Bella Coola End of May

I took Martina and the two young women at Terra Nostra Guest Ranch down to Bella Coola at the end of May.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  Feral horses posed for us on Highway 20 near Anahim Lake.The unpaved road was still potholey, but vastly improved from three weeks before.  Most of the snow had gone in the sunnier spots, but the small lake at the top of Heckman Pass was still mostly frozen.The mountains on the other side of the valley were splendid.

We had breakfast at my friends’ place at Stuie, then the young women helped haul brush up a bank…And I went for another orchid walk! Last time it was the Calypso Orchids that were prime.  This time I was just a bit too early for the best of the Mountain Lady Slipper Orchids but was able to find some out.Other flowers were starting to bloom.  The upper part of the Bella Coola Valley is fantastic at this time of year.  Bunch berry.

False solomon seal.Heart-leaved arnica.Queen’s cup.Buckbrush.The mountain hemlock were putting forth new shoots.All thriving in the dappled shade of the douglas firs.Spring green spotted the steep slopes of the mountains near Bella Coola.Beneath which the young women went for a swim in the Pacific Ocean,which was FREEZING!  The day was hot, though, and the lupins were blooming.We saw the usual sights – the petroglyphs and the Big Cedars.but the real bonus of the trip was the bears.

We had seen two in the morning – one close to my turnoff – but they both ran away too fast to photograph.  Bear number 3 was glimpsed near the bottom of The Bella Coola Hill.   Bear #4 was a little slower and I snapped a somewhat mundane picture.A bit higher up, bear # 5 was a bit more obliging.  A big guy he first chomped at the dandelions,Then came over to look at us!Near the top of The Bella Coola Hill we encountered a black mum with two cinnamon cubs.  (That’s eight bears – are you counting?And on the east side of Heckman Pass, right by the partly frozen lake, was a mum with THREE grown cubs.They were difficult to photograph as a group as they kept wandering back and forth across the road.The youngsters were real teenagers.  Mum would be kicking them out any time.

(He is looking scruffy as he’s starting to shed.)  Then a gap – and we finished with two more bears as the sun went down – a grand total of fourteen.  My previous single day record was 10.

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