Tag Archives: belarko

Bear Viewing on the Bella Coola River

21 river 8 stupendousIn the previous post I mentioned being away for a couple of days during the yurt’s construction.  It was because the first housewarming party guests arrived – 5 days earlier than the main date – but they could not stay very long.  We wanted to hire a drift boat to take us down the Atnarko river to watch for bears.

It was sunny when we left home, but the forecast was not good and we could see clouds draped around the mountains.

1 road to bella coolaCloud shadows over the burnt forests below the rainbows were dramatic.2 rainbowsSnow lay beside the road at Heckman Pass but was melted on the road.

3 snow on passThen down the Bella Coola Hill we went.  Our first stop was at the Belarko bear viewing platform.6 bear viewing stationAll we saw was a sow named Cocoa and her 2-year cub.  Both were at a good distance so I got only a fuzzy picture.7 cocoa and cubNext we drove further down the valley and visited the petroglyphs.11 petroglyphs 4 doreenA sheen of dampness added a patina to the carvings.8 petroglyphs 1These carvings were almost hidden under a big spruce root.  The rock probably had more underneath the tree.9 petroglyphs 2

10 petroglyphs 3It started to rain while we walked around the big trees.13 big trees 1The following morning, we presented ourselves at the Belarko boat launch just upriver from the viewing station.  It was pouring rain.  Bent Ear, whom I’d seen on my last trip, was slurping up salmon roe.14 bent earWe got zipped into our life jackets,15 river 2 ifejacketAnd wriggled ourselves into the raft.  (Bent Ear had been feeding just where the river turns to the right – naturally, he wasn’t there when I took this picture.)16 river 3 raftMy three friends all lived in the lower mainland at the coast and were used to the wet.  I dressed as best I could, but my two coats and rain pants leaked.  The trip was to last 4 hours and I viewed the ordeal with some apprehension.  However, the experience was absolutely beautiful.

16a river 2a afloatI’d walked along the shore of much of the route we took over the years.  It was wonderful to view it from the river.

18 river 5 gullsA large number of the salmon were now dead (they die when they spawn) so the smell of rotting fish was pretty strong.

17 river 4 rotten salmon 1Bear tracks decorated the sand bars.19 river 6 bear tracksWe saw no bears, however.  Soon our lenses started to fog up.20 river 7 foggy lensRight at the end of our trip, we finally saw two more bears – Once more Cocoa and her cub.22 river 9 cocoa

23 river 10 cocoa 2This would have been a nice shot if….24 river 11 bears in riverThat afternoon, we climbed back up the Bella Coola Hill.  It was a sea of sloppy mud!  (The fog is in the air this time, not in my camera.)

26 up the hill 2 hairpinAnd at the top we drove back into sunshine.27 jack fence



29 cariboo flatsAt home, my road was dry!

30 nearly home