This was my second visit to Haida Gwaii. My first visit was back in 2009 and was a pretty magical experience. This time it was even more so, and we were better prepared for the wet weather we encountered. It was our slowest paced adventure to date as well as our most social trip. We struck up a conversation with a couple strolling past us on the beach in Tlell where we spent the day reading, sketching and basking in the sun with the pups. It was closer to evening then and we invited them to come and share our little beach fire as they said they intended to start one later on at a different spot. They invited us to stay with them at their house in Prince Rupert on our way back, and we did. They were marvelous hosts and are now new friends. Our camp neighbors at Agate Beach were equally wonderful. The one gentleman camping by himself with his dog was generous in loaning his gear and showing Jason how and where to go crabbing. The neighbors on the other side of him were a family of four and another dog. Their kids would wander over and show us their beach plunder from the day, and the little girl would tell us stories about what her and her little brother got up to. The parents also wandered by for periodic visits and eventually we wandered over to their campsite so share beers and talk by the fire. Then two more joined our group; avid fisherman with a wealth of knowledge about living in the bush. Pretty soon we were pooling groceries, catches of the day, cooking utensils and camp stoves to make and share communal meals. On our last evening at Agate Beach, the day was too wet to start fires at any of our campsites so we took over the drying shack where there was a wood burning stove, picnic tables and four walls to keep the heat in. Three more were added to our group that night and we had one final communal meal and visit before parts of the party continued on in the morning to a new spot, ourselves included. We exchanged contact info with some folks but not everyone. It was really special to have these more intimate and prolonged encounters with strangers. It caught us all by surprise. Our third camping spot was much the same. A few of our growing party from Agate beach wound up down in Kagan Bay. More stragglers were added and introduced, folks they had met from other adventures somewhere else on the island or on the ferry ride there. More new friends were made. More groceries and cooking resources were pooled and more communal meals created and shared with a growing group. Graham Island, the northern Island of Haida Gwaii is pretty big but there is only one main road on it. There are a fair number of logging roads, but most of the area is not accessible by vehicle. You go on foot or by watercraft of some kind. We kept running into various camp mates while out walking, taking photos, getting groceries or doing laundry. It was like we moved there and kept bumping into our neighbors. It was the strangest and most comforting thing at the same time.
The wifi is spotty in Haida Gwaii so I took it as an opportunity to unplug for a bit. I took loads of photos and made a lot of drawings (I filled the sketchbook I started during my trip to Quebec back in June for my solo show there!) but didn’t get around to making any oil sketches. I made a few non-sketchbook sketches as well. One I gave as a thank you to our friends and hosts in Prince Rupert for their wonderful hospitality during our stay there, one was purchased by one of our Agate Beach camp neighbors because it was our shared view from our campsites, and one is listed in my Etsy shop.
I could go on about our trip, share more photos and stories about what we got up to when they were there, but the sketches, photos and journal entries in my sketchbook already tell those stories and tell them in, or shortly after the experiences happen. I’ve posted all the sketches from this trip in the order they are found in the physical sketchbook. It was a special trip to a beautiful place and I hope you enjoy riffling through my sketches.