Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Friday, April 27, 2012

Another in "The Hill" series contibuted by a regular Bella Coola Blog reader and ex-resident.  Grizzly

I love that hill! After the long drive over the Chilcotin (as Karl says, "the best and the worst..."); exhausting and exhilarating at the same time, I come dusty and parched to the top of the hill, and stop at the first sight of the luscious green valley opening up ahead. Up here, the only sound is the wind murmuring in the trees, or maybe a busy family of bees mumbling in the goldenrod. Then I drive down, slowly, watching the valley unfold gradually below me, the mountains rise almost magically from the earth, embracing me, welcoming me. I begin to hear the river chattering, far below.

I always stop at the open space half-way down to rest my brakes and look for eagles circling far above. Then on down, down, into the cool shade and the final few miles home. (I've been living elsewhere for too many years, but the valley is still, and always, home to me.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hill Stories Continued

Another great comment on the hill, I should ask for more 'guest posts', Karl did a nice job on this. Grizzly

Karl FrostrupApr 26, 2012 11:32 AM
How about this: "It's nothing like it was...".

It's a good road and has been for a very long time. As mentioned, stay off your brakes and enjoy the view. Think too of the folks that built it - two bulldozers, pack trains of dynamite and little (if any) government funding.
Each time I drive to Bella Coola I like to leave Williams Lake pretending it's my first time on HWY 20. Fuel up, eat then head west into the setting sun. Civilization quickly recedes in the rear-view mirror and you feel like you're getting more and more remote. There are pockets of people living across the Chilcotin and several services strung along the way, but you definitely get a sense of alone time.
The journey across the Chilcotin itself is both the best and worst journey possible. It's very interesting and entertaining if you have time to stop and check things out - things like Farwell Canyon, Bull Canyon (and the caves up the hill), good burgers at Lee’s Corner, Chilko Lake, Anahim Peak, Charlotte Lake, ‘The Chilcotin War’, Nuk Tessli, the Rainbow Range in Tweedsmuir park, the Ulkatchco range north of Anahim, to name a few. And if you’re lucky and you time it right, you can experience the thrill of the healthy mosquito population at Green River.
If you’re in a rush and need to catch a ferry, it can be a very monotonous journey made entirely frustrating by the refraction of the blinding sun off the bug guts on your windshield.
As for ‘The Hill’, it’s nothing like it was. Do not hesitate to visit Bella Coola because of this piece of the road. In fact, enjoy it – it’s really pretty nice. Up at the top take a few deep breaths of the unbeatable cool, pine-scented air and take your time heading down. Use your engine to keep you moving slow and rely on your brakes only when required. We do it this way all the time…
At the bottom, take another deep breath – the heat radiating from the summer sunned rocks convey the scent of the surrounding fir forest. Those of you with a proclivity for nervousness should look forward to this – there is no better remedy in all the world.
Karl (… still calling Bella Coola ‘home’.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hill Stories

A "Hill" story by Ed Farrell.  Grizzly

I drove to Bella Coola from the California Bay Area in September of 2003. The Hill was closed to traffic at the time, except for two brief "windows"--once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The rest of the time road crews were dynamiting the mountain side and widening the road. Well, I crossed Heckman Pass and arrived at the barricade about two hours before the second "window" of the day. I was the only car there and it was insanely quiet. After stretching my legs I rolled down the car window and read a book. It began to rain, so I rolled the window up. Soon the sun came back out and I rolled it down again. After a few minutes, I heard the window roll back up. I stuck my arm out: the window was down. Hmm. After a few more minutes I heard it roll up again. Once again it was down. I began to question my sanity when I noticed a raven in the tree about twenty feet away, staring at the car. I whistled at the bugger and he answered me with: the perfectly rendered sound of a car window motor.

The rest of the ride down the Hill was totally uneventful. Ed Farrell Apr 25, 2012 01:17 PM

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Scaring Blog Readers

It has come to my attention that I might be scaring some of my faithful blog readers and in particular scaring them from visiting the beautiful Bella Coola Valley! 

Take for example one of my readers at the Spotted Dog Ranch Blog.  Chinle writes and photographs about a fantastic and beautiful area of the state of Utah.  In one of the recent posts, it appears like they might like to visit the Bella Coola Valley, but aren't too sure about "The Hill".

I've made a few posts that mention "The Hill" and thrown in the odd picture, but nothing that should scare anyone from taking a leisurely drive into Bella Coola...but the folks at the Spotted Dog Ranch are looking for some "Hill" stories to convince them that visiting would be good (at least not dangerous on the hill). Did you or your family help build the Hill?  Or maybe you are a trucker or professional driver that can offer an opinion or advice.  Maybe you just have a few unique thoughts or good advice about The Hill.  How about what The Hill means as Bella Coola's lifeline and place in it's history?

So bring em on!  Funny ones, scary ones, short ones, long ones.  Post them in the comments anonymously or post your name if you want.  I'll publish a selection of them as a posts-- let's make this the greatest online source of Bella Coola Hill stories on the net!  Grizzly

Monday, April 23, 2012


Spending part of my youth in the West Kootenays I always looked forward to seeing the mixed deciduous/coniferous forest floor covered in blooms of white Western Trillium's (Trillium ovatum) in April.  For nearly 30 years now looking around the Bella Coola Valley in almost identical habitat, with a very similar climate (maybe a tad wetter) I've never found any.   The bible on coastal plants - Plants of Coastal British Columbia, by Pojar & MacKinnon shows their coastal range well south of the north end of the Vancouver Island.  I gave up looking for them finally.  About 15 years ago a friend with a nursery for native BC plants on Vancouver Island offered me a plant, which I placed in a rich site of mixed coniferous/deciduous forest.  For those 15 plus years it hasn't disappointed us, flowering every year within a week of the middle of April and adding one or two flowers a year. It's a a large clump now, but hasn't made one shred of attempt to spread by rhizomes or seed - truly a plant that doesn't seem meant to be here, but thrives in its own little spot.  We enjoy it immensely every year.  Grizzly

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

More Good April Weather

The later part of the week hasn't been as warm but certainly pleasant enough without much precipitation in the Bella Coola Valley.  It's common to see the mountains dusted with fresh snow in the mornings in April, even when there has been only the briefest of showers in the valley bottom, the mountains generate their own weather.  Grizzly

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


With the warming and lengthening days of mid April and a few rain showers in the last few days the plant growth is really taking off - so much so that it's almost lawn mowing time -- again.  April can be a really pleasant month in Bella Coola especially into the later half because we often don't get a lot of rain and the temperatures are warming and comfortable and the new growth on everything is noticeable and you can appreciate it every day after coming out of winter.  I like April in the Bella Coola Valley.  Grizzly

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bears Like It

When the bears first emerge from their dens around this part of the world, their den sites are usually still under a lot of snow, since they tend to den on north and east facing slopes at higher altitudes, where the snow will be deeper and stay longer for a nice comfortable winter sleep.  After coming out of dens they head down slope and down valleys looking for new greenery in the valley bottom and on the rich estuaries and shorelines for the early feeding.  As the snow retreats and the avalanche tracks green up they will move back up slope in the late spring.

Down on the valley bottom, sites like the one in this photo taken this weekend provide a rich source of food when they start rooting around after the tender roots and shoots of the Skunk Cabbage horsetail plants.  Skunk Cabbage is really in it's glory on warm spring days like we have had with lots of light reaching the forest floor before the deciduous trees fully leaf out. Grizzly

Saturday, April 14, 2012

School House Mountain

The mountain south of Sir Alexander MacKenzie School is known as School House Mountain.  It's a big imposing mass of rock that forms a great back drop to the fields of the school when there is a lull in the action of a soccer game.

Occasionally the heli skiers ski various runs on it when they are looking for some nice close to home runs especially on the last day when the skiers are trying to get in a few more runs before being dropped off at the Bella Coola Airport.

Today with the warm 16 C temperatures in the Bella Coola Valley you can see a number of avalanches which have come down on the face.  Grizzly

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rhubarb Weather

Night time temperatures are creeping up and the daytime temperatures have been decent this week as well in the Bella Coola Valley.  Along with the greening of the grass and the growing of the weeds, the rhubarb likes to get an early start and is coming along well this week too.  Grizzly

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Cleanup

An Easter weekend that occurs late in the year like the one we had  this past weekend is a major spring cleanup weekend in the Bella Coola Valley.  Yards are free of snow (in most years) and there is plenty of debris and broken trees and pruning to do.  Almost every yard has a small to medium fire going and lots of raking and litter cleanup going on.  With the fire seasons of 2009 and 2010 still fresh in mind, keeping a tidy zone between your buildings and the forest has become a priority for lots of homeowners. 

The fire is also a nice place to sit around at the end of the day and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.  Grizzly

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from the sunny Bella Coola Valley.  We have had three perfect days - with each day warmer than the previous and today we hit a high temperature of 19 C.  I think we tied with Abbotsford for the hotspot in BC.  A change is on the way for tomorrow.  Grizzly

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Nice Day in the Mountains

Snootli Peak at the headwaters of the Snootli Creek on the south side of the Bella Coola Valley looked like a jewel in the noon day sun today.  Grizzly

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Good Spring Weather

Today was a nice example of good spring weather in the Bella Coola Valley, no precipitation of any measurable amount - maybe some distant rain showers along the edge of the some of the mountains, but mostly sunny and in the 10-13 C range.  Good days for the helicopter skiers who seemed to be doing quite a bit of buzzing about today.  Grizzly

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Skunk Cabbage

My blog wouldn't be complete if I didn't pay my annual respects to the Skunk Cabbage plant - it's such a milestone spring sign near forested areas with standing water.  With some warmer weather forecast in the next few days we can look forward to the lovely smell of Skunk Cabbage in the Morning!  Grizzly

Monday, April 2, 2012


After lunch today the skies darkened rapidly and the most recent coastal wind and rain storm descended on the Bella Coola Valley.  For awhile this evening it even cycled in and out of snow showers in some areas.  Better weather on the way as the week goes according to Environment Canada.

The photo is of the Bella Coola Harbour on calm spring day.  This view is taken from the head of North Bentinck Arm looking to the west.  The large building on the left over the water is the ex-BC Packers net storage loft, left over from the days when commercial salmon fishing was a big part of the annual economy in the valley.  Grizzly

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lime Green

Patches of snow still exist in the forest, but even with frozen ground underneath, these moss sporophytes are growing and pushing skyward while the light levels are good before the deciduous trees leaf out.  Their colour is not very noticeable at first because these plants are so small but on examination their brilliance amongst mostly drab brown overwinter colours is appreciated.  Grizzly