Honeymoon in Haida Gwaii
islands of the Haida people...
My parents live on these beautiful islands. They are not well known (the islands) because they are a remote archipelago 100 kilometers off the Northern coast of British Columbia, Canada. Once known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, the name was changed to Haida Gwaii in 2010, to honor the Haida people. The name literally means “islands of the Haida people”. My parents live on Graham (the largest and most northern island) in Masset.
There are only 2 ways to get there. Ferry or plane. We went by plane from Vancouver. We flew Pacific Coastal Airlines and it takes just over 2 hours to arrive in Masset. The other choice is to come in via ferry from Prince Rupert and it takes you to Skidegate. Either way, once you arrive it is evident that you have arrived at the edge of the world.
We spent our honeymoon there. Exploring. Fishing. Eating. Hiking. Beachcombing. Campfires by the beach. Breathing the freshest air I have ever breathed. The temperate rain forest, the ocean, the food, and the people. Refreshing. Rejuvenating. Unspoiled. This is Haida Gwaii.
Berries grow everywhere. Ditches. Trails. The woods. In October, locals are seen in the ditches along the highway gathering wild cranberries. Other berries that grow wild and in abundance are Huckleberries, blueberries, thimbleberries, cloudberries, salmonberries, blackberries, and salal berries. My mom made this delicious Huckleberry pie from wild Huckleberries she picked, it kinda fell apart, but it was so delicious, tart and tangy sweet and flaky crust...mmm...mmm
Moss and lichen drape all the trees. I love how it looks. I discovered that lichen is very sensitive to pollution and only grows in areas that are relatively unpolluted. The environment in Haida Gwaii is pristine. The temperate rain forest makes everything misty and magical.
Hiking Toll hill is a great way to spend the day. The path is a series of wooden steps leading up the entire way to an amazing view of North Beach. At the bottom of the hill is a magical place called the Blow Hole. Formed from volcanic activity, the area is full of tide pools and crashing waves. We spent hours exploring and having fun acting like kids.
Peek-a-boo views from trail show the mouth of the river next to the North Beach. The North Beach is the best place to go for clamming, crabbing and surfing. Yes, Surfing! I discovered that the North Beach is the only beach in Canada amenable to surfing. We visited in October (not the season for clamming or crabbing) but surfing season is just beginning due to winter storms. I am not into surfing, but I love the beach and driftwood are plentiful so we made ourselves quite a campfire and sat quietly enjoying the roaring sound of the pounding surf. I loved it!
We took a drive to Charlotte City. It is not much of a city, more like a village. But we stopped in at a quirky place called Queen B’s and took in a view of the boats and tasted the best carrot cake ever. The area is a feast for the senses because of the beautiful ocean views, and the gorgeous fragrance of the wild Nootka rose bushes. The Nootka rose is prized for its scent and produces the largest rosehips I have ever seen. The rosehips are used for medicinal purposes by the Haida people.
Wildlife is plentiful. Driving along the highways, you will see deer feeding in the ditches especially after dark. Deer hunting is all year long except for the “rut” season. I heard that local hunters shoot the deer from the road and then just put the deer in the back of the truck and drive home! We spotted Bald Eagles everywhere. Ravens too. I have never seen so many Ravens, and they are huge!
We were given these delicious grapes from a friend who lives on the island. It was a surprise to me that grapes could be grown so far North. They were the most flavorful grapes I have ever had, and it was just so amazing to see these grapes growing so abundantly in the greenhouse! It felt rather miraculous. I am so into gardening these days I had to share this!
If you love to fish, this island is incredible…We arrived at the end of the Salmon season but that did not prevent Avery from catching a beautiful Coho Salmon from the Sangan river. We decided to preserve the fish by brining and smoking the fish using a recipe from my Mom. I cannot describe how good this smoked salmon is. I will say it is simply...the BEST.
Beachcombing is one of my favorite things to do. I am perfectly happy just combing the beaches looking for stuff! Shells, beach glass, agates, driftwood pieces, they are all desirable and plentiful. The hardest part is sorting through everything at the end of the trip when I only have so much room and I can only take the best pieces home with me. We collected quite a bit of sea glass on this trip, and my dad gave me a really cool driftwood piece that I can hardly wait to make into a gorgeous centerpiece for my dining room table. Every beach has something different to offer and every day at the beach is a new opportunity to discover something new...even if it is just to hear your own thoughts...or take a moment and just...BE STILL. Be in the moment...Quiet your mind...and just BREATHE... Experience the freshness of the air...Listen to the roar and crash of the ocean waves...Listen to the sounds of Eagles in the air...Feel at peace...Enjoy...I left Haida Gwaii feeling refreshed. I can't wait to go back.
I have to say...you may think it odd or strange that I would choose to spend my honeymoon with my parents in such a remote place without the luxuries one typically associates with a honeymoon. My husband and I shared quite a chuckle when we realized that my Mom gave us the bedroom right next to them!!! Good thing my dad is going slightly deaf and snores enough to drown out any honeymoon action going on! SHEESH! But for me...it was an absolute joy to share both my husband and my parents together. As time marches on, I feel compelled to wrangle every precious moment of time with my favorite people of all time...to make memories. To laugh and to share. To know and to be known. To remember together and share the stories ...from the days of our childhood to the dreams of the future...these are my greatest treasures that I keep within my heart...because the greatest things in this world are not things at all...they are loving and being loved.