|Souvenirs of our trip - hey, I'm a prairie girl and am very easy to entertain|
when near a beach.
We’ve just returned from Haida Gwaii – a shorter closer to home vacation this year as we plan for our year of travel in 2014. We first planned to visit these islands off the BC mainland 27 years ago. An impromptu driving holiday with two children under 4 and a large dog stopped at a rainy and misty Prince Rupert when we realized that
- It was a seven hour ferry trip that needed to be booked ahead of time
- In the summer you need to book accommodation, or be prepared to camp
This time, we planned ahead. BC ferries had a package that included the booked ferry for us and our vehicle as well as 4 nights accommodation at Haida House (and accommodation in Prince Rupert before and after the ferry). We had a fantastic time, made even more memorable because the weather was dry, warm and sunny. The manager at Haida House helped us plan a day to Skedans as well as pointing us in the right direction for a couple of days of hiking and exploring. To be honest, as a Northern Alberta prairie girl, put me near an ocean and I’m pretty easy to entertain!
The ferry from Prince Rupert to Skidegate was comfortable and the time passed very quickly. We started out in thick misty fog, which was great for some atmospheric pictures, then the sun broke out and we didn’t see fog again until returning back to the mainland. While waiting for the ferry, we met a couple from Australia who were also taking the same package trip as we were. It turns out that they had just visited Iceland and were planning to travel to Scotland AND Rob was an even more passionate birder than Cal. We shared stories and suggestions for great books to read.
|Dock at Prince Rupert looking atmospheric|
|And the sun arrives and stays with us for the next five days|
Hiking to the Pesuta wreck was a great way to spend the day – first half of the hike was through forest and then along the beach. Amazing how you can feel so isolated, even though you know that you are only a few feet away from the river (and your hotel is on the other side). We watched fish jumping and even skipping along the water. There were groups of fishermen catching salmon and making Cal wish he had thought to bring his fishing gear. I had a lovely time playing in the water and taking quilty pictures. That night we realized that the Tlell river was tidal (ok, I’m a prairie girl, give me a bit of a break). We watched as it changed from flowing south (away from the ocean) to flowing north (toward the ocean) with a few minutes of it flowing both ways. Here’s a link to the hike. Pesuta Shipwreck Hike
|The sunshine on the wreck just made fantastic pictures - perhaps an idea for a quilt?|
|everything is so green and lush. |
Lots of rain (less than Prince Rupert, mind you)
and every tree that falls becomes a nurse tree for others.
|Playing with the water and the waves and practicing pictures with the new camera.|
|Loved the mossy/lichen communities|
|Playing with waves and water (hey, I'm a prairie girl)|
|Just as we came out onto the beach. Trust me, there's an interesting fishing cabin in the trees.|
Our hotel, Haida House, was newly renovated this year and used to be a bear hunting lodge. Yes there are bear and there are also 20,000 deer that are beginning to make a nuisance of themselves. Off islanders can get a license to shoot 14 deer a season. It's a partnership between a big resort chain and the Haida nation. Some pretty impressive art was scattered through out the building, all of it for sale.
Saturday, we got up early to head to Queen Charlotte City to meet with James from Haida Style. I had no idea what we were doing or where we were going (hey, I’m a prairie girl and I was cool with the idea that we were going on a boat ride on the ocean). Turns out, James is one of the members of the Haida council and involved in much of what is happening in Haida Gwaii. He was also an incredible teacher about anything and everything. My biggest problem is that he would be talking about something, and I would want to ask a question but he would have moved on to something else even more interesting. His assistant, Stas (sorry if I have spelled it incorrectly, it was the short form of his Haida name) was a young very quiet man who was equally fascinating. He piloted the boat for the over one hour trip there and back and it turns out his career plan when he finishes grade 12 next year is to get his license to pilot the big freighters that ply the waters along the coast. Oh yes, his father will be the next hereditary chief of Skedans and his brothers were the main carvers of the Legacy Pole Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole and his grandmother was in the last canoe to leave Skedans in 1906. To be guided through this once thriving community by someone who learned the stories from those who have lived there was a privilege. As we walked, he and James would consult each other about memories to make sure they were telling the stories of the poles correctly. And the fresh cooked salmon on the beach was excellent.
|Setting off from Queen Charlotte City. No, it wasn't cold, |
Cal didn't want to burn his head anymore!!
|some more quilty patterns|
|way cool effects. Thank you sunshine.|
|beach at Skedans|
|even driftwood looks cool|
|our zodiac waiting for us.|
|mortuary poles (you can tell from the rectangular holes at the top |
where a bentwood box would have been situated)
|this huge tree had fallen since James had last been here.|
I get the term Widowmakers now.
|post card photo of Old Masset in 1881. Skedans would have looked similar.|
|James (front) and Stas|
|I would have never know that this was a totem pole "returning to mother earth". |
Stas could point all the amimals out and knew who it belonged to.
|yes, another fallen totem pole|
|environmentally sensitive. Note the wind turbine at the top of the tree, |
the satellite panels part way down and the solar panels on the top
of the cabin where the Watchers stay all summer.
|Answering the question about how do you get the boat|
out in the middle of the water - kayak.
|The southern islands are very mountainous. |
Haida Gwaii is on the boundary of two plates which are pushing together.
|Cormorants. Getting better at taking long distance maximum zoom pictures|
Our final stop was to walk into the site of the Golden Spruce. We have the book by John Vaillant and I’d recommend it to anyone.
On our way from Prince Rupert, listening to CBC Vancouver as the only radio available, we heard about the first winter storm of the season which closed down the ferries for two days. And the first snow in Fort Nelson. Thanks Haida Gwaii for a great holiday.
|The clouds rolling in as we leave on the ferry.|