Tag Archives: Bella Coola

A Little Snow

harry the mutt


2 trailIn the swamp, it was hardly visible at all.

winter willowsI had to go to Bella Coola again to see the surgeon who gave me a new knee.  He comes up from Vancouver twice a year. Neither he nor the physiotherapist can explain why the knee is still swollen and painful, making it difficult to go down stairs – in the best case scenario, everything should be fine in 3 months – it is now 7 months since the operation.

All my other medical trips have been during the long days of spring and summer.  Snow was forecast on the Chilcotin and rain in the valley.  These are potentially the worst conditions as somewhere down the Bella Coola Hill the temperature changes from below to above freezing, and that can create a terribly slick surface.  The nearest Chilcotin weather station is nearly 100 km east of where I live, and the one in Bella Coola is almost the same distance west, and in a totally different climate.  There is no way of finding out what is going on down The Hill.

I once wrote a chapter in a book: How To Make Life Difficult For Yourself Without Really Trying.  The theme was that if you think of everything that can possibly go wrong, you are prepared for it.  So I carried: chains and bungie cords; axe; chainsaw; come-along and ropes; shovel; food; matches and candles; and dirty old clothes in case I had to crawl under the vehicle. Although I could manage the 6-hours driving, the appointment, and the shopping in one day if the weather cooperated, I had to be prepared to stay the night as the surgeon was flying in that morning.  Often the Bella Coola Valley is socked in during winter conditions, and the plane flies only to Anahim, after which passengers are bussed down The Hill, which adds 2 hours to their travel time – and the plane is often late, even in perfect weather.  So I also carried sleeping bag, dog food, and spare clothes.

The sun rose shortly after I left home.

sunrise Highway 20Some parts were foggy…

for on Highway 20But The Hill was clear.

Highway 20, Bella Coola HillAnd there was even a bit of feeble sun now and then.

highway 20Highway 20 had been well sanded and the transition from freeze to thaw was easy.  Soon I was driving in mud.

mud on The HillAt the bottom of The Hill, there was no snow at all.  Everything dripped with moisture.

snowberries at Stuix


10.  Mushrooms and mossThe scent of fall cedar forest was overwhelming.

11. mushroomsMy appointment was for 1.00pm.  The plane was only about half an hour late and the surgeon missed lunch and saw me at 1.15.  Three hours later, I was headed back up The Hill

Highway 20 Bella Coola HillThe sun set about an hour before I arrived home.  But everything had gone smoothly – all my preparations had been for nothing.

Highway 20, Chilcotin

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From Summer to Winter

There was little warning when summer turned to winter.

middle mountain fresh snow


from Cariboo Flats

perkins peak and fresh snowThe next night was clear – and the temperature dropped to minus 10C. By mid morning, the frost had melted.

4. featherThe river is low.  Hard to believe that on this exact day 3 years ago we had that tremendous flood.

McClinchy RiverIn one of the log jams, there was a water-worn cottonwood trunk.

waterworn cottonwoodIn a calm eddy were hundreds of whirligig beetles.

crazy beetlesOn 27th September I went to Bella Coola again to see the physiuotherapist. Steady rain was forecast, but it was cold and sunny at the top of The Hill.

Bella Coola HillThe other side of the pass was gloomier.

The Bella Coola Hill Soon I was in cloud.

fog on the Bella Coola HillBut gleams of sun filtered through the fog.

car on Bella Coola Hill


camper on the Bella Coola HillAnd at the bottom, the sun was shining.

bottom of the Bella Coola HillI made the trip there and back in one day.  It was growing dark as I came close to home.  The fall colours should be at their peak now but they have a grey/green look so perhaps we are not going to get a good display this year.

near Kleena Kleene



The Bella Coola Ferry

On the morning of the fourth September, I took Lily to the Bella Coola ferry.  She had to be there at 7.00am for an 8.00am sailing.  At this time of year it is not yet properly light then, particularly when the cloud hangs low.

bella coola ferry terminalLooking upriver towards Bella Coola

Bella Coola marinaThere were not many people getting on the ferry.

going aboard the Bella Coola FerryWhile waiting for the crew to secure the doors and mooring lines, I enjoyed the reflections in the Bella Coola marina.  Not far below Stuie, the Atnarko River is joined by the Talchako river, when it becomes the Bella Coola river.  The Talchako is larger than the Atnarko and full of glacial silt at this time of year, hence the milky green colour of the water.

Glacial Bella Coola RiverThe reflections made lovely drawings.

reflections Bella Coola marinaSoon time to sail

6. Lily on board the Bella Coola FerryThe ferry left on time, just when most of the fishing boats were also setting off.

leaving bella coola ferry terminalGoodbye Lily.  Safe voyage.

Queen of Chilliwak, Bella Coola





Bella Coola Petroglyphs

It is a short, if rather steep and muddy, walk up Thorston Creek to the Bella Coola Valley petroglyphs.

Thorston Creek near Bella CoolaThe trail took us through classic coastal rain forest.

Bella Coola rain forestThe mushrooms were fantastic

3. mushrooms a

4. mushrooms bThe trail was a bit precarious in places

5. trail to p[etroglyphsBut the petroglyphs are amazing.

Bella Coola petroglyphsThe local Nuhalk people have incorporated them into the legends.

Archeologists say they are much older than the arrival of the Bella Coola people.

Nuhalk petroglyphsNo matter which, they are wonderfully mysterious and perfectly located in this magical forest.

Bella Coola petroglyphs


Clayton Falls, Bella Coola

Clayton Falls is used for hydro power for part of the year for Bella Coola.  It is located at the end of highway 20, 3 km past the ferry terminal.

clayton FallsI am fascinated by the abstract pictures the water makes on the water-worn stones.

clayton river






IMG_3990The pool at the bottom of the falls was alive with spawning salmon.  Apparently several of the 5 species are much commoner this year than they have been for a while.

IMG_3984As we came away I was just going to put my hand on the rail to come down the steps when I saw this rather magnificent creature.

IMG_3996Where the Clayton River runs into the sea, there is a small picnic area.

clayton falls picnic areaIn the water, several harbour seals were fishing.

harbour seals


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A busy week on the Chilcotin

It started 30th July when I took Patrick down The Hill to Bella Coola.  You can see part of Highway 20 on the right.

Top of The HillPatrick did a bit of work in my friends’ yard at Stuie.  (It was very hot.)

Stuix and PatrickWhen I was down for my last physiotherapy appointment 6 weeks ago, masses of flowers were blooming.  Now they are all in fruit.


berries of thimbleberryFalse Solomon Seal

berries of false solomon sealBunchberry

berries of bunchberryAnd again, with lupin leaves.

lupin leaf and bunchberryThe oddest coloured berry was from the Queens Cup.

berry of queens cupThe roadsides were lush with fireweed and goldenrod

fireweed and goldenrodUnfortunately, I had to put Patrick on the plane to Vancouver.  He was a great helper.

plane to Vancouver from Bella CoolaOn August 2nd there was a Celebration of Life for a local pilot, Sid Blackwell, who had had a long battle with cancer.  About 150 people turned up at the hanger where the Celebration was held.  Sid often used to fly me to Nuk Tessli.

Sid BlackwellThe next day there was a music gathering at the Paradise Resort  on Eagle Lake just west of Tatla Lake.  The minute the show started, my dog Badger lay on the deck in the shade and didn’t budge for two hours.

Paradise Lake ResortThere was cowboy poetry

cowboy poetryA most intriguing bagpipe player who filled the bag with an arm-pumped bellows

14. bagpipesJohn, the host,

15. JohnIt was hot again and shade among the thin aspens was at a premium.

Joanne and umbrellaThe sun was close to setting when we drove home (although the party went on for some time.)  There are a lot of cows on the road right now.  Note the bugs!

cows on highway 20Tomorrow I drive 9 and half hours to Vernon, stay the night and pick up a stove, and drive back.  It promises to be even hotter there, with “severe risk of thunderstorms…..”  Should be fun!!!!


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Bella Coola again.

The travelling physiotherapist was making one of his trips to Bella Coola so I took advantage of helpful drivers and went down The Hill again.  It had been a month since I was down there before, seeing the surgeon on his biannual visit, so I did not expect there to be much of a display of the forest floor flowers.  But the weather had been so cool and rainy they were superb.

Stuix gardenAt the bottom of the above picture is a bunch of moccasin flowers or white mountain lady’s slipper orchids.  They were blooming in huge masses.

white mountain lady's slipper orchidA shrub known as Old Man’s Beard was in its prime.

shrub oldmansbeardSaprophytic pinesaps were pushing through the forest floor.

Pine sap(As you can see, it kept raining.)

We did get a few gleams of sun, and the wild roses smelled heavenly.

dog rose

dog rose close-upA month previously, I found only one queen’s cup out.  Now they made a starry carpet everywhere.  They seemed to really enjoy growing under western hemlock branches, which were most elegantly tipped with new leaves.

hemlock and queen's cup

Queens Cup


The physiotherapist will be back in 6 weeks.  I have never been in the valley at that time of year before so it will be interesting to see what is happening then.

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Forest Floor Flowers in the Bella Coola Valley

At the end of last week, the surgeon who gave me a new knee made his spring visit to Bella Coola.  It was a good chance to see what he thought (he admired his carpentry work!) and I also visited two different physiotherapists and got a lot of homework to do.  Thankyou again to everyone who has offered encouragement.  I can now walk slowly across the room with no sticks, but I still use poles or crutches outside – partly because it is faster and I am less likely to be eaten alive by blackflies!  I still can’t quite manage without pain killers, but I am obviously getting there.

As usual, I stayed with my friends at Stuie, about 80 km up-valley from Bella Coola. (This is Melican, one of the mountains seen from their backyard.)

a Mt MelicanEverything was so beautifully lush and coastal.  Here is a cottonwood tree.

balsam poplarI was a little too early for the best display of the forest flowers.  The male pine blossoms had not quite made pollen yet.

male pine blossomAnd it took a lot of searching to find a queen’s cup in bloom.

k queen's cupThe heart-leafed Arnica were in their prime, though. (Hooker’s Fairy bells on the left).

arnica, heart-leaved

heart-leafed arnicaBecause of the very dry spring, the early Calypso orchids were just about finished.  (It is very hard to get into the best place for good photos while on crutches!)

e calypso orchids

calypso orchidFalse solomon’s seal was doing well,

solomon seal, falseAnd the star-flowered solomon’s seal…

star-flowered solomon's sealMost of the spotted coral root orchids were not yet open.  I managed to find one sunny clump.

spotted coral root orchid

spotted coral rootA few early False Lily of the Valley were blooming.

false lily-of-the-valleyPride of place, however, were the Moccasin flowers or Mountain Lady slipper orchids.

mountain Lady slipper orchid

mountain lady-slipper orchid


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Bella Coola again.

This time we went right down to the waterfront.


Mareike and Nico wanted to go out kayaking.  Janice, who owns the boats, said they were the first tourists of the year.

a1b in kayak

Away they go!

a1c Starting off

Max and I continued along the coast a couple of miles to the small waterfall that drives Bella Coola’s hydroelectricity.

a1d waterfall 1

The water makes lovely abstract patterns on the sculpted rocks.

a2 waterfall 2

From there, we could look across the inlet to the old cannery, which was the kayakers’ destination.

a3 across the water

Here is a close-up of the buildings.  We could see the kayak on the beach but it is very small, even in this magnification.

a4 cannery

Despite the cold weather, Bella Coola is far more advanced in their season.  The skunk cabbages were already out:

a5 skunk cabbage

And the salmon berry flowers.

a6 salmon berries

Back home, we had to make bread.  These volunteers are big bread eaters.  Max on the left, Mareike, and Nico.

b breadmaking


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A Sudden Burst of Spring

The dull, gloomy weather didn’t seem to want to leave.

sunrise from Ginty Creek

But gradually the cloud cleared.

cloud clearing over the mountains


Then the sun was glorious!

where my deck will be


I’m sitting and sunbathing where my deck will be.  (The coat over the back of the chair is to block a sneaky little wind.)  I actually bared my forearms!

I went to Nimpo Lake to pick up mail and along Highway 20 saw the first pussy willows.

pussy willows on Highway 20


This is the twig time of year.  I love to bring them into the house and watch the various buds unfold long before they will do so in the wild.

The forsythia was stolen from a bush in the Bella Coola Valley last weekend.  It has opened in the house.  The advanced pussy willows were from down there, too.  The knobbly twigs at the back are cottonwood.  (The primulaceae are from my last trip to Williams Lake).

twigs in my house


This morning I snowshoed up onto the north bluff.  The warm weather was melting the recent snow and the weed stems were popping up again, leaving interesting shapes where they had been.

emerging weeds

The mountains in their new snow coats were spectacular.

Noghwhon Mountain


Above is Noghwhon.  Below is Middle Mountain set off by dead, beetle-killed pines.

Middle Mountain


Here is a panoramic view from the top.

panorama from north bluff


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