Now that all the sightseeing and tours are finished (the good weather and hard paddling we’ve done in the first half of the trip means we hit all our itinerary points ahead of schedule), this is basically just a sweet camping trip with my new friends.
We have a chill sleep in (waking at 7:30am instead of 6:30 is a delicious indulgence), and Amy makes us french toast with jam and cream cheese (it takes like cheesecake, she is an absolute master chef on a beach). The bugs are so prolific this morning that I take to fanning her with a cushion as she cooks, and she throws her head back in delight at the momentarily mosquito-free air. I fill the time on our relaxed paddle to the hot springs telling Amy everything cool I’ve learned about moss in the last 3 days (from my new favourite book). She is even nerdier than me (who knew that could be possible?!) so we have been loving dropping all the useless insights we can on each other.
We land and hike 10 minutes through the forest, where the amazingly enthusiastic Watchmen are changing shifts. One has been here 3 months, another a few weeks. The one arriving helped clear the southern SGang Gwaay site in 1980-85 and has a million hilarious stories from working on all the sites over the years, but he jokes that this one is his favourite…how could it not be?
Gandll K’in Gwaay.yaay (Hot Spring Island) has been a sacred spot for the Haida Nation for thousands of years, providing food in abundance and healing waters from the natural hot spring. In 2012, Haida Gwaii was rocked by a 7.7 earthquake off the west coast, shifting the lands enough that the spring was sealed off. Haida Gwaii is the most seismically active area in Canada – the largest earthquake in Canadian history happened here in 1949, an 8.1 on the Richter scale! The hot spring ruining quake was the second largest in Canada. (Learn more about Haida Gwaii geology in my previous post)
Luckily for my group, last year a new spring opened up, and fresh pools were built from nearby rocks. The water is perfect bathwater temperature – so if you’re insanely lucky (like we were) no other boats will come and you can happily soak for hours without overheating. There is even a shower facility (!!!!!!!!!) with pressurized hot spring water to rinse off (a welcome surprise after 6 days of straight kayaking and camping).
We eat lunch, supplemented by freshly caught sea urchin.
Our group moves in a sweet rhythm each day now of efficiency and effort, seamlessly unpacking and carrying boats, doing dishes, everyone prepping dinner without being asked. When we arrive back from the hot springs, a small group of us goes on a bonus adventure to fill all our 10 litre dromedaries (water bags) at a nearby spring and gather driftwood for a beach fire. We paddle back with kayaks loaded with firewood and water, joking that we are like the ancients, coming home to provide for the family.
I make everyone popcorn for an appetizer then coconut curry with spices a friend handmade me in Jordan. I worry I’ve made too much, with my pot almost overflowing, but the team eats almost every bit of it.
Just as the feast is ready the rain starts – it’s been predicated for days but this is the first fall of it! We eat under tarps and Amy gets me to show her my “exotic dancing”, which drifts into the whole group dancing to the sound of Devjeet’s flute. We laugh til our bellies hurt, then Amy calms us with a live rendition of her favourite poem.
Devjeet and I stay up late watching the rain on the ocean and talking about everything good in the world. I hike over moss and around the obstacle course of fallen trees to my tent, happily dry inside despite the soaked exterior. What a blessing it is to be here.