But Do You Actually Want to Bike to Masset?
By Anna Mairs
A very kind woman in the Port Clements Bayview Market asked me and my friend Kate this after we told her we were en route biking from Queen Charlotte to Masset. The woman offered us a ride in her truck – we could throw our bikes and backpacks in the back. I beamed, thanked her, and then declined her generous offer. Heck yes I wanted to bike to Masset!
I’m one of the semester students studying on Haida Gwaii with the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society. My name is Anna, I’m from New York City, and the first thing I packed for my time here was my touring bike (getting the bike here was a whole other adventure!). My bike buddy Kate is from Calgary and is a speed skater with the Canadian National Team (this is important to remember because she completely smoked me on the ride!). Our game plan was to bike the 110 or so kilometers from Queen Charlotte to Masset to meet some folks in our class at the cabins we rented for reading week. What do I recommend packing for such an adventure? Just some decent gear, a friend you’d love to spend eight hours with, and a smile. You don’t even need to read a map, just go north on Highway 16!
We left at 8:50am and made it to Tlell in good time. We had biked to Tlell before, to camp and eat at the Crow’s Nest Café, and it is one of my favorites rides. The road is right next to the coast so you can see the ocean the entire time, plus there are often bald eagles flying overhead as you pedal. We planned to grab lunch in Port Clements, so we rode straight through Tlell this time. We caught some rain as we biked past farm pastures and along the edge of Naikoon Provincial Park. It ended up raining for the rest of our ride, which was great because then we didn’t need to shower afterwards! Friends of ours had explored Port Clements earlier in the term and emphatically recommended the grilled cheese at Angela’s Place. We took a slight wrong turn at a fork and found ourselves at the Bay View Market instead, but it was the perfect place to buy some snacks and dry socks – plus the cashier was a friend of our program director! Small world!
We got directions to Angela’s Place (Kate almost put us back on the road to Queen Charlotte at the fork!) and can confirm that their grilled cheese is indeed phenomenal. The ride to Masset from Port Clements is along the forest and has some rolling hills (very humbling!). Kate and I treated ourselves to large hot chocolates at The Ground once we got into Masset. We realized though that the Hiellen Longhouse Village Cabins were in Tow Hill and that we in fact had another 26km to bike! The ride to Tow Hill is famous for the Moon Over Naikon Bakery (an off-the-grid bakery! So cool!) and winds through a mossy backroad.
Our total distance ended up being 138km after 6 hours and 35 minutes of riding. We arrived at 5:30pm to a warm fire and friendly faces at the Hiellen Longhouse Village Cabins. All in all, I totally recommend the ride – biking is such a great way to experience all the charm of Graham Island’s scenery and communities.