Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hot Spring Island: Gwaii Hanaas NP

Did we tell you that we endured 3-1/2 hours in pouring rain on a speeding Zodiac in rough waves with 10 other persons just to get to our southernmost destination, Hot Spring Island, or as the Haida would say "Gandl K'in Gwaayaay" . And it was worth every minute. It is a beautiful place with natural, hot running water. Due to the differential between high and low tides the beach areas are not level and you have a hard time egressing the Zodiac, especially with all the protective clothing you have to wear. Just a couple of feet from shore and you are nearly waist level and the water came over the top of the hip waders (which are supplied). There is no development permitted and they (the Haida) wish to keep their areas as natural as possible so there will be no building of docks and piers. After we "landed" we had to follow the trail up the hill and this is what we saw:


There are three HOT pools of varying temperatures. We must have passed the one on the beach, cause we didn't really notice it until later. This is pool 3, the one with the hottest temperature. They have a shower house where you rinse off first before entering any of the pools. As these are natural hot springs the water just flows 24 hours a day and there is no water shut off. You can stand there for as long as you wish, or as long as you can stand the heat. Here is another view of pool 3:


The small building straight ahead (on the beach) is a changing room. The roof on the right is the shower building.

This is pool two:

You don't really see this pool as you climb up the hill from the beach. There is another path about half way up the hill which gives you access. This is the most beautiful pool. It is more or less on the side of the hill with a commanding view of the ocean. While we were there you could see whales in the distance crossing before our eyes and you could see their steam (blowholes) and hear grunting now and again.

This is pool one, it is right on the beach:

Well . . . it's time to leave and they are retreiving our Zodiac, which had to be tied offshore.


Sorry to post this picture again, but I really like it:

Now we have to look forward to another 3-1/2 hour ride to take us back to Moresby Camp, then another hour on the logging road to catch the Ferry at Sandspit, then wait 20 minutes for the ferry to take us back to Queen Charlotte City. We left at 6am and got back to our hotel after 8pm. It was a full, tiring, cold and windy day. But would we do it again, OF COURSE, YES.

The Haida (in co-operation with the Government) have established the Watchman program to protect the heritage of the Haida Nation. Vistors are allowed to visit protected areas under close supervision from approved tour operators and there are orientation courses which are compulsory for visitors who wish to venture on their own. Course certifcation is only effective for 2 years, then expire and you must retake the course. There is a very strict protocol for visiting these abandoned sites, and permission must first be obtained from the watchmen. You have to call them on VHF/UHF radio to let them know that you intend to 'visit', when you are nearing their location you must radio them again to let them know your intended ETA. They have a strict limite of approx 12 persons at any one time. If a prior group is still there and have not yet departed, you must "wait" and hover on the water until they leave, as you are not yet permitted to land your boat. All garbage must be taken out as you must leave no trace that you were there. You must only walk on designated pathways. You may not remove anything from any location.

I took this picture as our plane was preparing to land at YVR, Vancouver International Airport.

This is downtown Vancouver, BC. Showing Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet and the Lion's Gate Bridge.

We are leaving on our next adventure tomorrow. We are packed, the car is ready, gas is filled and cameras are loaded. I'm not sure how stable our internet access is going to be for the next week so stand by . . . I am only gone for a week and back next Sunday. I'm hoping to be able to post some pictures along the way. In the meantime here are some key words Hell's Canyon, Outback Scenic Byway .

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