We spent 3 nights on the main island of this archipelago. The islands were never invaded by large amounts of fortune seekers. However they did experience the devastating effects of European diseases and missionaries who did not appreciate the local customs and had many of the traditional totem poles cut or burnt. These poles stood in front of every long house in which several related families lived. There is a strong movement on-going to revive the old culture. New totem poles are created and raised in front of shops, hospitals and other buildings. Beside experiencing the revival of the old culture we also came to the island to see the old growth temperate forests with many large trees (Western hemlock, Sitka spruce, Lodgepole pine, Western red-cedar). Each day we made a walk through these forests at different sites (Spirit Lake, Tow hill/Blowhole trail, Golden spruce trail). Not only are the trees big but also the undergrowth is full of fallen trees. overgrown with moss and serving as base for other trees to grow on top. The forest floor is therefore very bumpy. At the north of Graham Island we drove along a bay towards Rose point. The narrow well maintained sand road cuts through the primary forest and from the car you can see the large 300+ year old trees standing proud in between their many offspring. The main 100 km road on the island is wider and has a wide grass shoulder. Therefore the trees on each side are not visible because there is enough light for bushes to grow. At the end of the road there is a boardwalk through the forest to the bay. At high tide there should be water spouting up through “blow holes”. We were at the wrong time. There is a well laid out climb to the top of a cliff (tow hill viewpoint) overlooking the bay. Again you followed a path made of planks. Otherwise it would be difficult to walk through the forest with all its fallen and overgrown trees. The night was spent at a provincial park campsite right on the pebble beach underneath the trees. If it was not for the rain it would have been the ideal place. But it cleared up later in the evening and we were able to enjoy a nice sunset and a campfire (courtesy of our next door neighbour who had kindly donated some firewood).
The last day on the island was rainy (again). On the way back to the ferry, we stopped at various towns along the road. Most towns have a large native presence which is obvious by the community houses with totem poles in front of them. In Port Clements, we took a detour to walk the Golden Spruce trail. Once a golden coloured spruce was standing here along the river. An environmentalist made a large cut in the tree trunk so it would fall by the next storm. He was protesting against the ongoing logging of old growth trees on the island and that only token groups of trees were left behind for tourists. So he decided to take away one of the main tourist attractions (The Golden Spruce) suggesting that there is more to a forest than a few token trees. (We got this information from the newspaper clipping in the museum in town). The Golden Spruce trail was again an impressive trail through old, large and tall magnificent trees.
As it happened we stayed at the same campsite as our first night. We had again company of Cheryl, a lovely 70 year old lady travelling across Canada for 5 weeks.