Adventures of Tacocat on Haida Gwaii - Journey to Rennell Sound/Yakoun Lake
By Kaela Neil
This is the second Haida Gwaii adventure conducted by a handful of rapscallions chasing beautiful views and new experiences. One place we had heard about in the month or so we had been on the island, was Rennell Sound, a bay on the wild west side of Haida Gwaii, sporting tall mountains and pulsating waves. This location was a rather hard to access place, mainly because of the active logging roads and 24% gradient hills you need to traverse in order to reach the bay (find more information on the location here http://www.gohaidagwaii.cahttp://www.gohaidagwaii.ca/images/uploads/HG-trailguide-FEB-2011-proof2.pdf). Not forgetting that we conducted this adventure in October, and rain storms had been visiting the island on and off all month. But we were determined to reach the beauty of the west side and see the other face to Haida Gwaii. The group of surfers (same beginners from North Beach - now very addicted to surfing) had gone up earlier on in the week, so we had someone on the other side waiting for us.
We started off the day in the full beauty of the rainy morning. Still determined, we decided not to worry about how the large potholes, muddy roads, steep hills, and logging trucks would affect the low suspension and shoddy breaks of the car when we got to it; for the moment we were happily packed and raring to go. This smattering of misfits were rather unprepared for the adventure, we didn’t have a truck radio - which, if you do travel on logging roads is a necessity so that huge logging trucks don’t come barreling into you. We ended up honking at every turn and point of the road that we couldn’t see what was coming. Not something I would recommend, but it was all we had. Thankfully, we didn’t run into any logging trucks on the way there (we saw a few on the way back), the potholes were maneuverable, and thanks to the sick traction of tacocat we managed the muddy sections as well. And we made it with only a flat tire as a problem (and we had a spare!).
Along the bay road, towards the Conehead campsite we went. A spot right next to the bay, we were able to enjoy the winds and rains of the storm that still hadn’t stopped from the morning. The surfers, had just come back from an eventful day in the waves, and were rather cold. While they changed and warmed up, and after setting up our tents in spots we hoped wouldn’t get wet, our group of misfits took the car and
adventured to Bonanza Beach and around the local cut blocks. Our mission was partially exploring the area, but also attempting to find dry logs. Which ended up being a little bit of an issue, as everything (including us) was drenched. Bonanza beach - used by the surfers for surfing, was used by us to beach comb and enjoy the waves. Even in the rain it was a beautiful sight and a lot of fun. The cut blocks, were, well, cut blocks. We eventually took some residue cut block wood and headed back to the Conehead campground. The surfers had constructed a relatively protected cook area and had a small fire going. We cut up our logs, luckily the insides were dry, and added those to the fire. We had a nice meal, a good talk and eventually went to bed. That night a great big storm raved through Rennell Sound, and there was heavy wind and rain till early in the morning. Honestly, I was dreading getting out. However, late morning the rain had stopped, and I slowly peeped and peered out. No rain and calm winds. Nice. Crawling out of the tent the quiet, sweet scent of nature after rain was there to greet me.
Once we were all up and about, breakfast was made and fun was had. While goofing around on the beach, the sun peaked out of the clouds and shined down warmth. It was a fantastic morning.
Unfortunately, the rain began again. While not as strong as the day before, we decided another night at Rennell Sound would probably be a bad idea, unsure about what the state of the roads would turn into. So we packed up the car and said goodbye to Conehead beach. But don’t worry! The day was still full of adventures. Since the weather wasn’t too bad, we decided to go explore another beach on the bay on the road back, and if the weather held up, we would visit Yakoun Lake, which was half way between Rennell and Queen Charlotte.
The other beach was the Rennell Sound Rec Site, and it was gorgeous, and as we were avid beach combers at this point, found a lot of shells and other interesting bits of the sea to observe. The travel to Yakoun Lake was uneventful, still honking at corners and watching one or two logging trucks pass us (safely from the side). While not in the plan, Yakoun Lake was a beautiful detour and a great choice to spend an afternoon. A 20 minute walk through old growth forest, we passed big ol’ trees and flowing creeks. At one point, because of all the rain we imagine, the path was flooded. Did this deter us? No way! We played a real life version of ‘the floor is lava’ except the floor was water. Traveling from raised ground and roots, we traverse the islands and made it to the other side without any wet shoes.
Once we reached the lake, boy was it gorgeous. The sun, which had been appearing and disappearing all day behind the rain clouds, decided to peek out at us as we stepped out on to the shoreline.
The large lake was fantastical, and slightly mystical in the misty rain. Another plus was a row boat we found (with oars). What’s an adventure without a quick paddle in a boat found on the shoreline? The sun also agreed with us, and came out to play as we paddled around... in circles... because one of the oars was slightly broken. So while we didn’t really go anywhere, we got a nice view of the lake on the water before making our way back to shore. We decided to explore the lake from the shoreline, and scrambled through the bushes to probe around the forest.
Then it was time to head back, over the ‘floor is lava/water’ and through the big trees back to tacocat. Ready for home, after a fun, slightly wet, rambling adventure. Well worth it, and definitely re-doable. Maybe with a truck radio next time.