National Geographic Sea Lion arrived into the city of Queen Charlotte at 6:00 a.m. this morning. The sunrise made its way over the hill behind Queen Charlotte to light the harbor and surrounding waters. A fishing boat made its way out of the harbor and passed with its reflection along the still morning waters. Slowly, everyone prepared for our morning destination at the Haida Heritage Center. Our group was divided into two smaller groups, and half of us went outside to view the totem poles.

Each pole represented a specific Haida community and the collection of stories presented in Haida carvings. We came to a carving shed, where four hand-decorated Haida canoes were resting. Guests of the other group then spent their time inside half of the museum seeing one of the finest collections of totem poles, argillite carving, old and new weavings, and several new exhibitions newly opened at the Heritage Center.

After our visit to this fine Haidan interpretive center, we took a short ride to the Balancing Rock, a well-known site in Haida Gwaii. A large rock sits on a tiny point where it “balances” for all to see. Gorgeous weather, not a breath of wind, new spring plants and bird song surrounded us.

Finishing out our first day in Haida Gwaii, we spent our afternoon walking the Spirit Lake Trail. For two hours a variety of walks enjoyed the Haida Gwaii’s version of a coastal temperate rain forest; albeit, on a very warm, sunny day! Large western red cedar, giant western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and massive groves of red alder, along with all the new soft green leaves of early spring plants pushing their way towards the sun.

Returning in the late afternoon to National Geographic Sea Lion, our ship departed immediately, heading south toward tomorrow’s destination. On the way, a California grey whale decided to surface with its heart shaped blow, making our third whale species sighted for this trip! Slowly in the late light of the day we continued our voyage to explore our next destination, traveling in the ancestral territory of the Haida people.