Gwaii Haanas was a Trip of a life time. The food, gear, and most importantly the people was fabulous. It was an amazing immersion in such a special place. No cell phones, or computers, just vast wilderness, exactly what we were looking for.Rod & Sue Velleneau
If you wish to experience Gwaii Haanas in full bloom, spring is without a doubt the season. With an abundance of available nutrients during this time of year, Hecate Strait becomes an overwhelming highway of activity for migrating whales and sea birds.
Did you know that Gwaii Haanas is home to over 25% of all British Columbia’s sea birds? It is the only confirmed nesting site in Western Canada for horned puffins and there are more bald eagle nests per kilometre of shoreline than anywhere else in Canada. In addition Gwaii Haanas boasts the highest breeding density of Peregrine falcons in the world, making early season kayaking a birders paradise.
Coinciding with the low tides during this tour, we will be establishing a remote camp in proximity to Burnaby Narrows, a Marine Conservation Area within Gwaii Haanas. Studies conducted by Parks Canada, has determined that this area, contains more than 290 aquatic species, and revealed that bat stars were counted at a density of 74 per square meter, (in contrast to a survey done on Vancouver Island that found just seven per square meter), making this some of the highest levels of living material (called Biomass) of any inter tidal zone in the world!
In 2013, to celebrate Gwaii Haanas 20th anniversary, the first Haida totem pole in 130 years was raised at Windy Bay, which is a stop on this trip. Visiting the Haida Villages of Tanu and Skedans, allows paddlers to view the many Mortuary and Memorial Poles of the ancient Haida. The following Link takes you to Parks Canada Legacy Pole
Reviewing the Tour Map allows guests the opportunity to get familiar with the highlights, wildlife, and geographical locations of the tour.
The focus of the trip is to enjoy the natural history and exceptional wildlife that is unique to kayaking Haida Gwaii during the spring months. This Gwaii Haanas tour is a self-supported sea kayak expedition, allowing you to explore new places every day, while designed to satisfy your need to get away from it all!
The tour will begin with my friends from Moresby Explorers picking you up from your accommodations in Sandspit. Here they will zodiac you into Gwaii Haanas, where we establishing a remote camp in Skincuttle Inlet, the starting point of our Haida Gwaii Kayak tour.
Taking advantage of Skincuttle Inlet, which is not only rich with pre and post European contact, is home to abundance of sea birds. Making camp in proximity to the East Copper Islands, which are Ecological Reserves, and nesting sites for the Ancient Murrelet – a species at Risk, Forked-tailed Storm Petrel, Rhinoceros and Cassin Auklets.
Once introduced to our mixed fleet of single and double kayaks , our goal is to travel safely in accordance with the weather, tides, and general interest of the group.
Day 2 – 9
Paddling west from the Copper Islands takes kayakers through the Bolkus Islands, which lies almost in the center of the Inlet. The Bolkus Islands are a known bird colony for marbled murrelets (a small waterfowl that nests specifically in the old growth canopy), and the origin for the Raven Lineage in Ethno history.
Using the tides to our advantage, we make our next camp close to Burnaby Narrows. Burnaby Narrows is one of two Marine Ecological Reserves found within Gwaii Haanas. Studies conducted by Parks Canada, has determined this area contains more than 290 aquatic species, and revealed that bat stars were counted at a density of 74 per square meter, (in contrast to a survey done on Vancouver Island that found just seven per square meter), making this some of the highest levels of living material (called Biomass) of any inter tidal zone in the world!
Traversing northward over the next few days towards Murchison Passage, our campsites will be amongst the many islands within Juan Perez Sound (named after the Spanish explorer’s voyage of 1774 on the Santiago). Each day you will explore new sites like, old home stead’s, seal hall outs, blue heron colonies, and the superb inter tidal that kayaking Gwaii Haanas is known for.
Murchison Passage is the second Marine Ecological Reserve that guests will visit on this Haida Gwaii kayak tour. The Reserve was put in place to protect the Northern Abalone- an Endangered species. In 1990, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) put a total ban in place on stocks that reached near crash during commercial fishing heyday of the 1970s and 1980s.
Our camp will also be in proximity to Hot Springs Island. In the fall of 2012, an earthquake affected the natural thermals at Hot Springs Island, resulting in them loosing there source. Parks Canada has been monitoring the site closely and has found that the water levels are slowly returning. With fingers crossed and with some patience, this again will be a highlight to our Haida Gwaii sea kayak tours.
Throughout your journey, you will kayak corridors that provide ample feed for a migrating Humpback whale. Feeding on krill, and small fish, a Humpback will consume over 1.5 tons (1,361 kg) of food a day. While the female is slightly larger than the male (45- 50 feet), these whales are capable of breeching their 40 tons completely out of the water – a sight never to be forgotten…
Breaking camp and paddling northward thru the Tar and Agglomerate islands found on the eastern shoreline of Lyell Island brings us to Windy Bay. In 2013, to celebrate Gwaii Haanas 20th anniversary, the first Haida totem pole in 130 years was raised at this location. Windy Bay provides opportunities to view the 7th largest recorded Spruce tree in BC, and the surrounding old growth forests that Haida Gwaii is known for.
Walking through these towering forests kayakers can see the Western Red Cedar tree (Thuja plicata) which is the provincial tree of British Columbia, and also known to coastal natives as the “TREE OF LIFE”. Woven into the Haida Culture, guests can reflect with these massive giants and how over a century ago these Haida had stripped bark and fell trees for cedar ornaments, clothing, houses, totem poles, and canoes.
Leaving Windy Bay and continuing north, a camp on Kunga Island which is a short distance from the village of Tanu will be established. This once flourishing village is now the resting place of Haida Artist, Bill Reid. Though there are no standing totems remaining today, this humbling and powerful place is my favorite village to visit on Haida Gwaii.
Many years ago I had the opportunity to guide a small crew of Global Geologists to Kunga Island that identified unique geological formations such as ancient lava tubes and even pointed out a faint line that represented the Triassic- Jurassic time lines!
From Tanu, we will cross Laskeek Bay bringing us to Vertical Point. The uplift of the limestone formations along this shoreline here gives paddlers a west coast feel. A visit to Laskeek Bays Conservation Society’s field research station on East Limestone Island, allows visitors to gain a hands-on biological research experience in a wilderness setting. It’s here that the Ancient Murelet- A species at Risk, burrows in abundance, and a highlight to our kayak expedition.
Our final day brings you to Skedans on the northeast corner of Louise Island. In the 1900’s Skedans was home to over 50 pieces of monumental art, today guests can view the many mortuary and memorial poles that still remain standing from this time.
Later this day, guests will be picked up and transported by Moresby Explores to your accommodations in Sandspit.
Kayak Haida Gwaii! A sea kayaking vacation to Haida Gwaii during the spring is an experience not to be missed.
Below is an outline boundary of the waters that kayakers could travel.
Please click on “[ ] view larger map” in the top right corner for details on highlights, wildlife, and geographical locations.
Below are the specific charts associated to this tour. Guests are not required to bring their own charts; as your guides will be referring to theirs with the daily objectives while on the trip. Guests can purchase charts from Map Town or from the CHS (Canadian Hydrographic Service)
|Chart # 3853||Cape St James/Cumshewa/Tasu Sound||1:150,000|
|This large scale chart covers the entire waters of Gwaii Haanas|
|Chart # 3808||Juan Perez Sound||1:37,500|
|Chart # 3894||Selwyn Inlet – Lawn Point||1:73,026|
|Chart # 3807||Atli Inlet – Selwyn Inlet||1:37,500|
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