the rest of Haida Gwaii

We finally pull ourselves away from North Beach  

We left north beach talking about how perfect our time was and showing immense gratitude for the fact that every person we had talked to about this island (and just about every photo we had ever seen of it) described it as always covered in thick clouds and tediously cold and raining.

Our experience thus far had been exactly the opposite.  Chilly from the winds maybe, but the weather has been possibly clear.  In fact, as we think back to our weather throughout this trip we have been so fortunate with almost entirely clear sunny days just about everywhere we’ve gone.  What great timing.  Not sure what or how we earned it…but we’ll certainly take it!!

Before leaving the north end of the island we returned our rented crabbing gear, found out even the locals hadn’t had as much much in trying to crab in these windy conditions, picked up our laundry and continued on to explore. 

The small town of Masset was a quick tour of the one street through town.  Old Masset only taking longer because of the high number of totem poles scattered through the towns and a few art/sculpture galleries to hit and see. 

These totems are truly impressive.  Old or new, the craft and intricacy of these sculptures has maintained throughout generations.  The poles are used to mark a location, to celebrate/commemorate a passed family member, or even just to present the family history/name.  Really fun taking in the beauty and craft of each and every one.  We eventually ventured further south, stopping at just about every pullout/beach we could find and exploring what is really a very small island without a lot to explore unless you have a boat/plane with you.

One common tourist attract that didn’t disappoint was balance rock.  A boulder the size of our van that apparently was deposited here by a glacier long ago, and seems to be balancing on a very small point where it meets the ground.  Very cool.

We also hopped a ferry over to sandpit on the lower island.Even less of this (even more remote) island can be explored by road, but that didn’t stop us from seeing every inch of it we could.At one point we pulled over, thinking we would enjoy a quick snack while beachcombing and then continue onward… but as we walked the beach we caught glimpse of fish jumping like crazy along the shore.There seemed to be no limit to them and they weren’t small by any means.

I ran back to the van and grabbed the fly rod… guessing we’d have no luck but absolutely willing to waste the time.  I cast out again and again and got several on the line but each time (whether seconds after feeling them grab the line or after minutes of fighting to get them in close to shore) the line would inevitably break, leaving me with nothing but a shorter line and less one lure.  I kept cutting the tippet shorter and shorter and decided one last time to cast out with nothing more than the absolute widest part of the tippet remaining, just a few feet left after my green leader line.  Seemed highly unlikely a fish would grab on…but at least if one did i had a sporting chance of pulling them into shore without another broken line.

Luckily, that theory held and just as jen was walking back to the van a fish grabbed on and despite the fight the line held enough to bring it into shore.  I grabbed the fish, picked up my flies and other gear and sprinted up the beach carrying my first salmon and by far the largest fish I’ve ever caught.  We decided to simply camp in the pullout and grilled up the fish for dinner.  We could really get used to this routine of catching our meals moments before eating them!

We stayed the night, BBQ’d our catch and slept on the beach and then in the morning finished touring the island and headed back to the north island just in time to catch our ferry back to the mainland.   We were so thrilled to have explored these island, but as with many areas on the trip… left with a longer list of things to return for, and next time would hope to do so either with a multi-day kayak trip to Gwai Haana (or a boat to sail around them). ;)