Adventures of Tacocat on Haida Gwaii - Journey to North Beach
By Kaela Neil
This is the first in a series of the many adventures of Tacocat the Racecar, a pseudonym created by Austin, along with his artfully crafted cross-stitch car decoration to go along with it. A bunch of bumbling, easily excitable, semester students purchased the car as a way to explore the islands of Haida Gwaii. And let me tell you, there were many adventures to be had. Haida Gwaii is full of fun, some easily accessible and some hard to access locations. But the views are always breathtaking, no matter where you go, whether clear blue skies or the turbulent rain clouds of fall.
The first adventure of Tacocat was up to the north of Haida Gwaii in September, the weekend after the first week of class on Haida Gwaii. It was the first time us new semester students had left home camp of the semester program in Queen Charlotte and Skidegate. Bundling our gear (including surfboards!) and ourselves together, the collection of 21 of us in four different cars ventured up north- with tacocat in the lead of course. We had decided to rent two cabins at the Hiellen Longhouse Village (http://www.gohaidagwaii.ca/directory/detail/hiellen-longhouse-village) campground to fit us all. Unsure of where it was along the Tow Hill road, we had asked the car rental place where it was. Their response ‘follow the road till you can’t go any farther’. Perfect, exactly what it ended up being.
The Hiellen cabins were beautiful, spacious, providing a wood stove, and the exact amenities you needed, including the utensils and kitchenware a group of 21 young adults would forget. A hop, skip, and jump lands you right on North Beach, or if you are feeling it, there is road access for your car (watching out for tide levels). As it was, we were feeling the urge to take tacocat on a nice stroll along the waves and took her for a rip. The beach extends for miles, right up the tip of rose spit. We didn’t make it that far, but enjoyed the views and the ocean breeze in our hair with the windows rolled down before turning around.
After the adventure of traveling around in tacocat, she took a rest while we spread out on the beach. A handful of the students decided to hit the waves. As the excitable students we were, only two people had surfed before. The others? Keen beginners. Gratefully, that weekend the waves were nice and gentle to learn the skills of surfing. And according to them when they got out, that just to play around in the waves and enjoy the view from the water was an exhilarating, addicting feeling. What was I doing? Enjoying the view from the beach, talking with friends and building a tipi.
In total the weekend was success. Plenty to do for all 21 of us, including hiking up Tow Hill, visits to the blow hole, and explorations of North Beach and Agate beach, for both surfers and beach combers. The area captured our hearts, close enough to Massett to grab those essential food items you had forgotten at home, and far enough into the forest to feel at one with the nature around you. After that first fateful wee kend many trips were made up to North Beach for a good time. Mainly by those keen beginners learning to surf, but also occasionally by the rest of us just excited to be relaxing on the beach or hiking around. Alternating between cabins and camping (Agate beach is free in the winter), snuggling in warm clothes and surrounded by a fire after a day on the beach is always a fun time.