View was so good here we just pulled over at a wide spot in the road and stayed the night.
After a couple of nights back in the Odegard Falls and Purgatory Glacier area and worked our way back out to pavement near the little community of Hagensborg. It's a bump in the road with a small grocery story, a one pump gas station and a couple of commercial campgrounds. From there we headed further west towards the Burke Channel and the actual town of Bella Coola. Bella Coola lies at the end of the paved road and any further travel west from here requires a boat or plane. It's certainly larger than Hagensborg but not by much. The entire Bella Coola Valley, which is 50 miles in length, only contains approximately 2300 people. There is a forest service road out of Bella Coola that heads south and goes up over the pass towards the South Bentinck Arm and that was where we were headed. The road coming in here is pretty steep in places along with some washed out sections. A four wheel drive is highly recommended on the road. Possibility of fallen trees across the road can be an issue in here as well. It's about 14 miles in before the road surrenders to the brush and mud. An old ATV trail continues on but the truck, four-wheel drive or not, wasn't going. At the roads end you'll find a few spots to camp right along a beautiful mountain lake and a primitive hiking trail leading down to the Bentinck Arm. I only hiked in a couple of miles before heading back to camp. It's a long way down, about 6 miles one way, and a steep grade coming back out. Due to the mileage, muddy terrain and climb coming back it makes for a full day. Too far for Petey and I'm nervous about leaving him for an extended period. I always have visions that someone is going to break into the truck one day and steal him or the weather will turn warm and he'll overheat or something. Not sure who in the hell would break into the truck as I saw one other vehicle camping in here for 3 nights and the temps fell to freezing overnite. What can I say, I'm a little over-protective or maybe I was using that as an excuse not to hike all day.
Still some snow once you get up out of the valley.
Large glacier across the valley.
The meadows up here were covered in blueberries. After two days of hiking around I wasn't sure I'd ever get rid of the blue tongue and lips. I ate enough of these damn things to bring down a horse.
Blueberries attracted this guy as well. You'd think he would want to be down in the valley feeding on the salmon but I think they really want to avoid any contact with Grizzlies. He was fat and healthy though, so not sure he needed the salmon.
Got an invite one morning from a camp a few hundred yards from mine. These were the only other people I say in here over three days. Their family owned a ranch in Wyoming and cooked up some of their farm eggs, homemade sausage and hot coffee. With frost on the ground that morning we stood by the fire, shot the shit waiting for the sun, and wolfed down breakfast.
Petey and I spent the following night near this lake up on the pass. I saw the big black bear pictured above just on the other side of this lake. Having not had a good shower in over a week I did a little skinny dipping here one afternoon and I can tell you.....this water is cold! Petey was watching me like I'd lost my mind.
Another black bear the following day on a hike near camp.
It's a beautiful area up here. The view around every corner is stunning.
After a couple of nights in here it was back to Bella Coola where I decided to head east up out of the valley and do some exploring up on the Chilcotin Plateau. I spent the afternoon at the harbor trying to get a ride across the inlet to an old fish cannery but couldn't score a boat ride. Well, I did have a fellow say he could take me across but wouldn't be able to wait or come back for me so that wasn't going to work. It'd be a long cold swim back to the truck. I'd been told it was a really cool area with lots of photo ops. Maybe next time.
Harbor at Bella Coola. Cannery is on the other side of this inlet.
Here's something you don't see everyday. A bull moose hanging out with cows. A local had told me about this and where I might see it so I kept my eyes peeled and sure enough, there he stood. Story is that he comes down in the valley from up on the plateau every year and to their knowledge is the only moose in the valley. They guess he gets lonely and just likes hanging out with cows. He's not a pet but a wild moose. Not sure about the validity of this story but it's something I haven't seen before.
I spent one more night along the Atnarko River and you guessed it.....more Grizzlies. If you haven't guessed it by now I enjoy watching and photographing bears in their natural habitat. They are a majestic animal and should be protected. They are currently being hunted as trophies in Canada by so called "sport hunters" and may lose their endangered species status here in the states. It should be a criminal act to shoot one of these animals for mere sport. I encourage you to visit http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/wildlife-habitat/projects/grizzly-bears/ to see what actions you might take to help save the Grizzlies.
As I was standing along the river at daybreak on my last morning in the valley this beautiful Grizzly stepped out of the brush and struck this pose as the fog rolled down the river.
Sow and her cub at another spot later that morning.
Last one before climbing up over the pass to the Chilcotin Plateau.
We were headed towards Chilko Lake and then the Fraser River. The plan was to stay off-road and work my way towards Lillooet, camping for a few nights along the Fraser River. Chilko Lake turned out to be kind of a bust as the weather turned and we got some cold temps and snow. The lake is over 40 miles in length and one of BC's largest lakes above 3000 ft in elevation. It's a vast area and a small portion of it is accessible via dirt road. Floatplane, boat or hiking is the only way to really access and explore. I'd planned to stay at Chilko Lake a few days but after having to repair a flat in the cold and snow the following morning, and a dismal forecast for the next few days, I decided to keep working east. Plus, I only saw one sow and her three cubs but couldn't get any pictures worth keeping. Supposedly, the fires, along with a below average salmon run, had really affected the number of grizzlies that were coming to the area to feed. Grizzlies or not, the area has a lot to offer. Over the next week we worked our our way back to Lillooet and then over to Gold Bridge and Pemberton before popping back out on pavement. From there it was slab all the way down through Whistler, Vancouver and back into Tacoma.
Sheep along a ridge.
Pair of bald eagles along the Fraser River.
Mare and her foal.
Young fox near an old barn at Chilko Lake.
Fall colors were coming in.
Big open country here.
Plenty of waterfalls to be found.
Great horned owl near camp one night.
Carpenter Lake in the South Chilcotin Range.
Exploring another side road on the way into Chilko Lake.
So many roads to explore.
Always make a stop at this old cemetery just outside an Indian village.
Figured these two had died together in a car accident. So young. Not sure why I like roaming around old cemeteries but I always seem to stop when I come across one. Walking through and wondering about the occupant's past life is interesting.
Camp for the night along the Fraser River.
Although a mighty hunter, Petey does enjoy a nice warm bed in the camper at night. He is currently catching up on his rest and will hopefully be back out roaming around somewhere soon.