Friday, July 30, 2010

Up at 6AM to make the 7:30 YVR South Terminal check-in for the 8:20 flight to Masset, Haida Gwaii. No reserved seating on this twin-prop. A Saab product, if I heard the flight attendant correctly.

Two distinct casts for the Masset flights. The first, a charter, was exclusively white men, all in their early-50s, en route to the Islands’ four or five fishing lodges, where they will compete for big tyee. The second, operated by Pacific Coastal, was comprised of everyone else.

The flight went smoothly, though too milky to get a sense of where I was. Only during the last five minutes, as we flew under the clouds, could I see the Hecate Strait and the wooly green surface that surrounds the Massets.

Upon landing I was met by my host, Adele Weder, along with her two daughters and their friend. Also at the airport was Susan Musgrave, who was dropping off guests from her recently-acquired Copper Beech Inn. A quick visit to Susan’s pioneer-style B&B, an emporium made up of small, enthusiastically decorated rooms, before the six of us lunched at a remote and equally rustic restaurant, where nasturtiums grew indoors.

From there, a one-hour drive south to Queen Charlotte City. This is where Adele and her family spend a good part of their summers. The guest suite is spacious, well-appointed and overlooks the tiny islands that float like hedgehogs in the middle of Skidegate Narrows. The bathroom, under renovation, is in the style of Mondrian.

It would be difficult to describe Haida Gwaii without comparing it to other northern locales I have visited, such as Haisla and Port Edward, or the many coastal islands I have come to know over the years. But one thing that separates this place from the others, a feeling that did not occur to me during my last visit her in 1983, is this incredible all-consuming calm, as if I was in the lap of something.

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