Grizzlies of Bella Coola

After Grandview Chalet B&B shut down for the summer season, we took off in our almost-finished campervan (2018 Ford Transit hi-top) into BC for a late fall visit. First we stopped in on Kalavida Surf Shop in Coldstream, which is nicely situated on Lake Kalamalka, and picked up a couple of touring SUP’s. Conditions were great for trying them out!

Next we headed to “The Gardens at Spences Bridge” to help out a brother with his new vineyard, located outside the town of Spences Bridge, in the Lower Thompson valley. This is kind of an area that time forgot - the TransCanada Highway runs through, but most traffic opts for the quicker Coquihalla Highway in the high hills to the east. James has some amazing grapes growing, and hopefully in 2019, he will be selling them to local wineries. He has a great variety! He also has some naturally grown produce, such as melons, squash and tomatoes.

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After a quick visit into Vancouver urban madness, we were on a ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We did some visiting and mountain biking, and then made our way north to Port Hardy. By that time, we’re into October, and there are no campgrounds seemingly open. When we checked in with BC Ferries, they told us we could park and camp in the non-existent ferry line-up. The next day, we were on our way some 6 hours late. But it was a beautiful sailing up the coast through the myriad of islands with grey whales occasionally showing off.

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Winds prevented sailing up the fiord, so the ferry anchored for the night, and they gave us a berth. Early the next morning, we were on our way and soon docked in Bella Coola. After a town visit, we pulled into Rip Rap Campsite in the small village of Hagensborg, some 10 km east of Bella Coola. A very excellent private campground right on the Bella Coola river! We immediately saw our first grizzly in the area in the river fishing for salmon. Later on, he started feeding on mountain ash berries growing wild on trees in the campground. So, we got to see him a lot!

Next we tagged up with Kynoch Adventures, just a 10 minute walk from the campground, to do a bear watching float trip down one of the tributaries to the Bella Coola river in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. The salmon run , by that time, had slowed, but there were a few sockeye that we saw. Basically, we got lucky and got quite close and personal with a grizzly who was still managing to pull some spawned salmon out of the river. Bald eagles and various other birds were hanging out for spoils. Note that we saw a dozen bears on our drive to the put-in!

One of the most interesting places we visited in Bella Coola were the petroglyphs - a sacred area of the Nuxalkmc First Nations. We did not have one of their guides - we should have. We walked carefully, and touched nothing. It’s a magical place of 3500 year old rock carvings set in a beautiful cedar forest grotto. Later on, at their invitation, we attended a one of their potlach ceremonies in the town, which was very interesting! If you visit, you should take in some of their culture, because this is their land, and it is extraordinary.

Finally, we had to leave Bella Coola, and head east on the road through Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, up “the hill”, and onto the plateau beyond the Coast Mountains. We hiked the Rainbow Ridge view trail through the cool burned forest (only saw one bear), onto a high that gave us views of the ridge, albeit covered in snow. We visited with a basalt canyon with a nice waterfall (Hotnarko Falls), and then onto Anahim Lake Resort. The lake is full of rainbow trout! And Anita, who runs the place, had also sorts of ideas on how to catch them. She rents out cottages, and RV sites - mostly to fishermen and hunters, but it’s a nice place to hang out.

Eventually, we made our way down the long and winding road to Williams Lake, and southeast to the Kamloops and Salmon Arm areas for some great mountain biking, and finally back to Canmore. Hell of an adventure! If you haven’t seen enough, here’s a link to a YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTHy347Jk-A

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Mt Kilimanjaro and Safari, Tanzania

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We just finished a trip to Tanzania that included climbing Mt Klilmanjaro and a safari tour of the Ndutu Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, and the Ngorongoro Crater. Below are a few pictures along the way.

Kilimanjaro comes in 5895m (19,341 feet) above sea level, making it the highest peak in Africa. Despite being just south of the equator, it's very cold at the top! The climb took 7 days, and we couldn't have done it without guides and porters, which are required anyway.

Although not technical, it's difficult due to the altitude. The first five days on this route (Lemosho) are spent slowly gaining altitude to base camp 4600m (15,100') - plenty of up AND down just to help with acclimatization. Climb day requires gaining 1295m (4200') to the frozen peak starting at midnight. We reached the peak before sunup, and the camera batteries were not happy! We descended into the rising sun for 2785m (9100'), making it the longest descent on foot that I've ever done! We were toast. Next day, we descended another 1280m (4220') before lunch. After a rest day in Moshi, we headed out on safari.

The safari drive to the parks mentioned above is very long (8-10 hour drive). But, our accommodations were awesome, and the wildlife was incredible. The wildebeest migration was in full swing - perhaps giving us an idea of the bison on the Canadian/American plains before they were wiped out. With these beast are zebras, hyenas, leopards, cheetas, and a variety of other creatures. What a place!

South Centennial Trail to Mt Allan

 nearing the peak....

nearing the peak....

Oct 5, 2017

The Centennial Trail is a classic ridge walk, created by the Calgary Rocky Mountain Ramblers in 1966 for Canada's 100th birthday. It's easily accessed (35 minutes from Grandview Chalet B&B in Canmore, AB), and wastes little time before taking you to tremendous views. Within 20 minutes, you're out of the trees and into the blue (weather depending). On this early October day, there was almost no breeze (unusual!), but there was snow from a weather event days before.

To reach the peak of Mt Allan is 7.8 km and 4450 ft (1356m) up a mainly steep hike, with brief intervals of easy scrambling. The trailhead is at Ribbon Creek near Kananaskis Village. Poles are highly recommended when there is snow on the route! The total return trip length was 7.5 hours, including relaxing stops in the sun along the way, and a pleasant rest at the peak. This route is closed in the spring for big horn sheep lambing (until June 1), evidenced by the myriad of game paths over the grassy windward slopes.

About 2 hours up, you pass by a few weather stations (Nakiska Ridgetop) overlooking the Nakiska ski area below. Shortly thereafter, you go over a false peak, and drop for a while before climbing into the "dragon's back" teeth, which is the coolest part of the hike. Here, Mesozoic chert conglomerate pinnacles up to 20m high line up along the ridge, being considerably more resistant to erosion than the surrounding shales. Chert cobbles are all over the place.

The view from the top is spectacular! Included in that are the four peaks of Lougheed, Mt Bogart, Mt Kidd, the Kananaskis valley, and the continuation of the Centennial Trail to Pigeon Mtn near the TransCanada Highway. For those wanting to do the entire Centennial Trail: I hope your boots feel good! We went back the same way...