stand on the west coast of Haida
Gwaii, the former Queen Charlotte Islands, nothing lies
between you and Japan except the great expanse of the North
Pacific ocean. Currents from across the ocean kiss the shores
of Haida Gwaii, washing up all kinds of interesting treasure.
The most common find on the beaches used to be the glass floats
used on Japanese fishing nets, but lately all kinds of artifacts
have washed up, from enough dead jellyfish to make it look like
a freak snowstorm has hit the beach, to hockey pads and Nike
shoes spilled from passing freighters. Glass floats make great
souvenirs; dead jellyfish don't.
Occasionally, you'll find the bleached bones of a dead whale,
or a thick knot of rope. Litter on the beaches, such as the
ubiquitous empty dish detergent bottles, are reminders that
the world is awash in plastic. The west side of Haida Gwaii
is dotted with pocket coves and beaches, most of which cannot
be reached by road, but you can spend a day combing beaches
around Rennell Sound.
To reach the shores of Rennell Sound, travel north from Queen
Charlotte City on gravelled Skidegate Main Line Forest Road
for about 25 miles (40 km). The road divides north and south
along Rennell Sound. Watch for beach access points in either
Beachcombing along McIntyre Bay and North
Beach can be very rewarding for those seeking to combine
the excitement of searching for treasures with the exercise
of hiking along the vast expanse of beach. Top treasures include
Japanese glass fishing floats, sperm whale teeth, scallop shells,
razor clam shells, sand dollars, and agate gemstones.
The shores of the islands are littered with thousands upon thousands
of driftwood logs, cast ashore like matchsticks by the ferocious
storms that lash the coastline during the winter months. Most
of the logs are lost by the logging industry - breakaways from
logging booms while under transport to mills and transport barges
- and now serve a valuable role in reducing erosion along the
sandy stretches of shoreline.