to Haida Gwaii!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
Last Modified Tuesday, September 5th, 2023 at 20:11:51 Edit
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