Friday, 12 June 2015

Leaving Haida Gwaii

I've been staying in a Bear Hunting Lodge - except that it's under new management who are rather more bear friendly.  So it's not surprising that I bumped into a bear on an evening walk.  I took my picnic supper about an hour's walk up the coast, to the mouth of the Tlell river, and ate it sitting on a piece of driftwood in the dunes facing the sea.   As I turned around the spit to walk back along the river, I saw something move up the river bank into the trees which grow right down to the edge and thought it was a deer - there are a lot of them here and they're quite tame. Then I saw the tracks, coming from the dunes to the river, and realised that it was a bear.  He had probably been sitting in the dunes munching the wild strawberries that grow there while I was eating my supper! My only regret is that I didn't get a good look at him - still can't say that I've seen a bear.

The location of the lodge (called Haida House) is a small hamlet called Tlell - halfway down the east coast of Graham Island, where the Tlell river goes into the sea.  Tlell is quite remote - midway between Masset and Skidegate on the Yellowhead Highway (the only highway).  It's a beautiful place, and the staff are mainly Haida.  Allison, who serves us breakfast, brought her Haida ceremonial regalia in to show us.This consists of a woven spruce root hat and a button blanket. These have evolved from animal skin robes and are now traditionally black and red, decorated with buttons of mother of pearl or abalone.

Allison is Eagle clan, so her blanket has an eagle appliqued on the back.


Now is the sad part - because I have to leave and drive north to Masset where I'm catching a plane to Vancouver and then another to England.  It's so beautiful and so peaceful I'm really going to miss it.  I think I'm going to leave part of myself here - like scraps of wool on a barbed wire fence.




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