John Harvey Photo

Skidegate

Go to Slide Show Smaller Images Welcome to Haida Gwaii!


Just Landed At Sandspit
I remember asking for tour operators that work in Haida Gwaii when I was still booking trips with the Curve of Time back in 2007 (before I got married).  Jan and the Curve of Time were such a great company to travel with, Haida Gwaii wasn't a high priority.  Sadly, the Curve of Time went out of business and I had young children so those dreams got put on hold.  Fast forward to 2020 and I had a plan to drive the family up to Haida Gwaii in a RV and tour from an RV.  We booked it, but the Islands were closed to visitors because of COVID so I had change that trip around (See Prince Rupert Road Trip).  2021 the Island was still closed and in 2022 I found that most of the tour operators were clearing their backlog of already booked trips rather than taking new customers.  2023 and I was able to get a booking for our family of four that worked with our vacation schedule.


Having driven up, I was quite happy to fly.  The flight was only 1.5 hours long and Sandspit airport was a great place to land and wait for our bags.  We had a booking to stay at a Sandspit lodge for the night, but ran into some trouble when our bags were delayed and the shuttle bus left us behind.  There are no taxi's here (running them - not enough people for all the open jobs) so we wound up scrounging a ride from an employee in Budget Rental Car office. 

Arrivals And DeparturesInside Empty Sandspit Airport

Our accommodations for the night was Northern Shores Lodging and Catering which looking like it's primary customer are short term island workers.  The Lodge has a restaurant, but it is only open when there are enough booked customers (again - labour shortage), but the service was great and we got to meet most of the guests on our trip.

Walking On Beach
Being fairly far North, the sun doesn't even come close to setting until quite late so we decided to take a walk on the beach across from the lodge.  It was amazing how quite the place was - you could lay down on the road and not worry about a car hitting you - we felt alone in the world.  As we walked down the beach we found a giant rope swing tried high into a tree.  The kids had a blast showing how to swing.


 
Claira At PerigeeClaira Swung Out Over BeachNara On Swing
 
Nara Swinging Without Sitting Swing Gets Air
 
Seal Skull Washed Up On BeachEuropean Sea Rocket

There were a few hints we weren't in southern BC anymore.  We found a seal skeleton washed up on the beach.  Nara wanted to keep the skull but I suspect it was still fresh enough to contain a brain (and stink).  We found sea stars washed up on the beach and unlike in the south, they appeared to be mostly bat stars. 
Washed Up Stars And Shells

We headed back to our hotel and went to bed with the sun still fairly high in the sky.

The next morning we had breakfast at the lodge and a large crew van from Moresby Explorers came to pick us up.    Our trip was booked through Bluewater Adventures so this was a bit of a surprise, but again labour costs.  The boat we were going to board this afternoon was in the process of finishing the last tour and being re-provisioned so Bluewater contracted Moresby to provide our tour for the day.  We added another person to our group - Linda, our cultural guide for the trip. We loaded into the van and headed to Alliford Bay to take the ferry to Graham Island.

Teapots
The Alliford Bay to Skidegate Landing run is about 20 minutes each way so the ferry (
Kwuna) is frequent.  There are bathrooms on board and a small waiting room, but not much else.  Coming into Skidegate Landing, we saw the much larger "Norther Adventure" ferry that does the eight hour trip to Prince Rupert.

Kwuna Coming Into RampNorthern Adventure At Terminal

Our first stop was the Haida Heritage Centre - a massive museum celebrating Haida history.  The museum is closely tied to the reviving of Haida Culture - the poles in the front of the building were carved and raised in 2001.  There is a large boat shed where traditional canoes are carved and cared for. 

 
Claira Coming Through Kuuna LlnagaayFive Fin Orca PoleKelp On Back Of Pole

Beaver With StickBlow Hole FaceCopper Shield Tacked On

Eagle On Tsaahl LlnagaayFace On Taanuu LlnagaayHuman Riding Sea Grizzly
 
  Poles From The BeachSgang Gwaay LlnagaayWatchmen On Hlgaagilda Llnagaay

Family In Front Of MuseumSea Cauliflower At High Tide
 

 
 
Claira Looking At Lootaas
nside the museum proper are historical artifacts going back centuries.  The most modern are the Bill Reid Canoe Loos Taas built for Expo 86 and sailed around the world.  Bill Reid's dogfish pole is adjacent.  As you go deeper into the museum you cross the "no photography" boundary and can no longer take pictures of the artifacts.  You will see argillite carvings extending from the potlatch ban back to the trade era.  There are totem poles that go back to the same era.  There are carvings from historic sites that go back thousands of years.

Watchmen At Top Of Skidegate Dogfish Pole

  We had lots of time at the museum (which was nice) and then we went for lunch in a home in the community.  We had a brief stop at Balance Rock for some funny photos.
 
Kids Pushing Standing Rock
 
 
Sign For Spirt Lake Wasgo
Our next stop was the hike up to Spirit lake.  This hike has a direct connection to culture - that sign has a large carving of a Wasgo - a mythical giant creature that can hold three orca while swimming.  There is a story that a family of many brothers lost brother after brother to the Wasgo until the last and oldest brother, with a bit of mythical help, was able to slay the Wasgo and take his hide to become the Wasgo himself.  The Wasgo hid up at this lake.


We had two tour guides from Parks Canada on this hike.  They spend the summer up here as guide/naturalists and then return to school family for the rest of the year.  Housing and salary is always a challenge up here.  The trail itself was in great condition with signs at the forks in the trail.

Kids Running On BridgeLarge Salmonberries
 
Linda, our Haida guide was able to identify Culturally Modified trees that showed historic uses.  The first sample was a tree that was cut into to determine if it was solid enough for a canoe or pole.  Apparently it wasn't because after all of the work of cutting to the core of the tree, it was abandoned.  The second tree had been used to pull a strip of cedar bark for local industry, but the job was done poorly - too wide and short.

Culturally Modified Tree For FallingCulturally Modified Tree For Bark


After a nice hike up, we made it to the lake.  The wetlands had a great selection of Sundews growing where they could get water.  Apparently beaver work in this area - the streams out of this lake have been dammed up.  We spotted a few frogs, but they are fast.

Spirit LakeSundews On Stump

Northern Red-legged Frog
As we hiked back, I noticed a motion in brush and managed to spot a frog.   This is red-legged frog - native to BC (and like many frogs, in trouble) that was introduced to Haida Gwaii in modern times.  As this was probably forth frog I saw today, they must be doing pretty well up here.


After our hike, we got back in the van and drove back to the ferry to Moresby Island.  There was about a 45 minute drive to Moresby Camp and the drive did use the CB radio because there was so many passenger vans on the road.  We arrived, unloaded our luggage and met our crew for the week!
 
Gwaii Haanas SignIsland Solitude Moresby Camp

Moresby camp is a busy place - there were two or three other boats loading in the time we were there.  We pulled up anchor and moved down the Inlet to where we were going to anchor for the night.  We got a little paddle in before lights out at 10pm.

Claira Coming To VisitNara With SailboatKayaking With The Kids


Next: Skedans

 

Seal Skull Washed Up On Beach
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, bone, skeleton
European Sea Rocket
Location: Go To...
Large Salmonberries
Altitude: 56m (183 feet)
Location: Go To...
Kayaking With The Kids
Watchmen On Hlgaagilda Llnagaay
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Claira Coming To Visit
Person: Claira
Tags: kayaking
Just Landed At Sandspit
Person: Claira, Nara
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: plane
Copper Shield Tacked On
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Eagle On Tsaahl Llnagaay
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Spirit Lake
Altitude: 62m (203 feet)
Location: Go To...
Nara With Sailboat
Person: Nara
Tags: kayaking
Swing Gets Air
Person: Claira, Nara
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, swing
Northern Red-legged Frog
Species: Rana aurora (red-legged frog)
Altitude: 64m (209 feet)
Location: Go To...
Island Solitude Moresby Camp
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Claira At Perigee
Person: Claira
Location: Go To...
Arrivals And Departures
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sgang Gwaay Llnagaay
Altitude: 6m (19 feet)
Location: Go To...
Poles From The Beach
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Museum, totem pole
Sign For Spirt Lake Wasgo
Altitude: 27m (88 feet)
Location: Go To...
Kwuna Coming Into Ramp
Altitude: 6m (19 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: ferry
Walking On Beach
Altitude: 9m (29 feet)
Location: Go To...
Family In Front Of Museum
Person: Claira, Helen, John, Nara
Altitude: 6m (19 feet)
Location: Go To...
Nara Swinging Without Sitting
Person: Nara
Location: Go To...
Tags: swing
Blow Hole Face
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Northern Adventure At Terminal
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: ferry
Five Fin Orca Pole
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Museum, totem pole
Claira Swung Out Over Beach
Person: Claira
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, swing
Face On Taanuu Llnagaay
Washed Up Stars And Shells
Location: Go To...
Inside Empty Sandspit Airport
Altitude: 4m (13 feet)
Location: Go To...
Kelp On Back Of Pole
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sundews On Stump
Species: Drosera rotundifolia (Round-leaf Sundew)
Altitude: 62m (203 feet)
Location: Go To...
Gwaii Haanas Sign
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: sign
Claira Coming Through Kuuna Llnagaay
Altitude: 6m (19 feet)
Location: Go To...
Beaver With Stick
Altitude: 4m (13 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: stick, totem pole
Human Riding Sea Grizzly
Altitude: 11m (36 feet)
Location: Go To...
Kids Pushing Standing Rock
Person: Claira, Nara
Altitude: 6m (19 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: rock
Teapots
Person: Claira, Nara
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Nara On Swing
Person: Nara
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Culturally Modified Tree For Bark
Altitude: 83m (272 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: culturally modified tree, tree
Claira Looking At Lootaas
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Watchmen At Top Of Skidegate Dogfish Pole
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Kids Running On Bridge
Altitude: 57m (187 feet)
Location: Go To...
Culturally Modified Tree For Falling
Altitude: 83m (272 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: culturally modified tree, tree
Sea Cauliflower At High Tide
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: totem pole(3), beach(3), swing(3), kayaking(2), culturally modified tree(2), tree(2)
People: Claira(8), Nara(8), Helen(1), John(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > Haida Gwaii > Skidegate

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Last Modified Tuesday, September 5th, 2023 at 20:11:51 Edit
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