Posted by: cherylyoung | January 31, 2010

Wilderness Elegance,A Spectacular Setting Of Bella Coola On The Coast Of B.C

The island village of Bella Bella is located on

Campbell Island, north of Port Hardy on

 Vancouver Island,

 and about 3 kilometres north of McLoughlin Bay,

 where  BC Ferries’ Queen of Chilliwack docks.

It is home to the Heiltsuk Native Band and is the

 largest community on the Central Coast

(population 1,400).

Although it was the former site of the Hudson’s Bay

 Company’s Fort McLoughlin in the 1830s,

nothing remains of the fort today.

 A Native interpretive centre and big house

explaining the history of the Heiltsuk peoples are

 located in  McLoughlin Bay.

Five kilometres from Bella Bella is the community of

Shearwater.

 When European explorers arrived on this coast

in the 18th century, it was inhabited by Natives

from several cultural groups.

 Although hunters and gatherers like the tribes of the

Interior, the coastal natives were able to establish

permanent villages due to their abundant

food supply.

 Their complex cultures were distinguished by an

emphasis on wealth, a refined artistic tradition,

and a rich spirit life.

 Travel along the coast was accomplished by dugout

  canoes that could be impressive in their length.

 Although there’s nothing more inspiring than

 to see one  of these massive canoes in action,

they are only brought out for ceremonial occasions,

such as a paddle trip to Vancouver or the Olympic

 Mountains in Washington.

 In earlier years, the communities on British

Columbia’s Mid-Coast were dependent upon marine

 traffic for their communication with the outside

 world, as indeed they still are today, as they remain

inaccessible by land.

 Slowly, however, travel by land increased, and

travel by sea decreased.

With rail and road routes reaching communities

like Prince Rupert and Bella Coola, the volume of

 sea traffic to coastal ports of call diminished.

The coastal villages were severely impacted by

 this change, which saw the termination of ferry

 services in the early eighties.

 Contact with these communities received a major

 boost  with the inauguration in 1996 of the

BC Ferries’ Discovery Coast Passage Route,

providing a scheduled service out of Port Hardy

 on Vancouver Island to Namu, McLoughlin Bay

 (Bella Bella), Shearwater, Klemtu, Ocean Falls

 and Bella Coola.

The service operates during the months of June to

September  only, and is served by the Queen of

 Chilliwack,  a hard-working, refurbished

 Norwegian freight boat.

 Services in Bella Bella include a bank, a large general

 store, a police station, and the only hospital and

 pharmacy  on the Central Coast.

View map of the area.

Population: 1,253 Location: Bella Bella is located 98

nautical miles north of Port Hardy, on Vancouver

 Island, and 78 nautical miles west of Bella Coola.

There are scheduled flights to Bella Bella from

Vancouver  Airport.

Arrange a trip to the Eucott Bay Hot Springs, near

 Ocean Falls in Dean Channel, amongst the largest

and best-known  on the coast.

 These hot springs are popular with boaters as

Eucott Bay  offers good anchorage and shelter for

 small craft.

The Fiordland Provincial Recreation Area is a

91,000 -hectare paradise for sea kayakers,

approximately 100 km north of Bella Coola by air

– a magical world of inlets, bays, islands, and fjords.

 Waterfalls and glaciers are set amid the passages of a

complex coastline.

 Some of the mountains are thickly cloaked with

old-growth  Sitka spruce and coastal western

hemlock forests; others are monolithic domes,

exhibiting their bare granite faces.

 Located in the Kitimat Ranges of the Coast

Mountains, Fiordland is an exceptionally scenic

area, with rich estuaries at the base of sharply

plunging glacier-topped mountains.

Salmon spawn in the many coastal rivers and creeks.

There are a number of excellent beaches

and interesting upland features, including glaciers,

waterfalls, lakes, and rivers, along with wonderful

hiking and wildlife-viewing opportunities.

Sitka deer, salmon, and grizzlies have shared this

 magnificent area with the Heiltsuk people for

 centuries.

Trapping, hunting, fishing, and other traditional

 food-gathering activities have richly sustained

these people  over the years.

 There are a number of archaeological sites located

 here, particularly along the shorelines.

 Unfortunately for paddlers, campsites are few

due to  the steep topography of the area.

The recreation area is an important habitat area

 for both black and grizzly bears, which can make

 travel on shore risky.

Many parts of the Discovery Coast are relatively

 unknown to kayakers.

 It will appeal to resourceful paddlers who seek a

sense of pioneering, which includes laying some

 groundwork, discovering new fishing spots, wildlife

watching, dealing with unknown tidal currents,

and finding new campsites.

 In British Columbia, the opportunities for

recreation are everywhere.

Kayaking: Paddlers can enjoy the many small straits,

exposed coastline, and islands accessible from the

 communities of Bella Bella and Shearwater, such

as the Goose Group in the western reaches of the

Hakai Provincial Recreation Area.

There is good camping on the south end of

Campbell Island as you make you way through

Hunter Channel towards Goose.

 Be prepared to paddle 8 km through the open

water in Queens Sound between Campbell and

Goose, the largest by far of the five islands

 gathered here.

 At the north end of Goose Island is a pure white

 beach composed largely of pulverized clam shells

 that when walked upon with bare feet emit a squeak

 not unlike the squeal of a sneaker on a gymnasium

 floor.

This is truly an enchanted island.

Approximately 130 km north of Port Hardy and

10 km west of Namu is the

 Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy Area,

 British Columbia’s largest marine park, and one

of the better- known paddling areas.

This 123,000-hectare area encompasses a large

archipelago of outstanding natural beauty and

recreational value.

From fully exposed shorelines to rolling, forested

hills and 1000-metre peaks, Hakai offers some of

the most varied and scenic coastline in the province.

Special features such as lagoons and reversing

tidal rapids, beaches, all-weather anchorages,

 tombolos, and an intricate network of coves, inlets,

and channels make it an ideal area for boaters,

anglers, scuba divers, naturalists – and experienced

 sea kayakers.

The recreation area has no developed facilities,

 and offers wilderness sites for camping only.

 Over 100 species of birds have been identified in

 the park, ravens and ospreys among them.

Feeding flocks of gulls,  auklets, murres, and

murrelets are numerous in the waters of Kildidt

and Queens Sounds.

 Black oystercatchers, pelagic cormorants,

 surf birds, and  both black and ruddy turnstones

are also common.

Diving:

 The waters of the Hakai Provincial Recreation

Area are amongst the finest in the world for

 underwater exploration, with exceptional viewing

opportunities year-round.

There are wrecks along virtually the entire Central

 Coast, making it a magnet for divers.

Three good wrecks are just off Atli Point, near

Shearwater, and Namu is particularly popular.

 Liveaboard dive charter vessels are available,

which are outfitted with diving tanks and wet suits,

and are based on the Central Coast between June

 and September.

If travelling on the Queen of Chilliwack,

the most stunning scenery is between Bella Bella

 and Bella Coola.

With the setting sun behind you, the monolithic rock

 formations looming over the narrow Burke Channel

give the cruise a European flavour.

You’ll get an even better look at the scenic Dean

 Channel  during daylight hours if you board the

ferry in Bella Coola for the southbound sailing.

Weather permitting, the ship’s two upper decks

 are an excellent vantage point from which to

 watch for the logging camps, barge houses, and

abandoned settlements that indicate a human

presence on this rugged coastline.

Although Natives have inhabited the area for

thousands of years, the inhospitable terrain has limited

development and exploration by European settlers

until comparatively recently.

Wildlife viewing – the ferry slows for orcas – is another

 bonus of this trip.

Don’t forget your binoculars. Facilities aboard the

 Queen of Chilliwack include reclining sleeper seats,

a cafeteria, and small licenced lounge, a gift shop

and – a boon for  kayakers – pay showers.

Those taking the Discovery Coast Passage should

be aware  that, depending on their departure time

and length of trip, they may have to ‘camp’ one

night aboard ship.

 A sleeping bag or warm blanket will enhance your

comfort in one of the reclining seats.

Alternatively, bring along a camping mattress and

stretch out on the floor.

 A small number of cots and blankets are available

 onboard.

Hardy types are also permitted to pitch their (self-

supporting) tents on the deck.

See the best of BC when you embark upon one of the

 many circle tours that take in Vancouver Island,

the Discovery Coast, the Sunshine Coast, the interior

winelands or the remote Northern British Columbia.

The coastal tours involve exciting rail, road and

ferry trips,

 which is half the fun of travelling in British Columbia.

 Scenic highways flank the coast, taking you through

 charming beachside communities, rolling

 farmlands and majestic mountain ranges.

 Start your journey here and now, by selecting from

one of the Circle Tours, designed to assist you in

planning your  journey by road through beautiful

British Columbia

The art of conversation lies in building on another’s

observations.  Not overturning them.

upstairs

http://www.upstairsonbeacon.com

cbythesea@shaw.

www.facebook.com/cherylcyoung

www.twitter.com/CherylCYoung

www.cherylyoung.ca

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