Haida Gwaii Aug 9th – 14th
Day 1 Aug 9th
Took day ferry from Prince Rupert to Skidegate. Beautiful, calm day. Ferry very peaceful and the staff were all friendly and helpful. Drove north to Tlell where we found a lovely campsite at the Merry Meadows provincial camp ground. The Edge of the World music festival finishes tonight. From what we can hear from the camp ground the quality of the music is fantastic.
Walked to the beach where we saw a dead shark! Not quite what we were expecting. Back at camp John lit a fire. This is the first campground we have been able to have a fire. Everywhere else there has been a fire ban due to the extreme fire risk rating.
For supper we had Knorr ‘sidekicks’ Singapore curry noodles with sugar snaps, red peppers, spinach, tomatoes, prawns, tomatoes and a little peanut butter for flavouring. It tasted pretty good. Would rather have made it all from scratch but hey we are camping after all.
– late(ish) start. (Not as late as we were in Kamloops! That bedroom was so dark and quiet we just set and slept)
Drove to Port Clements where we stopped at the local museum. Sadly wifi not working but the staff we very friendly. Drove further on and stopped at the Sunset Bird Hide on the Yakoun River Estuary. Beautiful. We loved it. So peaceful and quiet. Saw:
– chestnut backed chickadees
– golden crowned kinglet
– Townsend warbler
– Sandhill Cranes
– Bald eagles
– Belted Kingfisher
– greater yellow legs
And ‘Ducks’ that were too far away to identify.
After the bird sanctuary we went on a lovely forest walk “the golden spruce trail”. It used to lead to the famous golden spruce (a tree that was over 300 yrs old) until some nutter cut it down as a protest. The forest was beautiful and full of wonderful mushrooms. Wish we knew a bit more about them. Enjoyed reading the interpretative signs telling us about Haida philosophy. We saw yet more eagles, that sounds really blasé but we were thrilled with each and every eagle we saw. Just couldn’t quite believe how many we saw.
Stopped for lunch at Angela’s gas bar. Shared soup and grilled cheese (thank goodness we shared as the portion was huge and very cheesy). Limited wifi $3.50 for 30 minutes. At least we were able to send a few emails and to say thank you for all the lovely birthday messages.
Walked through the forest and along the Tlell river towards the Pesuta wreck. John’s heels are sore so we didn’t get as far as we wanted to. Saw beautiful goosanders, western sandpipers, more bald eagles and ravens. To be honest the birdlife isn’t as prolific as we had hoped. We are loving the scenery and the pace of life though. Arrived back early to camp and enjoyed quiet time, reading and getting warm by the fire.
Loved hearing the rain on the tent at night. So glad we have such a BIG tent. No problems with condensation or wet sleeping bags! Packed up and headed towards Masset in the rain and low cloud. Masset is a small village and Old Massett is one of the original Haida villages. Looked at the local campsite and decided to try elsewhere. The guy at the front desk said that they had had a lot of rain so we better look at the sites to see if they were suitable or not. Found them to be dark and very muddy, not inspired. It is hard to camp when it is raining!
We tried the recommend Copper beach B&B but they were fully booked (it did look quirky and fun). The gal there recommended camping along the beach at North shore. However when we got there the weather was pretty awful and there wasn’t any shelter. So we ate lunch in the car and then put our rain gear on to walk out to the blowhole and then up to Tow Hill. Both were really beautiful. The forest path up to Tow hill was a bit Middle earthy with all the moss and lichen. Loved the view from the top and hearing the waves crash on the pebble beach.
Tried to find a place to stay in Masset but we really were not inspired. So I gave John a break from the driving and headed south to Queen Charlotte. As I was in control of the car, I stopped at one of the Haida studios. The artist was there chatting with some customers who were looking to buy one of his masks, for a mere $6000. I looked around and thought “yikes this is out of my price range” and headed back on the road!
Again we struggled to find a place in QC, even the campground was full. We used the phone in the tourist office and called several places and lucked out by finding a room at Dorothy and Mike’s guest house. It was the PERFECT place for us. The room was lovely and was decorated with African prints, pictures and decorations. We had a lounge, a balcony, a fridge, a bath, a big bed! We loved it there. We had a quiet evening, in fact I went out for dinner on my own and John stayed at the Inn and shared some fresh salmon with some of the other guests. I just needed a bit of “me” time.
Spent most of the day at the HG museum. It was fabulous to learn about the Haida’s history. They were a group on the edge of extinction due to lovely European influence and disease. Thankfully they are reclaiming their history and are rebuilding their clans. Went to talks teaching us about
– the meaning of the Totem Poles
– the Cedar tree being their tree of life
– how they use bark and roots to weave baskets, hats and clothes
– the significance of the Button blanket
It is a really great museum and it was a wonderful way to learn about their culture. They are trying very hard to preserve their language. Only about 30 people speak it but they are teaching it in the schools and a few of the kids are speaking it now. As I said earlier they were a group of people on the brink.
We also had a yummy lunch. I had a fish taco and John had the pulled pork.
Went for a late walk along the beach and saw a lovely sunset (we are usually in bed before the sun sets!)
Stayed a 2nd night at Dorothy and Mike’s. A different room in a cottage. We had a kitchen and laundry! Fantastic. Sadly I cooked a very mediocre meal, I am pretty sure I said I wasn’t going to cook anymore!
Had a second breakfast at Jags and then we took the ferry to Sandspit. Went on a beach walk and had a very chilled day reading and catching up with the blog and photos.
We sorted ourselves out at the local campground and then went for a drive and walk around the small town of Sandspit. We chilled, read books, bird watched (yet more Eagles) and enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever seen.
We were very lucky to get a place on the Moresby Explorers day trip around Louise Island. It was a lot of fun and the food was fantastic (although I do feel for the guides as they have been serving the same lunch since 1987)! Brian, our guide was very knowledgeable and went out of his way to ensure we had a great trip.