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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 www.circa1983.ca

Roadside whale-watching in May is a popular activity in Skidegate - Photo: Owen Perry www.circa1983.ca

The Rennell Sound area offers exceptional wilderness camping and short trails for accessing remote west coast beaches - Photo: Owen Perry www.circa1983.ca

Rose Spit - where the Hecate Strait meets Dixon Entrance - Photo: Owen Perry www.circa1983.ca

The rainforest experience - moss carpeted paths, a lingering scent of fresh cedar and the sounds of silence - Photo: Owen Perry www.circa1983.ca

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 www.circa1983.ca

Step into another world as you tour ancient Haida village sites in Gwaii Haanas - Photo: Owen Perry www.circa1983.ca

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

 

Paddling in Masset Sound – Rounding up Kumdis Island

By Flavien Mabit

Kumdis Island is a fairly large, essentially flat island, at the bottom of Masset sound.

Masset sound is that river-like body of water that connects Masset Inlet, where the community of Port Clements is located, and Dixon Entrance, where the villages of Masset and Old Masset are located.

The tides in Masset Sound are very interesting to say the least. A little bit counterintuitive at times, it is worth checking locally for when the best times to paddle are, as the currents can be quite strong and make kayaking against them a bit of an ordeal.

High and Low tide times in Port Clements are about 3 hours later than in Masset.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

To paddle in the Sound, you would ideally have the Port Clements as well as the Masset tide chart. Once again, the excellent book "Boat Camping Haida Gwaii" by Neil Fraser, is an excellent reference for anyone wanting to paddle on Haida Gwaii. It explains all there is to know about the tides and currents in the area.

Another very interesting thing about Kumdis island, is that it has a fairly large body of water on its west side (Masset Sound), the East Side however is extremely narrow and shallow. It is what is known in North America as a "slough".

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

It is an area where water flows slowly and it does dry out on low tides. Several rivers and creeks also feed the slough so the waters are a mix of fresh and ocean water.

This is a rich marine habitat with lots of eelgrass, which are an important refuge for juvenile salmon, crabs and other marine animals. The Wetlands are also rich in bird life, and it is rare to go through the Kumdis slough without seeing at least a half dozen sandhill cranes, many kingfishers, lots of eagles, and plenty of herons.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

On the days we chose to paddle, the tides were not great for us if we wanted to first paddle through the slough, so we chose to put to the water at the mouth of the Watun River, a few nautical miles north of Kumdis island, and just north of the Pure Lake Provincial Park on Highway 16. Access to the water is easy with a high clearance vehicle.  

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Once in the water, it's a very straightforward "descent" towards Kumdis Island. The river-like sound is bordered by flat to moderately hilly terrain, with huge trees, and a fringe of almost uninterrupted narrow beach. It even looked like walking from Masset to Port Clements following the eastern shoreline would be possible, though probably harder at high tide, and in some areas where fallen trees make following the shoreline difficult. There are no rocky escarpments, no boulders, no points, no patches of thick salal that usually make this type of hike hard to do. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Arriving at Kumdis, a noticeable feature is a large wooden dock, at a site called the "Evans Homestead". Kumdis and the whole area on either side of the slough was farmland in the early pioneering days. Now one can see remains of fences, docks, a telegraph line, and more interesting still, the site of old abandoned gardens and orchards. Crabapple trees and huge non-native flowering bushes are just a few things that show the visitor the site of old homesteads and farms.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

The water in the slough gets shallower as you progress through it. Sometimes down to only about 10 to 20cm deep. It is best to time your visit with a high tide. The bottom is usually quite muddy so scraping the kayaks can be avoided. It dries out unless it is high tide at a place called "The Divide", where the waters from both sides of the island will meet on a high tide. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

A loaded expedition kayak is not an easy thing to drag through the mud. There are also some rocks and gravel in areas, so you might actually want to either time it perfectly, or wait for a higher tide. The Divide is a fairly long stretch with various levels of depth, so portaging is not an option. There are also several places to camp north of the divide. Once the divide is passed, the water got deeper and we arrived in the southern part of Kumdis Island.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

There, a whole farm has been subdivided in the past and many cabins and actual houses dot the shoreline. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

The next day, we paddled south towards Port Clements, which you can see as you round up the southern point of Kumdis. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

We passed close to some logging booms, where we saw mainly cedar logs floating around. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Also spotted a not-too-shy eagle on one of the boom posts. 

Masset Inlet can get rough on westerly and northwesterly winds especially, and I imagine that the south-eastern tip of the island would be your most exposed area.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Going up the eastern shore is once again fairly straightforward. You can explore, just across at the bottom of Masset Sound, a few islands (Ship Island is the main one).

Going north along the Kumdis shore will bring you to some possible camping spots.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

We camped in an area where a few "islands", offer a pretty backdrop to a campsite.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

The islands are only separated from Kumdis by very shallow, almost grassy channels, so paddling around them is not easily doable.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

It is a real pleasure to walk along the shore and explore the local forests.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

This part of the Kumdis shoreline is covered in little pebbles and one can find a lot of agates.  

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

After a beautiful almost never-ending summer solstice evening, the night was clear and the morning bright. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Coffee on the beach. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

And we headed back up the sound with the current pushing us all the way down to our starting point. 

Another great outing that proves that Haida Gwaii offers many different areas to explore, with varied landscapes, and is certainly a top paddling destination even if you do not have the time or the budget to go into Gwaii Haanas. 

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

There is another, older blog entry on a trip around Kumdis island on our site. You are welcome to check it out too. 

 

Contact Us

Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre

website: www.queencharlottevisitorcentre.com
email: info@qcinfo.ca | telephone: 250-559-8316

Sandspit Visitor Centre

website: www.lovehaidagwaii.com/businesses/the-sandspit-visitor-centre
email: visitsandspit@gmail.com | telephone: 250.637.5362

Port Clements Visitor Centre

website: www.portclements.ca
email: pcmuseum@qcislands.ca | telephone: 250-557-4576

Masset Visitor Centre

website: www.massetbc.com
email: info@massetbc.com | telephone: 250-626-3982

Haida Gwaii Tourism

Destination Marketing Organization
website: www.gohaidagwaii.ca
email: tourism@gohaidagwaii.ca

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