Haida Gwaii, independant our tour operator?

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by Furansoa, May 4, 2014.

  1. Furansoa

    Furansoa New Member

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    Hi,

    I've been paddling on the WC for a few years, mostly in sheltered or half sheltered area. I have never done guided tours (ski, hike or kayak), but was wondering what people on this forum thought about going to Gwaii Hanaas unguided. We don't have a particular spot we want to hit, but was thinking of perhaps going from Rose Harbour to Burnaby Narrows...

    What would you recommend? We are 2, are used to be in the wilderness and not too keen in paying +1800$ for a trip per person...

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks
     
  2. RobP

    RobP Paddler

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    Get yourself a copy of "Boat Camping Haida Gwaii" second edition by Neil Frazer. Go online and query Mosesby Explorers, they can drop you off with your kayaks and gear, and pick you up again.


    RobP
     
  3. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Furasoa,

    I would do a one way going south, not north. The Frazer guide is phenomenal.

    Get a dropoff somewhere near Marco Island, and go south as far as you like, then a pickup for return. Rounding Benjamin Point is the only spot where real care is advised, assuming you are experienced in small seas. Moresby can set you up with a good campsite suggestion near Marco. Water is cold, so rubber and paddle jackets are required. Take a tarp with cordage, and set it up each night.

    Mainly, pay close attention to the fresh morning Environment Canada forecast each day, and stay in camp when gales are forecast. If weather prevents you from making Rose Harbour for a planned pickup, hail Moresby when they cruise by for pickup wherever you are. If you have 12 days or so, that allows for some shoreside bad weather layovers.

    It is an incredible place, and lots of great campsites, things to see.
     
  4. Furansoa

    Furansoa New Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the information. I will get my hand on the book.

    What is the advantage of going from S to N? Dominant winds?? I've never been up there and we are just starting to plan the trip.

    We also read that the water was less rough further north. How is the leg between Burnaby Narrows and Tanu, and between Tanu and Skidegate? Is it worth doing?

    A tarp would of course be mandatory.

    We were planning to rent boats in Haida Gwaii. Is Moresby offering the best deal? Do they rent rubber and paddle jacket?

    Cheers
     
  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Furansoa,

    The route I recommended earlier goes with the prevailing good weather winds, and has very protected waters at the beginning, to allow you to fine tune your act before the very exposed, lengthy stretch around Benjamin Point. Going north, same path, forces you to tackle that Point first day. Get a chart and examine the points, islands, and passes. Then you can do some careful thinking about where you want to go. The stretch from Marco Island through Skincuttle Inlett is relatively protected and very interesting. We went there on our first trip, back in 1996, and had a great time. Subsequent trips we did outside points and lots of open water, with no issues, after we had gained some savvy.

    No, it can be rough either north or south. Rounding points and paddling longer fetches of open water will expose you to rough conditions if the wind is up. Unless you already have some experience on open waters, you might want to rethink your aversion to going with a guide.

    Based on the questions you have been asking, I think you should dialog with the outfitter extensively before committing to GH. Moresby is a good crowd and will be able to help you a lot. Discussing your paddling options with someone at Parks will also help.
     
  6. Furansoa

    Furansoa New Member

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    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I would consider myself an intermediate on a kayak, but expert in the backcountry/wilderness. I know that mountains and oceans are different, and this is why I'm asking questions, gathering information before committing to the trip. I will ask Park as they would know much more for sure.

    Have you ever paddle North of Tanu?

    I really appreciate your feedback. Thanks a lot.
     
  7. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Furansoa,

    Yes, I have paddled north of Tanu, couple times, one a one way, pausing at Vertical Point for a couple nights, then to Skedaans, and around into Cumshewa Inlet, to Moresby camp. That trip began at Raspberry Cove, about 130 miles total, sampling the whole east side of GH. The scenery is not as interesting around Louise Island as south of Marco Island in Juan Perez Sound down theough Skincuttle Inlet although VP is very lovely, Skedaans stunning with good mortuary poles. The Haida Watchmen there were terrific. The second trip was a circuit of Louise, done over 7 days, clockwise out of Moresby Camp. Campsites were a little sparse. One night was spent in the narrows on heavy bear terrain, but were were not harrassed. All of Louise is outside fhe Park, hence no fees. The waterways are more open, and you have to do a little scratching around to find historic sites. At Mather Creek we found an old log road and the old cemetery there, all overgrown with forest and a bit spooky.

    I would say those waters, except for the section from Tanu to VP, and around the outside of Louise, are relatively sheltered. About as sheltered as Marco to Skincuttle. The latter is more varied, with lots of exploring potential. BTW, Hotspring Island is a short shot from Marco, which can be done via a sweep through some small islands if you go north first. Hotspring is worth visiting, despite its popularity. Once you have Frazers guide in hand, and a chart, you can see possibilities are endless.

    You might consider a drop off near Marco, and then work your way back to Moresby Camp, saving some money by avoiding a second transport. The Moresby folks can suggest some interesting spots in Cumshewa Inlet which are not often visited, but involve some bushwacking.

    I forgot earlier, here are just a few photos of a N to S trip we did in 1998, different from trips described above, except for the Skedaans (K'una) shot. http://www.pbase.com/bartenderdave/charlot Click on photos to enlarge them.
     
  8. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Furansoa,

    Forgot to add:

    No one or almost no one does the stretch from Cumshewa Inlet to Skidegate, mainly because of the long slog, perhaps fighting adverse current, around Sandspit and into the area where Skidegate is located. Instead, almost all use Moresby Camp at the head of Cumshewa for transport or launch. Mosquito Lake CG is a couple miles from the Camp, and a good place to camp night before a launch. If you arrange transport, I believe Moresby Explorers will haul you and your gear to Moresby Camp, for a fee, leaving your vehicle at their compound.

    Don't know what the other rental options are. Moresby Explorers may rent their boats from the float house in Crescent Inlet, which is a good starting spot for exploring southward, or to the north. Suspect the rentals would be a return commitment, but you could arrange a pickup out of Skincuttle or other points to the south, and drop the boats off on the transport back to Moresby Camp.

    We found that advice from Parks varied in quality, a strong function of which ranger we spoke with. One was a fount of misinformation and haughty attitude. The others were very good, and quite helpful. Moresby Explorers was by far the most knowledgeable of good places to go, etc., largely because they spend a lot of time in the Park. Parks personnel do not, except for the few who work out of their cabin north of Burnaby Narrows, and they are not on the phones or doing email. Five trips, all but one two weeks each, and we never saw a Parks person inside the park, and never saw a Parks vessel patrolling. Things could be very different now, however.
     
  9. Furansoa

    Furansoa New Member

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    Dave,

    Thanks for all the information. I had not heard about Moresby Camp, and we might go to or from there. I have ordered Frazier's book today and will take a look at it when I get it next week.

    I appreciate all of the information. Thanks
     
  10. lirvine

    lirvine New Member

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    Wondering what you ended up deciding about your trip, and how things went. We are beginning to plan a self-guided trip for next summer.
     
  11. Furansoa

    Furansoa New Member

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    Hi,

    The trip went well. We got dropped off by Moresby explorer at Tanu, and paddled all the way to Burnaby Narrows. With a good understanding of camping and the backcountry, and listening to the weather (NW winds are usually good, SE ones bring bad weather), it was good.

    We did the northern part because it is more sheltered than the southern part, but next time we will go, we will go from the narrows to Rose Harbour and Sgann Gwaay

    Cheers
     
  12. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Glad you had a good trip. Rounding Benjamin Point is the crux on the stretch from Skincuttle Inlet to Rose Harbour. Couple nice bays for camping N of Benjamin so you can make that transit in two stages if you like. Times I have done it, we had half day weather windows, so being close to Benjamin was important. We monitored the buoy reports on each side of Moresby and waited until a front washed through, got in our already packed boats, and skedadled around Benjamin, just ahead of another front. It is a longish stretch of exposed coastline between Benjamin and Rose Harbour, with no place to get off the water, and the exposuee is to the SE, where front winds can hit pretty hard.

    We really liked Skincuttle. On one trip, we hung around there for several days, and then worked our way north, for pickup near Marco. Half went through the narrows, and my half went around the east side of Burn a by Island. Camping over there is kind of sketchy, but it is rugged and beautiful.. Seldom visited. Bears abound.