Canoe Blessing at Nehemiah

13 una with canoeI was extremely fortunate to be able to take part in a canoe blessing and naming at Nehemiah.  Chris Cooper has made fantastic trips with large canoes, many ocean-going, for years, and one that he had repainted last winter, was brought to Nehemiah to be blessed and named.

To get there, we drove about 3/4 of the way to Williams lake, and then south for another 2 and half hours to reach spectacular Chilko Lake where the Nehemiah band was headquartered.  On route we were greeted by Mt Ts’yl?os who watches over the territory.  He will help you, we were informed, but if you abuse the land, he will find ways of paying you back.

1 T'sylos MtOn the way we drove by Konni Lake

2 konni lake chiurch

3 church notice(No indication which year the last service was performed….)

It was a long and dusty drive, but finally we bumped over the last track to the Ts’il?os provincial park.

4 approaching lakeRed mountains reared on one side of us

4a red peaks 2And when we could look down fabulously turquoise Chilko Lake (the colour is due to glacial flour suspended in the water) an active fire was obvious, fed by very strong winds.  It is remote enough that it is going to be allowed to burn unhindered.

4b fireThe blessing and naming ceremony was held at the historic village, which is next door to the park camp ground.  First the covers were taken off the canoe.

4a taking off coversNext Chief Roger Williams welcomed us and sang a song about the salmon travelling up the river, and its importance to his people. (Chris Cooper on the right.)

5 first songThe drum bears the signature of the Xeni Gwet’in government.

18b 1st nations govt.

Next a wonderful singer called Gilbert Solomon gave a performance.  When asked what his song was about, he said that it was also to do with the salmon, but it could mean anything: each person would make his or her own interpretation.  You could only really understand it if you took some of his special medicinal plants….

6 gilbert's first songThe canoe was now displayed in all its glory.  The artist was Una Ann, who lives in Langley.  The front animal is the raven, because that is Una Ann’s clan.  The raven is raising his hands – partly because Una works with her hands, but also because that is a greeting and it means people come in peace.  Behind the raven is a wolf.

11 wolf and ravenNext in line is the eagle.

10 eagleBehind it is a bear

9 bearSalmon

8 salmonAnd finally the seal followed by the orca.  All the creatures on the canoe rely on the salmon.

7 whale and sealAfter a great lunch put on by the band, served in a beautiful log shelter, Una put her regalia together.

12 una getting readyShe posed in front of the canoe.  She made all the cloth and cedar parts herself; one or other of her brothers did the silver work.

13 una with canoe

14 una portrait

Una Ann’s mother is Lilian Campbell (or Lillian Moyer) was with us.  She a respected elder of the Tahltan Nation, currently residing in Dease Lake.  She is a hard-working activist for First Nations people.


First Chris gave a speach, thanking the band and reflecting all our thoughts by saying what an honour it was to be able to come here for the blessing and naming.

15 chris and unaBlankets of appreciation were given to Pam, who was very instrumental in helping to organize this, and Chief Roger Williams.

16 blanketsA very respected elder gave the blessing, first in her own language, then in English, in such a soft voice, few of us could hear.

17 blessing

18 blessing portraitChief Roger Williams was the first to sing.

18a roger williams songFollowed by the irripressible Gilbert.

19 gilbert singing

20 gilbert portrait 1

21 gilbert portrait 2Chris had his own drum, and he was given a canoeing song when he made the Spirit Dancer journeys.  Singing with him is Marilyn, and Trevor, his adopted son.

23 chris's songFinally Una Ann sang a soft prayer.

24 una anne's songThen came the naming of the canoe.

Taheltez means “Putting The Canoe Into The Water.”  It is pronounced “Tallthull”. (The second “t” is very soft, so said quickly it sounds almost like tall hull).  This was the name given to a canoe by Chief Roger Williams’ grandfather, Samboulyan.  Gilbert gave a wonderful demonstration, with his body, of how the canoe rushed like a galloping horse into the lake with a huge splash!  So the name chosen for Chris’s canoe is: “Samboulyan Taheltez.” Una will paint it on the canoe when it goes back down to the coast.

The wind was too wild to allow us to launch the canoe right away.  I wanted to leave early the following morning to get to town and shop for more building supplies.  The crew kindly got themselves organized so that Jimmy and I could have a ride in the canoe before we left.

26 launching

27 poisedThe crew carefully lifted it into the water.

28 lifting into water

29 ready to goBecause Jimmy and I did not have suitable footwear, the canoe was held steady while we climbed in from the shore.
30 holding canoe for meBecause I was away from home overnight, I had my dogs with me.  The crew decided they would have to come, too.

31 lifting dogsAnd we’re off!

32 we're off 1

Paddling was very different to what I am used to.  The strokes are very fast – and, of course, having canoed a lot alone, or with inexperienced people, I keep trying to steer!

33 we're off 2I was back on land within the hour but Chris decided it was too rough to beach the canoe there  – there was a more sheltered cove along the shore.  He relaunched the canoe and took it round there.

35 relaunching

36 turning around

37 2nd last canoeWhat an incredible experience!

38 last canoe






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More Bits and Pieces at Ginty Creek.

21 thundery eveningThis thundery evening sky introduces another post of bits and pieces at Ginty Creek.  My long gap may have had you thinking that I was not doing any work, but in fact life has been hectic.  Many jobs were just a day or two here and there, so not usually all that photogenic.

I was going to town so a volunteer at a neighbour’s place was dropped off with me for a day so I could give him a ride in.  Naturally I put him to work – his job was trail-clearing.

1 trail clearingIn town I picked up more 2 x 6s and Jimmy from New Jersey, whom I put to work finishing the yurt deck.

2 finishing deck

3 deck doneThe outhouse was also finished…

4 outhouse 1…even to putting the coffee can inside for the toilet paper.

5 outhouse 2When I rebuilt the house deck, I left the part near the door, because I want to build a greenhouse over it and use sun-warmed rocks as a heater, consequently extra foundations had to be put underneath.

6 house deck foundation

Jimmy is screwing down the last board

7 house deck 2IMG_5634Et Voila!  (the greenhouse will come to the join of the boards.)

7a house deck doneWe also bucked up the last two pickup loads of wood for the woodshed.  By the last tree, I saw a flash of yellow beside a pond.  Walking into the clearing I found a wonderful display of Monkey Flowers.

8 monkey flower 1The pond had a tiny bit of muddy water in it.

9 monkeyflower 2In which grew pondweeds,

10 pondweedAnd in which were imprinted baby bear footmarks.  No adult bear tracks in sight.  Trust the baby to want to play in the mud….

11 bear printsA few days after Jimmy arrived, we went to a Tatla Lake farmers market.  There were relishes…

12 relishes…Saddles and other horse gear

13 sadlesDiscard books from the library…

14 library book saleAnd heritage chickens and turkeys.

15 heritage chickensEntertainment was Golden Oldies.

15a golen oldiesMy garden is overblown and lacy with worms, but has done well for me.  The sunflower seeds planted by the birds and chipmunks make it cheerful.  The smaller daisies are an interesting salad green I got from West Coast Seeds – an edible chrysanthemum.  It has thrived in my cold climate.  (Five frosts in July and more in August.)  Even the arugula and mustard flowers add colour – they are tasty in themselves and the bees love them.

16 garden

I have also been drying herbs.  From the left at back: thyme, chervil, cilantro, summer savoury, and in the foreground a large basket of wild peppermint from my (very dry!) wetland.

17 drying herbsThe chipmunks are harvesting as well.  I planted rye to try and keep the dust down (and clover, but I did not have water to spare and it wouldn’t grow) and the chipmunk loves sitting on my rockery and nibbling the seedheads.

18 chipmunk 1

19 chipmunk 2The grasses that have grown on the bottom of the dry ponds are also golden with seed.

20 golden pondAnd finally I had to share yet another sunrise.

22 sunrise 1

23 sunrise 2

24 sunrise 3


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Bits And Pieces at Ginty Creek.

8a sunriseSince Nuk Tessli, I have been busy busy busy, so this post is a collection of bits and pieces at Ginty Creek.  The weather has been the same – a bit of cloud, a bit of heat, mostly changeable.

First I went to visit the Precipice (see the cattle drive posts.)  Nothing stood out on this visit, except the semi-tame fox we encountered on the road.

1 fox profile

2 fox back view

3 fox closeIt trotted along ahead of us, then picked something up.  It looked long-dead.  It also had a long, naked tail, which lead my to believe it might once have been a packrat.

4 fox with mealBack home, I picked my first peas.  When I visited Bella Coola 3 weeks ago, the peas down there had already finished.  We’ve had the sun – but there were also four frosts in July.

5 gardenThe cooler weather has knocked back the caterpillar invasion.  Some of the newer leaves have hardly any holes in them.  Here is a black oil sunflower, planted by the birds.  I have half a dozen popping up in the garden.  I will have to plant more next year.

6 sunflowerA week ago I went to Williams Lake.  The days are suddenly noticeably shorter: when I wake up at around 4.00:am it is still dark.  I sometimes need a light to read by at night as well.

An hour into the journey I hit the sunrise/moonset – the second full moon for the month of July.

7 moonset 1It is just about to disappear. (Right in the middle of the horizon.)

8 moonset 2Just as I was leaving town, I stopped for 2 hitchhikers.  As soon as the first opened his mouth, I recognized the accent.  “You Israeli?” I asked.  “Yes he replied.  “You going to Nuk Tessli?” I asked.  He could not believe that I knew Doron and some of his friends at Nuk Tessli!

It so turned out that they were not due to fly in to Nuk Tessli for a couple of days.  So I kidnapped them and put them to work!  We hauled the generator over to run the power drill so they could start putting the deck boards onto the yurt site.

9 start of deck

10 an awkward joint

11 final pose on deckBy the end of the day almost half the deck was done.  They were a great help.  I wish they could have stayed longer.

The following day I took them to the float plane base.  Their flight was delayed several hours due to low cloud and a dribble of rain.12 getting aboard plane13 take-offThe next day I had a few hours to myself.  I walked down to the pond below the cabin to see if there was any water in it.  In the deepest part there remained a sludgy puddle.  Along the edge scuttled a couple of sandpipers.  They were TINY – hardly bigger than the song sparrows on the left of the picture.

13 sanpiper and fox sparrow

12 sandpiperI am familiar with the spotted and solitary sandpipers – they are common here and are much bigger.  But these tiny birds were something new.  Because of their yellowish legs I have come to the conclusion they are the least sandpiper.  Like so many birds, they are starting to migrate south.

The following morning the sunrise looked very fall-like!

14 sunrise with mistI did not have much alone time as another visitor – a friend -arrived.  He is a carpenter, so I put him to work on the deck as well!  We actually had a fairly decent rain – the second of the summer – but he is a coast rat so used to the wet.

15 doug start in rainBut the sun came out before the end of the day.  Doug almost finished the deck, and would have done so, but I ran out of boards.  (I knew I didn’t have enough – my vehicles can carry only so many.)

16 doug lastOn Doug’s last evening, we had a dramatic sunset.

17 sunset

18 sunset 2The following sunrise was foggy.19 morning fogAnd now we have a dribble of rain again.




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Nuk Tessli July 2015

1 paintbrush and glacierIt was exciting to return to Nuk Tessli again in July 2015.  As always, the journey begins with a float plane.  The weather had been so hot, but it had mercifully cooled down somewhat.  I was to fly in very early and that morning the temp had dropped to -3C – I even had to scrape ice off my windshield.  The pilot is bundled up as he is fuelling the Cessna 180 at the Tweedsmuir Air dock in Nimpo Lake.

2 nimpo dockTen minutes after we took off, we were crossing Charlotte Lake. Note Mt Monarch peeking over the ridge.

3 crossing Ch LkAnd finally, what I still think of as “My Lake” with the cabins on the point in the foreground.

4 cabins in foregroundIt is always interesting to see what Doron has done since my last visit.  He is building a new cabin.

4a doron's cabinAnd the humble stone oven, in which I baked hundreds of loaves of bread, has undergone a metamorphosis.  It now has various stone cooking areas and a barbecue on the surface, and an old stove top oven sitting atop the chimney does duty as a smoker.

4b ovenThe first morning was a Nuk Tessli classic.

5 1st sunrise 1And I was the only one who was awake to see it!

6 1st sunrise 2

7 1st sunrise 3

7a another sunriseWe had a couple of hot days, but mostly the weather was cool and stormy.  I can’t say I was too upset after the terrible heat we had endured for so long.

8 cooland stormyOne morning there was even fresh snow on the mountains.

8a fresh snow on queenLike everywhere, everything was dry, dry, dry.  This meant the flowers on the whole were disappointing.  A few species did well, notably the false hellibore,

8b  f helliboreWhich has such spectacular leaves.

9 f hellibore leafThe pond lilies also made a nice show.

11 pond lilyThe loons as always were much in evidence.

12 loonAs were the spotted sandpipers.  (The pale one is a young one.)

13 spotted sandpipersMany flowers that should have bloomed at this time were finished.  Valerian seeds look like sea anemones.

16 valerian seeds

Several species that don’t normally show until well into August were already out.  This white bog orchid has  flowers arranged in a spiral – it is known as lady’s tresses.

15 spiranthes 1The pyramid spiarea is usually the last to flower.

14 spiariea 2It is always fun to see the long-leaved sundews.  The meadows where they live were so dry, only a fraction of the normal number of plants had grown.

17 IMG_5162By shoving the camera against the curled leaves, I could see the small insects the plants were digesting.

18 IMG_5158Here is something with wings.

19 IMG_5165I was to be at Nuk Tessli for 10 days.  The following posts cover the two main hikes that I did.


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Nuk Tessli – North Pass Lake

1 nplk from aboveA cool day and quite buggy when I went to North Pass Lake west of Nuk Tessli, and the meadows above it for the first time.  We had a large party of 10 people, many of them teenagers, and 3 guides.  The quicker ones soon forged ahead.

Doron took us to the trailhead by boat and we walked up beside Beach Creek.  One-sided pyrolas enjoyed the rocks along the trail.

1a onesided pyrolaPaintbrushes were noticeably scarce, but valerian made a good show.  The meadows I was heading for show in green patches on the ridge behind.

2 valerian and meadowsThere were also plenty of white bog orchids.

3 orchid and paintbrushSavannah sparrows “chipped” at us constantly, warning their babies of monsters.

3b savannah sparrowThe trail goes along the edge of North Pass Lake.  Leather-leafed saxifrage seeds made a nice contrast with the grey, windy water.

3a nth pass lk and ll saxWe left the lake by one of the few patches of lupins still blooming  (Normally they are prime at this time of year.)

4 lupinsUp a little creek (now dry) was a nice group of alpine speedwell.

5 alpine speedwell 2We had a lunch break up top, but it was very buggy.

4a  girlsValerian was common up here as well

6 valerian and wild.And in a hollow, where the snow must have lain late, was one tiny patch of lupins and paintbrush together.  What a contrast to my hike at the same time in this area last year.

7 lupin and paintbrushHarry looks cute wherever he is.

7a harryOn the way down we encountered a mother barrow’s goldeneye with 7 half-grown young.

8 goldeneyes

On the second hike I made up to north pass lake I had only two people to worry about, and they were keen naturalists, so we enjoyed everything, bugs, mushrooms, salamanders, birds and flowers.  We took a different route to the lake, going up a little-used trail to what I call Panorama Meadow.

11 panorama meadowWe hiked via the Lookout where there are a number of sculptural trees.  This whitebark pine has made three attempts to grow and, courtesy of a strip of bark that spirals around the trunk, it is still alive.

13 tough treeThe upturned whitebark roots often have a pinkish cast

14 rootOne hollow tree has the remains of intricate carpenter ant galleries in it.

15 flute tree detailBut most dramatic of all is the monster tree.  A burned out snag, it has stood for probably well over 100 years.

16 monster treeA view inside.

17 mons tree insideIt was another stormy, windy day.  Here is the view of the cabin area from the Lookout.

18 cabins from lookoutBut the high point of this hike was as we were coming home.  First, all we saw were horns like sticks poking above the vegetation of a wet area.

9 moose horns

Then up reared a magnificent bull moose.

10 moose 2If you look closely, you can see the dampness on his fur almost to the top of his back.  He had been standing in a tiny hole full of water, eating the roots of water plants.

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