I just did…
For about 6 weeks.
Haida Gwaii lies right on the edge of the continental shelf and about 100km from the mainland.
And even though it’s small there is a lot to see and has a fascinating history!
I’ve been intrigued with the people, the nature and the lifestyle. And the huge differences of those on such a small surface.
Imagine a place with no fast food restaurants, no coffee shops, not even cell phone service…
It’s a central location and from here you can go on hikes, kayak trips, ride bicycles (or quads) or just enjoy a beer on the deck at the local bar.
The golden spruce was a big attraction here, this 300 year old Sitka spruce appeared to be golden due to a genetic mutation.
The Haida people called it Kiidk’yaas, or ancient tree, and it was an important part of Haida culture and creation mythology.
In 1997 Grant Hadwin swam across the Yakoun river with a chainsaw and felled the spruce.
It was a political statement against industrial logging companies.
A book was written about the event and the history, a very interesting read.
a movie has been made too.
Just after arriving on the island I received an email, if I would like to try a new tent…
There are four different parts of the Island.
There is the rugged west coast, the old growth rainforest, the beaches and the mountains.
I cycled to the west coast and pitched my tent at Bonanza beach for a night,
took me to the loveliest little beach I’ve seen!
(you see my lake on the far right side in this picture)
From up the mountain I could see Moresby Island, Charlotte City and even all the way up to Tow hill at North beach!
I had cycled up North beach before but was told about a hiking trail that takes you through the forest out to Cape Fife, on the east side of the island.So I set off on a sunny morning to check out the trails, it was slow as there was a fair amount of mud, But I enjoyed the walk a lot! And when I got out of the forest and onto East beach I was really impressed with the lovely cabin that is there for people to stay in. If only the mice would’ve stayed out of my food it would’ve been even better.
The aptly named ‘East beach’ is 80km long and would be a great hike on its own.
There’s big tides out here, so when heading out on the beaches or the water you’ll have to know when to go. I had one river to cross that wasn’t a problem as the tides were out.
There’s a lot to see walking along the beach, bottles and floats from Japan and other far away places, and lots of logs have washed up on the shores. Just a bit further down the beach a whale had stranded too, but I never got to see it.
He saw an extraordinary clamshell and protruding from it were a number of small human beings. The Raven coaxed them to leave the shell to join him in his wonderful world. Some of the humans were hesitant at first, but they were overcome by curiosity and eventually emerged from the partly open giant clamshell to become the first Haida.
Cooper Wilson is a Haida artist whom I’ve met on the ferry to Rupert about 9 months ago!
Back then he’d told me I must visit Haida Gwaii one day.
And if I do make it, come and say hello.
Back in Masset I’d heard about a ‘Potlatch’.
A new Chieftain was being inaugurated and to celebrate there would be a feast of song, dance and food.
I haven’t seen this many people together anywhere else on Haida Gwaii yet.
Everybody was served food and the dancing was amazing,
Here a few short clips to give you an idea.
there are berries and wild mushrooms.
I tagged along with some people from Port to find a few, and we came back with 56 pounds of chanterelles!
Then there’s lots of deer, people go hunting and fishing.
I didn’t do any of that, but I was lucky to run into some people who had and were happy to share their catch with me!
Also the fresh produce that’s farmed over here is beautiful.
A lot of it comes from the few mennonite families that live on the island.
It was interesting although I can’t say I agree with everything I heard.
It seemed busy to me, there are only 5 or 6 families that attend the church but there must’ve been about 75 people. Thats because they have many children.
The family I’d met earlier was happy I could make it and invited me over to their place for dinner.
I was ask not to post any pictures of the family on the internet. As they don’t use or like the internet, television or radio.
Living there for a few days made me feel like being in the Netherlands in the 1800’s which isn’t too strange as that’s where a lot of the mennonites that moved to the US and Canada came from. Some families speak ‘Plattdeutsch‘ which I can almost understand.
They have the whole family of 4 daughters and 3 sons working on the farm where they grow corn, squash, beans, onions, pumpkins, carrots and they have a lot of fruit trees too.
Daily life consist of praying, singing, eating, working and sleeping. It’s nice having such a large family, you got an instant choir. But they do not use any musical instruments.
Then they look after a whole bunch of animals.
They don’t drink coffee, tea or alcohol. I had a severe headache the first day which made me think I should probably lower my caffeine intake a little bit.
We had a lot of talks as there is no other form of entertainment, it was great sharing some of my experiences and learning what’s important in life for this family. It was also good to see both boys and girls were involved in all chores.
It was an interesting experience as it was a first for me to walk up a mountain in dress and gumboots.
We didn’t make it to the top as it got a little steep and slippery and hanging on ferns while the ground is slipping away underneath and rocks come tumbling down wasn’t exactly my type of fun. But we all got down safely and it was an adventure for sure!
I wish I could’ve stayed longer.
But I have to think about visa’s and all that hoo-ha.
So I have to leave, all I can say is thanks to the people of Haida Gwaii!
(yes. that is a threat 😉