Visual Narrative #017- Potato Mountains; bears & fossils

VN #017: Potato Mountains: bears and fossils
Posted February 4, 2024

Potato Mountains: bears & fossils

During my photographic book explorations into the vast and remote Chilcotin region of BC, Rita, and friend Mike, and I decided to hike along the Potato Range to Potato Mountain overlooking spectacular Tatlayoko Lake.

The Potato Range and Potato Mountain is named Chinaz Ch’ez in the Tsilhqot’in language and lies in the heart of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, one of six Tsilhqot’in communities. The Xeni Gwet’in have harvested wild mountain potatoes here for centuries.

Alpine hiking in the Potato Range

Grizzly bear encounter

We were enjoying a beautiful day of hiking through the open alpine when a grizzly bear, then two grizzly bears, suddenly appeared in front of us. I usually make a loud whistle noise in these circumstances, but this time I remained silent; we just watched. When the bears picked up our scent, they reacted immediately by running to the top of a nearby ridge.

Inquisitive and feeling safe. So were we!

Because we were hiking in open alpine, and feeling extremely vulnerable, we were very relieved when we saw them both high up on the ridge.

Fossil discovery

When we finally reached the mountain top overlooking Tatlayoko Lake, we found a tremendous array of fossils depicting sea life from the Cretaceous Period; some 66 -145 million years ago. It was hard to believe that during that time, the ocean floor, now some 2000 metres below us, was where we were standing.

Sea fossil

The above fossil might have formed in a shallow ocean environment along an ancient shoreline.

  Tatlayoko Lake and the Coast Mountains

This was the view of Tatlayoko Lake and the Coast Mountains; a view from what was once the ocean floor.

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