2011 – Gwaii Haanas Sea Kayaking

In late August 2011 eight of us did an 11 day sea kayaking trip in Gwaii Haanas National Park at the south end of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.  (Haida Gwaii was formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands.) We hired a guide since most of us were inexperienced sea kayakers and didn’t own boats. This worked out very well. Steve Konik of Ocean Sound Kayaking, along with his assistant Christine, did an excellent job of taking care of us on the trip.  They provided everything except for our personal gear.

The trip started in Sandspit, the main Haida Gwaii airport.  A van picked us up and drove about an hour on logging roads to Moresby Camp.  Then it was about 90 minutes by high speed zodiac to the north side of Ramsay Island where we met Steve and Christine.  Another group was finishing their trip so camp and boats were waiting for us.

It was raining the next day so we stayed at the same campsite and did a day trip to Gandle K’in (Hotspring Island).  This was a great place to spend a rainy, windy day.  We bathed in the three hot pools and drank tea in the warm watchman’s cabin.

The weather improved and we headed south to our main destination, SGang Gwaay (pronounced “Skungwhy”) also known as Anthony Island. This island is the site of a prominent Haida village, SGang Gwaay llnagaay, more commonly known as Ninstints or Nan Sdins.  Ninstints was abandoned around 1885 after a smallpox epidemic reduced the Haida population in Haida Gwaii by 95%.  Ninstints has the largest collection of Haida totem poles in their original locations and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is well worth the visit.

We ended the paddling part of our trip the next day at Rose Harbour, the site of an abandoned whaling station and now home to about six people.  One of those, Susan Cohen, cooked us an outstanding “100 meter diet” dinner with fish and crab from the ocean in front of her house and vegetables from her garden behind.  We were entertained by Götz Hanisch, a very talented composer/musician and owner of the Rose Harbour Guest House next door

Next day we left Rose Harbour for the long zodiac ride back to Moresby Camp and drive to Sandspit.  We stopped along the way at Tanu, another abandoned Haida village.

Dianne flew home the next day.  The remaining seven of us (David, Doug, Irene, Jessica, Keiran, Liz, and Manrico) rented a passenger van and spent four days touring the northern island.  The highlight of this part of the trip was the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate.  This is a “must see” if coming to Haida Gwaii. We also went to Masset on the north coast.

Following are two videos and a slide show of our trip.  The first video is a Google Earth tour of our route.  The second video is a compendium of video clips taken during the paddling part of the trip.  You can see the videos in full screen view and higher resolution by pressing the buttons on the lower right.

Now the slideshow. Press the white button on the top right to get a full screen view. Select the first photo and then click the arrows on either side of each picture to scroll through the set.