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Go Haida Gwaii


The Pesuta Shipwreck Trail will lead you along East Beach to the remains of the Pesuta, a log barge that ran aground in 1928 - Photo: Owen Perry

Roadside whale-watching in May is a popular activity in Skidegate - Photo: Owen Perry

The Rennell Sound area offers exceptional wilderness camping and short trails for accessing remote west coast beaches - Photo: Owen Perry

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

The Looking Around and Blinking House at Windy Bay was built to provide shelter for people during the 1985 blockade against logging on Lyell Island - Photo: Owen Perry

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

Visit the award-winning Haida Heritage Centre and Museum at Second Beach in Skidegate - Photo: Flavien Mabit


Juskatla Inlet by Kayak

By Flavien Mabit

A paddle in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is a wonderful experience. It is sometimes a little hard to organize though, and can be a little pricey too as transportation is usually required to get to the boundary and beyond, since Gwaii Haanas is only accessible by air or water. It also means kayakers usually go for a minimum of a week, and some experience is required, especially if you are on a self-guided trip.

If Gwaii Haanas is the main draw for kayakers visiting the islands (and for good reason) there are actually more than a few other areas worth exploring on a kayak. If you have just a few days, or not the budget to head to Gwaii Haanas, or would like an easier trip closer to ‘civilisation’, you might consider going to explore Masset Inlet, out of Port Clements.

The excellent book “Boat camping Haida Gwaii” by Neil Frazer, lists all tips and info you need to organize a kayak trip just about anywhere on the islands. It’s also a great read, and I would recommend it to any person wanting to plan a trip to Haida Gwaii on a small craft or a kayak.

This book made me want to explore other areas of our beautiful islands.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

On this particular trip to Juskatla, a few other things made me decide on the destination: we only had about 5 days, some people on the trip had no or very little previous experience and one person in our group of 4 was 5 months pregnant. Better make it simple, and not too remote, if possible sheltered, and with plenty of places to camp, and little islands and islets to explore.

Juskatla has all that.

We set out with a double kayak, and 2 singles. The original plan to put to the water in Port Clements was compromised with some very strong Northeasterly winds (but that also means blue skies), and we had to take some logging roads to get to the now semi-abandoned logging ‘town’ of Juskatla.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

The wind there was a lot less of an issue and we set our first camp close to Juskatla but yet in a really pretty and secluded spot.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

We were totally sheltered and facing an amazing sunset.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

The next day was just as beautiful, but the wind had dropped. There had been a dry spell on the islands at the time, and there had been no rain for weeks.

We saw some smoke from the time we passed a point, and as we got closer to the famous reversing falls, which we wanted to see, it was clear that something was wrong there.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

We witnessed from the water the constant ballet of a helicopter dropping water on the site of the fire.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

The fire, which was apparently started by a campfire, as we learned from some local firefighters on the scene, was spreading slowly but steadily under the moss and consuming the trees from the roots up. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

These underground fires are very hard to fight, and the fire actually went on for days. The area has not fully recovered yet and I am not sure that the area can be visited today.

We went on past the reversing falls and camped on a small island again, farther down the inlet.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

There were meteor showers at this time of year, and I remember half falling asleep on a tarp watching the clear skies. We camped 2 days on that island, and left our camp for the day while we were exploring on our 3rd day.  

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

We fished. We explored inlets and lagoons. We also were looking for water, which was very hard to find at that time.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

After trying several dried up creeks, we headed to the permanent stream at the back of the inlet.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Exploring and walking up the creek, we found a beautiful swimming spot under a waterfall. These islands are magic.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Our last major day of paddling took us to the entrance of the inlet, ina place where the tides are strong and currents can be a little destabilizing. Exploring this area was amazing too. Our last camp was on one of the islands that close the pass between the massive Masset inlet and the smaller Juskatla inlet. The last day was an easy paddle back to Port Clements.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

I would recommend a trip there to anyone. It is close to some logging roads and logging operations, so it is sometimes possible to hear trucks. The area has been logged in the past and the forests look different than in other parts of the islands. Yet, it is remote enough to feel away from it all. Its variety of landscapes is stunning.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

It is still important to obey all the basic outdoor safety rules.  Do not do anything you are not comfortable with. The weather can be unpredictable, and wet and cold days can happen any time of year. be prepared. Bring all your supplies and pack out all your garbage. In this particular story, we talked about fires, and the damage to our beautiful forests a poorly made fire can cause: make sure you do not build your fire too big. Do not use wood pieces that are bigger than your arm, as they will not burn through easily and can become a hazard. Make sure you do not build your fire on the moss, or in the forest, or under trees. To build a fire, the best place is always the beach, under the high water mark, where the next big tides will actually make all traces of your campfire disappear. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Tides in the inlets there are very strange and I do not believe there are tide charts just for Juskatla. The tides are not as impressive as in other parts of the islands and the tidal range is minimal. Finding drinking water, as I mentioned, can be an issue at hotter and drier times.

It is a good idea to have the charts for the area you want to paddle in. If you are kayaking, and for this particular area and a few other, the book by Neil Frazer, Boat Camping Haida Gwaii, can be enough, as it has detailed maps that are almost equally as good as the charts. 

For more information on Port Clements and other attractions in the area, visit our website. 

There is another blog entry on our site with a similar title which you may want to take a look at. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

This is wonderful area to have a fairly easy paddle, in more sheltered waters, and yet be able to explore.  

And there are many more of those places on our islands.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Yet to explore….......


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