Friday, September 10, 2010

A big walk, a heavy load and then there was the ocean

Leaving Halifax, I got a minibus to Chebogue Point near Yarmouth to meet the two people I'd be camping and hiking with for the next week...

Introducing Steph and Franck
Cape Chignecto (78)   Cape Chignecto (65)
L: Steph, organiser and wilderness extraordinaire!  Before we'd all even met, Steph had done loads of work researching where to go, how to do it and what we'd need (I'd have been completely hopeless without her list of necessary things to bring - clothes, equipment, camping stuff, cooking stuff, water pills and most importantly... food!)
R: Franck waiting for dinner to cook by our giant pot. Originally from France, Franck left the rat race, moved to Canada where he bought some land by the ocean and built his own home (like, really built his home! Check it out below...) and does his best to live a sustainable life.  I love his life - he spends most of the year enjoying the wilderness of Canada or travelling.  Okay, so he does enter the rat race for an intense few months to fund the rest of the year... but that doesn't seem like too bad an exchange!

Going off the grid - Franck's place
Nova Scotia - Franck's place (5)
Frack's home... the smaller building to the right is his shed / dry toilet.  You can see the ocean in the background and his nearest neighbour is a couple of kilometres away.

Nova Scotia - Franck's place (6)     Nova Scotia - Franck's place (7)
L: Solar powered shower (seeing as it's outdoors, it's perhaps a good thing his closest neighbour is a fair bit away)

Nova Scotia - Franck's place
Watching the sunrise before setting off

Heavy Load
When I left Toronto on the train, the ViaRail staff put this Heavy label on my backpack.  I decided to keep it and thought it appropriate to bring it back for this trip.

Doing the Cape
After packing, unpacking and repacking our bags, we left Chebogue Point the next morning with bellies full of pancakes and homemade blueberry jam for the 8 hour drive to Cape Chignecto Provincial Park.

5 nights of camping, 4 days of hiking, 3 strangers (not so by the end), 2 blisters (obtained on day 1) and 1 giant bear poo (but 0 actual bears seen). We hiked through magical woodland, with the sound of falling pine needles (all tinkly and stuff), admired spectacular views, sweated... a lot, stopped at creeks to top up our water bottles, picked and ate wild blackberries and then there was the ocean.  After the sometimes really challenging hike, it was always the most amazing thing to finish up at a deserted beach (I think we only saw 5 people on the whole of our hike) - to make the most of the heatwave and soak up the sunshine and swim in the ocean (which was actually bloody cold but a very welcome way to refresh ourselves after an exhausting and sweaty walk). We would explore the area and find more deserted beaches, do a bit of seal spotting, soak up more sunshine, go for another swim and then have dinner, usually with a spectacular sunset to watch.  It was the Canada I was waiting to see - all wild and exactly as it should be.  And I saw a couple of hummingbirds which I loved - they hold the same kind of mysticism as unicorns to me (erm, except of course, they're real!).

Red Rocks to Eatonville
We spent the first night at Red Rocks.  As we arrived with a few hours of daylight, we managed a bit of wander in the woods, set up camp and had make shift showers using the water barrels they had by the loos (well... pit privies).
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Setting up camp

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Dinner - yay.  Day 1 was a chick pea and veg stew

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Everyday, once we'd sorted out dinner, we'd hike our food bags up a tree using a makeshift pulley so as to not attract any bears nearby.

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Red Rocks

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Into the wild... (photo c/o Steph)

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Along our walk, we stumbled upon this beautiful stream so we laid our bags down and went for a refreshing dip.  And a very welcome break from my hiking boots.

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Arrival at Eatonville Brook.  The two box like things in the distance are the pit privies

Eatonville to Seal Cove

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Okay so it's hard to tell, but there's a bear paw print in there, really there is!

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Fallen pine needles

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The Three Sisters in the distance - we had hoped to hike up to them but were thwarted by the tide.

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A perfect day

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Steph preparing dinner

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This super hammock is where Steph slept for the night - so cool!

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Chicken curry with a view

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We found a ready made camping area on the beach so lit a fire, looked for star constellations, admired the milkyway and listened to the waves.  It was so bloody beautiful (and warm by the fire), me and Steph decided to forgo our respective tent and hammock and sleep out on the beach.  Only slight hitch of course, is that we had to keep waking up to add more wood to the fire... as well as make sure we didn't burn!  Oh, and the bloody mozzies weren't all that helpful either.  Still, I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Seal Cove to Key Hole Brook

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Big bear poo - this is what your poo would look like if you ate berries all day too!

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I have no idea what this used to be.

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(photo c/o Franck)

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Key Hole Brook to Big Bald Rock

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ahhh, endless ocean (and such a nice change from the ocean views in Vancouver that feature freight ships heavily)

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Doing a spot of washing (photo c/o Franck)

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Awaiting another starry night

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Big Bald Rock to Refugee Cove

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Quick snack of trailmix

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Sitting on Cape Chignecto

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Lunch of peanut butter, dried cranberries and banana chips in a tortilla (we alternated between tuna and cucumber wrapped in a tortilla for lunches)

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Snacking on blackberries

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When we arrived at Refugee Cove, we headed to the beach at low tide.  When we headed back later, this was filled with water.

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The sea at Refugee Cove was looking pretty rough and I could see there was room for exploration.  So I went off, turned a corner and was ridiculously happy to find another deserted beach with beautifully calm waters so I ran in for a float in the sunshine ;o) Sadly the tide was coming in fast so rather than get stuck there for the night, I made it back to the main beach.

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This is the corner I turned to find the other beach.

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A result of attempting to pack lightly meant I just had the one dish for eating and drinking hot drinks (like this hot chocolate)

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Up early to watch the sunrise.  Did also see the cutest seal in the sea but he disappeared before I could get my camera out.

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Refugee Cove to Red Rocks

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4th day of hiking and I still couldn't get enough of the beautiful trees

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Or the beautiful ocean :o)  Every day I thought, how's the next day going to top this and then it would.

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We decided to clamber up this waterfall.  A couple of other hikers also found the spot but didn't stick around.    I'm sure it had nothing to do with finding Franck nude (despite grabbing a nearby flannel to hide his modesty). We laughed so hard - it was a great Franck moment.

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Bandaged up blisters.  I used several blister plasters, a knee thing, medical tape and duct tape and it seemed to do the trick.

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Nearly there!

Good timing
Feeling relieved to have completed the hike but sad to be done, we went to check where our last camp spot would be at the trail centre before planning to jump in the ocean.  Except, of course, the park stuff told us a hurricane was coming that night and that they were closing all the national parks in Nova Scotia.  Having been in a heatwave with beautiful sunny clear skies and starry nights, it was a bit of a shock!  After some quick thinking, we managed to get in touch with a friend of Steph's mum who lived in Truro and very kindly let us stay the night.

A quick photo before hot footing it out of the park - Truro was a 4 hour drive away.

Chignecto 99   Cape Chignecto
But we did manage a quick stop off on the highway for a bit of camping cooking.  Spag bol - yay!

Hurricane Earl in Truro
Our Hurricane Earl hideout in Truro.  Our hosts were amazing.  They gave us warm beds, fed us gouda cheese and we drank red wine and swapped travel and plant stories (we were on flower and plant farm).

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