RubiKon Adventures

Tales and travels of "GrizzLee", "Looksha Lori" & "Yukon Johann"

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Part 3: Tales and Trails of The Chilcotin, Bella Coola and Beyond

I left Nimpo Lake with a song in my heart in really good spirits. I passed Anahim lake and started the dirt section of the highway. I believe it is about 84 miles or so to Bella Coola from this point. The weather was warming up considerably now and I stopped at the Tweedsmuir Park sign to strip off my heated gear.
Arrival at Tweedsmuir Park (The coastal region)
From the vantage point near the sign one can see north into the plateau portion of Tweedsmuir. Somewhere out that is the famous “Grease Trail” taken by Sir Alexander Mackenzie on his own “Bella Coola & Beyond” trek.
Gorgerous Fall Colors

The fall colors were out in full force. I found myself stopping ever few miles or so to soak up the scenery. It was nice to know that I had reservations at the Bella Coola Inn, so I didn’t feel rushed to find a napping place for the night.

I arrived at Heckman Pass, 5000 feet above sea level.  From here, there are tremendous views of the glaciated peaks in the southern portion of Tweedmuir park and the incredible mountains of the costal range. Glaciers and untrodden land lie everywhere.

The road down Heckman pass is known as “Freedom Hill”. This road is famous for it all dirt construction carved out of the rocky mountain side with no guard rails and steep grade.  It was built by locals because the government stated they wouldn’t. Eventually the gov’t took over the road and fixed many of the dangerous sections, but even still, it is a precarious looking road. I’e been advised to stay off it when it is wet as it becomes a greasy death trap.

Despite the fall coastal climate in the Bella Coola valley, the weather was quite pleasant… almost summer-like. The salmon were running and I was on the look out for bears.

Bella Coola Valley
I came upon some great views of Flattop mountain and Saugstad mountain. Both are spectacular beauties, jutting straight up from the valley floor and reaching for the sky.

Mt Saugstad

From there I ambled into Bella Coola. I was staying at the Bella Coola Inn. The best place to stay in Belal Coola IMHO. They have really good food and after checking in, I cleaned up and had a really nice dinner with a local rancher and his wife for dinner company.
My route up to Blue Jay Lake
The next morning, I got my gear ready and had to move it out of the Inn as I couldn’t stay there another night... no reservations. I had reservations at the Cumbrian Inn… Not a bad place, but I found the owner a bit strange. I wanted to check in early and leave some gear there. No dice. He wouldn’t do it. So I ambled back to the Bella Coola Inn and asked if it was Ok to leave some gear there while I went up to Blue Jay Lake, They were very hospital and more than happy to store my gear for me. This was great, because the road to Blue Jay lake is high up in the mountain and at points is very much a 4x4 trail. I wanted to get my bike as light as possible.

The weather was spectacular…. Not a cloud in the sky!! Really. It was warm and clear. A perfect day. I made my way up towards Blue Jay lake and the sweet smell of the conifers mixed with the clean ocean air was wonderful.  The scenery as I rode up and beyond the lower rain forest was a sight to behold.  
Dreamy views of glaciated peaks filled valley. I had awesome 360 panoramic views of it all at the pass.

Those moutnains lie across the other side of a deep fjord
The last bits of the road were very tricky. I was very, very happy that I unloaded my big bike in Bella Coola. The road had several deep ruts and was rocky and “marbled”. It was an exercise in balance and finesse to get the bike up and over the pass down to Blue Jay Lake.

Blue Jay Lake

I was wondering if it was worth the effort.  One look at Blue Jay lake and the surrounding peaks encapsulated in glacial ice and fresh snow answered that question pretty quickly.

Gray Jay Lake

I stripped off my gear and headed out towards Gray Jay Lake and beyond to what I have been told is a divine lookout across the deep fjords. 

One of numerous ponds

The trail was pretty muddy and it didn’t take long for my feet to get soaking wet. I had packed a light weight pair of trail runners for such an occasion. They are not water proof.

Gray Jake lake was very beautiful and I stopped for a bit to admire the natural setting. I came across a couple of sets of black bear tracks and even found a place where they had dug up the ground in search of some rodents. Needless to say, I made lots of noise and had my bear spray ready in one hand and my camera ready in the other… just in case.

Another beuatiful mtn across a deep fjord

As I got closer and closer to the overlook, the trail became a bit sparse and the way got even muddier. I got lost.

The Dean Channel

I wasn’t worried none-the-less as I knew where to go to get back to the road. It was at this point in time that I caught glimpses of the sound and realized that many of the glaciated peaks I saw where not reachable by land from where I was. They rose up straight from the ocean up to great heights.

The Dean Channel as it joins the North Bentinck Arm

I made my way back up the side of the mountain and ran into some people from Scotland and the Czech Republic. They were a bit lost as well. We looked around a bit and found another fiant trail and decided that that one must be it. Holy smoke.. The views we had once we arrived at the overlook were some of the most spectacular and divine scenery I have ever experienced. I would even dare say that I met the divine creator there. Perfect weather,. Warm skies and cool deep blues as we sat in among the moss covered trees in complete and utter silence. The occasional sound of a bird singing would break the dea silence.

Needless to say I had a very spiritual walk back to my bike. To use the terms surreal, beautiful and such just didn’t seem to fit what I just witnessed.

I changed my gear out and put my helmet on. I was a bit nervous about riding back up to the pass. My fears wee unfounded as I found it much, much easier to ride up the steep, marbly rutted road than riding down it.

Bella Coola Harbor

I had an enjoyable ride out back down to sea level where I visited the harbor for a bit.

My day was not over. I had one more spiritual experience coming to me.

Stay tuned as next time I walk among the ancients and camp in the garden of the gods.

Until Next Time..

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