Keltsmaht is the traditional territory and village site of Lennie’s parents. Many Ahousaht locals with family ties there return each year to camp. It is an amazing beach with views of Opitsaht, Tofino and the open ocean. The fog rolls in and out each day and you can fish right in the bay. Returning here is like going back in history and returning to the traditions that once were common.
We brought the dogs with us. Not the most responsible thing, in terms of wolves and wildlife but a necessity as a dog owner with no one to care for them at home. They slept with us in the tent and stayed close during the day. Leia and Bruce loved our new lifestyle, but Yoda had clearly had enough partway through.
Yoda enjoying his perch on a log.
Bruce wasn’t picky about what you threw for him to fetch… Just that you were throwing something! When the sticks ran out, we used kelp!
Leia looked every bit a wolf as she stalked the beach.
The traditional way of cooking salmon in Nuu-Chah-Nulth culture is called a kluupchus. The salmon is butterflied and pinched between pieces of cedar before being roasted over a fire. The smoke and open flame give it an incredibly unique flavour.
We also harvested cedar to be used for the regalia and decorations for our wedding next summer. Each cedar tree can only be harvested once in it’s lifetime. It will bear the scar for the rest of it’s time, but will survive with just one strip of bark taken. Multiple harvestings will kill the tree. We were harvesting trees while standing in a forest of trees harvests dozens and hundreds of years ago!
You can see the large strip falling away as it disconnects. Don’t be too close underneath as it comes down!
The raw ‘meat’ of the wood underneath the outer bark. This will dry and scar over but you will always be able to see where this strip was taken.
The harvested bark before being cleaned. It is rolled so you can carry it out of the forest with more ease.
Cleaning the outer layer of bark from the usable inner layer. It’s quite a long process to clean bark and must be done while wet.
The inner bark is rolled into smaller rolls and taken home to be dried. Once be rolled again for storage until it is used for weaving projects.
Lennie made me a cedar rose while we were cleaning the bark ❤
Keltsmaht was a great return to tradition and nature. We spotted a wolf across the beach and watched eagles in the treetops. We tried to hike across the island to Ahous Bay but took a wrong turn and ended up on the next beach over! I can’t wait to go back…