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Return to Misty Moorings - Trip Tic

Destination: Fairfax Lake Campground

Route Notes

  • This scenery is for "Return to Misty Moorings" only.
  • Minimum altitude: 2500ft/762m then 1200ft /366m
  • Landing zone is: Water – the Lake does not freeze in winter
  • GPS for destination: N52 42.29 W131 58.28 Alt 78 feet
  • Printable copy HERE

Fairfax Lake Campground

Fairfax Lake Campsite is a scenic destination on Moresby Island and a challenging landing awaits you there because the Lake is surrounded by mountains, the highest on the Island being the San Christoval Mountains, all over 3300ft/1000m. This group of 150 islands was known as ‘The Queen Charlotte Islands’ until 2010 when it was renamed as Haida Gwaii when the indigenous Haida peoples regained their sovereignty.

The vegetation changes with altitude and some of it has evolved differently from the same type on the mainland of British Columbia, becoming a subspecies. As for wildlife, it is abundant: deer, bears, moose and even wolves have been spotted. Birds of prey, chiefly Bald Eagles, can be seen hunting in their hundreds. Not for nothing is the area nicknamed ‘Canada’s Galapagos’. Be sure to keep an eye out for the old abandoned copper mine at Tasu Inlet and the once thriving Tasu village.

The flight plan starts you at Sandspit, one of several airports on this archipelago and takes you through 40mi/65km of very beautiful landscape. Your destination is a hard to reach campsite comprising two sturdy canvas tents on the south shore of Fairfax Lake. There is no dock to moor up to here, just the shoreline of the lake, so you better remember to bring your waders. The trout fishing here is excellent.

If you’re using Plan G and Dieter’s POIs you will see other locations shown on Haida Gwaii: to the north is the aptly named Prayer Lake Cabin plus Moresby Camp [where you can check on the progress of the construction work], Mt Matlock Cabin, Yakhoun Lake Cabin and Masset Inlet Cabin. These sceneries can be downloaded from the Scenery page under ‘M’, ‘P’ and ‘Y’. To the south is Ninstints, a World heritage Site. Here, in real life one can see a display of standing Haida Mortuary poles which is considered the best in the world. It would be a shame if you fly to here and don’t check out these locations.

TreeTop VFR Plans

FROM: Sandspit (CYZP)
TO: Fairfax Lake Campground

Course: After takeoff, you'll need to fly a heading of 177 to come to the desired course, altitude should be held at 2500 feet. It is about 12mi/19km to the next waypoint.

You take off from Sandspit Airport, the main airport for Haida Gwaii, located on the largest area of flat land on Moresby Island. The hamlet of Sandspit, the Gateway to Gwaii Haanas and the only town on Moresby Island, is located on the northeastern tip of Moresby Island. Every year over 40,000 passengers travel through Sandspit Airport, and close to 14,000 aircraft take off or land annually. There are two scheduled daily flights from Vancouver to Sandspit and one from Prince Rupert.

Sandspit's history goes back to at least one ancient Haida Village, Kil, which was situated east of Haans Creek. The first settlers at Sandspit established farms and ranches around the grassy flats but there is only scant evidence of their homesteads and past presence today.

Moresby Island, which is 2.3mi/4km long and 1.4mi/2km across, was first settled in 1863. It was named for Rear Admiral Fairfax Moresby, R.N., who was the naval commander-in-chief of the Pacific Station of the Royal Navy between 1850 and 1853, as was also Fairfax Point at the Island's southern tip. The Island has been ‘logged’ three times by separate Chinese logging companies. The evidence of this logging is nearly gone, although traces of the trails built for the machines can be found. It has a very rich history, including a ghost story, the remains of a long-gone mansion and evidence of First Nations people using the island as a resting place when traveling.

One of the first industries in 1910 was a dogfish oilery, followed by a fish cannery in 1913. Today, transportation and logging are the mainstays of the Sandspit economy, with tourism close behind.

COURSE: Over Skidegate Lake, maintain heading and altitude.

The Skidegate Lake area is a big time player in the harvest and export of Chanterelle Mushrooms. The mushrooms are an annual and unpredictable harvest. One of the difficulties is the logging in the area which hurts the Chanterelles because they only grow in second-growth forests.

The area attracts bird watchers and wildlife seekers. The wildlife in the area includes Black Bears, deer and Bald Eagles. A new species of lamprey was discovered at Skidegate Lake, the newly found eel is called the ‘Skidegate Lamprey’.

You next fly over the Hecate Straight. To port, New Clew, a small community about 5 miles distant, is believed to be the site of the historically important Haida village of Tanu or Tlanú and has been cited by anthropologist Wilson Duff as being "of historical importance". In the Skidegate dialect of the Haida language, "Kloo" means "canoe".

COURSE: Descend to 1200 feet. Ahead to starboard is a small island and ahead a low peak. At the small island, turn to port following the channel beside the peak. Your heading should be about 150. This heading will change ... follow the channel which will narrow then come out into a wider area. There is another inlet to starboard. Continue past this inlet to your next waypoint.

COURSE: At the NEXT inlet to the right, turn into it. This is Sewell Inlet. Your heading will be roughly 225, but follow the inlet.

COURSE: Fly the inlet, although you will see it is blocked with land here and there ... continue heading and altitude. Eventually this becomes a valley. Continue to fly up the valley adjusting heading as necessary

COURSE: The valley will turn sharply to port ... continue to follow its course. Once you have made the sharp turn, you will again be over water. Set a heading of 141 and follow the channel.

COURSE: Ahead is a tall point, you will fly to the left of it over a small peninsula and fly up the channel there. The channel is narrow and at your 11 o'clock. Maintain 1200 feet. You are at Tasu, the site of an iron ore and copper mine and community from 1967 to 1983, in remote Tasu Sound.

The mine was supported by a town site that included several apartment buildings, a hotel, general store, bakery, cafeteria, dining room and pub, as well as a school and recreation center with swimming pool. Access was by floatplane or boat. The residents of Tasu had regular visits from the families at Sewell Inlet logging camp nearby. The BC government briefly considered using the town site for a prison after the mine closed, but when those plans were dropped, the town site was demolished.

COURSE: You are approaching the Tasu Inlet and the channel will be forming a Y intersection. Go almost straight ahead through the narrow opening. Prepare for an abrupt water landing on the other side of the gap on the SHORT stretch of water there. Welcome to Fairfax Lake Campground. How's the heart rate? Take a deep breath, you made it! The camp is straight ahead on the far shore.

Doug Linn
Charter Manager
Misty Moorings, Inc