Under thick branches of hemlock and western red cedar, my guide and I make our way down a forest path that runs along a towering cliff.
“Everything I share with you is an echo of our ancestors,” says Sheldon Tallio, a cultural leader among the local Nuxalk people and my guide on this adventure. “Each day, I live and breathe what they have passed down,” says Tallio, who also goes by his Nuxalk name, Nuhawhawta.
His voice cuts through the roar of Thorsen Creek below, and we pause in front of undulating granite, where petroglyphs peek out from a carpet of moss. Here, in a rain-forest wilderness where First Nations peoples have lived for 10,000 years, these carvings tell stories of their timeworn history.
We’re in British Columbia’s Bella Coola Valley, where the ancient Rainbow Range meets the Coast Mountains. Bella Coola resides at the center of an interconnected fjord system, a coastal temperate rain forest, and a vast mountain landscape where glaciers, creeks, and rivers converge. Just a 70-minute flight from Vancouver, the remote region in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest is often considered British Columbia’s best-kept secret.