"...for many of us the world would be a poorer place without bears. We keep bears because they are a part of nature and because of what they do for the human mind, body, and soul." ~Steve Herrer
Video - Day 4 Bella Coola and Bears
|Morning camp at Fletcher Lake|
My original plan for the day was to pop out onto Hwy 20 at Hanceville (Lee’s Corner) and fill up on gas. From there I was going to head out to the Nemiah Valley to Chilko Lake all on dirt/gravel roads. However… When I arrived at Lee’s Corner, the owners and another motorcycle rider told me that the weather forecast was for rain today, especially as one got closer to the coastal mountains. Furthermore, they advised not to ride the roads when they are wet. Some of the roads are very slippery with mud and a 4x4 is highly recommended when wet. On a bike they said it would be tough. I understood completely. They treat the roads with Calcium chloride and if my travels north served any lessons to me, it was that wet and calcium chloride treated roads equal bad riding conditions for motorbikes. I was a bit disappointed, as I really wanted to go to the Nemiah Valley and Chilko Lake. As it was, I was now concerned about “The Hill” going down to Bella Coola.
|Lee's Corner (Hanceville) - Gas, Grocery's and a weather report|
So I grabbed some lunch at Lee’s corner and head out on highway 20 toward Bella Coola. I rode through Alexis Creek and Bull Canyon. All the time thinking that this would be an incredible place to live and have a ranch. I’ve ridden this stretch before and took a couple of side trips to some lakes along the way. Late afternoon arrived and the sky was overcast, but still no rain.
|All alone at a lake - No reservations, no permits ... Nobody!!!|
|Old cabin along hwy 20 - Someone once lived here|
|Heckman Pass Viewpoint (5000' in elevation)|
Out of the blue I came upon a Grizzly sow and her cub walking casually up the road from the valley. As I understood it, the salmon were running and I couldn’t quite understand why these bears were heading up instead of down. In any event, I stopped and got some video footage and pictures of the mom and her cub. Mom would occasionally go out to the middle of the road and stare me down. Eventually she would give up and amble off the side of the road. I would then turn my bike around and go 100 yards or so up the hill and wait for her to re-appear. Again the ritual of walking out in the road and trying to make a stance would commence. Eventually, mom would give up and return to the edge of the road and disappear. This went on for 3 or 4 cycles until I decided to let them be. It was a wonderful experience to see such creatures as these. It was clear that mom didn’t like hiking the bush and rather use the road. Who can blame her? At no time did I feel threatened. The mother bear was a good mom, and I could tell that she was very protective of her young, setting a fine example for him (her?) to follow.
|Mother Grizzly in a standoff - Who really owns the road?|
|What a pair these two made|
|Moving on.. She is a good mom|
|Jr (The cub) was ever so curious about me|
I made may way down to the valley and it began to sprinkle a bit. Eventually, the light precipitation gave way to rain as I entered Bella Coola. As planned, I did check into the Bella Coola Inn for the evening and had a fine dinner there. I reset and planned my route for the return trip. I did happen to run into a fellow PacNW GS rider and his wife in Bella Coola the next morning. I shared with them my bear experience and they were jealous.
|Bella Coola Harbor|
|The end of the line... as far as one can drive the mainland of western Canada|
|My approximate Route form my home to Bella Coola (click to enlage)|
Note: Use at your own risk as the route is approximate and not suitable for all riders and vehicles.
Stay tuned for Day 5