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.
Burnt Bridge Creek is near the western edge of Tweedsmuir Park in the Bella Coola Valley. It has a nice trail maintained by BC Parks called the Burnt Bridge Creek Loop trail (it also ties into the famous MacKenzie Grease Trail, a few hundred metres up the west side) which is a couple kms long and takes you up the east side into the valley through stands of Douglas Fir and back down the west side.
Unfortunately in the Great Flood of 2010 a large portion of the trail which was along the creek and the suspension bridge was totally obliterated. It's a favourite trail for a nice 1.5 hour hike for locals and tourists because it also has a fantastic viewpoint of the western valley.
It took 3 years for BC Parks to get funds and a design to reroute the trail out of the flood plain, find a new bridge crossing site and get everything installed. This past summer the whole trail was reopened and today because the warm weather and rain has melted most of the valley bottom snow, you could hike it with vitrually no snow.
It's a great hike and BC Parks and the bridge and trail construction contractors did a fantastic job of rerouting and making an interesting hike. Another Bella Coola asset has been restored. Grizzly
Merry Christmas to all who drop around the Bella Coola Blog. I hope you are able to enjoy a peaceful few days with your friends and families.
1000 is a significant number. This post represents the 1000th post of www.bellacoolablog.com since it's inception four years ago on October 30, 2009 which was right in the middle of what at the time seemed like a pretty good flood (boy were we proven wrong in September 2010 during the Great Flood of 2010!).
I started the blog because I had been thinking for awhile about trying some writing and didn't know where to channel that, but I wanted something that was mine, not edited by anyone (thankfully Mrs. Grizzly my greatest fan, corrects my spelling and grammar when she can) , good or bad, live or die by it. Blogging was reaching it's peak and it seemed like a good platform. It just so happened that about the time I registered and purchased the domain the 2009 flood happened so I didn't really get to introduce the idea. I just started with the 2009 flood. I was determined to see what it was like to write one post a day for a year--I did that but it was a challenge to try to find something relevant to say and find time to do it -- but I did in 2010. I haven't been able to maintain it since. I also had a goal to try and get on the front of page of Google when searching "Bella Coola" without the help of the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) business which is a big business to try and get your attention and direct traffic to your site. I learned the only way you get there without a lot of help, money and advertising is just lots of people clicking on your site, links from other places to your site and longevity on the web (paying for a site for more than a year). I am happy because I made that goal because I am regularly and consistently on the first page of search results on google.ca and google.com and occasionally especially around an event (floods helped) the top hit in a google search for "Bella Coola".
I've struggled with what to write about because early on I decided to stay away from gossip and lot of heavy opinion - I gravitated to natural history, the weather, the climate and a bit about the beauty and uniqueness of the Bella Coola. I firmly decided to stay away from bears, politics and religion -- all three can lose you friends fast in Bella Coola - especially the first one! After almost 30 years in the Bella Coola Valley I've come to accept that bears here as in many places are an emotional topic and whether you are a biologist, landowner or tourist, there is not a lot to be gained in trying to convince you of my views. I'm a believer in a balance. If you haven't already you should come to Bella Coola in late August and early September and hire someone to help you see a grizzly bear - it's worth it.
My website traffic is not huge - it ranges between 50-150 hits per day, sometimes spiking if there is a newsy event that Bella Coola is in the the news for. I like to think I have regular readers that drop by like I do at my regular blogs for a little piece of news about a place or topic--I'm good with that.
What is the future of the Bella Coola Blog? I will continue. I will try and post reasonably often, but only if I can offer something useful. I know folks would like more water level reports, fish updates and other current information, but unless I can collect it or be sure of it I won't write about it. The local newspaper is online and has lots of the news and stories on social issues affecting Bella Coola Valley residents. There is a local Facebook page which is good for local information as well.
Thank you to everyone who drops by and the occasional person who kicks me in the butt in the Hagensborg Store and asks where their morning or evening read is at -- that's the best motivator knowing someone actually reads your work - it's all most authors want.
Last weekend in the Bella Coola Valley we were suffering through a dry, cold and windy Arctic Outflow. It dropped down to -10C and was dry and windy. The ground was frozen hard and the crazy waterfall ice climbing people though that it was wonderful. It felt more like a cauldron - a lot like the ice in this pool on the upper Nusatsum River. But fortunately Arctic outflows only last a week or two and we are back to coastal conditions. Today we hit a balmy 7 C at the Bella Coola Airport - perfect for shortening the winter up a bit.
Unfortunately our winter recreation area at East Branch in Tweedsmuir Park hasn't been getting snow either. The cross country skiers are wishing for more. Is this going to be the second Christmas in a row without enough snow to open the little ski hill? Grizzly
The month of November this year was an unexpected bonus. While it is normally our wettest month, this year it was relatively dry. We only had a few rainy periods and one week with some snow that all dissppeared. We haven't had an Arctic outflow yet, bet one may be on the way soon according to the forecast.
Eagles are spread out along the Bella Coola River looking for those last coho and today spread out along Highway 20 in various places were parked vehicles with the occupants off looking for pine mushrooms which is quite late. Meanwhile other cars going by had cross country skis on because the hard working trail groomers have 7 kms of trail already groomed at the East Branch skiing/snowmobiling area in Tweedsmuir Park. That's what life is like in the Bella Coola Valley - lots of weather variety to chose from. Grizzly
It doesn't take long after the 1st of November arrives in the Bella Coola Valley before you can expect a little bit of snow. After a very nice weekend of clear weather and -2 or -3 C night temperatures the weather turned today and a few places in the valley saw some light wet snow with a very gentle east or outflow breeze. As you can see in the photo the Bella Coola River has dropped significantly and is starting to develop it's late fall clearing condition, passing from the silty summer colour, to green to shades of blue green and then eventually clear in late November. In any case it continues to be a nice fall. Grizzly
Today was a perfect day to take a picture of our introduced oak tree against the backdrop of the 8000 ft plus Mount Nusatsum, especially since it was such a perfect day. Yesterday turned very "Octoberish", when rain moved in after noon and it rained fairly good for a few hours. Fortunately that cleared out overnight and today we are back to the blue sky fall weather (but with a strong outflow or east wind blowing the leaves around). With a high temperature of 15 C, we can handle any kind of wind that wants to blow! Grizzly
A stretch of October weather quite as incredible as we've had for nearly a week already is rare. Being that we are far inland on the coast, the Bella Coola Valley hasn't been getting the coastal fog lasting more than a little bit past daylight in the valley. Barely frosty in some areas overnight and the day time temps in the mid teens, fuchsia's are flowering and the lawn continues to grow. The high pressure ridge creating this condition is forecast to continue for a few more days. A spectacular place to spend a fall. Grizzly
I don't remember seeing an Environment Canada weather forecast for Bella Coola showing 7 days of full sun in October! We are having a incredible stretch of weather, with night temperatures barely going to freezing in some areas. I've noticed some late law mowing happening because the grass is still growing.
We certainly appreciate the fine clear days which are making the fall pleasant. Grizzly
The Chilcotin region of BC is a large area. So large that after 30 years of exploring my wife and I still have not been to all the corners being that it is some 300+ kms by 300+kms as a region. We decided for Thanksgiving weekend we would look around because the weather forecast was so good. It was nice (-8 C in the morning) and very beautiful fall days. On the Chezacut Road area we explored some interesting Ducks Unlimited project areas, which will definitely warrant a return in the spring when many waterfowl and other birds will be in the area.
I almost had the pair of cowboy boots that I've always wanted at an abandoned ranch building from a bygone era, but decided to let them pass into history a little longer. Grizzly
No picture today, because I haven't figured out how to take a good picture of the rain. Friday and Saturday we have had our first major coastal rainstorm. I haven't measured it all but likely in excess of 75 mm between Friday and Saturday. Its not a flooding rain because we haven't had significant snow pack build up in the higher mountain elevations. Grizzly
Each morning for the last week whenever we have any precipitation in the Bella Coola Valley the surrounding mountains are all dusted in fresh snow. This usually means the valley creeks and the Bella Coola River start dropping quickly and change colour from summer grey to fall green as the glaciers tighten up and the deposition of fine glacial flour diminishes. It's a pleasant time of the year and the river always looks beautiful. Now we just have to hope we don't get a rain event of any large magnitude which can turn the river angry brown very quickly. Grizzly
This little guy, the size a large coin when curled up was enjoying the rainforest like weather in the Bella Coola Valley this weekend, not the heavy rain and wind to the south, but periods of wet, mixed with some sunny periods. Grizzly
The frost free gardening season has ended in the Bella Coola Valley this morning. September 25 marked the first morning that I am aware of with frost in many areas of the valley. It wasn't a hard frost but definitely a 'window scraper'. It marked the end of a great valley growing season. The Bella Coola River has stayed slightly more coloured than most September's due to the warm weather we had, but nights like last night will change that in a hurry. The mountains have all had the first serious dusting of snow the last few mornings as well. Grizzly
This past week in the Bella Coola Valley has marked the turn from perfect summer weather since early July to the more traditional fall feeling - damp mornings, a few rain showers and some gusty winds. It had to end eventually, but so far any big fall rain storms have missed us. More storms are on the way which is to be expected for the third week in September, but it will have to be a very bad fall to forget the great weather of 2013. Grizzly
Nordschow Creek on the Talchako Forest Service Road
Like most people in Bella Coola I've watched a lot of salmon come and go and the rivers get full of nice vibrant spawning fish, then over a short period of time turn into a scene like today's photo. It's natural to tend to think of it as the end for the run, but it really is just the beginning, when you realize how much new life has just been started and then you see some of the fat bellied grizzly bears this year and all the gulls and merganser and other critters enjoying the bounty. With peak spawning a few weeks back, comes peak smell a week or two later, and I'm happy that the morning smells as you drive through the still air are starting to dwindle now. Grizzly
What a nice way to end August and those two lovely summer months of July and August this year. We had a nice warm late summer day in the Bella Coola Valley with little wind and few bugs (late August and September is the time for black flies which can be really pesky some days). Today's photo is of some of the garden harvest today. Many of the tomatoes are over 1 lb. Grizzly
A sampling of the garden bounty from the vegetable patch. Everything grown outside (except the peppers from the greenhouse). Remember my post from several years ago - Corn and Tomatoes - if you want a quick way to check the climate of somewhere you are thinking about, just ask gardeners if you can grow corn and tomatoes outside every year. Grizzly
The Bella Coola River has stayed surprisingly high in my opinion for most of August - and very glacial melt colour, a consequence of the weeks of hot weather and some very warm nights which really chews into the very high elevation snow and glacial melt. We should soon be going into the period where the river colour starts to go to a very pleasant late August blue rather than milky greeny colour it is now. Then soon the majority of the coho salmon will start returning.
Our weeks long 'drought' ended with a series of minor showers and rain, enough to freshen things up but far from a soaking down pour. Grizzly
Another weekend of hot clear days in the Bella Coola Valley. This evening though the skies darkened and thunder rumbled and a few bolts of lightning came forth. Not much rain came with the storm so more forest fires are possible. Cooler weather is finally in the forecast after a month of hot and mostly sunny weather for the Bella Coola Valley. Grizzly
We are into the peak spawning weeks for the Chum salmon which return each year to spawn in the Bella Coola River and it's tributaries. They have been out to sea for 3, 4 and 5 years and return in July, travelling through the outer coast where some are caught in seine and gillnet fisheries and then into Burke and Dean Channels where a few more are caught in the gillnet fishery in late July and August. They are an important part of the history of the commericial fishiery in the Central Coast. Only a few are caught in the river in sport fisheries, most fishermen preferring the earlier Chinook or later Coho.
The bears really appreciate this time of year though as these are the weeks to put on lots of pounds as they start the home stretch into the late summer and fall. Grizzly
The 2013 gardening season had a strange pattern. It was warm at the end of March and early April, warm enough to get the garden ready and put in a bit of spinach and radishes. When I planted the main season crops around the May long weekend, the weather just went downhill from there. Cold and wet. I had serious doubts I'd see corn and tomatoes this year. Then July hit and it was a different world. The gardens exploded and the corn made up lost time. I'm on track for a bumper crop in the next 10 days or so, early for me. Grizzly
The morning view in the Bella Coola Valley the past few mornings. The smoke from a fire in South Bentinck Arm (west of Bella Coola) and the smoke from a fire east of Firvale hangs in the valley until the daily heating starts and the air begins to move. By afternoon most of the smoke is cleared out with in inflow westerly wind we have nearly every day. Grizzly
July flew by and I missed posting a single post. I've had a busy summer and when I looked back at the last two months there wasn't a lot noteworthy because June was wet and monotonous weather which soon after July 1st turned to mostly a stunning month of sun with very little rain. Gardens exploded and now it's so dry there is campfire bans and lightning strikes started a number of forest fires so that the skies of the Bella Coola Valley have constant movement of helicopters carrying water buckets. So far none of the fires are threatening any homes. The annual music festival in mid July was a big success judging by the turnout and the quality entertainment. Hopefully August just slowly winds down to cooler weather later in the month and moderate rains to bring the green back to the lawns and that we don't have any extreme weather like 2010. Grizzly
Note the helicopter just between the peaks carry a water bucket.
June has been a strange month. Mostly on the wet side, but a few of the weekends were nice and warm. We've had many days of high humidity with thunderstorms and some lightning in the late afternoons. June is never a month that can be relied on for good weather though. Now the we are past the summer solstice, the pattern should become obvious soon after the long weekend on what the rest of the summer will bring.
The Bella Coola River should be well on it's way to the glacial summer flow, but it's still been influenced by a lot of snow melt and the thunderstorm activity in the headwaters and has been up and down quite a bit the last week. Grizzly
We've had several weeks of mediocre weather in the Bella Coola Valley, not a May to measure up to the standard of what is normally a good month. Showers, sunny periods and dull cool cloudy days were the norm. The good weather at the start of the month was the best piece.
The Nootka roses don't care though, there were in full flower last week and their strong sweet scent is always pleasant. Grizzly
The May long weekend for Saturday and Sunday has been mixed. This is traditionally garden planting weekend for all the main season crops. It's been good for that because the sunny parts of the weekend have been in the high teens, but we had some rain showers Saturday afternoon as well. It's the time of year when all the brush and grass explodes and everything is very green in the Bella Coola Valley. Grizzly
Last week the hot weather brought the Bella Coola River and tributaries up sharply. Then on Saturday and Sunday the rain started and we got a fairly substantial rainfall over a few days. The river came up even more and was flowing pretty good, but well below any threat of a flood level. It's subsided a bit this week, because we are back to seasonal temperatures, but fairly pleasant. Grizzly
While traveling across the Chilcotin Plateau between Bella Coola and Williams Lake this week, I noticed a couple of Sandhill Cranes flying along close to Highway 20. I waited for them to land in a meadow and then walked to the edge and took this picture. They are a large beautiful bird standing 4' tall. Occasionally they stop in the Bella Coola Valley on their migrations. Grizzly
The much advertised heat wave hit the Bella Coola Valley on Saturday this weekend when we saw temperatures of 27 or 28C and Sunday and Monday were similar. It only took about 24 hours for the effects of the heat and warm nights on the snow pack melt to be seen in the Bella Coola River. Today it's up over half a metre and has the spring brown colour which we'll see until late May or early June when the glacial green and grey kicks in.
The warm weather has been very nice for early in the month. Grizzly
I've been away on and off for the better part of two weeks and in that time the Bella Coola Valley has turned into that 'lime green' colour that is so pleasant in the spring with all the new leaves on the cottonwood, birch and alder that haven't fully darkened. The weather has been a real mix, with not much heat in the later half of April, lots of showery weather and low snow like this morning when the snow level was down to about 1500' on the mountains. Grizzly
According to Global TV, Bella Coola was the warmest place in Canada today at 13.6C! If we were the warmest - it doesn't say much about the weather in the rest of the country. Even at 13 it felt cool with the breeze when the sun wasn't out and snow from the rain Friday was 1/2 way down the mountains in the Bella Coola Valley.
It's perfect spring weather for one of the most pungent spring plants - the skunk cabbage plants. Our little grove has usually been uprooted and pruned by spring feeding bears by now but there has been none in it to date, so it's coming into full bloom. Hoping for warmer weather tomorrow for all. Grizzly
When it's time to do the first lawn mowing in the Bella Coola Valley, that's my barometer of spring and we are there. Last weekend's warmth with showery weather this week have greened up everything. Lots of trees budding and lawns are green. The weekend wasn't as good as the last one, more like an April showery weekend. But it's time to move on from winter activities at East Branch and concentrate on gardening. Grizzly
A spectacular Easter Sunday weekend and happy Easter to my blog readers. It was a great weekend of fine weather. The Bella Coola River is gin clear with lots of salmon fry moving downstream , making cutthroat and Dolly Varden trout happy. I spent a bit of time on the river with my daughter who was home for the weekend and we had some great trout moments.
With a high temperature of 21 C, I have to admit we had to sit in the shade for awhile in the afternoon, which seemed a bit odd for March 31st. Grizzly
A spectacular spring day in the Bella Coola Valley today, with no wind and clear skies and some real warmth. The Bella Coola River and it's tributaries are all very low, reaching the lowest point of the year before the snow melt starts. The down side with 16C weather is that it brought out hordes of those early big dumb mosquitoes! Grizzly
It's been another mixed week of weather, with a few cold wet days. Not this morning though, the valley had a nice one inch or less dusting of spring snow which melted off by noon and the sun came out and we had some spectacular classic Bella Coola views of the fresh snow on the mountains. Grizzly
There was just enough rain in the Bella Coola Valley this weekend to keep this cup fungus half full. It was actually a fairly typical blustery March weekend, with a complete mix of sunny periods, rain squalls and even a couple of snow flakes in our area. Grizzly
The week started out not too bad, the Bella Coola River was low and gin clear, but by today the heavy rain and warmer temperatures we had the last two days have caused some higher water and colour in the Bella Coola River. The freezing level has been much higher as well, with lots of avalanches rumbling in the background. Grizzly
A picture perfect March day in the Bella Coola Valley. Its been a nice week, we started with a bit of outflow winds earlier in the week, but never had the bitter cold temperatures with it, just above freezing. The week got progressively better until today with the beautiful skies and 12 C high temperature. Grizzly
It's been a week of up and down weather in the Bella Coola Valley. The big rain storm that passed mostly south out us, didn't miss us entirely. Down in the Bella Coola Valley things were just on the edge of freezing enough of the time that most of the precipation either came as rain or wet snow that has melted in the last few days. At higher elevations it was a different story. It all came down as snow, and what was an enemic snow pack to the east of us along Heckman Pass and Tweedsmuir Park higher elevations now has a respectable snowpack of well over 4'. There was nearly 3' of new snow this week in the alpine areas. Cross country ski racers running the 28th annual Tweedsmuir Ski Club cross country race had to fight to get the course in shape, but by all accounts the race was great and with a turnout of over 70 racers a big success. Grizzly
If you follow any plant phenology I am sure you will have your favourite plants that you take note of. One of ours is the Hazelnut tree we have because it is so showy when the yellow catkins burst and begin pollinating. There is so little new colour around this time of year. Ours is about right on schedule when I looked at it today. The catkins are large and the pollen is just about ready to be released. Ours normally pollinates at the end of February, although in 2011 it was nearly a month late with the long winter we had that winter.
The eastern end of the Bella Coola Valley received a bit a snow over the weekend - up to 12" or more and a fairly good fall in the pass of Highway 20. Grizzly
The Bella Coola River is in it's lowest winter state, with many of the tributaries almost at a trickle because of the winter low flows. The colour of the lower river yesterday was being affected by the Nusatsum River that had a lot of clay/glacial silt from thawing banks being transferred down, which always makes for a nice colour. Grizzly
The last two mornings in the upper Bella Coola Valley we have awoke to wet snow - I think the first snow this month. Also a power outage this morning caused by the wet heavy snow on trees. Our Hazel Nut tree is fully loaded in catkins and it looked fairly heavy with it's fresh load of wet snow today. The week otherwise has been more of the same - mild and a bit wet. Grizzly
The non winter weather that a lot of BC and the Bella Coola Valley has been getting continued this week with more days of mostly above freezing and smatterings of rain. Today I noticed the chickweed is starting to flower and produce seeds in my garden...hardly fair that it gets such a head start on the annual battle of the weeds.
Thought you would enjoy the photo today - it's the view you get as reach the top of Heckman Pass heading west to Bella Coola on Highway 20. There is a turnout view point right at the top and most winters you can't get into it because of the deep snow, but this year it's nicely plowed out. It's a great short stop with a fantastic view of the Coast Mountains to the west. Grizzly
Mrs Grizzly and I were snowshoeing along a trail in Tweedsmuir Park at East Branch today when my wife abruptly proclaimed, "I think this is my favourite burnt tree". It brought me to a quick stop and got my mind off my dry walling job I was thinking about. I had to back track to see what she was talking about. I have to admit I hadn't paid it much attention, but she's correct, it is a beautiful old burnt tree. It was a victim of the 2009 Heckman Pass Wildfire, and is one of the less common but beautufil Whitebark Pine trees (search "Whitebark Pine" in my blog for previous posts). You can really see the unique form they take after growing for several hundred years. I agreed with her - it's now "My Favourite Burnt Tree" as well.
Winter hasn't really been a winter thought at East Branch. We barely have two feet of snow at the Highway 20 gauge in the pass and those two feet are soft and fluffy, you can't even step far off a packed trail in snowshoes without sinking down almost to the ground. Time is not on winter's side any longer - there would have to be several snowfalls of more than a couple feet each to catch up. Grizzly