Friday, July 26, 2013

Haida Gwaii hike

We wanted to do some hiking in Haida Gwaii and decided to do a 35 km route that combined 10 km of forest and 25 km of beach on the North-East tip of Graham Island near Masset. We drove up to Masset, had lunch at the Sunrise Cafe and then picked up coffee at The Ground Gallery & Coffee House. (where there was a great display of reflection photographs)

By the time we drove to the trail head at Tow Hill and packed, it was 3 pm when we started hiking. The 10 km of the Cape Fife trail across the peninsula to the coast took us about 3 hours. It was wonderful through the temperate rain forest of moss covered trees. There's a hut at the end that's free to use and was in good shape, but we had brought our tent and set it up overlooking the beach.

I'd read that there isn't a beach anywhere that doesn't have garbage washing up on it. It's bad enough to hear that, but to see the reality is worse. Here we were in one of the remote corners of the world, and you couldn't go ten steps along the shore without seeing plastic garbage. It's still a beautiful place, but it's sad.

The next day we hiked the 10 km up the East coast to the end of Rose Spit, the NE corner of the island, and around onto North Beach. We'd known there wasn't much fresh water on this route, but there were several creeks on the map, and this is a rain forest, so we assumed we'd find something. We couldn't find any sign of the creek on the east coast so we kept going around the spit aiming for the creek shown on the north coast. But we couldn't find it either. We'd only started with about 2.5 litres each and we were down to about a litre each. We could have hiked out the last 8 km to the car, but decided we'd rather spend one last night on the beach, even if it did mean rationing our water.

Unfortunately, this part of the beach is frequented by ATV's and trucks - mostly people crabbing. They didn't bother us, but it did spoil the wilderness feel.

The next morning it only took a couple of hour back to the car. On the drive back we passed the Moon over Naikoon Bakery and it was open! We'd assumed it would be closed on a Sunday, but apparently they're open 7 days a week. It was a cool drizzly morning, but the shop was toasty from all the baking and the cinnamon buns were fresh out of the oven (and very tasty).

The bakery is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but it turned out to be a popular spot, both with locals and tourists. By the time we left the first batch of cinnamon buns was almost gone and another batch was in the oven.

I discovered a copy of Observations from Off the Grid on the table and ended up reading half of this wonderful book of poetry while we sat there. The poems were about travel with quite a few from Guatemala. I'll have to track down a copy so I can finish reading it.

Overall, this was a great hike - recommended.

(click to view 31 photos)
North Beach & Tow Hill

See also: my other posts and the collection of photos from this trip, and Shelley's post

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