Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tallheo Cannery

On the North Side of North Bentinck Arm, about 3 km northwest of the Bella Coola Harbour, is the historic Tallheo Cannery.  Depending on the source you read, Tallheo Cannery started either in 1905 or 1916 and was owned for the better part of the last century by the Canadian Fishing Company Ltd. or Canfisco.  It's primary purpose was to process sockeye, coho, pink, chum and chinook salmon into tin cans for shipment around the world.  The BC coast was covered in canneries in the early 1900's with places like Rivers Inlet just to the South of Bella Coola had more than 15 operating at one time.

It was an era that saw many of our coastal communities get established around the presence of canneries and the commercial fishing industry that supported them, an entire way of life for generations of people who either fished or worked in canneries.  After WW II, the death knell for most of our coastal canneries started when packer boats got bigger and faster and most importantly the ice making technology improved making if far more efficient to ice fish down and take them to Prince Rupert and Vancouver where large efficient canneries with big work forces were available.  Some time in the late 40's or early 50's Tallheo became just transfer point and a net storage loft for fishermen.

A number of the older buildings have disappeared at Tallheo but it still has a beautiful collection of classic early buildings and is run as a bed and breakfast. Grizzly

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Diet of Willow

Every time I see moose in the winter time in the Chilcotin, I can't help thinking what a tough life it must be to spend between November and April virtually dependent on the browsing of willows when you are an animal the size of a moose.  Thankfully there are cellulose digesting bacteria that make it all work for this big fellow, because at -30 C like it was the morning I took this picture, you need all the help you can get to survive.  Grizzly

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fence Work

A lot of fences in the Bella Coola Valley look like the one in this photo after the Great Flood of 2010 last September.  It's going to take quite a bit of work to get them restored and few people had time to work on them last fall after the flood, but come spring, it's a whole new round of work to get them restored by straightening posts, fixing broken wire and removing the flotsam.  Grizzly

Friday, February 25, 2011

BC Packers

The British Columbia Packing Company or BC Packers was another fishing company that had a long presence in the Bella Coola valley from somewhere in the early 1900's to the early 1990's when the company removed all of it's staff and operations from Bella Coola.  The building in the photo is the large net loft (a place to store fisherman's nets and to work on them).  It was originally a cannery established by John Clayton and later sold to the British Columbia Packers Association which become BC Packer eventually.

It still dominates the views when  you are down at the Bella Coola Harbour.  Grizzly

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Welcome to the Chilcotin

The winter scene that greats you when pop over the mountain pass and hit the Chilcotin Plateau at the eastern boundary of Tweedsmuir Park in the winter.  Grizzly

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winter Scene

The mountains north of the Bella Coola Valley looking west from Tweedsmuir Park last weekend.  Grizzly

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fresh Snow Blue Sky

A perfect kind of day today in the Bella Coola Valley where we got a couple cm of snow in some areas and this time the mid valley area around the airport got nearly 8-10 cm.  It made for a nice day when the sun cleared out the overnight clouds and blue skies were the order of the day.  Grizzly

Monday, February 21, 2011

Light Snow

A light fresh 3-4 cm snowfall covered the Bella Coola Valley this morning.  The day was mostly good, with snow showers near the end of the day and much colder weather forecast in the coming days.  Grizzly

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cottonwood Against Blue Sky

Yesterday was such a brilliant blue sky day, I couldn't resist this photo of a large old cottonwood silhouetted against the blue sky.  No wonder the eagles like them for nest building with those massive limbs going out and forming such stable platforms.

It was a decent day in the Bella Coola Valley, with a bit of sun and temperatures in the -7 C in the morning warming up to -2 C tonight.  Grizzly

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cold Puntzi Mountain

Puntzi Mountain and nearby Puntzi Lake is a small community about 3 hours east of Bella Coola on the Chilcotin Highway 20.  It's known for it's history related to Puntzi Mountain having a radar station which was part of the Pinetree line of early warning stations established during the cold war era in the early 1950's and has long since been demobilized.  Puntzi Mountain is also the site of an Environment Canada weather station, and in the winter time a really cold site. Until today I thought the weather station was actually on Puntzi Mountain, which is more of high hill than a Bella Coola style mountain, which would help explain why it gets so darn cold there.  But when I looked into the coordinates for the weather station it's actually right beside the runway, (a paved 6100' runway - 2nd longest in BC when it was built) which makes it even more impressive in regards to the extreme cold it records.  Often when you check the BC weather summary, when it's cold, Puntzi is colder than even places in the north and I think it must rank as one of the consistenltly coldest places in Canada.

This morning's low of -39 C, is no joke and helps you understand where we get some of that cold air that can spill into the Bella Coola Valley during Arctic outflows. Grizzly

Friday, February 18, 2011

Arctic Conditions

A very windy night, turned into a very windy east wind day in  the normal windy parts of the valley.  The morning temperatures were around -12 C and in lower Burke Channel, the greatest wind tunnel on the coast was blowing in the 80-100 km/h range most of the day (Environment Canada, Cathedral Point automatic weather station). 

The view today is looking across the Svishdahl farm field north into the Salloomt River valley with the mountains at the headwaters.  Grizzly

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Falling Mercury

I think it's a good thing we no longer use mercury thermometers, but the saying will probably never go away.  It's pretty easy now to look across the room at my large digital wireless readout thermometer display and see that the temperature is slowly going negative tonight and is already at -8 C.  At the same time I hear the odd creak and groan outside the house of things that are flapping in the Arctic outflow breaking out tonight (our third major one this winter - I think?).  I hope this will be the last really cold one.  We often get one in late March or even the first week in April, but the temperatures are usually pretty acceptable by then.  Grizzly

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

River Colour

In a normal winter the Bella Coola River at this time of year would be very clear, unless we had a slight thaw and a bit of high water.  So far though this winter, even when the river was lower and freezing we are not seeing the clearing. It seems to be due to the large tributaries like the Nusatsum, Talchako and Atnarko Rivers that are still moving fresh sediments that were exposed in the Great Flood of 2010.  I guess the normal this year will be that it doesn't ever clear up until we move into the glacial melt in May.  Grizzly

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Improved Weather

Today in the Bella Coola Valley was finally a chance to get some vitamin D through catching a few of the suns rays that were shining for most of the day after the morning cleared out the overnight lingering snow showers.  It was a nice February day with no wind and a high temperature of 5 C.

The photo today (taken by Mrs. Grizzly)  is the view of Salloomt Peak at 1873 m (6145')  from the east looking towards the northwest. It dominates all of the lower Bella Coola Valley views on the north side of the valley - and has a couple communication towers on it (including one of the towers for the local Internet society) which you can see near the peak and on the left side.  The side of the mountain next to the Bella Coola River is very steep and drops rapidly from the peak to the valley bottom. Grizzly

Monday, February 14, 2011


February in the Bella Coola Valley is often when you hear people commenting about seeing wolves in closer to settlements and it's not uncommon to go outside at night and hear that long mournful howl of a pack.  I think as winter drags on and mountain snowpacks deepen and stay soft, their 'trading' range has to shrink to the lower valley where there are a number of potential food opportunities such as some of the local deer, beavers and the odd dog you hear about that a wolf managed to get.

I know our dog seems very interested in the goings on at the edge of the field near the woods at night this time of year and usually starts her outside forays at night with a mandatory few barks to establish her presence...also her night vision is not that great anymore due to age and slowly progressing cataracts, so I think she thinks being assertive is good in this situation while she stays just at the edge of the light being cast from the house.

On the weather front...grim.  More low cloud, rain, wet snow, no wind and temperatures hovering at 0 C and just above.  Time for something different for weather.  Grizzly

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snow and Rain

Another less than nice day in the Bella Coola Valley.  It wasn't even sunny in the usually sunny East Branch at the top of the hill today, where you normally go and get a good dose of sun while skiing or snowmobiling if you are getting tired of dreary days in the Bella Coola Valley.

The road reconstruction crews are not giving up though, it looks like they've almost got the last major road wash out on Hammer Road nearly reconstructed.  Grizzly

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Last nights rain did gave way to large wet snowflakes early this morning in the Bella Coola Valley.  At first it didn't seem like it would materialize into much, but that proved wrong.  By the time the snow quite at dinner time we had 6" in the lower valley and nearly 12" in the upper valley.  It turned to rain for a brief period at the end, but then stopped that as well and is just hovering around 0 C tonight.  Grizzly

Friday, February 11, 2011

Back to Rain

After a modestly decent week in the Bella Coola Valley, today we are back to the February doldrums of a dull low cloud and rainy day.  Not very inspiring and hopefully not the trend for next week, but a mix of rain and snow and dull weather is forecast.  Grizzly

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Work before Ball

In the Great Flood of 2010, the beautiful community softball field located in Walker Island Regional Park was heavily damaged by the flood waters of the Bella Coola River.  It must have been 4 or 5' deep across the field based on the amount of damage done to the fences.  A group of volunteers had just finished last year a major upgrade to expand it and improve the fencing and site.

Not only are most of the fences heavily damaged but the field is covered by up to 10 cm of that fine slippery mucky silt that the flood deposited everywhere.  While it is still setting and fresh it's slippery and miserable, but when the spring  comes it will dry and be very hard and will have to be either moved off or chewed up and reseeded.  More work for volunteers.  Grizzly

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Norwegian Heritage House

The original Norwegian settlers who settled much of present day Hagensborg in the 1890's brought a unique style of architecture to their buildings.  Not very many survive in the form where you can see the full design, but there are quite a number of the older houses have been built onto and the original plank work covered up, and insulated, but it still survives in one form or another.

This house was originally built and occupied on a farm a few kilometres east of it's present site in Hagensborg where several generations grew up in it.  The Sons of Norway 20 or so years ago were able to get hold of this house and moved it to a permanent site where it could be preserved and displayed.

Note the dovetail construction technique and how tightly and cleanly the joints fit.  Grizzly

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Old Churches

While the Bella Coola Valley is no Quebec in terms of old and classical architecture for churches, for a little community far out in a rain forest, we do have have a few classic buildings.  This church, the Augsburg United Church built in 1904 and past the 100 year mark for a wood building is pretty impressive.  It's architecturally pleasing and it's a real landmark in Hagensborg to be able to drive by every day and see it unchanged over the years.  Tomorrow, more old buildings.  Grizzly

Monday, February 7, 2011


In the lower Bella Coola Valley this past weekend, the fields have all bared off of snow.  These cows in the photo at the Harested farm seemed pretty happy about that.  They were contently grazing on the dry grass and enjoying the mild temperatures.  After the Great Flood of 2010, many of the folks with livestock were in a bad way for hay, because a lot got ruined when barns were inundated with 4-6' of water.  Efforts were made to get the hay replaced from places in the Chilcotin, but still a big loss to lose your hard earned winter hay crop.  The more days we get like today where horses and cows can find their own on the field, the better off everyone will be.  Grizzly

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Environment Canada was forecasting snow for the Bella Coola Valley for today and that's exactly what we got starting through the night and continuing all day.  By nightfall there was up to 10 cm, but it's wet and the temperature is hovering at zero and 1 C, so anything is possible through the night.  Grizzly

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Big Mountain

When you are driving east on Highway 20 and you come into the Hagensborg area, if you have a good day in the winter and can see the mountain tops, then Mount Nusatsum at 8448 feet can't escape your view.  I'm always amazed how 'in your face' it appears as you drive through middle Hagensborg and it looms large and imposing over the valley.  It's so high that even with the high freezing levels and rain we had this week, it is plastered with fresh snow above the 5000 foot level.

It wasn't a particularly note worthy day for weather in the Bella Coola Valley, just high uniform cloud and no precipitation with temperatures in the 3-5 C and no wind.  Grizzly

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just a Couple Inches of Rain

Looks like we dodged another storm bullet in the last few days in the Bella Coola Valley.  We received somewhere around 2" or 40-50 mm of rain since Wednesday night, but no serious consequences other than a bit of water standing around on frozen ground.  The Bella Coola River looked a bit different today, but still pretty tame.  Grizzly

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Steady Rain

The rain which started yesterday afternoon, hasn't really let up as of this evening.  It's been mostly steady all day and some periods of heavy rain.  Freezing levels are high, but I am not certain how high, at dusk the tributary creeks were not excessively high, so at some elevation all the rain is coming down as snow, which is a good thing as it will ensure we don't have too much high water.  There is a rainfall warning out from Environment Canada suggesting another 30-40 mm tonight.  Grizzly

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February Conditions

Back in the Bella Coola Valley today, the conditions were very typical for February.  Just above freezing this morning, a moderately high cloud layer and then deteriorating to cold rain this afternoon and evening at 1 C.   The Bella Coola River is back down to a nice mid winter condition.  More rain and snow forecast.  Grizzly

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Repost of Glaciers and Gravestones

 Last winter I posted this, and a number of readers enjoyed it.  I'm on the road tonight, so can't tell you much about the Bella Coola Valley, some readers may not have seen this post.  Grizzly

You might not know it, but dying in Bella Coola and being buried in our pretty little cemetery  can make a real contribution to the study of glaciology and the relation to the climate shift debate that is happening.  Everyone seems to be in in agreement that glaciers like the one in this photo are generally getting smaller, and we've all watched the ones we can see from roads around Bella Coola shrinking over time.

In the late 90's some researchers were looking at the period known as the "Little Ice Age" which was a cooler period in this area beginning in the 13th century.  This period saw glaciers advancing in the 13th and 14th centrury, taking a break, then advancing again in the 17th and 19th centuries and finally ending in the 20th century.  While a lot of interest and research has gone into determining more about the extent of this Little Ice Age, researchers are always looking at ways to more accurately determine when a period ended.  In the case of the end of the Little Ice Age in this area, one method has been to examine glacial moraines adjacent to glaciers and the vegetation growth on these (mostly trees) to determine when these areas became ice free by aging the trees.  It's common to use the technique of dating trees that grow on the moraines, but some moraines take 100's of years for trees to colonize that could be useful for dating or the altitude is too high to ever see trees useful for dating.

A technique of dating called lichenometry exists where the growth rate of lichens on exposed rock is measured and then the age of the lichen is determined and thus working backwards arriving at when the rock become exposed (from the ice or glacier).  One of the challenges with this method is that lichens grow at different rates in different areas and different species.  Clear headed, clever researchers who spend a lot of time breathing clean mountain air and looking at glaciers in the Coast Mountains and especially the areas around Bella Coola figured out that they could use the Bella Coola Cemetery to help them determine the date of glacial retreat.   By finding gravestones of natural rock, with lichens on them (Rhizocarpon geographicum) which grow on rocks at altitudes and in the cemetery, the rocks exposed recently near glaciers could be dated.  They simply compared the size of the lichens on the rocks with the size of the lichens from gravestones in the Bella Coola Cemetery.  This lichen species can become 100's of years old and by measuring the diameters can be used to age the rock exposure time.

Turns out these researchers used 9 different gravestones in the Bella Coola cemetery to develop the "Bella Coola Lichen Curve" (go ahead type it into Google if you don't believe me), which is simply a line on a graph plotting age vs size (diameter).  Since the Bella Coola Lichen Curve was developed most glaciologists working in the area refer to it in their studies or calibrate their own data against it, to age areas which are ice free near glaciers and thus start to determine when areas became ice free. Of course the longer the period we have data on the melting and advancing of glaciers will help bring more facts and science to climate discussions.

One thing I'm certain on--make sure they use a big rock for my gravestone, I want to make my contribution to future climate studies long after I'm gone.  Grizzly