Donnerstag, 20. September 2018

Haida Gwai

Once we left Prince Rupert we made our way over to Queen Charlotte Island, also known as "Haida Gwai", which means Islands of the Haida. Haida are the indigenous people who have lived there for thousands of years, having moved there during the last Ice Age.
The southern part of the islands is now a National Park. To be able to enter it you have to go to the Heritage Center in Skidigate, 5km away from Queen Charlotte town, and get an orientation tour. There there they tell you a bit about nature, people and history and what you can and can't do. They give you a nice information booklet and a rat kit (They are trying to get all not original animals out) and once you pay 20$ per day per person you get a tag per person with the admittance days notes on it. Which is kind of expensive and payment for uncertainty as we never know with the weather when we have a good window to make the 70nm crossing to the main land. Well, it worked out well, we had nice weather.
These are pretty islands, though not spectacular, the best in nature being all the moss in the forests. We were able to walk along 2 rivers in a very romantic scene. It is not a straight walk. We were following bear paths up and down, across and under fallen trees, over creeks, sometimes in the river bed and sometimes through thick bush. But all was so green. The bright intensive green lightens up the scenery, added by some fern, mushrooms and berry bushes.

The first one of the creeks had many chum and pink salmon in its many pools inbetween the little waterfalls. We found the salmon all the way to the top at the bigger waterfall - and beyond. Unfortunately no salmon jumping up these days because there is not enough water running through. It has been a very dry summer so there is a lack if water in the streams. That might be a reason why the salmon are late. They have a hard time finding back to their grounds when there is not enough fresh water mixing into the salt water to change the taste to guide them home. Without jumping salmon of course there are no bears at the falls. But along the way we had already seen many dead fish on the path, mostly eaten up to their bones.
Also on the way up I was sure I had heard a bear crack its way through the bush, then a jump into the water followed by loud splashing - a bear hunting salmon. It should be easy there as all the bear needs to do is jump into one of the pools and just take a fish out.
As we were walking back down I took a picture of this beautiful scene of a bi tree, moss overgrown, lying across the river, with little trees growing out of it. The scene not only overlooked the tree but also the river and the green other side. Just then I noticed a black hole in the green as it suddenly moved. There he was, my hero bear. Eating his fish. I called the others back to see the bear. Shortly after three cameras pointed at this black fluffy animal, chewing fish and looking up once in a while doing so. He noticed us but did not care, just continued eating. We walked around the big tree which we were hiding behind and stepped on another to get a better view. It was on our path back anyways. We had to climb over that other huge fallen tree that also crosses the river right to where our star was. Just that now we stopped on the tree, sat there, again with 3 cameras with zoom /long lenses pointed at the guy while Marcus held the bear spray. But the bear was busy with h
is fish. He seemed to enjoy being watched and filmed. He was the star. A big black hole in the green lush eating fish. When he was done he got up, got into position, made sure we watch him, and started getting rid of his drinks and food. Yes, he was peeing and sh...At the end, still in the funny position, he turned his head back at us to make sure we got this, and then he walked over the tree nearest to him (the one I took a picture if before) and over some of the smaller ones, and went into the pool to get his next fish- more towards our side of the river. That was the timing for us to continue our walk back down the river, happy to have gotten some nice close pictures of this guy - and no rain. Before we left the beautiful scene I took some long exposure shots of the river.
We found that the animals in Haida Gwai are very cooperative. The day before yesterday we found a group of 4 deer, one of which was a young one. We had all the time in the world to take pictures while they were eating grass. Marcus got as close as 5m to them, them they just stepped back a bit to keep the distance. Amazing. While we were taking pictures we went up to about 10m.
Then later as Maren and I walked through the tree-moss-bush near the river (not carrying any salmon) a squirrel showed up just on the tree lying in from of us, ran across and up the tree and sat down in the branch above our heads to east its little pine cone. Ok, it was dark and I had to pump the ISO up a lot, but hey I got some great photos. Again, this thing just did not care that we were there.
Ah and I forgot, as we arrived ashore there were two seagulls eating fish, and they did not move until Marcus walked straight up to them with the anchor.

Another highlight were the natural hot pools we went to. A tiny island where you can indulge yourself in naturally hot water and enjoy an amazing view over the ocean and the islands (and Alita). All that on a beautiful day with a clear blue sky and some scattered clouds.

To top it all up pacific white sided dolphins and humpback whales showed up around us on our crossing yesterday. The dolphins jumped a couple of times and some swam under our bow for a short time. The whales were beating herings up with their tail and then ate them. One whale, the only one so far up here in the North Pacific, breached. Into my picture. Of the many whales that were around us I had just chosen to follow this one. You can imagine I screamed of joy when he breached into my focus.

Lets see what the next days will bring us, now that we're back at mainland and its channels. Latest in two weeks I guess we'll have internet again so I can upload some pictures.