Inspired by my friend Jessica’s post on Words from the Wild about a photograph she took, I thought I would do a similar post in my running blog. Jessica is a moderator in our Google+ group, Ecology in Literature and the Arts, and I admire her vast experience and travels, which inspire her nature writing. My travel and photography experience is so modest comparably, but we share the same adventurous spirit!
The story behind this photo is one of my favorite memories. Last summer my husband, his mom, my mom, and I traveled to Bella Coola, British Columbia, to visit the gateway to the Great Bear Rainforest. At my old job, I was mapping parks and lakes in BC and had been mesmerized by Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, near where we took this photo. Though there is an old lodge at the huge park (it was closed for the season when we went up), amenities throughout are few and it was advised that if you go there to be very careful due to the wildness of the place, the lack of common traveler amenities, and inclement weather. It is hard to even get to this area. Eco-tourism in the area is expensive and involves ferries and sea planes or coastal flights. Bella Coola itself is still an isolated town, not really a tourist trap.
We drove up from Vancouver, spending one night in Kamloops and then going the rest of the way the next day. The last mountain pass was nothing more than a rugged dirt road that dropped 5,000 feet from the Chilcotin Plateau down to the valley and would barely fit two lanes on a curvy, twisty mountain. Wildfire smoke hung in the air from nearby fires, which hampered vision in the dusk as we arrived in the small village. So what you see in this photo is an ephemeral moment where receding perma-ice, wildfire smoke, a glimpse of sun, and natural clouds danced together. The photograph does not capture the reality of how it looked in person. It seemed sacred and divine, if that’s possible. I was glad that this area is not traveled often, but we can still argue that climate change is affecting it.
The trip was also interesting in that our moms came with us to raft down the Atnarkno River during salmon season when grizzlies hike along the river to find food. We saw one grizzly at the river while in the raft and two more at the side of the road. We had seen black bears, a mother and two cubs, in a misty meadow near Williams Lake on the way up. We also visited the interesting petroglyphs of the Nuxalk people.
My mother is in her mid-70s and the mystery of the trip didn’t frighten her. In fact, since my father died, she has transformed from quintessential mother to caretaker to independently journeying through the rest of her life, not minding the surprises along the way. We really enjoy having her around and are taking her to Ireland next, in June, to visit her ancestors’ homes–her one dream in life. This trip to Bella Coola was a longtime dream of mine, as I’m working on a book about the rainforest. I don’t foresee this book being done anytime soon because there are more trails and rivers to discover.