Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ease on Down the Road

I had a fitful sleep in the tent last night, the mossy ground provided extra cushioning beneath my sleeping pad. I leisurely packed up my tent and chatted with other campers before heading into town for a coffee. I am not on a tight schedule today, although I have to backtrack to Skidegate before the Prince Rupert ferry leaves at 11 pm.

I rode up the cape to Old Masset where the tradition of carving totem poles continues on today. The village, which is a Haida reservation, is an odd mix of buildings, from utterly dilapidated housing to beautifully carved traditional homes and well designed communal buildings.

Street signs in Haida, at the intersection of Eagle and Raven Roads

A traditional structure going up. The boat rack I built at home was partly inspired  by this architecture (and cod drying racks in Cape Breton).

I continued up a muddy trail that led to the tip of the island in search of the northern shoreline but after several kilometres of cycling into the rain forest, and falling off my bike when I slipped on a rut, I decided to turn back. It was all worth it for jaunt into some old growth forest.

The Haida talk about spirits in the forest — this certainly looked like a face to me, an old man of the forest

Masset is Mile 0 of the 1,840 mile  (2,960 km) Yellowhead Highway which I intend to be following in the coming weeks. It was nearly 2 pm before I left town, but what was yesterday's tedious headwind was now a blissful tailwind. It made short work of the distance back to Skidegate and gave me enough time to see the Haida Heritage Centre and get to the ferry terminal 2 hours before the ship sailed. Along the way, the deer were so tame and stayed put as I cycled a few feet away. I also saw a majestic Bald Eagle that flew so close above me I was worried it was mistaking my helmet for some sort of prey.

I'm dressed for this highway. The Yellowhead is actually named for Pierre Bostonais, an explorer who had blond streaks in his hair earning him the nickname "TĂȘte Jaune".

Killer Whale inspects my bike

BC Ferries always impress me. Their ships are clean and modern, with far more capacity than needed, so they're never crowded. I had a great shower as soon as I got on board the Northern Adventure (cheaper than last night's campground at a buck for 5 minutes), and found a great spot to spread out my sleeping mat and bag in the roomy lounge. I met an old man from Masset on his way to the mainland to get a cataract operation, and he took a liking to my adventure and gave me a couple of semi-precious agates that he picks off a beach as souvenirs. We sat drinking in the ship's dining room until I could barely keep my eyes open.

"Don't you carry nothing that might be a load"

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