The Bay of Fundy

I set off from the campsite early, hoping to see all the sights of the Bay of Fundy today, starting with a return to Hopewell Rocks to see them at low tide. With a little more time at my disposal (I was in a rush to get to a campsite last night) I explore the park more fully, starting with Daniels Flats (mud flats which seem to go on for miles) and heading down to Demoiselles Beach at the edge of the mud. The walk through the forest offers good views across the forested interior. After I head back to the flowerpot rocks and this time manage to walk on the ocean floor as the tide is out. The tide here varies by as much as 15m between low tide and high tide – the biggest difference in the world!

Heading further round the coast I take a detour round Mary’s point, looking for the bird sanctuary, but somehow miss it and end up on a dirt road leading back to the main road. Further on I take the turnoff to Cape Enrage lighthouse and successfully find it. Here the water just off shore looks enraged as the incoming tide creates rapids as it passes over the rocks. The lighthouse and surrounding area have been developed into an ecotourism location where people can try rock climbing, abseiling or zip-lining. For those just here to see the coast the various paths, stairs and platforms make it easy to explore and offer good views of the fundy coastline. The beach even has a few fossils on it.

Back on the Fundy Trail I pass back into the National Park where I stayed the night last night. I take the opportunity to do a few of the shorter walks and enjoy some of the viewpoints offered. Dickson Falls walk has a spectacular view from the car park, and is a short loop walk to a waterfall. The cool valley is a relief from the hot weather. Shiphaven is another short walk, this time a high up walk with great coastal views. In the area is a covered bridge, something I’ve only really seen in Canada. Further through the park I stop at an amazing viewpoint by the road, before doing Caribou Plain, another short walk, this time through the woods past a couple of lakes.

The fundy trail takes me inland from this point as far as Sussex, where I am able to refuel before heading out to the coast again on the other side of Fundy National Park, to the small town of St Martins. With evening approaching I stop at the campsite to book my place for the night, before heading for an evening drive along the Fundy Trail Parkway.

Words cannot describe just how stunning the coastline along here is. The Fundy Trail Parkway is a road with spectacular views, a bike path and walking trail all formed along this amazing stretch of coast. The evening light gives it that extra special touch. With only a couple of hours I only have time to stop at the viewpoints and do a couple of short walks, one to a flowerpot rock, the other to a waterfall. But I could easily spend the entire day walking this area.  I make it back to the gate just before they close for the night and exhausted head to my campsite.

Car Hire

Fiat 500

After many frustrations of not being able to get here or there without a car, I finally rise to the challenge and hire a car for 3 days. Although not as expensive as I first thought, the price doubles with insurance – as a relatively new driver I almost expect to reverse into a post or forget what side of the road I’m driving on. Not to mention the fact that I’ve never driven an automatic before. I ask for a small car as I plan on traveling alone (at least for the first day) and want the car to be as fuel efficient as possible. When I pick up the car it seems they’ve taken my request to the extreme and I’ll be driving a Fiat 500. This car is so small in comparison to most North American cars, it’s not long before I find people taking photos of it, commenting on the “cute” car I have and looking at it in amazement as if a car couldn’t possibly be made so small. It isn’t really that small and would be comfortable for 2 people!

Now I can use the drive through everythings. Not that I do. Seems way too lazy.

My first challenge of the day is making it along a one way street to the supermarket. At least if I am on the wrong side of the road here it won’t make a difference! I make it, though maybe annoy a few drivers with my slow speed and jerking stops. At the supermarket I meet up with another girl from the youth hostel who happens to be driving a couple of hours in the same direction as me (and has satellite navigation). She has agreed to lead me out of Halifax and as far as Truro where our ways will part. Hopefully long enough for me to get the courage to go solo. The drive goes without incident and soon after parting ways I find myself confidently navigating my one way through Moncton before hitting the Fundy Coastal drive¬† in New Brunswick. On a fast single lane road, I’m happy to start out in a queue of traffic going at a slower pace before finding my confidence and going it alone. I do love how all the sharp bends come with a recommended speed to go round them, as otherwise I may not have slowed down enough for some.

Flowerpot Rocks

In the evening I visit Hopewell Rocks (apparently New Brunswick’s most visited attraction). The erosion in this coastal area has lead to the formation of flowerpot rocks, that is sandstone rocks in the shape of flowerpots, usually with a tree growing on the top. Visiting at high tide means I don’t get the full picture, but I plan on returning tomorrow morning to see them at low tide, and see how far the tide goes out (the Bay of Fundy is famous for having the highest tides in the world).

View from the campsite. Within an hour the water has receded from sight.

A short drive further along the coast and I find myself a campsite in Fundy National Park and settle down for the night.

Halifax

Halifax City is built around a natural harbour.

Another long bus ride and I find myself in halifax, the capital of nova scotia. Here it feels like summer with long queues for ice cream and buskers on the street. With a full day in Halifax I waste no time visiting the main sights starting with the Pier 21 museum which talks about the many people who immigrated to Canada by boat over the years. Its all very moving.

I follow this up with a look round the farmers market (and some delicious lunch) before heading to the maritime museum with its excellent displays on the Titanic (It was Halifax which sent out boats to retrieve the dead) and the Halifax explosion.

The entranceway to the Citadel

The Halifax explosion happened during world war one, when a ship loaded with explosives was involved in a collision, before creating the largest explosion ever seen in human history. For the second time in a few years they had to deal with the job of identifying the dead.

In the evening I take a walk round Halifax citadel which offers good views of the city.

Cape Breton Island

View from salt mountain

I spend a second day on cape breton island, hoping that someone with a car is headed to the national park to do some walking. Unfortunately despite one offer the trip is delayed a day, then the car space offered to someone else.

I spend the day at the local provincial park where I climb Salt Mountain, then feeling brave take a dip in the lake in front of the hostel.

 

 

 

The Cabot Trail

After another day of traveling I make it to Cape Breton Island on Nova Scotia, where I check into the scenically located Bear on the Lake Guesthouse. After meeting fellow hostellers, I discover that someone is driving round the Cabot Trail and has space for me. This scenic drive is one of the best in the world and consists of a 300km loop which starts not far from the hostel. I am a little dubious about doing the whole ride in one day, but with no other options agree to join them.

We set off rather lazily, with fellow travelers feeling a little hungover from a late night of drinking. The first part of the drive is fairly average for Canada (lots of trees), but as we approach Cape Breton National Park, the scenery starts to get more spectacular. At first we stop at every viewpoint, but as the journey progresses and we find ourselves not making very good time, we start being a bit more selective. We do a couple of very short walks, namely the bog trail and the green cove trail which only take about 10 minutes each. We also take a couple of detours, one out to white point, and the other to a waterfall which is 7km along a dirt track. The views are truly spectacular.

Unfortunately with doing the cabot trail in one day only, we don’t have time to stop and do any of the longer walks. I am especially gutted to miss the Skyline Trail. We do however spot a moose from the road.

On the final stretch of the Cabot trail, having left the park, I find I’m not the only one resting my head and dozing off for a bit.

Prince Edward Island

The houses all seem to be colourful in Charlottetown

I seem to have got lucky in Prince Edward Island, timing my arrival with a cruise ship, meaning that I am able to go on a tour of the island, which don’t usually happen during the quieter season. Before the bus tour however I make a stop at the Founder’s museum for an interesting account of the history of the island. The museum covers the formation of Canada, which started off as only the states of Ontario and Quebec. The maritime provinces held a meeting in Charlottetown to discuss coming together as a federation. Representatives from neighbouring Canada turned up to suggest that they all join together and so the conferderation of Canada was formed. Interestingly enough Prince Edward Island didn’t join at the time but waited almost 10 years before bad debt from building the railways forced it to join. Canada gradually evolved, later adding the Northwest territories and British Colombia, and gradually separating out into more provinces and territories. The last to be made was Nunavit which is a fairly recent occurance. It is the traditional territory of first nations, and making it a separate territory allows them to make their own provincial laws.

The North shore with it's red sand beaches and sandstone cliffs.

Coming out of the museum, I find I’m just in time for the island bus tour, which visits the fishing village of North Rustico (where the boats are coming back with lobster), takes a drive along the national park coastline with a stop for the view, and visits the Anne of Green Gables house.

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables is the story of a fictional girl written by a local who loves the island. Many people visit this province purely because they fell in love with the place in the books. The house in which the books are set has been preserved and turned into a tourist attraction (the people that were living in it were getting fed up with the fans interfering with farm life). The final stop of the tour is in New Glasgow, and seems to be purely a deal with a local to sell island produce to us. The bus stops here about the same amount of time as for the Anne of Green Gables House, which is infuriating to me as I would have prefered the extra time to further explore the various exhibits and walks.

Seafood platter

Back in town, me and a German girl head to the Water Prince Corner Shop, the best place in town to try some lobster and seafood which the town is famous for. It seems to be the place the locals go to as well as its only 4pm and the place is busy. We both order the seafood platter which comes with half a lobster, mussels, scampi and a side of potatos.

After lunch/dinner I find the need to go for a walk along the waterfront before returning to the hostel.

Heading South

Gaspe

Having reached the town of Gaspe I find myself a very long way from where I want to go next. I therefore opt to take the bus along Southern gaspesie in an effort to travel a longer distance in a day. The coastline here is still picturesque but not as dramatic as the north shore. One highlight is the small town of perce famous for its rock pinacle and cave, which can be seen from the bus. After a long afternoon on the bus I make it to a rather unusual cheap place to stay.

 

Perce Rock

The auberge du Chateau Bahia, is a castle built out of wood which offers dorm accommodation at backpacker prices. Built by the owner for a bit of fun its a great place to spend the night, though I’m the only person here tonight!

The next day I start the seemingly impossible task of heading South. With only 1 bus a day at 7am from a town which is half an hours drive away I have no option other than to hitchhike and hope for the best.

Chateau Bahia

I am incredibly lucky and with my first ride mange to get all the way to the transcanada highway before being picked up by a truck heading to Fredericton via Hartland famous for having the longest covered bridge in the world- one of the ugliest tourist attractions I’ve seen. The guy tells me about some of the areas other tourist attractions which centre around the potatos grown in the region.

On reaching Fredericton he offers me a place to stay and a meal for the night, followed by an early morning trip to the bus station.

One more long bus trip and I make it to Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island

 

 

 

 

 

Forillon National Park

I manage to hook up with a couple of german girls heading East to Gaspe today, a couple of hours drive along a dramatic coastline. Unfortunately the weather is dire with visability so limited that all we can see is the occasional cliff face to our right, often with cascading waterfalls or mini glaciers of ice. Viewpoints signposted on the road give views of grey fog. We end up staying in a hostel in the midst of Forillon National Park, with an enthusiastic owner who tells us the best places and times to see beaver and black bears. He even helps me out by giving me a lift into a scenic area where I spend the late afternoon and evening walking a 4 hour trail out to Cap Gaspe. Although the weather is still bad, I enjoy the walk and see several porcipines. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved by the lack of black bears. At the end of the trail is a lighthouse where the cliffs plunge into the sea. It feels like a fitting end to the gaspesie peninsula.

 

Gaspesie National Park

After a rather uncomfortable night camped on the beach, I opt to stay a second night in the same place, this time in a dorm room at the Sea Shack hostel. This gives me a day to explore the nearby Gaspesie National Park which is suprisingly easy to hitchhike to. The first car that sees me stops and takes me into town, where I buy food for the day. Afterwards it takes 3 cars before a park ranger picks me up. On arrival at the main site, I discover that the park has only opened for the summer season in the past week and that most of the major trails are still closed. Some shorter trails by the river and to some waterfalls are open year round, and lucky for me one of the mountain trails is open.

This is actually a part of the International Appalachian Trail, which follows the river from Saint-Anne falls, up past Diable Falls and onto Lake Diable. A side route leads up to Mont Olivine with spectacular 360 degree views. Unfortunately the snow hasn’t completely left the area, and the higher I climb the more difficult it gets. The snow has obviously been packed down onto the trail through the use of snowshoes, but with the melt only a narrow ridge of packed snow remains. If you step either side of the packed snow you find yourself sinking knee deep into snow. At one point I slip through up to my waist! Although perfectly doable, it’s slow going and I end up with snow in my boots so much that by the time I reach the summit my feet are soaked.

Heading down is easier as I can see where I previously fell through the snow, but it still takes time. On returning to the lower river I take an alternative route past a lookout point before heading back to the visitor centre and hitchhiking back. Suprisingly it’s when I leave the trail to follow a road that I finally see my first moose. Just happily grazing by the side of the road and completely unworried by my presence.

 

 

Parc du Bic

I leave Riviere du Loup with everything on my back and start walking towards the highway with the intention of hitchhiking to Parc du Bic. Someone offers me a ride before I even get to the highway, telling me they can take me a few miles East to a good spot for hitchhiking. Turns out this spot is terrible, and probably illegal as it’s right by the side of the main highway! There is no chance of anyone being able to stop here. Luckily it’s by the off ramp and I am able to walk to the start of the on ramp, though being such a quiet junction I end up standing here for about an hour before someone picks me up. This time I get all the way to Park du Bic.

This area looks amazing from the highway, with sea, steep forested hills and islands. They offer camping and I decide to spend not only the day but the night as well here in my new tent which I bought in Quebec city. Having set up my campsite I am free to wonder around the park for today and most of tomorrow, enjoying the sea views. Unforturately the weather is not great, with lots of clouds and the odd rain shower, but I can see this place would be even more amazing and beautiful in the sun. The parks highlight is a viewpoint from the top of a hill, but given the conditions I don’t even attempt to climb this hill and instead take the paths close to the shore. After a very long walk I settle into my new tent for the night, and am at first a little freaked out by the various noises which are all a bit strange for me. Satisfied that none of them belong to a bear or a wolf, I fall asleep and actually sleep very well, despite canadians telling me its too cold for camping at the moment. It feels a little like a scottish summer.

The next day I do some further walks near an area called Cape Enrage, before packing up and continuing with my hitchhiking. I am a lot more lucky today and get picked up within 2 minutes with a guy who takes me all the way to my planned destination for the night. En route we pass through fishing villages, and by a strange looking wind-turbine which was once a prototype for future wind turbines. With my French and his English we are able to understand each other much better than I could have hoped for and he tells me about his favourite pasttime in the area – salmon fishing.

My accommodation for the night is the Sea Shack, a hostelling internationl place which also allows people to camp on the beach. I set up my tent and spend the afternoon looking out to the St Lawrence estuary hoping to see some of the whales which pass through here on a regular basis.

 

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