Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pink and Chum Fry

The Bella Coola River and its tributary streams are well known in the salmon world for the pink and chum salmon runs.  The chum salmon run has sustained a commercial salmon fishery for many generations of fish and fishermen in Bella Coola.  The Atnarko River - one of the two major rivers that form the Bella Coola River (the Talchako River is the other one) is famous in history for the size of its pink salmon run - while the last 10 years runs have been small and more modest there are years like 1962 and 1988 where the total stock of returning fish exceeded 10 million pink salmon.  On a really good year the Atnarko River should see 1 million pink salmon spawn (the rest are caught in salmon fisheries) but even 2 or 3 hundred thousand is impressive.  Historically the even years are the strongest run, while 2010 wasn't that strong a year, whatever fish were in the system were devastated by the Great Flood of 2010. 

Last weekend when the sun was bright and the water in the Bella Coola River clear would normally be perfect conditions to walk along the shore and see pink and chum salmon fry along the margins, as they wait for darkness to migrate downstream on their way to the ocean.  Try as I might this year I haven't seen a pink or chum fry, so the effects of the flood from September 2010 by anecdotal observations suggest a near wipe out of the spawn from those fish.  It will be a dry few years coming up in 2 years for pink and 3,4, and 5 years for the chum salmon returning to the Bella Coola River.  Grizzly

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two Days One River

Yesterday the Bella Coola River was slightly off in colour from sediments as a result of a bit of the warmer weather the previous few days and some of the usual clay banks thawing and sloughing.  It was still a fairly pleasant translucent colour.

After a night and day of rain it was a lot dirtier looking today and not so pleasant.  It seems like it won't take much of a combined spring thaw and rain to produce pretty dirty river conditions in the Bella Coola River this year.  Grizzly

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Late Rhubarb

Another sign of the late spring we have had is the stage the Rhubarb is at in the garden.  Last year on Feb 21 it was almost as far along as March 29 this year.  No problem though, it always seems to catch up and produce huge and abundant amounts of excellent Rhubarb. 

Today was another pretty dull day in the Bella Coola Valley, with a bit of light rain, but no wind and temperatures in the 6-8 C range.  Grizzly

Monday, March 28, 2011

Average March Day

Nothing too special about this Monday in the Bella Coola Valley.  Not much sun, a high cloud cover and no rain or wind.  Work still going on to finish dike repairs and bedload removal on a number of the tributary creeks and the highways crews finishing off ditching, patching and culvert repairs that weren't fully completed before winter set in.  Grizzly

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Another warm sunny beautiful spring day in the Bella Coola Valley where we reached 16 C. It was a good day for yard work, firewood, fishing (cutthroat trout in the Bella Coola River), hiking, cross country skiing at Eastbranch or snowmobiling at East Branch - all possible and good today.  We enjoyed the fine weather by staying home and a short hike.  

The photo is the spring time remains of a tree leaf from last fall. Grizzly

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hazel Nuts in Flowers

A good indication of just how cold and delayed spring has been this year in the Bella Coola Valley is to watch one of my key phenology indicators -- the Hazel Nut tree (native to BC, but not native to the Bella Coola Valley).  My tree  which I planted years ago is just in the pollination stage while last year on Feb 27 it was at the same stage it is now.
It was still a pretty good day in Bella Coola, considering there was a bit of rain overnight and it gradually cleared reaching 12 C. Grizzly

Friday, March 25, 2011

Record Breaking Temperatures

That's what the CTV weather man said about Bella Coola today and yesterday...record breaking temperatures in the Bella Coola valley!  It's because we hit 17 C yesterday and 16.1 C today, both which seem to place us at the top of the daily high temperatures for the Province.  I have to say it's about time and that we deserve it!  It's been a nice week and has really started moving spring along with bulbs starting to emerge and trees changing colour.

The photo is of the buds beginning to break on the Douglas Maples trees that grow widespread in the valley and have bright red, tiny but showy buds this time of year.  Grizzly

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Iron

I've written a few posts about the iron consuming bacteria that inhabit some of the streams in the Bella Coola Valley.  With the water levels getting towards the lowest point of the year in the Valley some of the iron stains which built up over the winter show quite vividly this time of year.  Grizzly

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


After the Great Flood of 2010, some parts of the Bella Coola River are scoured clean and have more coarse and large rock showing while other areas received large accumulations of fresh sand.  The sand won't show for long (assuming it doesn't get washed away in another flood), it quickly gets colonized by new growth especially new cottonwood trees once the spring seeds fly this coming June. Grizzly

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Full Day of Spring

The first full day of spring in the Bella Coola Valley was a good spring day.  A bit of high morning cloud gave way in the afternoon and evening to full sun, a few Robins are now returning, and the crows are walking around the field starting to look for nesting material.  We have a family or two that always nest in the neighborhood making for interesting crow antics throughout the spring and early summer.  Grizzly

Sunday, March 20, 2011


While the morning started out cool at 0 C and somewhat questionable looking, the day topped out at 12 C again and had some sunny periods.   More good weather for the first day of spring to help melt some snow and thaw the ground.  Lots of people in the Bella Coola Valley are  looking forward to spring this year after the fall flooding, the cold and drawn out winter, and cool late winter we are hoping for just a nice normal spring and summer which officially starts at 10:21 PM PST. Grizzly

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Today was  a good day for working on 2012's firewood supply.  The ground still is frozen and there is still snow which makes cutting up the logs easy when they lay on the snow.  This big old cottonwood was taken down last fall if you recall when I had my experienced neighbor teach me how to safely fall a big leaning cottonwood.  I didn't need all the wood for the fall of 2011's wood supply so it lay there for the winter.  It's still not completely accessible with part of it frozen in the ice for another week or so.

The discouraging thing about the day was one of those big old slow dumb mosquitoes landed on me and tried to bite!  What's with that - mosquitoes when there is still snow?  I hope it's not an omen after all the water that saturated the valley after last fall's flood.  Grizzly

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Flowers

One of the key plant events we watch each spring are the emergence and flowering of the tiny Snowdrop flowers.  Last spring the Snowdrop flowers we have under a tree away from any buildings were in flower on Feb 18.  This spring they are about where they were last year on March 18!  They did try to pop up two weeks ago before the big cold spell but were hammered back by the extreme cold and snow.  These are one tough little flower that can seem to emerge when the ground is still frozen solid barely 5 cm below the surface. 

On the weather front it was another 12 C day in the Bella Coola Valley, but not as sunny as yesterday.  Grizzly

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Showing

Today in the Bella Coola Valley one could start believing that spring indeed is coming.  With a morning at -1 C and a high of 11 C the signs of winter are slipping and the ground starting to show a sign of thawing.  We just have to keep it up for a week or so and some catch up can happen.  Grizzly

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Time Finds

I was walking trough our woods the other day to see what sort of winter events happened and sizing up some trees for firewood when I noticed this bird house off to the side of the trail.  It was put together quite a few years ago by one of my children from a kit supplied by the Junior Forest Wardens that used to run in the Bella Coola Valley.  A local fellow made the kits and donated them I believe.  It was a father son or daughter project (can't remember which kid!) nailing it together and picking a spot to hang it.  We hung it along the path in a cedar tree thinking that some songbird would for sure use it.  For quite a few years we watched it but no bird ever chose to use it.  Then the kids grew up and the bird house disappeared into the leaves after a strong wind one day.

Now when I walk the trail in the spring I see it every year and gradually watch it become more a part of the forest floor landscape and simply decide to leave it and mark the passing of another year. Grizzly

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brown Estuary

This past weekend the Bella Coola River estuary was still very much looking wintry.  It won't take many warmer days for the green shoots of new estuary grasses and various plants to begin to show after this long winter.    A few Canada Geese honking in the distance and lots of brown still showing means the geese will have to wait awhile longer for green shoots.  Grizzly

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bella Coola River

Soon it will be time to try Cutthroat trout fishing in the Bella Coola River.  The water has cleared up nicely, and the ice melted away along the margins.  Some of the favourite fishing holes have moved and don't appear to be favourite anymore, but then other new ones have formed.  Grizzly

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Double Digit Temperatures

We actually hit a high of 10 C in the Bella Coola Valley today and there was some late afternoon sun that helped to boost the temperature.  Combined with a bit of wind, some days with temperatures like that will start to put a dent in the valley snow that remains.   More fields will start looking like this one soon hopefully and with daylight till well past 7:30 PM we can do something with evening time outside.  Grizzly

Saturday, March 12, 2011

No Tsunami

While Bella Coola was named in the Tsunami advisory Friday morning, we are all just fine.  No visible effects up this inlet.  It would be hard to imagine a Tsunami generated across the Pacific actually affecting Bella Coola.  When you look at the map you realize the barrier of islands that protect the entrance to the inlet.  I suppose in a 'closer to our coast quake', with a large Tsunami we could experience a sea level rise with a large push of water onto the coast, which at a high tide, would be bad news for part of the townsite of Bella Coola.

I always think more about the potential for a Megatsunami - similar to that which hit Lituya Bay in Alaska in 1958 when an earthquake triggered a large part of the mountain to give way and created a massive wave, an incredible 1,719 feet high! If you look at the landforms in Burke Channel and some of the near vertical mountains that rise up thousands of feet, the scenario of a megatsunami is not out of the realm of possibilities.

On the weather front...nothing to talk about, or I don't want to talk about it - today's picture looking west at the head of North Bentinck Arm says it all. Grizzly

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rock Trucks

Since the Great Flood of 2010 the Bella Coola Valley has hosted a sizable fleet of the brutes in today's photo.  They were moved in as soon as equipment could be barged in before Highway 20 was reopened and have worked 7 days a week except for two weeks at Christmas.

It's been a long run as they have hauled gravel from accumulated bed load in the tributary creeks (Klonnik, Snootli and Thorsen) to various spoil sites.  When they are not hauling gravel they are hauling blasted large rip rap rock from the rock pit at Klonnik Creek to re-enforce dikes on tributaries and a few places on the  Bella Coola River.  They are efficient machines and a big job could not have been done without all the hours they have put in.  It's coming to an end soon though as the work winds down and the annual weight restrictions come on Highway 20 soon as we (hopefully) get into some spring time weather.  It will be nice to see the ground start to thaw and some of the wet muddy areas and snow melt away and dry up.  Grizzly

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Late Winter Colour

You know winter hasn't departed when in March the Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) stems are still brilliant red.  They are about the only plant showing any kind of attractive colour at this stage and thank goodness we have them because otherwise the landscape is looking pretty dreary.

Today the dull weather continued, even though a couple of times it looked like some clearer skies would move in, it didn't happen by days end.  With a high temperature of 6 C today and back down to 1 or 2 this evening, it was just another cool March day. Grizzly

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wet Cold March Weather

It's abundantly apparent that spring is going to be slow coming to the Bella Coola Valley this year, we are two weeks behind when you look at the normal colour change and swelling of tree buds like the alder and birch. Days like today of rain showers, low hanging cloud and highs of 4 and 5 C are not going to speed up the melt of much of the snow and ice.  Grizzly

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Snow Zone

One of the places in the Bella Coola Valley where you can expect snow when no where else gets snow is the mouth of the Nusatsum River Valley.  It's the largest tributary in the lower valley and it runs north into the Bella Coola about 20 km east of the town of Bella Coola.  It's influenced by a lot of cold air that flows down it from the glaciers and high mountains at its head.

On days like today that are somewhat marginal in weather quality in the valley, if there will be snow anywhere it's for a short distance at the mouth of the river where Highway 20 crosses the bridge in a really tight U-shape turn.  It was snowing this morning for a short distance there where there was no snow elsewhere.  It's a good place to slow down to 5 km/h as you go over the bridge on most days.  Grizzly

Monday, March 7, 2011

Clear River

After months of the Bella Coola and Atnarko Rivers being silty, both rivers (at least in the Bella Coola above the Nusatsum and Noosgulch River tributaries) are finally nearly clear -  not gin clear like a normal winter, but clear.  After the Great Flood of 2010 the fall period saw both rivers high and silty right till the freeze up.  In any other winter as the winter progressed the Bella Coola would lose it glacial colour, and the Atnarko River is normally clear in all but the spring freshet and normal fall freshets.  For a while this winter it looked like neither river would ever go clear, there was a lingering silt colour even through the earlier Arctic cold spells.  Finally tonight you can see the bottom of the Bella Coola River from the bridge.  And the photo above is the magnificent Thunder Mountain at the headwaters of Noosgulch Creek with today's blue sky for a backdrop. It sums up the weather for today in the Bella Coola Valley.   Grizzly

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Snow Pack

Snow pack levels down in the Bella Coola Valley bottom range from a few inches in the western end of the valley to 10-12 inches as you move up valley further inland.  It's been a cool start to the month of March, but again the weather this weekend has been pleasant in the valley.  I think the snow pack is just average or less in the mountains and the photo today is of the snow gauge in Heckman Pass right as you break over the escarpment headed for the Bella Coola Valley on Highway 20.  At 5 feet this snow pack is about average in recent years, but certainly well below what can accumulate on a big winter. Grizzly

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Finally a decent day in the Bella Coola Valley!  The day started with a few light snow flurries, but they quickly vanished and the rest of the day was sunny, calm and warmed up to 5 C.  It felt like a good March day except for the snow covering most of the valley.  All the ice that has built up along the river margins and on the cliffs in various places like above Firvale where the photo is from, took a bit of a set back today with above freezing temperatures.  Grizzly

Friday, March 4, 2011

Grey Rock

After a light overnight skiff of snow in the Bella Coola Valley, a few puffs of east wind today and temperatures reaching a high of 5 C it was a pretty decent day.  Overcast light, with the rocks covered with wispy light snow, makes the surrounding mountains all look ominously grey on a day like today. Grizzly

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Outflow Over

I'm pretty sure I roto tilled my garden once in March in Bella Coola not so long ago, but it's going to have to get nice really quick and melt some snow and thaw a lot of ground before that happens this year.  Last night's snowfall was 15 cm in some areas and less than 10 cm further west towards the ocean in the Bella Coola Valley.  This should be the time of year when we can contemplate fishing for cutthroat trout in the Bella Coola River, but this week you would have to walk out on the ice which is all along the margins of the river.

At least the Arctic outflow has stopped and today warmed up to near 0 C and some brighter skies for part of the day.  Grizzly

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nasty March Weather

I've been out of the valley for the better part of what my neighbors say was a bad week.  Days of Arctic Outflow with temperatures hitting -18 C and screaming wind with drifting snow.  Interspersed with spells of Arctic outflows were temperatures popping up above freezing only to plunge back to -15 C.  Tonight we arrived home to 15 cm of soft fluffy fresh snow in the driveway that came tonight.  The drive across the Chilcotin watching fine snowflakes coming at you for several hundred kilometres was quite fine.  Not a dull week for weather in British Columbia.  Grizzly

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Steep Mountain Highway

We made a trip out of Bella Coola this week, which is always a bit of journey and usually appreciated by my wife because we get to visit family shop at big stores and get all fed up with traffic and busy places and people.

It's a good reminder when you leave Anahim Lake that we are entering the home stretch when we see this sign.  Grizzly