Haida Gwaii, Oh My!

We have learned that in 2018, even in Seattle, it is not feasible to get a roll of film developed in less than five days. Therefore we will have to wait until we are back home in December to get our kayaking photos developed. For now, we will share the pre- and post-kayak digital shots.

View of the Skidegate Inlet from our Air BnB in Queen Charlotte.

We arrived in Haida Gwaii on Saturday, September 1. To celebrate Dan’s birthday, we quickly made our way to the only pub in Queen Charlotte. Sunday was a quiet day, used mainly to pack and get organized for our first overnight sea kayaking trip. Early Monday morning we met up with our guide from Green Coast and the rest of the tour group.

As we left on the kayak trip, we spotted the National Geographic cruise ship. Only $1000 per night to learn about nature in style!

We spent three days and two nights kayaking around the Skidegate Inlet, not far from Queen Charlotte. Despite not making it down to the protected Gwaii Haanas national park, we still managed to see plenty of wildlife – one giant jellyfish and plenty of tiny ones, seals poking their heads out of the water, dozens of salmon jumping and occasionally trying to escape the seals, bald eagles, deer, and one juvenile black bear. The tours organized by Green Coast provide delicious meals (stir fry, sausage pasta, scrambled eggs, hummus and veggies, etc.) and the camping gear necessary for the cooler and wetter climate.

The only whale we saw in Haida Gwaii.

Our tour group was thankfully mainly comprised of first-timers like us, but we all managed to paddle for five to six hours (15 to 20km) per day. We took a double kayak for the trip, giving us a little extra stability and opportunities to slack off while the other person paddled. We were lucky to have calm sunny weather on the first day to build up our confidence on the water. Day 2 gave us a little rain, but the seas remained calm. Day 3 was by far the biggest challenge. After a 10km paddle around an island, we faced a windy 5km channel crossing to get back to Queen Charlotte. The white-capped waves rocked the kayak, splashing water over the nose. We braced ourselves and managed to avoid rolling the kayak, making it safely back to shore.

Haida Gwaii Kayak Map
Approximate re-creation of our kayaking route.

On Thursday, after a visit with our friend Bryce, who set us up with the kayaking trip, we visited the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate. We learned about the arrival of the Haida people to the region 13,000 years ago, their first interactions with Europeans, their totem poles, and their work to save their language. We learned that there were recently only about 20 people who were able to speak the language and they are now working to teach the younger generations.

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