Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Saturday, April 30, 2011


With the ongoing cool spring, the snow in the Coast Mountains isn't melting - in fact it's still accumulating this week on each day we had rain down in the valley, there was more snow at the upper elevations.  It's good news on a bright sunny day like today when it's nice to get out on the Bella Coola River and fish for cutthroat trout with my - home from university daughter.   Usually she catches more fish than me, but not today.  I caught (and released) the only one, which was a beautiful specimen and a fine example of one species of fish the Bella Coola River is well known for. The spring freshet hasn't started and the water level is still low and clear. Grizzly

Friday, April 29, 2011


Today there was a big improvement in the Bella Coola Valley weather and I hope the rest of the coast.  The day was mostly sunny and we hit a high of 14 C which isn't very high, but it felt pretty good after all the miserable cold days we have had.  Hopefully a few more good days are in store for us. This unidentified spider was taking advantage of some sun as well today.  Grizzly


Thursday, April 28, 2011


Even though the days have been cool and warmer temps have been rationed this month, it seems like it's no longer possible to hold back the explosion of plant growth.  It's driven by gradually warming temperatures, longer days and the need to 'get growing'.  It's noticeable now with trees leafing out and lawns going green.  This morning didn't help though, because the temperatures were cool, the rain steady and the snow level was very low in the Bella Coola Valley.  Grizzly

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Smell of Cottonwood in the Morning

In 2010 on April 19, I posted about the wonderful aroma being put out by the resin on the newly emerging cottonwood leaves from the black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) trees. The Bella Coola Valley has extensive stands of cottonwoods and the last two mornings, when the air is still and you step outside in the morning you immediately catch a breath of the pleasant smell that pervades the valley air.  Newly emerged leaves are shiny and sticky right now as they pop out in the last couple of days covered in the aromatic resin. It's 10 days later though this year than last year.

Today was a repeat of yesterday with low hanging cloud in the morning, some clearing and decent sun, then in the mid evening heavy rain showers with the snow level down at less than a 1000 m on the mountains.  Grizzly

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Siberian Larch

I don't normally feature introduced species as something noteworthy, but one of the trees we planted in our yard sold as a Siberian Larch and supposed to be a nice 3 metre shrub has turned into a 10 metre tree with a 30 cm trunk on it.  We noticed yesterday it is nicely in flower, and the female cones on this larch are particularly eye catching.

It also seemed like a relevant photo in relation to the weather today when I ran across an article on the importance of Siberian Larch in Siberia in maintaining the permafrost.  With shifting temperature regimes it may not survive as well as it presently does in Siberia.  Maybe it will continue to thrive in the Bella Coola Valley because it's so darn cool this spring!  That was the theme on today's weather, windy, cool and rain showers in the evening.  Grizzly

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weather

I was out of town for part of the weekend, but friends and neighbours tell me that it was a good weekend, a couple days were really sunny and it warmed up nicely. Except for this morning, however, there was frost every morning.  The cottonwood and alder trees are still not leafing out fully, but my patch of skunk cabbage is in full bloom and smells just perfect! Grizzly

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

MacKenzie Cabin

Way out in Tweedsmuir Park, near the base of MacKenzie Mountain in the Rainbow Mountains, is the old cabin built years ago by Tommy Walker.  It's along the Grease Trail Route and in April is easily accessible by a nice long snowmobile ride of 30 kms or so.  It's just a day shelter cabin along the trail for use by hikers in the summer to pull in for a respite.  Grizzly

Friday, April 22, 2011

April Snow Pack

I shouldn't be talking about the 'snow pack' in Heckman Pass in later April, but since it's such a cold spring, I noticed the pack isn't really shrinking and there is still almost 5' showing.  Heckman Pass is the high point on Highway 20 as your travel out of the Bella Coola Valley and climb the hill.  It's elevation is noted as 5000'.  Soon the pack will begin to shrink rapidly.  Grizzly

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Skunk Cabbage and Iron

Skunk cabbage thrives in an environment where the iron content of the water is so high that the iron consuming bacteria produce the orange slime in this photo. The slime is created by bacteria cells exuding ferric hydroxide to coat their cells.  The breakdown of the bacteria produces a natural oil discharge that makes a sheen on the water.  It's a tough plant though and it seems to thrive in those conditions. Grizzly

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Work Zone Ends

Flood reconstruction and repairs are nearly complete in the Bella Coola Valley.  Road crews are cleaning up the shoulders and placing rip rap in some key locations at culverts and dikes along streams before the waters start to rise from the spring freshet.  With a bit of spring and greenery returning, it's hard to explain to people the extent to which we were covered in water and the bad way many people were in.  Time is moving on and the memories of that bad few days in September 2010 are getting distant.  It's a good thing that we have the capability to put stuff like that in the past.  Grizzly

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Willows Flowering

There are 100's of species of willow bushes, and I am not even sure how many we have in the Bella Coola Valley, because they are a slightly complicated genus of shrubs/trees.  This one today was in full flower as it hangs over the Bella Coola River and quite showy.  On the April weather front, today was cool again, but acceptable, until the evening when we got a rain squall moving through. Grizzly

Monday, April 18, 2011

What's With this Snow Stuff in April?

Mrs. Grizzly suggested the title for tonight's post I think because she is tired of cool days with wind, frost in the mornings and a few tiny ice flakes or snowflakes in the morning, all of which we had today, even though there was a fair amount of sun along with it!  It's going to get better according to the weather people though, a high pressure system is finally forming and will give us a few nice days.  Of course it didn't help when I reminded her that by April 17 last year our cherry trees were in full bloom and this year the buds are just barely swelling up!  Grizzly

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gardening, Fishing, Snowmobiling

It's always a tough decision on a Sunday in April in the Bella Coola Valley.  There is still so much opportunity for Nordic skiing or snowmobiling at East Branch, fishing for Cutthroat trout in the Bella Coola River, which people come from a long ways away to do, or just stay home and do some work on the garden.  Today East Branch won out for me, and between the sunny periods when it was full on winter blizzard it was a great day.  Grizzly

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Another decent April day, although there was a pretty good frost on the ground and vehicles this morning, with a -2 C temperature which is pretty chilly for a mid April morning in the Bella Coola Valley.  Today's photo is a large specimen of the Douglas Fir tree (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii) which grow throughout the Bella Coola Valley.  They are fine trees for many things from wildlife to lumber and the ones along the banks of the Bella Coola Rivera are great specimen trees, where the eagles enjoy building nests in them.  The Bella Coola Valley is nearly at the northern limit on the coast for Douglas Fir, with the end Dean Channel and Kemano being the northern limit.  We are also fortunate in the Bella Coola Valley to have the other subspecies of Douglas Fir which occurs in British Columbia, the interior Douglas Fir in the Atnarko River upstream of Stuie BC  (the two subspecies have differences in form, colour, seed size, but not very noticeable within the Bella Coola Valley populations).  Grizzly 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Special April Days

When we finally get a nice day of April weather like today in the Bella Coola Valley, they are really nice.   They are special because we are now between the cold and misery of some of the winter and whatever the summer will bring...drought, rains or who knows what.  The Bella Coola River this time of year is only matched by the mid and late September days (well except for late September 2010 - which we no longer want to talk about - look back to my September 25, 2010 post if you are interested).

They are fine days to enjoy.  Cutthroat are usually at their peak, the water is low and clear and the visibility along the shore is excellent because the leaves aren't out.  People drifting the river in pontoon boats and drift boats today probably thinking they are in paradise. Grizzly

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nuxalk Mountain

The mountain in the photo today is the north face of Nuxalk Mountain.  It has some impressive bare rock faces on it that the mountain climbers like.  Normally by this time of the spring they are starting to look pretty bare, but not this year, mostly they are still snow covered.  At least we had a decent mostly sunny day in the Bella Coola Valley for a change.  Grizzly

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Late Evening Light

After a marginal but cool day in the Bella Coola Valley complete with a rain squall and rapid cooling off around 5 PM where it nearly snowed for a while at valley level, the evening was cool but nice and calm.  The light on Mt. Nusatsum provided a good look at the days fresh snow.  The weather forecast at least is showing some sun for the next few days.  Grizzly

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Red Alder

In 2010 I talked about the Red Alder (Alnus rubra) trees that were very close to pollinating around March 25.  Because we have had such a cool, long drawn out spring we are now about the same stage as we were last spring.  Right now the Alder catkins are very close to popping open and shedding pollen.  The best is yet to come for allergy sufferers as alder pollen is up there on the irritating level.

Another bonus of living in the Bella Coola Valley is the the extensive birch stands which also shed pollen a few weeks after the alder, just to extend the allergy season.

In today's picture the male catkins are on the bottom of the photo, while right at the top is the tiny female flower which will form the 1 cm alder seed cones this fall.  Grizzly

Monday, April 11, 2011

Slightly Better Day

It wasn't till midday today in the Bella Coola Valley that the clouds lifted enough to catch a glimpse of the fresh snow from yesterday.  It looks like above 2000' there was a lot of new snow in the mountains.  Hard to believe at the 11th of April it still feels like the middle of March though.  Grizzly

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April Snow

It wasn't a pleasant day in the Bella Coola Valley today as far as the weather goes.  It started with rain, then in some parts of the valley, there were snow showers on and off all day.  The high temperature of 4 C was only matched by the height of the clouds above the valley which might have hit 400 feet above the valley bottom where you could catch the occasional glimpse of new snow.  Not a very inspirational day.  Grizzly

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Finishing Firewood

Today was a good April kind of day to work on firewood.   Spring is so late this year, the trees are only just starring to have bud swell and the ones I dropped earlier before the sap started running were accessible and it was cool enough that the big old slow dumb mosquitoes couldn't really muster themselves. It's always a good feeling to get the wood supply topped up.

Cool and windy were definitely the order of the day today again in the Bella Coola Valley.  It managed to make it to 10 C at the Bella Coola Airport along with some pretty stiff west winds in the 30-40 km/h neighborhood today.  Grizzly

Friday, April 8, 2011

Back to Dull Days in April

Back to typical April 2011 weather today - grey and dull for most of the day.  It managed to hit a high of 12 C, but it didn't feel like that.  The forecast for the next few days is more of the same.  I hope it improves for the weekend, at least long enough to get a picture of something with good light.  Grizzly

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Improved Weather

I think today was probably the best day of the week, looking at the forecast for the Bella Coola Valley for the next few days.  While the eastern end of the valley had a little borderline snow shower right at daylight, it was all forgotten by shortly after 8 AM when blue sky broke out and made a grand day.  It warmed up to 12 C and was all around a nice change from the rest of the week.  Mount Nusatsum in this photo looked spectacular.  Grizzly

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More Cool April Weather

It wasn't a warm day and up till about 4 PM, it was mostly cloudy with a few light showers.  In the late afternoon it cleared a bit and we actually got some sun, but the high temperature day was only 9 C and that came late in the day, but till 2 PM it barely made 5 C.  Waiting for April weather to come.  Grizzly

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slow Growth

Normally by early April, the Devil's Club (Oplopanox horridus) buds are starting to swell, show a lot of green leaf and sometimes burst.  Not this year.  Tonight when I looked at the ones in our woods they look as dormant as they did in mid winter.  Of course a day like today with high temperatures in the 5 or 6 C range and the fresh snow level only 3-400 metres above the valley floor isn't really conducive to plant growth or a feeling of spring. Grizzly

Monday, April 4, 2011


Today was a pretty cool day and we had a lot of west wind, which made it feel a little bit raw.  It wasn't a very inspiring day in the Bella Coola Valley as far as weather, but we are slowly and steadily moving along the path to spring.  Our small population of a few Red Wing Blackbirds in our neighborhood returned this weekend right on schedule with other years.  While we reached a high of 8 C, the winds at 20-40 km/h didn't make it feel warm.  Grizzly

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Skunk Cabbage

Last year about this time I wrote my post "The Smell of Skunk Cabbage in the Morning", which I talked about the deep and pungent aroma of Skunk cabbage (Lysichotin americanum) that wafts over parts of the Bella Coola on still days as we go into the spring.  It's a great plant and definitely an acquired 'smell', but I find it to be one of the key markers of the passing seasons.  It is just starting to pop out of the wet areas as we begin to warm and thaw.

Today though we turned back to a cold April day.  It was -1 this morning, then turned to a cold rain in the late afternoon with the snow level not that many hundred's of metres above the valley floor.  Grizzly

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blue Birds Back

Yesterday was the first day I have noticed the return and passing through of the Mountain Bluebird in the Bella Coola Valley.  Their arrival in the last 10 years that I've noted has ranged from March 24 to April 4.  They only spend a week or 10 days here at the most in the lower valley along fields and fence posts, then they disappear as they continue their migration. In spite of nest boxes attempts over the years I've never heard of them nesting here.

A little mixed weather overnight gave way to a great spring day of 13 C today in the Bella Coola Valley.  Perfect for getting a start on the outdoor spring chores and winter cleanup.  Grizzly

Friday, April 1, 2011

Helicopter Skiing Days

April is a prime month in Bella Coola for the helicopter skiing business.  The snow pack is deep, there is often fresh snow overnight in the mountains which tend to generate their own weather systems and the days are sunnier and long.  The main challenge for the guides is to manage the avalanche risk and stay in the safest possible areas.  I'm sure they are rewarded with many great views of our peaks like this one this evening as they travel in amongst the rugged beauty of the Coast Mountains in April.  

With a high temperature of 11 C and a mix of sunny periods with the odd cell of very light sprinkles of rain it was a good day.  Grizzly