The Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, yes, the same of Totems!) Archipelago is a dreamy place tucked away in British Columbia’s North Coast, in an otherworldly backdrop of temperate rainforests.
The trees are so weighed down with moss that it’s hard to tell where the ground stops and the trees begin and, at some points, the forest is so thick that it’s hard to even see the sky.
Here, in a land dotted with magnificent forests, secluded villages, and an ancient air, a ship washed ashore on a remote beach a long time ago.
Today, the Pesuta Shipwreck Trail leads hikers about ten kilometers through the forest of Naikon Provincial Park to a stretch of beach near the Tlell River, where the 80-meters log barge ran aground during a bad winterstorm in the Hecate Strait on December 11, 1928.
It was being towed by a tug boat when heavy wind struck both boats, causing the cargo and barge to crash.
Like many vessels during the steam boom, the Pezuta (presently known by the misspelled name “Pesuta”) began her life as a steam ship before being converted to a log barge in the early 1900s.
It was built as a wood-hulled steam freighter in Raymond, WA, as an addition to the US Shipping Board’s (USSB) WWI Emergency Shipbuilding Program, and the coal-fired ship was an impressive vessel.
Its construction contained an incredible amount of lumber, 20,000 tree nails, 10,000 pounds (ca. 4,536 kilogram) of clinch rings, 200 tons of round iron, 30 tons of strapping, 400 bales of oakum and 600 gallons (ca. 2,728 litres) of paint.
Shortly after the end of the war in early 1919, the ship was delivered to Seattle where it was considered excess by the USSB and subsequently slated for liquidation. Eventually finding its way to T’agwan Vancouver in 1927, it was retrofitted for reuse as a lumber carrier, capable of carrying an impressive 243.84 kilometres of logs.
Sadly, the Pesuta did not last long in its revived career as a barge.
Seas were exceptionally treacherous on the Hecate Strait that December 11. Gale winds battered the tug Imbricaria as it struggled to tow the heavily laden carrier past the mouth of the Tll.aal Gandlaay Tlell River.
Suddenly the Pesuta broke free of its towline, running aground deep in the sand. After hull recovery efforts failed, local salvage operations stripped what they could before leaving the remnants of this massive vessel high on the pebbly beach sand, known locally for a proliferation of agates.
The ship’s bow remained intact, listing hard to port, after nearly a century of erosion from the punishing North Pacific’s wind and waves.
And since then the ship has been slowly decomposing over the last years.
The showing portion of the ship is mainly rotting timbers, but there are also still some metal portholes and such rusting away in their original spots.
What has survived is a stunning wreck that ranks among the most approachable and explorable on Earth, despite a bit of a hike to get there.
Of course, It’s become a popular tourist attraction, with a even hike being named after it.
The Pesuta Shipwreck Trail begins at the Tlell River bridge, and It’s a 10-km hike without elevation that takes around four hours to complete round-trip.
The hike is part of the 90-km East Beach Wilderness Hiking Trail, which takes hikers along the entire length of East Beach.
You can find the enchanting shipwreck near the Tlell River, on East Beach, in Haida Gwaii.
Images from web – Google Research