Scootin' and Pesutin'

Scootering and hiking aka “skooking” or “hikootering” are not often combined activities on Haida Gwaii.
This adventure will have you considering forming your very own scooter gang!

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, four gal pals met outside Haida Gwaii Scooters in Skidegate for a grand, staycation-inspired adventure. After Gwaii Trust announced their staycation grant to promote local businesses, myself and 3 friends dreamed up possible fun day trips that we could do to combine local attractions, some activity, and some fun. We decided on a winning trifecta: Renting scooters, scootering to Haida House for a takeout lunch, then hiking the Pesuta Trail.

Haida Gwaii Scooters is owned and operated by Aileen Hans in Skidegate. The scooters are brand new, in great condition and the sign up process is thorough, yet painless. Aileen runs a tight ship, ensuring everyone is safe, the equipment is in good condition and accounted for, and everyone is fit to ride the scooters. Above all else, she really wants everyone to have fun and enjoy this unique experience that she is providing. For about a 100 dollars, you can rent a scooter for the day. Other options are available including hourly, half day, one week, and one month rentals -  see her website at haidagwaiiscooters.ca for more details

Each of us took turns getting comfortable on the scooters, doing laps of the quiet residential streets in Skidegate, beeping horns, accelerating, braking, and signaling - sometimes some of us pulled this off all at once.  As we gained confidence and had all 8 wheels rolling, we had officially become a bike gang. All that was needed was a gang name. We settled unanimously on “The Sleeping Booties”, named after another beloved local hike, and fitting for what condition we thought we’d be in after each riding 80-plus kms on a scooter for the afternoon.

We gathered for our official gang photo, then decided on a few rules for the road. One long beep meant “stop and pull over”, which applied to everyone. Two short beeps from one operator meant “I am here and all good” and solicited a double beep response from the 3 other scooterers. The last person kept track of everyone in front and signalled traffic to move past, while the front person made sure they kept a good pace and didn’t get too far ahead. We were a well oiled, moderately paced machine. 

All of us have driven this stretch of highway countless times, but doing it on a scooter definitely changes your perspective. With the slower pace, you can enjoy and notice your surroundings more, and being out in the elements allows you to experience the landscape more closely. I noticed different scenery, pockets of warm and cool air, and a variety of changing smells from the sea and forest. This is an experience that involves all the senses - though, involving taste is optional, and requires riding with your mouth open to sample local insect delicacies.

We arrived at the Tlell River at high tide. Driven by hunger, the promise of a scrumptious pre-hike meal saw us all B-line to the Haida House for some take out. Along the river are strategically placed logs that act as benches - the perfect location for a take-out picnic with a view. The Braised Ancho Chile Lamb Torta comes highly recommended by the author.

Next, we hopped on the bikes for a short ride across the Tlell bridge to the Trailhead for the Pesuta Shipwreck Trail. Falling tide, by the way, is the best time to hike to the Pesuta. The terrain of this well maintained, clear trail contains some small hills, and varies depending on whether you take the low trail (less hilly, more beach walking) or the high trail (more elevation, though, not much, and better for viewing). Regardless, it starts off the same way - on a forested path, across a charming footbridge that spans a creek, and not too far afterwards you can make your trail decision. As the beach along the Tlell River tends to be mucky with slippery mud until it opens up to the waters and beach on Hecate Strait, we opted to take the high trail this time around.  

The Pesuta Trail leads to the Pesuta Shipwreck - a steamship turned log barge that ran aground during a storm in 1928. The tow line used to connect the Pesuta to the tugboat snapped in the tumultuous seas of the Hecate Strait, causing the two vessels to collide. The tugboat was spared, but the Pesuta, which was being used to haul a lift of logs, lost its load and was irreparably damaged in the incident. The Pesuta now rests on her side, slowly being swallowed by sand and sea. A relic of times past, the ship now mainly serves a new role as a windbreak and backrest for peckish hikers enjoying a snack and a water at the turnaround point of the trail, or as a landmark for those continuing northward for the several days long hike up East Beach. It also sometimes acts as a jungle gym of sorts for those young and old who like to climb up, around, and into things for the sake of it. Whatever it is used for, its new purpose is much akin to using an anvil as a paperweight, or perhaps a safe full of precious jewels as a doorstop - not its intended purpose, but doing the job nonetheless.

We made our way back to our scooters along the trail at a leisurely pace, which rounded out our entire hike and snack sojourn to approximately 3 hours. Having drank all of our water, we remarked how thirsty we were, which seemed unusual considering the hike did not feel strenuous to any of us. It dawned on me that scootering at 70km/hr down the highway might be dehydrating, which is indeed true, and something to note for future fledgling scooter adventurers - pack extra water to avoid withering away on your ride. Upon return to Skidegate, don’t forget to gas up and be prepared to be floored by the cost of your ride. The bill for all four riders, equalling a total of 320kms ridden between all of us, was $5.97. This cost was generously covered by yours truly as I proclaimed “Ladies, Ladies. This ride’s on me.”

All in all, this staycation adventure was absolutely worthwhile and is highly recommended for anyone seeking to add novelty to some old favourite weekend activities. From all of the members of The Sleeping Booties Scooter Gang, keep your eyes on the asphalt, both hands on the handlebars, and happy hikootering!