Tag Archives: cottonwood balm

Trip to Bella Coola: Part Two

Soon we reached Heckman Pass at the top of The Hill going down to the Bella Coola Valley.

Heckman Pass at the top of The Hill on Highway 20The elevation is nearly 1600 metres or 5,000 feet, just about the same as my mountain ecotourism business, Nuk Tessli. My lake gets a little bit less snow, but it gives me some idea of conditions up there.

The Hill drops 4,000 feet in 20 miles, zig-zagging down precipitous cliffs.  It is sometimes known as the Freedom Road because the government refused to build it, saying it was impossible, and in the the businessmen’s associations of Bella Coola and Anahim Lake vowed to do it themselves.  In the early 1950s, they pursuaded the government to give them machinery and a small budget.  The road was completed in 1953.  A small plaque, looking somewhat the worst for wear after the heavy machinery used to repair the valley after last fall’s floods squeezed past, hangs on the cliff wall where the two cats met.

The plaque showing where the cats met on The HillThe plaque is situated on a similar stretch to this.

One of the many single-lane stretches along Highway 20 going down The Hill

One of the fun things about going down The Hill is the change of climate.  Near the bottom we saw our first spring green leaves of the year.

The first new leaves besides Highway 20 on The Hill

Soon the air was loaded with the glorious scent of cottonwood balm.  We could enjoy a preview of spring.

New spring leaves in the Bella Coola Valley