New Brunswick again

I should get up to date in this post!

Anyway on Saturday 31 October I went for a trip down Halifax way for a combined shopping / hiking trip. The hike I did was the Corwbar Lake Trail although I never actually reached crowbar lake. By the time I’d done a little bit of shopping I didn’t half time to do the whole loop so cut out the end bit of it – the bit that actually went to Crowbar Lake. To be fair I think I’d have struggled to have got that bit done even if I’d started earlier as I was hiking slowly – I didn’t seem to be feeling quite right. Still it was a nice day it was a really quite scenic hike with a couple of nice lakes and some nice views (photos). On the Sunday I don’t seem to have got up to anything more exciting than going for a run.

Thursday was an exciting day for me – I went bouldering for the first time in several months! And it mostly went well. It was a quick and easy session, and even then I may have over done it slightly, but it still went a lot better than I feared it might. So I was really quite happy. It’s obviously going to take me a while to get back to where I was but I finally feel like that goal is in sight.

That weekend I left early Saturday to head around to the area around Moncton in New Brunswick. I’d been there before but I wanted to see Hopewell Rocks which I’d somehow missed on my previous visits. I also wanted to do a hike I’d seen in the winter along a broadwalk and sandbar – it didn’t seem a very enjoyable hike with lots of snow around! I got to Hopewell Rocks around lunchtime and had a good look around. They were a little different and reasonably scenic but I’ve definitely seen more scenic rocks. I also took a photo of me with Daniel Flats in the background. Photos are here.

After Hopewell Rocks I went and found a waterfall in the woods. I have a waterfalls of New Brunswick book which is how I knew about it. It was very much hunter territory so I was glad I had some orange clothes with me. It was also not exactly a well worn trail to the falls but after a false start down one side of the river and some scrambling down a bank I did manage to get to them – mostly thanks to my GPS. They definitely were not the biggest falls I’ve ever seen but I did really quite like them for some reason I can’t entirely put my finger on. I also got some photos I really quite like. By the time I was back at the car it was getting close to sunset so I drove around a bit and found an overlook with quite a nice view and a short hike (photos).

Sunday I started off by doing the hike on the sandbar I’d seen before. This wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped as the sand dunes stopped you seeing back to the mainland and it was really rather windy so I turned around long before I got the the lighthouse at the end. A decision I definitely don’t regret as I was walking into the wind on the way back and it wasn’t much fun. Photos are here. As it was still quite early in the day I headed to Englishtown Nature Park just outside Moncton. The weather had improved a bit by then and the trees probably shielded me from the wind so I had a really nice time walking around the reservoir there. I was really quite impressed by it for somewhere so near a reasonable size city. There are more photos.

That Thursday I bouldered again and it went even better than the weekend before, which was promising! I definitely intend to go a few more time before I leave here. This Saturday just gone I went for a run and then headed down to Halifax to do some Christmas shopping. I know this will seem early for many people but moving back to the UK is likely to take up a large chunk of my December so it seemed to make sense to get it out of the way on a not very nice weekend. Sunday I went for a swim. That was about it. The last couple of days I’ve not been in work thanks to a cold which is the main reason I’ve updated the blog!

Well I haven’t done an update on some of my more regular activities for a while. I’m still swimming regularly but it’s moved inside now as even with a wetsuit it got too cold outdoors. I’ve pushed the normal distance I do up a bit and it’s generally going well. Likewise my running is also going well. I can’t consistently do 5k yet but I’m definitely getting more consistent – I head expecting to do 5k now and am disappointed when I don’t. I’ve also managed to lose quite a bit of weight over the last couple of months and am now back to the lightest I’ve been since I moved to Canada although I have a way to go before I get back to the sort of weight I was in the US. Hopefully moving and starting a new job won’t set me back and I can carry on losing weight. Talking of jobs, well I’ve now been told that a job offer is working it’s way through HR so hopefully I’ll be able to give a proper update in my next post.

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Grand Manan

It would appear I didn’t get up to much the weekend after my backpack. On the Saturday I went for an outdoor swim and a walk around Wolfville. On the Sunday I went for a run. Other than that I have no idea what I did so I doubt it was very exciting!

So onto the next weekend when I did do something exciting. I went to Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick. This was on my list of places I wanted to see in New Brunswick but was a long drive and then a ferry ride away. Given the time it would take to get there I would have ideally gone for a three day weekend but I wanted to squeeze it in before I left Canada so decided to go Friday evening and come back Sunday evening. The drive round took a little longer than I was expecting but I still managed to make the ferry in plenty of time. As by now pretty much all campsites were closed for the season I ended up staying at the Castalia Marsh Retreat. It was very cool and quirky and I’d totally recommend it if anyone ever visits Grand Manan. I stayed in the Birdhouse and the view across the marsh was pretty cool – even if there were no birds at that time of year. I did see a deer on the Sunday morning though.

Saturday, after a fairly slow start to the day, I went on a long 12.5 mile (20km) hike around the north of the island. The first few miles weren’t terribly exciting as they were walking across the middle of the island on often muddy and wet tracks. There was meant to be a view point along a short side trail about half way across but I never found the viewpoint. Not sure if that’s because the trees had grown enough that there was no longer a view or whether fallen trees had blocked the trail enough that I never reached the view point. Either is a possibility.

The trail hit the coast near Money Cove. There was meant to be a trail down to it but again I never found it. I went quite a way down one trail only for it to dead end and I decided that I best carry on rather than carry on exploring unmarked trails. I did however take a picture of me with the sign to Money Cove and not long after there was a nice view of it from the cliff top so I took a picture of me with the cove in the background. So hopefully no complaints from Sarah this time! There were some more nice views from along the trail as I continued along the cliff top before reaching a trail down to the beach. Down on the beach it was all a little bizarre with quite a few deserted and run down cabins. I could see no way there had ever been road access to the beach so I’m still not really sure what they were for.

The trail continued along near the cliff top, but often in the trees, until eventually reaching a few houses and a lighthouse. After this it was back into the trees – with the odd view of the ferry to the island – before reaching a waterfall. It was quite a small one and quite pretty although both time and the terrain meant that I didn’t have as long as an explore as I’d have liked – there seemed to be more small falls further down the stream. Towards the end of the coastal bit of the hike there was another, much higher waterfall, over the cliff edge but getting a decent photo was difficult. After that it was mostly just getting back to the car, although there was a duck pond on the way. Photos of the day are here.

Sunday the weather was not as nice and was meant to be getting worse later in the day so I decided to do some exploring rather than another long hike. I started by going to an overlook over Dark Harbour (photos). It was a short little hike and the views were quite nice although I think the views from the day before were nicer. Next I hiked the short Red Point Trail (photos). Apparently this was where two different rock types met but there was nothing that spectacular there. Next up was a hike to a ruined lighthouse on a small island accessible at lowtide. A nice man gave me a couple of other people a lift across in his truck as the water was not quite lower enough yet for walking across. The lighthouse was even more ruined than the photos I’d seen and was again nothing too exciting (photos).

At this point the weather was starting to look like it would crap out quite soon – it had already tried raining a few times – so I decided to get the earlier ferry. I did however have time to go and see the Swallowtail Lighthouse (photos). This was in a nice location and quite picturesque although the wind meant it wasn’t somewhere I was going to stay very long. Just as I was leaving the lighthouse it started to rain so there’s not much else to report – I did take some photos on the ferry. It was a very enjoyable weekend – I really enjoyed where I stayed, the hike on the Saturday was really enjoyable and I made the most of the Sunday – so I was very glad I had decided to go.

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Winery tour and backpacking

The Saturday after my trip to Cape Breton I went on a winery tour with one of my bouldering friends. Before starting the tour we met downtown for a drink. the first place we went was severely understaffed (in their defence they were advertising for staff) and so we moved on elsewhere only just giving me enough time to get lunch – going on a winery tour on an empty stomach did not seem like a good idea! We then did the Wolfville Magic Winery Bus tour which took you round several winerys. Some people were really quite excited by the bus but I can still remember the old Routemaster buses being a regular sight in London so this was nothing exciting to me. We visited three winery’s in the afternoon, sampled a lot of wine, each brought a fair bit of wine, and both ended up quire tipsy. All in all a very enjoyable day!

Next day, after a not exactly early start, I went and did the hike at the research station. Nothing that to report really although I did take a few photos. I did part of the hike slightly differently to normal and went through a really quite wet area but that’s it for even quite boring stuff. That evening something more exciting happened as it was the lunar eclipse. I took rather more photos. It was pretty cool. In the middle dark patch I walked down to Tim Hortons. I don’t think they knew what had hit them. It was as busy as a lunchtime on a nice summer weekend but it was the early hours of the morning!

The following weekend I didn’t get up to too much. Went for a decent swim on the Saturday and went for a hike on the Sunday. I left my house walked to Wolfville Ridge, somehow ended up on the other side of it, walked quite a distance on roads, before hiking by a canal a bit and returning with more road hiking. A very odd hike but I got to explore a couple of nearby hikes and it was quite enjoyable. That evening I decided to try to update the OS on my tablet. Big mistake. It was several days later before I had a mostly working tablet again – and still with the old OS!

The following weekend was Thanksgiving – as I probably mentioned last year Canadian Thanksgiving is not at the same time as the American version. I’d long planned to do the Cape Chignecto hike, a three day backpack, and if I was going to do it this would be my last easy chance as the park closed immediately after thanksgiving. As the weather forecast was also looking pretty good I went for it. Well I say the weather forecast was looking good. It was for the whole weekend apart from Friday evening and night. Finding the campsite I was staying at was not the easiest and the inside of the tent got more than a bit wet while I was pitching it. Why they insist on inner pitch first tents on this side of the pond is beyond me. Thankfully it was my car camping tent that got wet not my backpacking tent so I wouldn’t be sleeping in it the next couple of nights.

The Saturday was the day forecast to be the worst out of the three days when I was booking campsites so I had decided to do the long hike through the woods that day. This effectively linked the two ends of the coastal sections by cutting inland and seemed like it would be a less interesting day so the best option to do if it was raining. As it happened it didn’t rain which was nice. The plan was to do about 12.5 miles (20km) and things started well. I was soon over the up and down bits at the start (which I’d also have to do on the way back) and then heading on a mostly quite flat section for several miles. There was one campsite about four miles before my campsite and it got to the stage I thought I must have gone past it as my GPS was saying I’d covered more than enough distance to have reached and my general feeling was I should have reached it as well. However not more than a couple of hundred of meters later I reached it. Which was a bit disheartening knowing I still had quite a bit of distance to go, time was getting on and I had started to feel a little ill.

The time pressures meant I didn’t spend as much time as I’d have liked enjoying the views when I finally reached the coast a couple of miles before my campsite. Which was a shame as it turns out it was probably the most scenic bit of the hike. I did manage to make my campsite, pitch my tent and make dinner before it got too dark. I even managed to get down to the beach to catch the last of the sunset. Would have been nice to have caught it earlier but I think I did the right thing making sure I was fed and had somewhere to sleep! Not much to do when it’s dark and your backpacking by yourself so I packed my self off to sleep pretty early.

Sunday was going to be a only slightly shorter day than the previous day – about 12 miles / 19km. I started out still feeling not 100% but started to feel a bit better once I’d been going for a while. The first few miles were reasonably brutal for a hike with no great overall height gain as you went steeply down and then steeply back up several gullies. As is the way with a lot of coastal hikes on this side of the pond a lot of it was in woods but there were occasional views and some of them were pretty decent – a couple even included waterfalls! For once I was pretty pleased the hiking was mostly in the woods as it was a mostly overcast day with strong winds. When you were unprotected on the cliff tops it was pretty brutal.

Towards the end of the day I reached Cape Chignecto itself so I dropped my pack and hiked the short trail to the point of the cape itself, only to find an incredibly boring view. Pretty much all you could see was sea as the cliff in either direction was obscured by the trees. I returned to my bag and did a slow ascent for a couple of miles before a very quick descent into the river valley where my campsite was. Whereas my previous night’s campsite was just a spot in the woods this one was in a really quite scenic location being virtually by the river. Once again I ended up having a pretty early night.

Monday dawned a nicer day again and I was up and going at what I thought was a good time given that it was only 7.5 miles (about 12km) back to the car. But I was still the last person to leave. The day started with a pretty brutal slog up a track to get back up the side of the valley before continuing through the woods with occasional views for a few miles. Then it was drop down into another river valley, where I had lunch, followed by another probably even steeper uphill to get out. Thankfully it seemed a little shorter and from the top it was reasonably easy going back to the car. The last 2.5 miles (4km) was the same as the first bit I did on the Saturday and I stopped and took a selfie at the same point that someone had taken a picture of me on the way in. I was back to the car by mid afternoon which was nice as I still had a drive ahead of me. Pictures from the hike are here.

On the way home I saw signs for Cape d’Or. I’d seen a lot of signs for the place when exploring the general area and as it was only a little off my route and still quite early I went and had an explore. It was basically a lighthouse on an exposed cliff top and because it was exposed the views of the cliffs were pretty darn good – probably better than anything I’d seen on the actual hike. Photos are here. On the way home there was a rather pretty sunset photos of which are here.

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Cape Breton again

Wow, it appears I’m actually updating my blog in a reasonable timescale. Wonders will never cease!

There’s not a whole lot exciting to report about the week after my post until the Thursday evening when I drove to Cape Breton. I wanted to do one more trip to Cape Breton before I left Nova Scotia and the weather looked pretty decent for at least two of the next three days so I went for it. I actually ended up getting a bit further into Cape Breton than I thought I would as I left earlier and the drive went better than I was expecting. I ended up camping at the Cheticamp campsite in the national park. Definitely not one of my favourite places to camp as all the sites were very close together but it did for the night.

Next morning I drove into Cheticamp to pick up supplies before heading further north to Meat Cove. I’d been there before but it has a really cool campsite on the cliff top and was near the hikes I planned to do so I was hoping to camp there. I say ‘hoping’ as it was first come, first serve, hence turning up Friday lunchtime, but I need not have worried as there was only one other group there when I turned up – it never got that busy all weekend.

After I set up my tent I went and did the first hike I planned to do that weekend – hiking to Cape St Lawrence. The hike started with a rather steep up hill in misty conditions. I was actually quite pleased for the mist as it meant it was cooler and you wouldn’t have been able to see much anyway because of all the trees. After a mile of uphill slog the path started downhill again and eventually spat you out at the Cape. There had once been a lighthouse there and there were still plenty of remain. And horses. The sun had came out and it was a really nice location. So nice that I laid down and dozed off for about half an hour. To be woken up by a military helicopter flying quite low just out to sea. Probably a good thing as I needed to get going if I was to get going before it was dark.

Before I headed back in land I saw a couple of birds of prey sat on a head land but they flew off as I approached so I never properly identified them but it was cool to see such a big bird in a completely natural environment. Not long after the trail headed inland and another slog up hill, although not quite as bad as on the way in. On the way I went past the site of a deserted farm and saw several abandoned vehicles. They do seem to like living them in really random places in North America. Not a whole lot else of note about the way back although I did take some photos of a field that I also took photos of on the way in to show how much the mist had lifted. Photos from the hike are here.

When I got back to my campsite I took some photos of the view before having a barbeque. Wasn’t quite as successful as my last one but I did just about get enough heat to cook everything I wanted. I couldn’t have cooked anything else though! Suspect the wind on the cliff top didn’t help in my attempt.

Saturday saw me heading to Money Point. If anything the hike up hill on the way in was worse than the day before. Still with a name like that I couldn’t not do it! Today’s hike was a out and back and when I got to the end there was once again the remains of a lighthouse (expected) and horses (unexpected). It was a nice hike but I don’t think I liked it as much as the day before. And the hike back out was a sapping uphill in the heat – there were lots of stops! But I made it somehow. Photos of the hike are here.

Having finished the hike I went back to the out of the way beach I’d been to on both my previous visits to Cape Breton and once again wasn’t disappointed – definitely one of my favorite places in Cape Breton. No photos as I had hatched a crazy plan to go for a swim. Which I did. But not for very long! The water was rather cold. That evening I had some of the best fish and chips I’ve had in Nova Scotia at the little cafe place on the campsite.

The weather on Monday was, as expected, not so great but I somehow managed to get mostly lucky. My first stop was Robert’s Mountain which I’d been told was a slog to get to the top of but which didn’t seem as bad as the uphills on the previous couple of days. And once I was at the top I was done and could turn round. It was well worth the hike as the views (photos) from the top were really pretty nice although I didn’t stay very long as it was rather windy – but thankfully not rainy.

After a bit of driving I arrived at Egypt Falls. These were a little bit inland where there seemed to be more rain but I got lucky for the short hike down and it was dry. The views were very worth seeing and it was worth risking the weather. However because of the weather I didn’t take the DSLR so there aren’t my normal waterfall shots although there are still quite a few photos. It did rain on me on the way out but at least I’d already seen the falls.

I next drove along the south-west coast of Cape Breton – a bit I’d not really explored before. I took a few photos on the way. I then stopped in Inverness which I thought was really quite a nice little town with a harbour, beach, an abounded railway line and a rainbow! Someone even had a wood burner fake steam engine next to the old line which was pretty cool. Photos from Inverness are here. I next drove down the coast some more before deciding to hike a bit of the abandoned railway line just before it got dark. There are more photos.

And then I drove home, stopping at Mother Webbs for dinner. This is a diner that has signs for miles in seemingly all directions advertising it so I decided to see what it was like. I was impressed and it made for a very nice end to the weekend.

I was expecting to get a bit more up to date than this but this post is already pretty long so I’ll stop there.


A long hike, whales and running

The first Saturday after I got back to Canada I went for a hike at Blomidon. This was more by accident than design as I’d originally planned to go on a hike nearer Wolfville but ended up here when there were signs asking you to keep off the dykes. Due to not originally planning on going anywhere exciting I didn’t take a camera but it was all still rather enjoyable.

The next day I headed down to the Bluff Wilderness near Halifax. As the hiking guidebook suggests it is indeed a bit of a surprise to find somewhere so remote so close to the city. My plan was to hike all four loops. And I managed it… just! It turned out to be a really hot day and I ended up drinking about 4 of the 5 liters of water I’d taken with me. Still I was proud of myself for doing the 15 miles in 9 hours. It wouldn’t have been easy hiking in any temperature and in the heat of that day it was very much hard work. There was also a lot of nice scenery, especially towards the end. I had had a vague plan to go for a swim in the lake at the end of the hike but the fading light and slight chill as the day ended put an end to that plan. Photos from the day are here.

The next weekend the weather wasn’t so great and I didn’t get up to anything too exciting. On the Monday evening I went for a hike at the Wolfville Watershed Nature Preserve with the Scouts. It wasn’t a regular meeting but was instead meant as a goodbye to one of the other leaders who was going to college in PEI. Only two scouts turned up but I still enjoyed myself. I never knew the place existed and it is pretty cool – especially the old dam. I hadn’t taken a camera so no photos but I returned a couple of weeks later so there will be a link to photos below.

Much as I did with Puffins it occurred to me that I might need to get a Whale Tour in quite soon if I were to see them before they left. Turned out there wasn’t a huge rush but as the weather was looking good for that weekend I decided to do it then. On the Saturday I went for a hike in New Germany along an abandoned railway line before heading to a campsite which was about half way between home and the whale watching. Most of the hike was, frankly, a little boring although it got much more attractive for the last mile or so. Photos are here. That evening I had a barbeque for dinner – my first really successful one I’d done in Canada! The next morning while striking camp I found a cool creature on my tent and took a couple of photos.

After a bit of a lazy start to the day I headed down to the Whale watching. It was a bit foggy near the coast and at sea but it was still a magnificent experience helped by the fact that the fog was patchy. We were lucky enough to have some dolphins join us on the way to the Whales. This only apparently happens once a week and definitely added to the whole experience. The first whales we found were in the fog and it was rather choppy so we only briefly saw a tail before the captain decided to go and find some more. All the captains were in touch with each other so he knew where some were. The new whales weren’t in the fog and were a sight to see – they were probably longer than our boats and when they stuck their tails in the air it was amazing. I took lots and lots of photos. On the way home I stopped off for a short hike at Belleisle Marsh. There are a few photos but nothing exciting to report.

The following weekend was a long weekend and on the Saturday I went to a bouldering friends party and had an enjoyable evening despite not feeling great. The Sunday was nicer so I went back to the Wolfville Watershed. This time with a camera. I’d intended to hike a slightly different route to that I did with the scouts but missed a turn and pretty much ended up doing the same route only in reverse. The old broken damn was still cool and the bigger reservoir was also still pretty. Photos are here. I ended up working the Monday so I could take a long weekend on a quiet weekend.

This weekend I headed to Halifax on the Saturday to do some shopping and visit a museum as the weather wasn’t meant to be that great. I visited the Pier 21 Immigration Museum which was quite interesting if not very big. I’d always planned on going for a short hike for some exercise afterwards but thought it would be in the rain. Instead it was actually quite nice and I had a really enjoyable time enjoying exploring the old Shubenacadie Canal. Photos are here. Today I’ve not been up to much at all – apart from updating this blog.

The only things left to comment on are running, swimming and my elbow. I did one run before I left for Europe as a means of getting exercise while I couldn’t climb and it went better than expected. Since I’ve been back I’ve done quite a bit and my best so far in 5km in 37 minutes. Not the greatest but I’m still rather pleased given that I haven’t done any running in about 10 years! My elbow is still not right, although a lot better and heading in the right direction, so I suspect I will be doing some more over the next few weeks. I’ve also found a local place to go swimming outside which I’ve done a few times on nicer days. I do enjoy open water swimming and suspect I’ll also be doing some more of that.

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