With only a few miles to cruise today and a morning low tide keeping us in our anchorage, we had a leisurely morning today, and the smells of bacon, pancakes, and coffe could be clearly detected in the still morning air.
The crew of Ajax and Greg, the trip’s naturalist, decided to take advantage of the late start and set off to explore the trackless forests around our anchorage and make an attempt to reach a lake outlined on our charts. We followed a lazily flowing creek, its waters stained brown by the tannins in the roots of the mighty trees around us. Thick carpets of mosses blanket the forest floor in an umbroken mat of green. Massive spruce, hemlock and cedar soar overhead. Here and there one of the giant trees has fallen victim to a winter storm and lies fallen, illuminated by the light that streams through the hole in canopy where it fell. The unearthed root masses stand higher than a house. Fading slowly back into the earth, the trunks give back their hard-earned nutriets, and berry bushes and saplings rise the rotting trunks. The forests here are quiet, and other that from the far-off warbling of a Hermit Thrush, the occasional rattle of a woodpecker, and the call of a raven there is only the sound of the breeze in the treetops.
By midday the tide had risen enough to allow passage out of Beresford Inlet, and we made the short passage across the north end of Juan Perez Sound to our temporary anchorage off Hot Spring Island. This small island is the site of thermal pools revered both by the Haida and by weary travelers alike. Like other important sites throughout Gwaii Haanas, there is a watchman at the site who welcomes visitors and keeps an eye on things.
Haida Gwaii is the most tectonically active site in Canada, which can be a mixed blessing. The massive geologic forces at work created the Hot Spring, but in 2012 a massive earthquake the flow of water off to the pools. After several dry years, hot water has again begun to seep from the rock however, and the pools have begun to refill.
After inviting us in to his cabin, where we meet a Haida carver working on a small eagle totem, David, our Haida guide takes us along a well-trodden path lined with Salal bushes around a rocky headland and to the soaking pool. Although the pool is only half full and not exactly scalding, it is a breathtaking setting and worthy of a visit nonetheless. We sit and soak happily in the sunshine for an hour or two, watching herons glide by and the tide rise over the rocks and reefs offshore.
The time to depart and we set out once more, crossing Juan Perez Sound to the southwest, accompanied at times by quick moving Dall’s Porpoise. We found secure anchorage in the calm waters of Matheison Inlet and enjoyed a leisurely evening, the blue-grey smoke from grilling hamburgers drifting lazily across the bay.