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Rose Spit - where the Hecate Strait meets Dixon Entrance - Photo: Owen Perry

The rainforest experience - moss carpeted paths, a lingering scent of fresh cedar and the sounds of silence - Photo: Owen Perry

Step into another world as you tour ancient Haida village sites in Gwaii Haanas - Photo: Owen Perry


Going to Tasu

Tasu sound is a huge inlet on the West side of Moresby Island. It is almost completely closed off from the open ocean and there is only a very narrow opening to get into the sound. Apparently, from the ocean, you can only see the opening, between huge rocks and cliff faces, at the very last moment. It is easy to miss!

Tasu Sound on Google Earth

Tasu is fascinating. Because it is big and circled by mountains, there are a lot of inlets inside the sound, and it gives Tasu its unusual shape. On one of the southern headlands, between 2 inlets, was the site of a huge open-pit iron mine, that was known simply as the Tasu or Tasoo mine. The site is now abandoned and not much remains of the structures there that hosted the workers and their families. One can now see the concrete platforms where the hangars were located, and the helipad. There have been a number of proposals in recent years to reopen the mine and start the operation again.

Tasu is often used as a safe haven for fishing vessels on the West Coast when a gale or a storm hits the islands.

Tasu is also located just outside of Gwaii Haanas and the National Park Reserve's boundaries follows the ridge line of the mountains on the southern end of the sound.

Not too long ago there was also a fishing lodge operating in the sound. Fishing is supposed to be quite good in the sound, and I imagine that when salmon start running up the many streams in the inlet, run after run of salmon have to squeeze through the narrow opening of the sound.

Because it is located on the west coast, it is a very wet place, with many meters of rains per year drenching the forests and filling the creeks of the sound.

Tasu sound also made national news in October 2012, since it was the closest place to the epicentre of the famous 7.7 magnitude earthquake that shook the islands. It is still the epicentre of the many smaller earthquakes, that mostly imperceptibly shake the islands on a daily basis.

Paddling south: Flavien Mabit

I have always been interested in going to Tasu sound. However I do not own a big boat that could do the journey to the West Coast. There are also very few people going there that I could tag along with. There is however a very interesting feature of Moresby Island in this area. One of the inlets in the sound is almost reaching the waters of another inlet, this one on the east coast of Moresby: Sewell Inlet.

Paddling in Sewell Inlet on a misty morning: Flavien Mabit

Sewell Inlet was the site of a logging camp. It was a big one. A village, with its own school, pub, post office... the whole place shut down completely only in the late 90s, though most of the operation ceased in the late 80s with the signature of the South Moresby Agreement and the creation of Gwaii Haanas.

There is a road that connects to Tasu from Sewell. It is a packed gravel road, and a main connecting road, so was much more used than just a spur to exploit a part of the forest. It looked possible, even years after the last operation in the area, to walk on this road without it being too overgrown.

I set out with friends on kayaks in the middle of September a few years ago with our destination being the very end of Sewell Inlet and the site of the logging camp, to explore the area and maybe walk to Tasu.

Picture perfect paddling day: Flavien Mabit

The day we started was probably one the most beautiful paddling days I have done. Picture perfect.

Camping at the entrance of Sewell Inlet: Flavien Mabit

Since we started quite late, we did not make it to the end of Sewell the first day but camped close to the entrance of the Inlet.

Misty morning paddle: Flavien Mabit

The next day was a very foggy day in the inlet with still waters, and we were to set up camp at the end of Sewell Inlet. We visited the abandoned village of Sewell where the roads and bridges remain, as well as the overgrown gardens and concrete pads where houses were standing. There are no structures left on the site. This was also the day we caught a pretty big Coho from our kayaks.

The coho: Flavien Mabit

The feast we had on the beach that night, with the “butterfly” (a special way to prepare salmon by keeping the 2 fillets joined and left open by cedar strips and branches) roasting by the flame of our campfire, is an amazing memory that for me illustrates perfectly the magic of these islands.

Cooking on a campfire: Flavien Mabit

The 3rd day was to be our attempt at getting to Tasu by walking the connecting road.

Sign on the road to Tasu: Flavien Mabit

The hike was easy, the road in fairly good condition though there are some obvious washed out sections, and within less than 2 hours we reached Tasu sound.

Tasu Sound: Flavien Mabit

From there we walked some more along the shore and explored a little around the inlet.

Tasu Sound: Flavien Mabit

We found a very picturesque waterfall

The Waterfall: Flavien Mabit

and scenic streams to observe the salmon runs.

Salmon Creek: Flavien Mabit

Sewell Inlet: Flavien Mabit

Our next day was spent paddling to Lagoon Inlet, the inlet just north of Sewell where we camped for our last night of the trip.

Departing from Sewell: Flavien Mabit

This was a great trip, completely out of Gwaii Haanas and the usual kayaking route.

Morning coffee: Flavien Mabit

We stayed within reach of Moresby Camp and just thoroughly explored some inlets that we usually do not bother to go and visit. Sewell Inlet has been heavily logged and as such is not as pretty an inlet as the ones that can be found in the south. Yet, it was a great trip, full of surprises and exploration with great campsites, lots of wildlife and some great scenery.

Any trip is a great trip here.

Come and explore!


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