It was clear when we got up but soon there were light clouds. After breakfast we changed to kayak clothing and drove further north to Port Clements on Massett Inlet for 9:30. To the locals it is simply known as Port. Here we met our guide for the next four hours, Alan Lore. The weather here was dark skies with a strong wind out of the north. The water was very choppy.
We climbed into his truck and towing the kayak trailer, made our way along a few gravel logging roads to our first stop. This is an area with a few old growth trees, mostly cedar and hemlock. It is an easy 10 minute walk to the Yakoun River to a spot across from where once grew an utterly unique golden Sitka Spruce. This 300 year old 60 meter specimen was cut down in 1997 by a man with mental problems to protest the clear-cut logging practices (which had spared this tree). Some protest. There are a at least two trees growing from cuttings taken from before it was destroyed. The 40 year old one is only three meters tall. We did see a river otter.
Yakoun River at the Spot Where the Golden Spruce Once Stood
We drove on to where we got kitted out and launched the kayaks. Here we were protected from the wind and the water was quite calm. We paddled in a big loop among small islands. It was very peaceful and we had a wide ranging conversation on topics from climate change, wind energy, pyrolysis of wood and other biomass, the environment we were paddling through, fertilizer in the river compared to the land and the local economy. This was a continuous conversation that started when we met him and ended when we said our goodbyes. Alan is an interesting character.
On the way back to Port, (see, we’re locals now) we stopped in at an old cedar canoe that lay unfinished and rotting in the forest. They were usually abandoned when one of the main builders died before completion. There are dozens in the forest, but their locations are not well known except for one that is signposted for tourists. This was a treat. We got back about 1:30.
Roughed Out Canoe Abandoned in the Forest
Alan is like a lot of local young people. He has a post-secondary education, in this case a degree in psychology, but turns his hand to many things to make a living. Besides being a guide, he runs a hostel above his mother’s shop, has a couple of islands he lets out for camping, is a part-time ambulance attendant, and a social worker. He is certainly not living hand to mouth, but it is just part of the way things are to have a plan B and a plan C.
Entering Old Massett
We continued north to Massett and Old Massett. From there we turned on the road to the north beach and on the way we stopped for lunch at the Moon Over Naikoon Bakery for lunch (it was 2:30 by then). This is an old school bus on a stub of dirt road off the highway. The front half is the kitchen and the back has a few tables. There are more tables outside under a gazebo with a clear roof to let the sun in. As we arrived, other guests from the lodge were just getting up from their lunch. We had Mexican bean soup, pizza and a salad, all home made. It was very good. Jennifer bought a square of cake for later.
Moon Over Naikoon Bakery
Tow Hill is in Naikoon Provincial Park. A trail goes up the hill, another goes to a blow hole that, with the right tide, shoots water like a geyser. Not the right tide when we were there. The hill itself is a 125 meter volcanic plug of basalt columns on North Beach. The water side is eroded to a vertical cliff. The trail side is just very steep. The trail is all a wooden boardwalk, but as this is the height of a 40 story residential building you are puffing a bit at the top. The views along the beach are spectacular.
View Along North Beach From Tow Hill
On the way down we took the cross-trail to meet the one to the blow hole. It was, as I mentioned, not blowing, not even a snuffle, so we walked back to the car for the drive home. By now we were an hour-and-a-half away from the Haida Lodge. By the time we got back we had time to change, have a drink and then dinner at 7:00. Another excellent meal. The restaurant seats about 30, even though there are only 10 rooms. They don’t do two complete turns a night but they are certainly busy. The chef at present is French.
ow Hill From the Beach Side