A blog about life in the Bella Coola Valley and the Central Coast area of British Columbia for anyone interested in an incredible and rich part of BC's coast. I hope to provide my thoughts about things as simple as weather observations and seasonal issues, to comments about life and the natural history in the Bella Coola Valley, the Central Coast and the west Chilcotin area.
Note: All photos on this blog were taken by the author unless otherwise noted. While the photos and written material are all the property of the author and protected by Copyright, I'm not a professional photographer and you can use the photos if a link or attribution is provided back to my blog. If you have a need to use a particular photo and you want the high resolution file, leave a comment with your email (I won't publish it) and we can discuss what use you intend the photo for. Grizzly
A resident of the Bella Coola Valley and observer of the natural history, geography, resources, regional climate and cultural history of the Bella Coola Valley, Central Coast and the West Chilcotin area of BC.
The week between Christmas and New's Years has been a fine week in the Bella Coola Valley. Once the east wind died after Christmas it has been mostly just below freezing, a few centimetres of snow and a couple days of good blue sky. All in all a good period for for family outings, cross country skiing at East Branch (not enough snow this year yet for snowmobiling) or just hiking in the valley bottom or using snow shoes up the side roads. All good and restful for the middle of winter. Grizzly
The east wind is subsiding and the sky turned pure blue today and the temperature is a nice -7C. It looks likes it will be a beautiful Christmas day in the Bella Coola Valley with a bit of snow on the ground but not having to shovel much. Mrs. Grizzly is wishing for a fresh dusting of snow on the trees, which Environment Canada suggests may happen. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you enjoy the holiday season, leave a comment and tell us how Christmas Day looks in your part of the world tomorrow. Grizzly
The first serious east wind (Arctic Outflow) hit the Bella Coola Valley last night. The temperature isn't too bad, mostly in the -7 range but there have been some pretty good gusts of east wind...depending of course where you are at in the valley - less wind the further inland you go. Cathedral Point, mid way down Burke Channel is showing the usual extreme winds with gusts of 95 km/h today and -7 or -8 temperatures, not very survivable if you are on the water. Grizzly
Its been mostly a mixed week of weather, consistent with the rest of December and most of November, nothing dramatic and some nice weather thrown in. Like today where it started out very grey and low, and even snowed a very light skiff, then within a hour it cleared right out and it was a beautiful December day with a fresh dusting of snow everywhere. Grizzly
December has been on and off for snow in the Bella Coola Valley - we get a little, it melts in some areas, then it comes back or gets added to where it is accumulating. So far very easy on the shoveling though and a few nice days after fresh snowfalls. Grizzly
As I was leaving my driveway in the dark this morning, I noticed some unusual tracks crossing it so I backed up to see what they were. When I saw it was a fresh grizzly bear track it made sense of why the dog was so barky when she was outside earlier. I captured this photo in the light of the headlights and it highlights the palm print well. I'm no expert in reading palms, but if you could read them, I bet you the lines on this big set of tracks could tell you some scary stories! Grizzly
When you live in a narrow valley with 8000+ mountains all around, you get used to not having much warning of weather changes - at least not the visual clues of distant lines of clouds coming. This morning after the morning fog cleared out, there was a few hours of blue sky and then before you knew it the light changed and I looked up and a front of clouds was rapidly closing in and 'putting the lid back on' the valley for another few days of forecast rain and snow. Grizzly
We had a few more centimetres of snow in the Bella Coola Valley last night and then some thawing and light rain, but there are a few inches or more on the ground everywhere now.
The small ski hill run by the Tweedsmuir Ski Club is lacking enough snow to ski. The photo taken today looking down the hill shows you the fact that we only have about 60 cm of snow - not nearly enough to cover the trees - we usually have well over a metre or more by Christmas time so hopefully more comes soon. Meanwhile to the west of us in the Clayton Falls Creek Valley, west of the townsite of Bella Coola, some snowmobilers told me there was 2.25 metres of snow already in the pass.
Our high mountains are definitely producing the rain shadow effect to the east of us this year. Grizzly
I've been away a bit in the first few days of December, but we did have a few wet days and a few wet snow days in the Bella Coola Valley. Last night and today we had a bit more snow, how much depends on the usual of where you live, with 4 or 5 cm in the mid valley and more than 10 cm in some other areas. All in all November and early December have been kind with weather to Bella Coola. Grizzly
The month of November has been relatively dry. The rain we have had has not been intense and sustained over multiple days. Along with that the temperatures have stayed in the single digits and sometimes just freezing which has meant precipitation that we get comes as snow in the mountains and the glacial melt has 'tightened' up. The result - the Bella Coola River is uncharacteristically low and quite clear, more like late winter conditions. Of course it can change in a matter of hours if we get a big rain. Grizzly
I've made numerous posts over the years about the drive on Highway 20 from Bella Coola to Williams Lake. Its mostly a long drive, but rarely a boring one. The scenery changes and rolls along and there is always slightly different light or weather to create an effect that catches your eye in addition to wildlife, people and events you might see. Last weekend was a nice drive, good roads, winter scenes and winding roads. Grizzly
Around the community of Anahim Lake, for the last few years since the big forest fires of 2009 and 2010 burning a lot of dead pine, they have been 'fire smarting' the interface of the forest around their community. It consists of taking down the remaining dead pine and piling with the already dead trees. They salvaged as much firewood as was useful, then wait until this time of year when there is snow on the ground to burn the piles. This weekend was one of those burning weekends and the areas alongside Highway 20 had some spectacular fires on a cold -8 C night. Grizzly
Right at the end of the day today a cold East wind whooshed into the valley. It blew strong for a little bit and has settled down later in the evening, with a very light snow and 0 C. Mostly near freezing and light snow forecast, which is pretty good for a November forecast. Grizzly
We haven't had any totally clear blue sky days for a few days now, but the rain we have had has not been too serious and mostly during the night. When the mountains come into view each day there has been a little bit lower snow line and slowly building snow pack. It was another all around good weekend for November, especially since there is no heavy wet snow to shovel yet. Grizzly
The first half of November in the Bella Coola has given us fine weather. I'm not talking days of blue sky and warm temperatures, but a lack of wet snow, big rains and winds. We've had lots of days like today, calm, no rain and 3 or 4 degrees. The rain we have has been minor for what we could experience. I'm starting to like Novembers again...but we are only half way. Grizzly
It was a very peaceful weekend to learn and be reminded about our war history and our brave soldiers while watching TV or listening to the radio while in the shop. It was a good time to reflect on Canada's place in history and our dedication to a peaceful world. My wife has been researching genealogy for many years and this weekend spent some time researching a distant cousin who crashed in a Lancaster bomber on a night run to lay mines into Danzig Bay in 1944. She found an account written by a farmer who watched a second Lancaster from the squadron crash into a nearby field and he was so moved by it, that he has researched the events the led up to the night of the assignment for the 30 planes. There were over 500 bombers launched on three different missions that night. It's terrifying to comprehend, 7 young guys under 24 years old taking off in the night for a 9 hour trip in the darkness without radar, Loran or GPS navigation. Not enough pilots were left by 1944 to put a copilot in the plane in case the pilot died, the engineer sat in the copilots seat and and monitored the gauges. The crew was taught how to keep the plane straight and level and return to England and jump in the event the pilot was killed. After completing the mine drop at 1:30 AM my cousin's plane was shot down over Danzig Bay. Two months later two of the bodies from it washed ashore, one being the cousin, and he was buried in Norway. A creek in Northern BC became named after him for his memory and sacrifice. It makes our peaceful life in the Bella Coola Valley seem unfair compared to what others went through.
The weather was unusually pleasant to top it off this weekend in the valley, no rain or snow, just still and ranging between -3 and plus 1C. Grizzly
The last week has seen most of the remaining leaves fall from the cottonwoods, birch and maple trees in the Bella Coola Valley. A few strong winds, a bit of rain and frost last night have signaled the end to fall. Cold weather is forecast for the next few days before some snow. The cross country skiers at East Branch are already enjoying groomed trails. Grizzly
Grizzly normally doesn't use any other than his own untouched photographs on his blog (occasionally Mrs Grizzly slips one in!), but a friend slipped me this photo from an anonymous source and they said it was taken at the Atnarko River bear viewing station at Belarko (in Tweedsmuir Park, just east of Stuie BC). I was suspicious about this photo being slightly "photoshopped", when I noted on the digital properties that it had been handled by the Adobe Photoshop program. Sadly I told the friend I couldn't use it, but he went back through his sources and convinced me that it had only been Photoshopped to sharpen an otherwise blurry photo, so I decided what the heck, it's a great photo and likely was taken in the Bella Coola Valley. Enjoy. Grizzly
The Bella Coola Valley is a mix of 'green and gold' the last two weeks. The gold from foliage of the birch, cottonwood and Douglas Maple stands, which are quite colourful this year thanks to the dry September and early October. The greens are thanks to the standard colour of the Red Alder - the leaves just stay green until they finally freeze, snow comes or the wind just takes them off. A fair bit of rain characterized this weekend, but Saturday morning was nice and a few brief periods today were okay. Grizzly
A month or so back I posted about the possibility that the media was reporting the beginning stages of an El Nino winter based on data from the Pacific Ocean off Peru suggesting such. I've been following it with a lot of interest for two reasons; one being that El Nino's can mean a nice winter for Bella Coola, but a strong El Nino is followed by a La Nina. We had two rare back to back La Nina winters in 2010/11 and 2011/12 and they were partially responsible for some of worst flooding in centuries...literally in the Bella Coola Valley.
It seems the 'tide has turned' on the El Nino and most of the media stories are reporting that experts are downplaying or dismissing the possibility, some calling it a "El Nada"!!
In any case we had a slight weather turn this afternoon to a bit wetter coastal November day, but nothing too far from the norm for an average November day in the Bella Coola River. The river in the photo today looked inviting to go fishing for something. Grizzly
Halloween was a beautiful evening in our little valley this year. No rain, just nice and cool. The first day of November was also a great start to what can be a miserable month. Some morning valley cloud, but then blue skies and sun in the afternoon. The forecast for the next 7 days is not so kind. Grizzly
With some Arctic air in the northern half of the province, we are seeing a little bit of that east wind effect in the Bella Coola Valley. Depending on your location in the Valley, it blew briskly last night and tonight, but the temperatures are still in the plus 3-5 C range, so it's just a slight reminder of the winter to come. It's knocking all the remaining leaves off fairly quickly. Grizzly
We had a nice weather change today after rain most of yesterday and last night. All the rain we have received in the last few days (50 mm or so) has come down as snow in the mountains and once the low valley cloud cleared out, any mountain you looked at was spectacular.
October is the month to watch the snowline gradually creeping down in Bella Coola. You have to be patient as we get closer to The Worst Month, there aren't usually many days when you can catch a glimpse of the mountains, but a few brief moments yesterday revealed a lot of snow. It rained most of today and was 4 or 5 C on the valley bottom, but must be snowing at altitudes because I heard a fairly sizable avalanche come down...maybe an aftershock from the Haida Gwaii nearly Great Quake caused it! Grizzly
Folks in Bella Coola felt the big earthquake tonight (7.7) which is a
large earthquake for Canada and BC - in fact it knocked the power out
for about a half hour. Our neighbor saw the power lines shaking and at
the moment the earthquake struck the power went out. Hopefully no one
sees a significant tsunami or major damage. Grizzly
While I was away for a few days, the neighborhood grizzly bear has continued to enjoy the neighborhood. It's been dining on Mountain Ash berries wherever one occurs along the highway or on the edge of a field. They are not a great source of food, but with fish in short supply it's about as good as they can get. I've seen the guy that did this damage and he's big. Big enough that both the dog and I watch each others back. At night the dog stays within dash distance of the house and during the day, she lays and watches and has warned me twice when the bear walked out 75 metre away in the field. It's a good relationship.
The ash tree in this photo had no lower branches to climb so the bear stood up and tried to chew through a 4" trunk at 7' off the ground. He wasn't successful last night, but I'm sure persistence will pay off for him and I will have some more firewood when it's all done. Grizzly
There are not a lot of salmon carcasses or live fish in the Bella Coola River right now. The grizzly bears are spending a lot of time 'walking the banks' hopeful for something to show up. The ones not walking the banks are still eating ash berries and anything else they can find right now in the last month they've got before hibernation looms. Grizzly
The days this week in the Bella Coola Valley have been alternating with rain, windstorms (at night) and today it was fairly dry until the end of day at least. It's the time of year when we get to watch the snow level creeping down on the mountains. Today when you could catch a glimpse of the mountains the snow level was below the 4000' level. It will go up and down until we get into November and then it will be mostly a downward trend. Grizzly
The weather turned decidedly fallish this past weekend with roughly 2" of rain Saturday night and Sunday morning. It's much more October feeling now, with the damp weather and few sunny periods. The last few mornings the tops of the mountains when you can see them have all been coated in fresh snow. Creeks came up and were a little high on Sunday but dropped quickly. Much more of a normal October weather pattern for Bella Coola now than the beginning of the month. Grizzly
The Grizzly bears are feeling the shortage of salmon this fall and getting increasingly brave going after Mountain Ash trees. This one with a 5" trunk was too big to break so it was simply pushed over to get at the red berries. Grizzly
When we first came to the Bella Coola Valley almost 30 years ago now, this large rock in Tweedsmuir Park along Highway 20 was a popular rest stop and sight to see. It was a large intact bolder - 15 feet high by 20 or more feet across. Everyone liked the Big Rock. Then one day, some 15 years ago or more there was rampant news that Big Rock had become "Split Rock"! In a sad way it was true, true that the large rock precisely cracked into two new halves and forever more was renamed Split Rock. Its still an impressive rock and a nice roadside place to stop. It seems conceivable that one day many years ago it broke off from the adjacent mountain and came tumbling down and landed hard in its spot because the mountain behind it is very close. I guess it's a good example of geological evolution. Grizzly
Usually around this time of year we make an annual day trip up to the Chilcotin to cut a smallish truck load of dead Chilcotin pine (Lodgepole Pine killed by Pine Beetles). We've been doing it for a lot of years and it never seems hard to find half a dozen trees to cut down, split and load up. It's so dry in the western Chilcotin area normally (12-15" of rain per year) and then this summer and fall has been very dry that the standing dead pine is totally bone dry - you can put it straight into the fireplace. We like it because it has such a lovely thick pine odour when you burn it, and can be outside on a calm winter day.
The blue ring around the the log is the "blue stain fungus", it is what actually kills the pine tree. The beetle merely irritates the tree and the tree tries to plug the beetles holes by putting out pitch. But it is already too late for the tree at this point because when the beetles arrive on the tree and bore in they are carrying spores of the blue stain fungus, which fairly rapidly colonizes the nutrient carrying cells of the outer tree and literally chokes the pine tree. I am not sure what the evolutionary advantage the pine beetle has by ensuring that all it's food source dies, other than it sure is a great way to get a new forest of pine started.
It was an incredible 21 C in the Western Chilcotin today to boot. Grizzly
After the rain of last Sunday and Monday morning, a brisk wind ensued and by late Monday night the high pressure ridge had settled in. Since then it's been 5 days of continuous unbroken blue sky and light or no winds in the Central Coast. Any wind we have had is just a little bit of outflow wind in the morning. The rest of the weekend and early next week is forecast for the same.
It's a rare piece of weather, with a Bella Coola record temperature of 22 C today. It's been a perfect opportunity to work on outdoor projects, enjoy hikes or get out on the water at a time of year that is normally starting to turn decidedly fall feeling. Another few days will be most enjoyable over the Thanksgiving weekend. Grizzly
The good fall weather always has to end sometime. For a brief 24 hour period Sunday night and Monday morning was the time for the Bella Coola Valley. We had just under 2" of rain in that time, that brought the river and creeks up a bit but nothing to be alarmed at. The weather forecast for the next 7 days is back to sun and mixed sun and cloud with cooler nights. This El Nino type weather if we are truly moving into an El Nino is not hard to take so far. Grizzly
While we were on holidays we passed through Highway 16, west of McBride BC. The forests in this area are classified as part of the Interior Wetbelt. You recognize it as soon as you start to see the large trees and dense forests. A local group has worked to reserve an area which they call the "Ancient Forest". It has lovely 2.3 km trail and is easily accessed off the highway. It has a very definite coastal feel and the Red Cedars are as impressive as any on the coast. The forest floor is dense Devil's Club as well, in case the cedars don't make you feel coastal. The example in this photo is of a large branchy cedar, but there are many that are tall and straight. It's well worth the visit if you are in the area or just missing seeing a coastal type forests that is common on our part of the coast. Grizzly
I haven't posted for the last 10 days because Mrs. Grizzly and I were on a holiday - a bit of road trip through BC and southwestern Alberta. We had great weather nearly the entire trip, warm sunny days, light traffic and great views as we traveled through the Rocky Mountains.
From all accounts the Bella Coola Valley has enjoyed the same great weather, September really redeemed itself this year as the best month.
Often with clear days in September the nights can be cool, but not this year. Our basil plants in the garden are happier and healthier than when we left them and they don't tolerate any frost, so we have been frost free it appears.
The forecast is for a few mixed days and some more good weather - a great way to start October. Grizzly
The annual Pine Mushroom harvest has started up around Anahim Lake BC, but not much is showing in the Bella Coola Valley yet. It's been too dry and we have only had the one brief rainy period, but there is still plenty of time for the crop to come on.
At least 'Perky Percy' seems to be in business up Anahim Lake way! Grizzly
Driving across the Chilcotin Plateau on Highway 20 at any time of the year has it's hazards, but during range season and especially in the fall when the cattle are starting to move closer to their home ranches they spend a lot of time along or on the highway. They really mean what they say on this sign near Tatla Lake. Grizzly
With the fabulous September weather and the mid 20's daytime temperature, once the sun is down the air has that remarkable fall coolness and freshness to it. By the morning the lawns are wet and the dew is hanging thick - the morning light on this spider web highlighted it well today. Grizzly
In 2010 not long before "The Great Flood of 2010", I wrote the post "September - The Best Month". I gave all my reasons why in my nearly 30 years in Bella Coola it was the best month. It was barely 3 weeks later that we had the worst flood in recorded history in the Bella Coola Valley followed by a near repeat in 2011 almost on the same day. I've been very discouraged about that for two years now, but I'm happy to say that I'm back officially declaring September - THE BEST MONTH! Re-read my 2010 post, all the reasons I gave are stilll perfectly valid. The blue of the sky this week has been stunning and the air crystal clear.. This photo was taken this week from the mid valley area looking east.
It's tough to beat a forecast like Environment Canada is providing for the next week for Bella Coola.
Have heard from people who have been drifting the Atnarko River that there are very few pink salmon - someone had asked me in a comment if the pink run materialized after the 2010 flood which would have destroyed the vast majority of the spawn in the Atnarko River. It appears to be a wash - it will take multiple generations (cycles) likely 5 or more (10 years) to rebuild the Atnarko pinks to their historical run size. The Atnarko Pinks have recovered from disastrous floods before, but it takes time and good management. Grizzly
The mountain ash tree's annual berry crop has been in full ripening mode the last week or so. These tree's are native to the area and wide spread - birds and bears spread their seeds just about everywhere and they grow well in many sites. The robins and black and grizzly bears love the berries, although it's hard to see what the bears get out of them when you look at the piles of droppings they leave.
The trees in this photo have been worked over by a couple of grizzly bears in my yard this week, they bend the trees over until they can either get the berries or the tree breaks - some of these stems were 3" in diameter. The ash trees respond the next year by putting out twice as many shoots and every year the trees seem to be just as full of berries and everyone is happy, just a little cleanup before the snow comes and we are set for another year. Grizzly
After a super nice spell of weather and a great Saturday, the weather turned on Sunday. We had a 'lawn greening' rainfall Sunday of around 20 mm of rain. It was nice and refreshing, but cool. All the mountains have fresh snow tonight above 4000', always a slightly shocking sight when you are still enjoying the end of summer. More good weather to come in the next while according to the forecasters. Grizzly