I’m knee deep in the icy Atnarko River in central British Columbia. A belt is cinched across my chest waders to prevent water from dragging me under if I slip in.
Cougar tracks are pressed into the snow on the bank.
At least the grizzlies, which feast on spawning salmon here each fall, are napping this time of year.
On this morning, my guide Jai Condon demonstrates the art of fly-fishing.
He flicks the rod. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. And, releases.
“How do you lay the line down so nicely?” someone asks.
“Practice,” he says, laughing.
I’m terrible. I don’t get a nibble even though trout can be caught year round in the Bella Coola Valley, about 1,000 kilometers north of Vancouver. I didn’t come here to fish, but I’m hooked.
Heavy fog scuttles my first full day of heli-snowboarding.
But Bella Coola Heli Sports has a genius Plan B, C, D, and so on, for the inevitable down days.
Conceived as an exclusive year-round resort appealing to the hard-core athlete looking for the kind of snow porn experience they’ve seen in ski movies, Bella Coola also keeps the grumpy, grounded adventurer content.
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Depending on the season, there’s cross-country skiing, hiking, biking, rafting, horseback riding, grizzly bear watching, and even, cattle ranching. (Help during calving and ski in the afternoon. Yes, really.)
A helicopter or boat (based on your level of indulgence) will also ferry guests to the fjords to soak in natural hot springs followed by a polar plunge in the Pacific Ocean.