Perkins Peak Revisited

1 from my yardEver since I went to Perkins Peak at the end of June, I have wanted to revisit it.  However, the weather has always been too bad. Finally, a month after the first trip, we had 3 fine days in a row.  Thunder was forecast, but the morning was splendid.  Here is a lake en route, with Perkins Peak behind.
2 lake en routeAt Nuk Tessli, the colourful calendar-picture alpine meadows are at their best at this time of year, so I was hoping for great things on Perkins Peak.  The roadsides at higher elevations were wonderful.2b roadside garden

2c roadside flowersThen we passed through the krumholtz layer, with its convoluted bonsai whitebark pines.2a whitebarkBut after that, the flowers were very disappointing. There were none of the vivid lupins, paintbrush, and mountain fireweed I had expected.  They were not simply in bud or over, the plants just were not there.  Here are a few remnants of purple jacob’s ladder and yellow potentilla that were so common earlier.  (The reddish spikes belong to mountain sorrel.)3 flowers by roadI had planned to drive right to the lake, but my truck began to smell hot.  The temperature gage was not high, but I think the high altitude (already 7,000′) and very stony steep road was taking it’s toll.  So reluctantly I parked it not very far from the first time I went up here, and we walked to the lake.  (I had volunteer Sanjey with me.)4 looking back

3a lakeAt this point, the most obvious route would have been to follow the old zig-zag mine road to the top of the ridge – I am including a photo from the previous trip to illustrate it.21 lauren and roadBut I was interested in plants and thought we could cut across the side of the valley to the pass in the background.  Mostly, the walking was pure rock.6 rock runesHere and there were tiny scraps of vegetation.  Interesting, in that they are not all that common at Nuk Tessli, and amazing for their tenacity, but not the colourful displays I was expecting.  Payson’s draba.5 parry's draba bestAlpine harebell7 harebell(Including this extraordinary clump.  I have never seen one like it.)8 harebell 2Appropriately, there were the saxifrages, which translates as “rock breaker.” S. tricuspidata9 sax tricuspidataS. caespitosa9a sax caespitosaS. cernua9b sax cernua10 Man of the MountainWe reached the saddle.  I was travelling very slowly – my knees were not liking the loose rocks.9c the routeSanjey was completely inexperienced at this kind of hiking so I was at first reluctant to let him go alone, but a couple, who had obviously climbed the mining road with an atv, could be seen ahead of us. I figured Sanjey would be safe enough to go at his own speed.  There was no trail, but it was possible to see scuffs in the looser gravel where people had gone before.  I reached a rocky bump between the highest two larger snow patches in the above photo, and then gave up.  I knew my knees would be just as slow going down and although the days are still long, I didn’t want to risk a return in the dark.  I watched Sanjey climb higher – soon he met the couple who had already summited and were coming down.18 other hikersThere was no sign of the forecast thunder, and the weather was fabulous.  So it was no great hardship to sit up there and wait for him.  The views were absolutely fantastic.10d mt abstract 5

14 Mt abstract 1

16 Mt abstract 2By far the largest peak was Monarch Mountain, which dominates the view at Nuk Tessli.16d MonarchFar down below was a lake of an extraordinary glacial blue.12 Monarch and blue lakeI began to realize that much of my life during the last nearly 40 years was spread below me.  Looking back to the Chilcotin was where I live now.16b towards my houseTo the right of the bump in the middle distance is my house! On the left and right of the lower part of the picture below are the north and south bluffs.  From the cloud shadow, barely discernible, is the tiny thread of road.  To the right of the road is a miniscule pale dot.  That is my house!16c my houseHunting through the panorama to the north of Monarch Mountain, I could find the North Ridge, up which I have hiked so often at Nuk Tessli.  It is pretty much in the middle background of the picture.  I could recognize other peaks and ridges that were familiar to me as well.16e north ridgeTo it’s left, blued by distance, is Mt Ada, which I tried to cross one time but was turned back by a sheer drop-off.16f Mt AdaAnd to Ada’s left, is a slightly darker half dome (below) which was the dominant mountain overlooking my cabin at Lonesome Lake.16g Walker's dome.As I sat there, the hiking couple came passed me.  I envied them the ease with which they covered the stony terrain.  We had a little visit; I said my knees had given up on me.  But I was still enjoying the day hugely.  Sanjey, by now, had reached the last bit of the climb.19 samjey near top 1Here is the long view.20 anjey near top 2I decided to start picking my way down.  I found a few more scraps of plants.  Dwarf hawksbeard.15 crepis nanaArctic fleabane.  What a precarious existence these plants lead.17 arctic daisy bestAs Sanjey caught me up, I noticed the two microscopic dots near the lake on the left, that were the atv-ers heading down.21 4-wheeler dotsSanjey and I traversed the stony ridge to the top of the mine road, figuring it would be easier to get down to the lake that way.  The left side of the ridge dropped off precipitously and through various gaps, we could see more of the ice blue lake at the bottom.12 blue lake bestAt last we hit the mine road and headed down to the lake.  Walking downhill, and on roads, is always painful for me.  I ignore it as I want to do these trips, but I have to go slowly.22 down atv roadAs we reached the lake, with still a stony couple of kilometres to go to the truck, I heard the sound of atvs.  Imagine our surprise to see the couple we had encountered earlier.  They had driven round to another lake, seen that my truck was still parked where they had encountered it this morning, had felt sympathy for my knees, and had come back to see if we wanted a ride!23 our rideWhat a perfect end to a perfect day!  Shannon even let Sanjey drive!24 sanjey drivingSanjey has had a truly innovative time with me.  First time using a chain saw, first time climbing a mountain, first time cutting up a chicken (he nearly threw up at that one) and first time driving an atv.  I think this west Chilcotin experience will have changed his life!

And as for me – I was asked recently what I would do if I could no longer hike.  My reply was “Get an atv.”  I was sort of joking.  Atv-ing for the sake of riding a machine has never appealed to me.  But now I want one!  My long-distant  climbing days are obviously over, but this tool will get me into the alpine for many years to come.  (I just have to be able to afford it.)


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Bella Coola Petroglyphs Again.

5 BrianOnce again our day started early.  The last time I was in my friends’ yard, the bunch berries and Queen’s cups were just starting to flower.  Now they are in full fruit.1 forest berriesBecause Sanjey was city bred and lived back east, I first took him to see the big cedars.2 big treesIt’s hard to convey their size unless someone is standing beside them.3 SanjeyWe started walking to the Bella Coola petroglyphs at the same time as another gentleman.  Turned out he had been visiting the petroglyphs every day when he was in the valley, over a period of 40 years.  He liked to keep the carvings clean, and indeed had been instrumental in uncovering some of them.  When he found us to be ready listeners he was full of fascinating information.  He told us it had taken years for him to understand some of the carvings and he was learning new things every day.  Not all of his interpretations are accepted by others, but to me, who is “right” is unimportant.  The spiritual message that was woven in that beautiful forest was entirely appropriate.

As you approach the carvings, you see a face that is barely noticeable.  It is the only one made on granite (much harder to carve) – the rest are on an overlying layer of sandstone.  This one faces north, where the spirits come from6 heraldHe is a herald calling everyone to come and connect to their spirituality.

I can give you only a brief idea of all the stories here.  The first people to arrive on earth were the star people.  They have eyes and a mouth but no peopleThen came the water people.  When they joined together with the star people, they were happy.8 happyHowever, they lived in a continual copper light – the same light you get when there is thick smoke from a forest fire.  The people asked the creator for light but he wouldn’t give it to them.  In the end, raven was the one who tricked the creator and arrived in the world with light.  (Too long a story to go into here.)7 ravenThe next structure represents 12 prophets.  Eleven are round the head, the twelfth is in the forehead.  Only 12 prophets are needed in a community – the rest do not need to be spiritual for the 12 will spread the information and be the connection to the creator.9 prophetThe face above is looking outwards, the one below looks inward.10 outward and inwardIt had not occurred to me, but the natural faults in the rock also contributed to the messages in the carvings.  A small basin, which usually holds water, has a tiny cross carved in it. This shows four directions (sorry, no photo of the cross itself: it is about an inch across) north, south, east, and west.  But if you look into it you see the sky reflected in the water, so that is also upward, which is the fifth direction, and you are at the same time looking down, which is the sixth.11 depressionWhat a bonus to meet this gentleman.  I have his name and phone number and will most certainly try and coordinate my trip with his in the future.

Our Bella Coola trip was finished by picking 10 kg blueberries at a U-Pick farm, and about 4 kg of blackberries from a friend’s garden.  So altogether a very satisfying excursion to the Bella Coola Valley.


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Bella Coola Music Festival

3 festival groundsI had been wanting to go to the Bella Coola Music Festival for years but had always been working at Nuk Tessli.  The festival is run for two days but the forecast was not good for Saturday.  Sunday, as we paused at the top of the Bella Coola Hill, did not look great either.  (Note the notch in the trees where the road goes through.)1 Cloud on HillDown on the valley floor.2 valley bottomThe Bella Coola Music Festival is very much family-orientated with no drugs or alcohol allowed.  Sunday was especially designed for kids.  They even took first place on the stage.

4 kids' violins

5 concentrationThen the grown-up bands performed.  I am not much a music follower and had never heard of the groups, but the music was great!  Not something I would necessarily play at home, but to see and hear it performed live was wonderful.6 band 2

6a celtic musicThe sound system was excellent -albeit, for me, a little loud.  I wore my chain-sawing ear protectors – so did a few others.6a a little loudPeople of all ages were dancing, but it is hard to capture the movement in a still photograph.7 dancers

8 dancers 2The climbing wall was occupied non-stop.9 climbing wall

9a climbing wall 2A young man on stilts dressed in various costumes.  The kids followed him as though he were the Pied Piper.9 stilt guy 1And yes, those are rain drops!10 ravenThere were great face paintings,11 face paint 1And bubble dancing.12 buble danceInevitably, though, the rain thickened.13 umbrellasHaving left home at crack of dawn (not quite) I was ready to call it a day by supper time.  Many people were just arriving, however, bringing chairs and sleeping bags and more umbrellas.  The last band was scheduled for 10.00:pm, for a dance.  On Saturday the dance finished after midnight and this one was likely to do so as well.

Sanjey and I were going to stay with my friends in the upper part of the Bella Coola Valley.  As we drove home we had a great look at a young black bear turning over rocks for ants beside the road.14 black bear

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Sanjey’s Ride

1aaSanjey is my current workawayer.  He was raised in Toronto but most of his family live in SW India.  He is a real city boy!  Almost everything I presented him with (separating garbage, using an outhouse, working with a chain saw) was totally new.1The wet weather continued while we were working in the forest,  Vegetation is lush!  (British Soldiers lichen)2 lichenBoletus mushrooms – thousands of them.3 boletusCauliflower fungus4 cauliflower fungusThe poor ants have had to make huge towers around their ventilators to avoid being flooded out.4a and ventilator bestThe full moon came and went in the cloud.  This was the only glimpse I had of it one morning.5 full moonOne of Sanjey’s great wishes was to ride a horse.  So I took him to the nearby Terra Nostra Guest Ranch.  He was excited, but somewhat apprehensive.  (The horse had seen it all before.)6 sanjey and horseSanjey was given cowboy boots and a grooming brush.7 groomingChristoff explained everything in detail.8 christoff explainingAnd away they went9 away they goThe minute the sun shone I harvested a large pile of kale, blanched it, and spread it to dry.10 drying kaleI couldn’t bear to see all those soopolallie berries without picking them.11 picking soopolallieAn afternoon’s work.12 soopolallie cropThe bit of sun gave the fireweed a nudge, and now it is blooming alongside my road.  (The yellow is spike goldenrod.)
13 fireweed blooming

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The True Story of the Wild Cow Milking.

In the last post I mentioned the wild cow milking competition at the Anahim Lake Stampede.  Here is the true story – by one of the contestants.  Punky Hatch has her own blog:  Mountains Beyond The Cows.  Click to see her version of the event!  (And the rest of her great post.)









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