The End of the Road: From Moresby Camp by Kayak
The adventure starts as soon as you turn right as you exit the ferry in Alliford Bay. Right onto the gravel logging road, Alliford Main, winding along the coast, then turning south, bringing you through the forest, old and new. Known for it’s sunny weather compared to Graham Island, the sun beams shoot through the trees on the ridges as we wind closer to our destination, Moresby Camp. Once a logging camp, this area is now a campground and the launch for most trips into Gwaii Haanas. With only kayaks and food and dry wood for two days, we won’t be going that far.
Basking in sunshine and solitude at Moresby Camp / Patrick Robinson
After our GPS led us astray across a rickety bridge to an overgrown road, we made it to Moresby just as the sun came out. Low cloud had been hiding the snow-capped peaks on Moresby and Louise Island during our drive. We took our time loading up the kayaks, checking out the beautiful shelter with information on the Haida, fishing, and logging history of the area, as well as the boulders lining the crushed gravel parking area filled with the fossils of little shells. With a cool breeze at our backs we began our journey, dropping our kayaks at the concrete boat launch into the head of Cumshewa Inlet.
The abalone eyes of the frog crest / Patrick Robinson
We paddled past old logging camps, the forest slowly reclaiming the docks and machinery left behind. The winding coastline with rocky shores was abundant with birds, and a few seals watched us glide by. Passing by Conglomerate Point, named for the sedimentary cliffs here with large gravely clasts, we made our way towards McLellan Island and Cumshewa Village.
Snowy peaks on Louise Island / Patrick Robinson
Losing sunlight and strength, we ducked into a cove a few nautical miles short of McLellan Island, setting up camp for the evening on a grassy spot with an unimpeded view of the mountains and a protected spot for a fire. We roasted sausages and watched the stars come out, amazed at the brightness of the milky way.
The nice thing about being in Haida Gwaii in the wintertime is that you can sleep in on a morning like this one in Cumshewa and still be up with ample time to appreciate a breathtaking sunrise.
After soaking up some warmth and thawing out ourselves and our camp gear in the morning sun, we packed up camp and dipped our paddles in the water on this calm and peaceful morning and began our 10 nautical mile journey back to Moresby camp.
We had calculated our itinerary to a tee the day before and knew that in order to catch the last ferry leaving Alliford Bay at 5:35 that evening we should be at Moresby camp by 4 at the latest as to provide ourselves with due time to load our kayaks and gear and drive back down the logging roads to the terminal. We had also accounted for the fact that we would be paddling against a head wind on the way back west, up the inlet and would be going approximately 2-4 knots slower than the day before when we had the wind at our backs, therefore taking us approximately twice as long to travel the same distance. The only thing we didn’t anticipate was our fatigue due to a full day of paddling the day before and a night with more time spent star-gazing rather than sleeping. As the hour began to approach 4 and we were realizing that we were still quite far away from Moresby camp with an increasing head wind, rapidly decreasing energy levels and steadily degrading paddle strength, the tension began to mount. Getting stuck on Moresby was not an option due to early Monday morning commitments in Queen Charlotte, so to make a long story short, we dipped into our reserve tanks put our noses to the grindstone and made it to Moresby camp by 4:30. We literally threw our kayaks on the roof of the truck, tossed our gear in the back and barreled down one the bumpiest most exciting logging road ride we’ve ever had, making the ferry with 2 minutes to spare.