Tuesday, August 5, 2014
The important thing to remember when you are onboard a sailing schooner like Outer Shores Expeditions‘ beautiful Passing Cloud is to not sit upright when you awake in the morning. Doing so will likely cause you to smack your head into the bunk or ceiling above you.
That’s not to say the accommodations aren’t comfortable; far from it. In fact, my berth in the aft cabin has a mattress that is more comfortable than some hotels I have stayed in. Plus, let’s not forget: we’re on a schooner, and this entire week is designed to provide an authentic sailing expedition experience, which Passing Cloud does in spades.
That level if authenticity applies to the daily excursions ashore that are offered to guests on the Passing Cloud. Following a hearty breakfast consisting of homemade oatmeal with mango and cinnamon; fresh fruits, and a homemade omelette-style-dish called “Sex In A Pan” thanks to its easy overnight preparation (I’ll leave you to work out the details as to why that is), we went ashore near our overnight anchorage in Heater Harbour for a walk through the old growth forest that is part-and-parcel in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. Yes, I am required to list the name of the park reserve in full. No, I don’t have to do it again. For the rest of this article, let’s just say “Gwaii Haanas.”
Now, when I say we took a “walk” through the forest, I really mean exploration. There are no established pathways or trails here at all; it’s just you and Mother Nature. Walks aren’t overly strenuous, but you’ll want to have decent mobility, as walking over uneven terrain is commonplace.
On our morning ramble, Russ led us over the rocky beach to the moss-coated floor of the forest. From there, we clambered over fallen trees and rocky outcrops in our exploration of the shoreline and the surrounding beach. Landings are very much wet, but Passing Cloud has an assortment of rubber boots onboard for guests to use. My Size 10 loaner boots come up to my knees, and our first shore landing very nearly made use of the entire height of the boot!
What’s truly remarkable about our first morning of exploration is how much Russ, Kai and Joel know about Gwaii Haanas and the unique ecosystem present here. Numerous types of species, from bears to birds to marine life, are found only in Gwaii Haanas. It’s becoming very clear to me why Haida Gwaii is often called, “The Galapagos of the North.”