  After a couple of steeper pitches the trail comes out on a rock knob at 2000' which is the site of an old forestry fire lookout that was part of the era across the province of mountain top fire lookouts before the days of efficient helicopters.  It's a nice workout hike if you want to get a good heart rate and sweat going and then the view of the Bella Coola Valley to the west is rewarding.  Grizzly

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Last week at our bird feeder in Bella Coola we were visited for several days by what my bird books identify as a Eurasian Collared-Dove.  This is the first one that I have seen in Bella Coola, though they may have been visiting before now, just not in our part of the valley.  The bird books say they are an introduced species into Bahama's in the 70's and Florida in the 80's and have been spreading rapidly.  It's possibly this one is someone's captive bird that is in the wild.

Kind of a pretty, gentle looking bird though, we'll see how long it sticks around and whether they become regular valley visitors.  Grizzly

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tomato Weather

With weather like we had today, you could practically hear the tomato plants growing, the nights have been warm and the last few days hot.  The soil temperature soaking up all the sun was at 23 C (75 F) this afternoon when I was weeding some of the garden, and noting the rapid growth and healthy look of the tomato plants.  It's a good trend for the summer to have weather like this in June.  High temperature 26 C and sun all day in Bella Coola. Grizzly

Friday, June 18, 2010


Yesterday's cloudy day cleared out by the early morning, giving us a beautiful 24 C sunny day.  The humidity was low and it was breezy all day which will not be helping the dry soil conditions we have.  Watering gardens is everyday this week and there is a couple more days forecast for warm weather.  Looks like the guy who cut his hay on Wednesday is going to win this time!  Grizzly

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No Sun

Well the day wasn't quite as nice as Environment Canada said it was going to be, staying mostly cloudy and quite windy all day, but at 20 C still pretty nice.  The important thing is there was no rain, so the fellow who started cutting his hay should have had a good drying day.  Gardens are all needing pretty steady watering now, even though we haven't had super hot days, the very low precipitation and lots of wind keeps things dry.  Grizzly

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Hay is On!

With a forecast like this some of the Bella Coola Valley farmers/haycutters have decided to go for it and today started laying down the hay.  It's probably a pretty good bet they'll make it because the forecast sounds good and they should be all bailed up by Saturday.

I've mentioned before that hay cutting in the valley is a tough business because you really have to depend on weather forecasts and then the farmers own knowledge about what it might actually be like, because our weather as we have seen can be different than a lot of areas around us and getting the 3 days with no rain is tricky in mid-late June.  The pattern this year for May and June puts the odds on this farmers side though, because we have so little precipitation.  Many hay cutters will wait for the break we should expect around the 1st week of July to mow there crops down.  Grizzly

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Nice Day

After the mixed weather of yesterday, the overnight clouds dissappeared quite quickly this morning and it turned into a beautiful day with a temperature of 20 C.  The Bella Coola River is at very moderate freshet stage and quite fishable, just enough colour but not so much glacial colour as to make it unfishable.  I wouldn't be the best gauge of how good the fishing is, because other projects have kept me occupied.  Grizzly

Monday, June 14, 2010

June Showers

Today was much more like an April day in Bella Coola, lots of showers, a pretty steady west wind and then in the evening it cleared off to blue sky.  It was cool in the evening but very fresh and green and a really nice Bella Coola spring evening.  Grizzly

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June Mountain Snow

When you live amongst high mountains, you can expect them to generate and receive all kinds of weather any time of the year.  That was the case this morning with the local mountains after the afternoon rain and windstorm of yesterday turned into a light dusting of snow on some of the higher peaks.  It goes just as quick as it comes though at this time of year.  Grizzly

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Windstorm and Rain

After a very pleasant and sunny morning, the wind picked up in the afternoon and we had a brief summer windstorm.  The cottonwood trees were straining under some of the gusts (65 km/h at the Bella Coola Airport) and eventually the power went out.  That's a pretty normal event when we get a brief intense storm like that, with all the trees and vegetation so close to power lines in the Bella Coola Valley.  Often the cause of the outage is a cottonwood top or large branch breaking off, the trees are so full of large leaves and the new wood growth is soft and tender so they are vulnerable to wind damage.

The short rain we received was welcomed for the soil and gardens, but it wasn't a huge amount.  Grizzly

Friday, June 11, 2010


It's getting a little jungle like as you drive along Highway 20 with the plant growth peaking out for spring.  Soon the roadside mowers will lay down a swath and it will be a little easier to see the various critters that hide on the roadsides.  Some of the roadside vegetation is showy like these patches of goat's beard (Aruncus dioicus), but lots of it is just high dense grass.

We finally had a cloudy day with no real sunny periods, but no precipitation either, just a bit cooler and windy. Grizzly

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Well hard to say our weather is tropical when you live north of 52 N latitude, but that's what the pattern seems to be in respect of overnight showers, clearing in the morning, warm afternoon, thunder showers and a little bit of distant thunder and then a nice clear pleasant evening.  It was definitely a growing kind of day with 22 C and nice humidity, plants love this weather.

Anywhere you look in the valley bottom we are at the peak of the spring lushness of growth and depending on the view or picture you take -- it can look a little tropical. Grizzly

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Warm and Showery

From overnight rain showers, to cloudy and warm, the afternoon showers and a nice evening.  Just another day in the pattern  we have been having.  None of the precipitation really amounts to much in the end.

Along a lot of roadsides and field edges the showy - almost weedy - plant commonly called goat's beard (Aruncus dioicus) is in full flower. It tends to grow in patches and makes for a nice back drop along the roads and fields.  Grizzly

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The weather people describe today as a day between systems - mixed weather on the coast yesterday, a nice sunny day and then systems hitting the coast tomorrow.  Doesn't seem to matter this year for the Bella Coola Valley because we seem to get very little precipitation out of anything that has come along since May 1st.  The kind of mornings like today where there is some low cloud, but you can see a grey blue light up the various side valleys in the morning and feel the heat behind the sun usually mean the clouds will burn off early and it will be a nice day which it was.  Grizzly

Monday, June 7, 2010


Our very small crop of strawberries is ripening already.  We have a small crop because in the winter of 2008/09 our particular patch was almost totally wiped out by the extreme cold we had in December 2008 right up till Christmas, with no snow on the ground and lots of east wind.   I was able to salvage enough plants last year to replant 40 or 50 plants and so this is 'off' production year for us.  Most disappointed about that was my daughter home from University expecting the usual 15 or so ice cream buckets of berries to feast on.  Maybe next year.

We had a light shower over night and a little bit this morning, but it didn't seem to last long and the surface was dry again. Grizzly

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cloudy But 23 Degrees

Another good growing day in the Bella Coola Valley, but no significant rain to wet things down so the soil is still quite dry.  Most of the coniferous trees are well into their flushing out season and like this Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), the cones are well formed all ready. Grizzly

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Honeysuckle Berries

A few weeks back in April I mentioned one of the early flowering shrubs would be producing berries about now.  Early last week the Honey Suckle (Lonicera involucrata)  berries were all ripening with their shiny black berries.   The only thing that seems to like them though are the cedar waxwings.  Grizzly

Friday, June 4, 2010


Haying is hard business in the Bella Coola Valley.  There are so many weather factors that influence the outcome that you can't control.  A lot of the hay gets mowed in the last week of June and the first week in July when we can expect a significant period of high pressure so the month of June is the make or break it for hay growth.  Last year we had a significant and unusual hot and dry spell in June that really hurt the hay yields.

Looking at the fields in the first week in June this year it strikes me that it is not going to be a good crop.  We've had excellent temperatures and a reasonable amount of sun, but we have been lacking the precipitation that should go with that.  A good rain this next week will help, but without it, a lot of the grass species will tend towards producing seed heads and not growing so much. Grizzly

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bella Coola River

In case you have wondered about the Bella Coola River - like, how long is it, where is it source, where does it go?  I thought I should straighten that out - since it is a bit confusing.

Unlike most great rivers, that start somewhere as a tiny rivulet in the hills and eventually pick up a whole bunch of other rivers and empty into an ocean or a lake, the Bella Coola River doesn't follow this pattern.  For some reason, back in time the name of the Bella Coola River was picked to describe the 50 km portion of the river after two rivers merge to create it and it flows west to the Pacific Ocean at the head of North Bentinck Arm.  The Talchako River aka "Whitewater" River starts to the south Bella Coola Valley and forms part of the western boundary of Tweedsmuir Park, flowing north for 40 km to join the Atnarko just downstream from Stuie, BC.   The Atnarko River, 65 km long itself is a beautiful clear extremely productive salmon and trout river has it's origin deep within Tweedsmuir Park south of Lonesome Lake.  Very little glacial meltwater gets into the Atnarko so outside the spring freshet it is mostly nearly gin clear.   In contrast the Talchako River has it's origin in the Talchako glacier and except for a few brief winter months can be milky white and dirty glacial green.  The influence of the Talchako based on the size and flow pretty much dominates and from the junction where the two rivers meet west of Stuie, BC the river for the next 50 km is known as the Bella Coola River and from May till November is usually very glacial in colour.  Grizzly

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bella Coola Tourism

I've had some questions about where to stay and things to do when you visit the Bella Coola Valley.  You should definitely follow through on the thought of visiting - the Bella Coola Valley is a great place to visit.  When to visit is all a matter of what you want to do and what your interests are.  Between now and the fall the main visiting periods are; now for chinook salmon fishing in the river, July and August for a bit of fishing and general sight seeing and hiking, and September and early October for nice fall colours and coho salmon fishing.  The best period of the summer is typically the first two weeks of August when there is a pretty good chance of a serious Pacific high pressure ridge setting in which can give us some nice weather. Often there is a nice week or 10 days at the end of June and the first week of July (Bella Coola Rodeo weather). The mosquitoes in the Rainbows are still pretty vigorous then, but by Aug 15th the bugs are facing cool nights and even frost in the Tweedsmuir Parks Rainbow Mountains so a good time to hike if you want to do that.

There are lots of options for places to stay or campsites, and the best source of information is the Bella Coola Valley Tourism website which has lots of good information and information on the various commercial accommodations.  Grizzly

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Nice Temperature

Another day of a light overnight shower, then a pretty nice day, mostly cloudy, but plenty of June heat coming through to make for a comfortable 20 C day.  Just the way we like them, not too hot and not too cold.  Hoping we get a good rainfall this week for the garden. The satellite photos seem to show it hitting further south, so we'll see.  Grizzly