The summer was quickly fading away and I had yet to get out for any nights in the woods. With a baby in the house these days I don’t get much free time so when a small window of opportunity arose, I decided my 13 year old son needed some time away from his video screen and immediately planned a trip to Seal Cove in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park.
Cape Chignecto is located west of Amherst, Nova Scotia, roughly 3 hours from Halifax. The park itself juts out into the Bay of Fundy and is unique because of the huge tides.
An unexpected late February trip to Victoria, British Columbia gave me a free weekend which meant one thing; a night of camping somewhere on Vancouver Island. As I only had Saturday and Sunday, I was restricted in how far I could drive from Victoria so in the end decided to hit the Juan de Fuca trail again. It's a trail I had just hiked a section of two months previously and had enjoyed quite a lot. This time I planned to start at the beginning and hike the 8 kilometers up to Bear Beach where I'd spend the night, before retracing my steps the next day.
I was in Victoria for two weeks and decided that I should go camping for a night on my free weekend. Even though it was mid-December I thought it would be a shame if I travelled all the way across the continent and didn't spend a night sleeping outside in the land of the big trees. It is Vancouver Island after all and I don't make it out this way that often. Unfortunately I only had two short days and just didn't have time to get up to the old growth areas of the province like I had originally wanted to. But the coastline between River Jordan and Port Refrew is amazing to me as well and I was excited for the opportunity to hike a short section of the Juan de Fuca trail.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to hike the Liscombe River trail as I was in the area for a few days. The 9 to 10km trail starts and ends at the Liscombe Lodge Resort located approximately 2 hours east of Halifax. To get there, go east on Highway #107 from Dartmouth until you get to Musquodoboit Harbour, then follow Highway #7 up the coast to Liscombe. You can park at Liscombe Lodge itself or in a 2nd parking lot on the side of Highway #7 just past the Liscombe River bridge.
A few weeks ago I got to use my new Osprey Aether 70 backpack on a 3 day / 2 night hike on the Cape Chignecto Coastal Loop trail and it worked out great.
My old pack was an 85 liter Kelty that I’ve been using for at least 15 years and while it still worked fine, it was time for an upgrade. I originally looked at both the Osprey Aether 85 and the Artyrx Bora 85 but quickly ruled out the Arcteryx due to its high price. After a bit of online discussion in backpacking forums, I decided to go with a smaller size pack which was a big change for me. But I’m getting older and feel that having 85 liters to fill encourages one to do that. And because I’m a small guy, it’s nice to wear a pack that’s not the same size as me. Going with a smaller pack was a big adjustment but overall I think a good one. Obviously a smaller pack means less weight but it also forces one to think more about what gear to take and to really focus on what’s important.
I had a few days off work mid-week so I took the opportunity to hike the Cape Chignecto Coastal Loop Trail. Every once in awhile I like to hit the trail alone so I can go at my own pace and do my own thing. And more meditative in a sense, just me and nature.
My initial plan was to hit the trail early in the morning but fate intervened and I didn't leave the Cape Chignecto Park HQ at Red Rocks until 1:30PM. Red Rocks is named because of the distinctive red rocks on the beach in front of the park office building.
My other plan was to take notes of the times I arrived at certain places to give people a better idea of the walking distances on the trail. Please note that I rounded off all the times to the nearest 5 minute mark.
We left Halifax in the pouring rain early on Saturday morning. And it wasn’t just a little downpour, it was raining elephants and barnyard animals and all three of us were questioning our decision to go camping for the night. But I have a philosophy on bad weather that keeps me going and it’s to remind myself that I live in Nova Scotia and if I let the rain dictate my life then I’m not going to get much of anything done.
This past weekend I competed in the Halifax Search & Rescue’s Eco-Endurance Challenge (E2C) race for the 8th year in a row. The E2C is an wilderness race where teams must navigate using a topographical map and compass to find flags (controls) planted on the course. The control flags are marked on the topo map within small circles that cover roughly 200 meters and each are worth points depending on their difficulty. You can see the 2011 map here. The race is actually two separate races, an 8 hour and a 24 hour, each of which is broken down into public and competitive divisions. Generally you can do most of the day on logging roads and trails but there’s also a fair bit of bushwhacking if you want to take the most efficient route between control flags.
I've mentioned before that the Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail is my favorite hike on mainland Nova Scotia but a close second is definitely the Kenomee Canyon loop.
At around 20km, the Kenomee Canyon loop trail is definitely doable in 1 day but I’m in for the camping so I’ve always done it over 2 days with a night of camping in between. I love the feeling of remoteness you get at Kenomee by which I mean that you won't meet many (if any) people.
It also has a lot of variety in the type of terrain and forest that you trek through. There are also a couple of brook crossings thrown in as well, one of which usually needs to be done barefoot.
If someone asked me where on the Nova Scotian mainland I'd like to go on overnight hike to, I wouldn't hesitate before saying "Cape Chignecto Provincial Park". I admit that I do have a great love for the Kenomee Canyon trail system on the Economy River but the allure of the Bay of Fundy coastline would take me to the cape every time. Cape Chignecto Provincial Park is approximately a 3 hour drive from Halifax and is located west of Amherst on the piece of Nova Scotia that juts out into the Bay of Fundy dividing the Midas Basin from Chignecto Bay.