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How many surprises can a gal handle in one day?! Day 24!

Home for the night: Little Salmon River, eastern bank

Distance: Linear: 12 kms, GPS: 16 kms

Weather: clear as a bell, not a cloud to be seen anywhere! Absolutely gorgeous.

B: Eric's savoury and delicious oatmeal...coffee (two cups!!)

L: trail mix, granola bars, dried mango, chocolate covered coffee beans, cheese/tuna sandwiches

D: sautéed fresh vegetables, STEAK ON THE GRILL!!! potatoes cooked in butter on the fire...chocolate, tea and delicious tequila.

 

gravity's a B****

chocolate gives you power

beauty counters pain

 

Another chilly start to the day, deep in a river valley, but with no tidal crossings to be concerned about, we didn't bolt out of the tent like the day before. Despite the deep shade along Quiddy brook, the sky was a dazzling, bright blue above and we knew we'd be warm soon enough with our climb out of our campsite!


Unfortunately, my plan of easing the scrub out of my aforementioned disaster of a pot from the dessert fiasco the night before was a failure. I resigned myself to likely having every single thing I cook in it for the rest of my trip taste like charcoal. Oh well, it must be good for my intestines, right?! Eric cheerfully took packed the pot away, despite it weighing at least 3 extra pounds. Thanks Eric!! We eventually got on the trail and both felt more settled into our hiking rhythm today than day one. Or at least more used to the affects of gravity on the feet, joints and mind.


I've learned that when cycling there are two sides of every hill: the fast side, and the slow side. In the world of hiking, especially on The Fundy Footpath, there is the slow side, and the slower side. They don't necessarily correlate to the upwards or downhill sides either!! I am often faster going up because it doesn't hurt so much...and I'm not as worried about tumbling to wrack and ruin below. Jump on the mule train and plod along for an hour...and then keep going....and repeat. All day! It sounds like pure misery and it totally can be if your boots eat your feet or if finding the meditative state of trail flow is elusive. When in doubt, have a snack....and just keep going. The sights awaiting discovery are more than worth any amount of blood, sweat and tears shed on the journey.

Between epic hills and epic views I found myself marvelling at the forest. As mentioned before there was such little diversity in the plant communities. Occasionally, I would come across a small patch of goldthread or bluebead lily, or wee outcroppings of wood sorrel, but for the most part, the forest floor was covered in carpets of moss, ferns or nothing but spruce needles. Even the rains of our first day/night hadn't coaxed any weird mushrooms to the surface! Occasionally a grouse and I would respectively scare the crap out of each other....and I saw a good-sized maritime garter snake when I almost put my hiking pole right through them as they basked in the sun. Downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, a chickadee here and there and the occasional junco were all the wildlife I had encountered so far. There wasn't even a breath of air to rustle the tree branches! It seemed eerily calm out on the bay, with the blue water gently glugging against the cliffs below. Well, there was the ever present and ever neurotic red squirrel....their population seems very robust and plentiful all along the trail! I was starting to find humour in the surround sound effect of all the squirrels in a square kilometre sounding their displeasure at my arrival into their territory.


My thoughts turned to reasoning that the "locals" were few and far between because they were pissed off. I was no more than a traveller through their home and I was pissed too....all along the trail there had been a shocking amount of garbage. Like a grotesquely horrifying amount of garbage. Not just the occasional corner of a granola bar wrapper that escaped in the wind.... But half burnt junk in fire pits, full plastic bags stuffed under rocks and worst of all....toilet paper/baby wipes in all manners of indiscriminate scattering. Everywhere. Frigging everywhere. We picked up bread tags, wrappers, bits and pieces as much as we could...and even went as far as using our hiking poles to bury toilet paper and stuff wipes out of sight as best we could. It truly didn't make sense....this trail was rugged and not the terrain of people not knowing how to ethically and respectfully move through the woods. Or so, I thought. There was enough garbage of enough generations that it was obviously not just one group of uninitiated folks into leave no trace principles. There were noodles and oats in the creeks and even a busted GLASS JAR wrapped in paper awaiting some super hero of a volunteer to clean up. If this were my home, I'd be mad and go elsewhere too. Not that I actually think the wild inhabitants of the area were scarce from outrage about litter.....but it was still disheartening every time we encountered another mess. How does one help this?? What can I do to support others learning how to tread more lightly? There will always be people who make mistakes, and I have had to learn over many, many years how to travel with deep respect and reverence for the natural world...I will choose to believe in the power of education, experiential learning and continue to pick up the garbage of others.


To counterbalance my sadness over the trashy behaviour of my fellow humans, I had the joyous excitement of knowing I would be seeing one of my dearest friends and adventure buddies in the afternoon!! France, had made a plan to hike into the Fundy Footpath from an access trail, camp out at Little Salmon River, where we would join her! We would all continue on the trail together for the final day of hiking and Eric would drop her at her car on his way back to Nova Scotia, simple as that! I couldn't wait to give her an eye-popping hug and knowing she was somewhere on the coast was SUCH a cool feeling!!!! She and I have weathered some incredible storms both in the Canadian wild AND the emotional jungle so her making the effort to join for part of this adventure meant a lot to me. Yahoooooo!


Eric and I plodded along, plod, plod, plod....the going was tough and we climbed hill after hill, making good time all the while, our spirits remaining plucky. Eventually, we made our way down into Wolf Brook, which meant we were truly getting closer to Little Salmon River and the waiting France! Eric was ahead of me as usual, and as I began the final few switchbacks to the beach below, he called up to say there was no path forward to cross the brook, we must have missed the turn. Alrighty then, no big deal. He came back up the hill and we went searching for the route that would take us around the big tidal pool behind the beach. There was no trail. We sat down on the new outhouse under construction and consulted the guidebook. This wasn't a tidal crossing...it even specifically listed that there was a narrow trail along the very edge of the beach we could follow at high tide. Hmmmm......

Back down we went, and sure enough, there was a very scant trail that looked like it was more fit for goats than awkward humans with giant packs on. We picked our way along and it was doable, although certainly sketchy. The incoming tide was filling fast and the cliff we were clinging to was definitely getting shorter. In one section, Eric had scrabbled across a ledge to a boulder to a ledge and by the time I got there just a few seconds behind him the boulder was underwater!! I had no choice but to use it anyway and as I readjusted my poles to make the final move to the larger ledge the water visibly and very quickly climbed up my boot. CRAZY!! It felt like the ocean was saying "hee hee....run little hiker, run....I'll let you get by, but just barely!" We found our way off the goat trail and back onto a friendlier, wide riverbank. Hungry, we opted for lunch...me, shoving my intuition aside to complete the crossing in order to eat on the sunny side of the brook. It was only 10 feet wide, shallow and there was zero sign of any intertidal affect this far up the valley.


I made sandwiches, we chatted and celebrated how far we had come and that we couldn't wait to see France, so soon! Suddenly, Eric noticed that the brook was flowing upstream and the rocks that made up the dry-footed passage across the water were disappearing!! Damnit!! Why didn't I listen to my gut!?? Not thinking the water would rise that much, or that fast I nonchalantly continued to eat my sandwich, really not wanting to have to prematurely pack my bag just to hop across the brook. Eric, on the other hand, being the smart one, was unlacing his boots to ford the crossing. As if by magic, the water leapt two feet up the rocky bank and I was tossing my pack further up the hill and scrambling to gather all my bits and pieces. It wasn't dangerous, but it was surprising!! Once again, thinking I had enough time to remove my boots with dignity I found myself hopping around on one foot, trying to unvelcro my gaiter with water seeping in all around me. FRIG!! full apologies ocean spirits for not taking you seriously enough!!! I tied my boots together, hoisted my pack and gingerly picked my way through the icy water to the other side to resume our picnic....in the shade. Sheesh. Lesson learned!


We watched the whole bank we had been sitting on disappear under the water and we thought back to the cliff we had scrabbled along a half hour earlier...surely it would be impassable by now! Conversation turned to other incoming and sometimes overwhelming tides being waded through in life and our lunchtime picnic sprawled into an hour long, much needed heart to heart. Once again, I felt a deep mirroring by the natural world...reflecting a tangible and powerful visual for the emotional experience at hand. This is something I am grateful to regularly witness, whether for my own process, or for those with me. Tides come in, tides flow out and so does everything we live...and sometimes the tides catch you off guard with a sandwich halfway to your mouth.


Climbing up and out of Wolf Brook was intense. Climbing down the other side into Rapidy Brook was more intense. Climbing out of Rapidy Brook was yet another gut-buster, but featured a beautiful bridge and very clever rock work along the trail. The footpath skirted along a cliff for a long time, providing incredible views of the Little Salmon River valley to the north. We could see how high up we were, and the following realization of how far down we would have to go. Our original plan to gather up France and trot out another 4 kms to cradle brook before dark wouldn't be happening, no way, no how. We would stay in the river valley and hope France wouldn't mind!


Finally, we came upon the descent into Little Salmon River. It felt like another goat trail....the switchbacks went down and down and down and down with absolutely no sign of the valley floor below. Rocks slid away underfoot, cartwheeling off into the abyss, hopefully not hurting anyone or anything below. Down, down, down, down, down. FRIG!!! a half hour went by?? Eternity??? Every step was slippery or over exposed roots and I couldn't imagine what it would be like in the rain. Down, down, down, down, down....we had been feeling pretty darn good all day, but we were now both sore and each step earned a choice word from either Eric or I. I thought back to The Baconator and the mystery night time dude crew and wondered how any of them actually survived.


The trail leveled out (a bit) and I glimpsed the gravel of a river bed through the canopy of trees below us...Halefreakinglujah!!!!!!! Down a flight of stairs, and we had arrived....officially into Little Salmon River where the air was noticeably colder and the sun was quickly leaving the valley floor. Onwards!!! There was a France to hug and we needed to find her. Rounding a thicket of alders I let out a squeal as I spied her, tending a fire, pointing my finger at her with glee! Then I realized the woman I was hooting and hollering at had a dog....and France doesn't have a dog. Oops!! Embarrassed, I put my arm down and felt quite silly. The dog was galloping over to us...and she looked an awful lot like my dog, Osa who was back home with my former husband, Dave.


HOLY @#%*!!!!!!!!!! IT WAS OSA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!


Not only did I get to hug the crap out of France, but suddenly my absolute favourite adventure buddy in the whole wide world was here too!!!!!!!! What a surprise!!!!! France, for the win! Osa ran around doing her "I'm so excited to see you!" Bark/howl thing that she saves for special occasions and I seemed to have forgotten about the weight of my pack as I ran around after her. You know, the standard doggie/human greeting of joy. I was totally stunned.

Osa, adventurer extraordinaire, queen of the chill out, spreader of fur AND joy

France came over and suddenly, we were four in number, three humans and one canine in an absolutely beautiful place. Wow. Just wow! Hugs all around and then France said the magic words: Shall I start supper?? #%@%!!!!

Camp life is the BEST life! Osa supervises France, who is supervising the fire...while Eric and I prepare to jump in the river

Eric and I took the opportunity to have a quick dash into the frigid river pool to rinse away the day/shock our systems a la Scandinavian style and soon we were bumps on a log in front of a roaring fire eating the most delicious meal ever. We had known France was taking charge for dinner, but STEAK!? Wow. What a friend!!!

The night being clear, made for plummeting temperatures and the forecast was calling for frost. We layered, and layered again...but eventually our speed talking was no match for the call of a cozy sleeping bag and we all drifted off to bed, feeling mostly kind of, sort of confident that we were above the high tide line. I asked the tidal guardians to protect us and once again apologized for my oversight earlier...and felt we would be fine. In the very least our sleeping pads would float!!


Thanks to the stars, thanks to the earth, thanks to good friends both two and four-legged...and thanks to the amazing strength of our bodies and minds to just. keep. going.


Sleep well everyone, wherever you be!

Xo

Adrien

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Silas Hanavan
Silas Hanavan
Sep 24, 2020

Good dog Osa.

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