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Soooo....is Cape Chignecto or the Fundy Footpath more challenging??? Day 23!

Home for the night: Quiddy Brook

Distance: linear: 14 kms, GPS: 17 kms

Weather: clear and cold in the morning, warming all day to perfect hiking temperatures. Cool in the shade, hot in the sun!

B: granola with coconut milk and fresh apple chunks, coffee, coffffeeeeeee

L: salami and cheese sandwiches, dried mango, chocolate covered coffee beans, carrots, cucumbers, jerky, trail mix, granola bars, chocolate

D: homemade dehydrated delicious vegetable risotto, tea, homemade dehydrated stewed fruit cobbler on the fire (complete with locally crafted essence of carbon...)

 

soaking it all in

up, up, up and down, down, down

deep stillness survives

 

So, remember our buddy, The Baconator??? Would you believe me if I said we had the surprise of indirectly encountering folks even more into epic Fundy Footpath suffering than he??


We were awoken in the pitch dark by some guy yelling directly into the tent about how he and others had reached Rose Brook. "We just did 15 kms in 4 hours dudes, we'll finish today FER SHER!!!" As Eric and I confusedly came to the surface of consciousness, we realized they were still somewhere on the hill above us, but it being so still, it sounded like they were in the vestibule. It was 2:30 in the morning. They pandered about their progress, made jokes about tidal crossings, presumably got water out of the stream and eventually noticed there was a tent right next to them. "DUDE! There's a tent right there!!" Yeah dude, and it's a great place to sleep.....They eventually left and I immediately passed out, grateful that we still had hours of rest ahead of us.


Our alarm went off at 7, and we both confirmed for each other that the dude train had indeed passed through in the night....I kind of thought it was a warped, trailside dream. We hoped to make our second and final tidal crossing of the trip by noon and we would have to hustle to cover the 5 kms of hills between us and Goose Creek. I know, it's confusing....yesterday was Goose River and today was Goose Creek!


All but two of the scallop boats near our campsite had left in the night and as we hustled about in the chilly damp shade of the river valley we coveted the bright, inviting sun dancing off their hulls and the surrounding water. My hands were struggling to stay warm as they often do, given a circulation syndrome I have (Reynaud's if you're curious) and cold, condensation covered tent poles can be zero fun!!! I remembered that the seasons were shifting and this was truly the first time on my entire trip I had been properly cold. Not for lack of the right clothing, but for having zero fortitude to the chilliness yet! I like winter camping?! Actually?! It seemed impossible that I could ever enjoy the challenge of long days skiing/Nordic skating or camping in the cold months of the year. Eric and I jokingly questioned why we had volunteered ourselves for such discomfort, knowing that because of fleeting challenge we could experience (with privilege) the beauty of the landscape.


On the trail by 9:15 we took in the forest and what I was quickly learning was its subtle variations. Eric hikes at a faster pace than I, and we happily progressed, in our own way up and down the hills, eventually reconvening at the start of the Goose Creek crossing. It is lovely to travel in silence with another person, whether in close proximity or with kms in between. There is space for individual reflection, observation and thought. Upon meeting up, there is a chance to check in and compare experiences (or not!) and often it is a much more meditative experience...which I personally deeply appreciate.

Goose Creek, just before high tide and some speedy foot care for Eric!

It was 11:30 am....and high tide was right around noon. It seemed impossible that the riverbed in front of us was dry....but it was. From where we were, we couldn't see the ocean, it being close to a km downstream from where we stood. We could see a large sea wall and old metal artifacts from industries of the past. We would regain the trail at the beach which was somewhere hidden from view. Knowing how quickly the tides move in and out of the region we hastened out into the crossing, confident we could make it to the other side even if the ocean showed up before we reached the mouth of the creek. We could always pick our way down the shore to beach if need be.


Off we went and soon we saw the familiar turquoise, murky water of the incoming tide filling in the space behind the sea wall. The basin was easily 40 feet deep and the ocean poured in, steadily creeping up the low channels through the mud at our feet. In places the muck that was covered in periwinkles and countless other benthic critters threatened to come over our boots, making progress a sticky, squelchy and at times very stinky process. We closed in on the western side of the creek knowing we were plenty safe the whole time and as if a gift from the keepers of the tide I stepped onto solid ground just as the creeping salt water passed underneath me, carrying bits of seaweed and twigs with it. Wow!! Gratefully across, we had a huge lunch and poked around the beach a bit. Within 20 minutes of our reaching the beach, the creek we had walked down was completely hidden under 30 feet of water. The transformation of the river valley was inconceivable; a brown, mucky path now covered in blue water and waves....what a place! A rocky outcrop in the background was named Centurion Point for its resemblance to a Roman soldier. It was an uncanny similarity, or at least from all the centurions I've encountered in my humble, little life!

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous....the beach at Goose Creek

Despite wishing we could bask on the beach for the rest of the day we continued on, following the little trail through the forest, along impressive rock cliffs and alongside views of where we had come from....and where we had yet to go. Somewhat daunting, but mostly exciting we slowly eeked out the kms, every step hard won. Sounds like some creative license, right? Dramatic exaggeration for the sake of a good story, RIGHT?? nope. This trail was quickly proving to be a real butt-kicker, but a gorgeous one and we were up for the challenge!

All of our pride in doing this difficult, wilderness access only trail was distorted with the sound of racing motors in the distance. As we approached Martin's head, the noise became more constant and louder. Eventually we could spy quads, side by sides and dirt bikes in the distance racing too and fro on the pristine sand beach that connects the rocky outcrop of Martin's head to the mainland. Hmph. It was certainly jarring as we continued on, feeling our backpacks eating their way through our bodies to the ground. The little guidebook I had purchased years ago about the trail had warned that on weekends the area could get "noisy". It was a beautiful Saturday after all, and it looked like all of New Brunswick had turned up to drive around on the beach.


Carrying onwards, the beautiful forest felt even more precious and fragile against the audible backdrop of motors and the stench of exhaust, retained by the surrounding hills. The footpath crossed several ATV trails and I found myself warily crossing as if I were a wild animal fearful of a highway collision. So. Many. Vehicles. Seeing machines racing through the forest to and from the beach access was the most challenging thing we had encountered so far, dwarfing even the steepest of hills. There are many forms of recreation...and I remind myself of this, again and again. Part of what has always pulled me towards human-powered adventure is how gentle it is on the earth, especially when you leave from your own yard. I would like to think that my quietly and respectfully walking through the forest wouldn't offend anyone, especially the forest itself.


Struggling with my mind space a bit from our encounter with the motorized world, I was forced to focus on my feet as we navigated an impressive (aka painful!) slope down into Quiddy Brook. It was gorgeous and still, the noise and stench from the ATV trails left behind. A sandy, flat area complete with fire pit and large birch trees standing guard felt like a sanctuary. There was enough water to bathe in and most importantly, the sun was still shining in the valley...a key component to bathing motivation as the air temperature began to drop around us. This would mean an extra 3 kms for us tomorrow as stopping at Quiddy wasn't our original plan. But, we were in charge and what the hell!? We happily settled into the beautiful site and chatted with a few through hikers going in the opposite direction who all seemed dishearten by how far they needed to travel.


A fire, a delicious dinner ahead of us and stars galore made for a special evening. So special, I decided to whip up a dessert I had dehydrated just for such occasions. Back at home, Eric had helped me stew a bunch of local fruit while I bustled about with other trip preparations. My plan was to rehydrate it and drop pre-made muffin mix on top like a cobbler. I set the pot on the fire and excitedly anticipated a beautiful treat in the not too distant future. We dined on the delicious risotto, I tended the dessert in the pot and the fire crackled merrily.


I must have gotten lost in how tasty the risotto was because in what seemed like hardly any time the unfortunate smell of carbonized sugar met our noses. S@*#!!!! The top of the dessert looked great, but further investigation revealed a very charred crust on the bottom. Not easily daunted, we still ate it....but I was left to begrudgingly pretend the bottom tasted good. I put water in the pot to soak and hoped some encouragement from the fire it would make for easy clean up in the morning.


Saying goodnight to the stars and the beautiful trees surrounding us, we settled into our second night's sleep on the trail wondering if we would experience any other late night arrivals or through travellers.






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