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What do you do if it gets dark and you're STILL hiking?? Day 9, Cape Chignecto

* still no luck with images!! *

Home for the Night: Seal Cove

Distance: 18 km? All the signs/maps are different!

Weather: even more calm and warm than yesterday, sunny, no clouds, beautiful.

B: oatmeal with the works, coffee

L: homemade dehydrated pea soup with super tasty bagels with butter. Granola bars, trail mix, hardboiled eggs

D:homemade dehydrated spaghetti Bollanaise (YUM!!) tea, chocolate, whiskey


Arriving at night,

there are miracles to see...

Look!! Flying squirrels!


The sound of a pit privy door slamming. A stove turns on. Laughter up the trail. Birds chirping, the clang of a pot lid, an annoyed squirrel reprimands someone. The unmistakable rrrrrrrrrippppppp of a neighbouring tent's zipper...and the customary groans of the tent's inhabitant climbing out to greet the day.

As much as I love wilderness without other humans around, there's a certain kind of charm that comes with the atmosphere of a remote, shared campsite. Everyone has sore spots, everyone is hungry and everyone probably could sleep longer if they didn't have to keep hiking.

There's always the battle of "courtesy" when two people arrive at the outhouse with the same panicked look on their faces, toilet paper in hand. Is offering to go second really kind? Or is it a bid to not be the person concerned about the person anxiously waiting outside....thus rushing their morning meditation? A perk to deep woods people, no outhouse, no line!

As a group we were feeling pretty darn good. Two rounds of coffee, pleasant banter, some blister care and prevention and suddenly the morning was gone. We got on the trail at noon. Oops. It always seems to happen, at least once. Nothing to be done about our timing other than climb out of the cove we settled into day two of views, scenery and a day that couldn't have been more clear.

The last two years I have found myself on this trail for the May long weekend, a beautiful time of year to see the park. The rich, deciduous forest is unrivaled in its springtime display of spring ephemerals. Trout lilies, spring beauty, painted, nodding AND purple trillium, Dutchman's breeches, wild ginseng, rosy twisted stalk, etc....all growing end masse around the trees. It has made me cry. The hardy little bulbs of these plants are like native tulips and daffodils, sending up delicate and fleeting flowers before the tress leaf out. Knowing they were still beneath the soil, awaiting next year's show I admired the asters of several species and ferns. Spring is not their season, and as the first flowers feed the awakening bees, the late season bloomers provide a much needed final hit from the buffet before freeze up. Evidence of the dryness this season was written on brown leaf tips and curling, crispy blades of grass. There were even patches of wild sarsaparilla that had turned maroon, wearing their autumn colours. Plants always tell us stories if we pay attention.

We arrived at The Cape itself! We were rewarded with a phenomenal display of the wild movements of water off the point. Standing waves and giant eddy lines looked formidable at best, and it was quite humbling to see how powerful the water movement is. I read on a board somewhere near Truro that the amount of water that moves in and out of the Bay of Fundy with EVERY tide is the equivalent of the volume of all the water in every single river around the entire world. (?!?!) Even that attempt to make the fact tangible doesn't compute in my brain. What a wild place!

The view from The Cape! The entire surface of the water was dead calm all day, all those ripples are current! Ile Haute in the background

Onwards. And upwards! And downwards. And upwards! And downwards.....repeat. The trail was the driest I've ever seen it, but it still got mucky in lots of places. We stopped for lunch at a brook big enough to lay down in and I took the opportunity to splash around, getting my clothes back on just as the next batch of people showed up. Survival rule #1: if you get lost in the woods, take off all of your clothes...Murphy's law states that someone is bound to turn up as you stand there naked even if you haven't seen anyone in days. The embarrassment is worth the rescue, no?

Onwards! And upwards....and downwards...and upwards....and downwards....and it was starting to get dark. And no matter how much we hustled the trail just kept on going. And pulled out our headlamps. And we kept trudging along. And along and along and along.

Cool things happen at night. Things you don't get to see if you only hike during the day. Beautiful sunsets and moonrises for starters. We saw caterpillars and moths....the stars started to emerge and eagle eye Jane even spotted a salamander in the middle of the trail! Without your eyes, your other senses get a chance to guide sense of smell in particular always gets turned way up in the dark!

Eventually I recognized the final pitch down that would take us into Seal Cove. Down down down down down, trying not to slide on the loose gravel. We plodded out onto the beach and could see several merry (and illegal) campfires burning brightly along the shore. A group cheered for us, then another...and then another clapped and hollered congratulations. We were the last ones in and everyone has been in our boots! We laughed and laughed and politely declined some ones offer to help us set up in the dark. Up into the woods we went to set camp, stuff our faces and go. to. bed.

And then!! The coolest thing! While Jane was making dinner and I was futzing with something I saw a furry thing scurry by at the edge of the light of my headlamp. A rat?? A big mouse?? Two big googly eyes stared back at me and I realized it was a flying squirrel! They are nocturnal and not always seen commonly because we typically aren't active when they are. It seemed relatively unconcerned about our presence and rustled through the small for trees looking for whatever it is flying squirrels look for. I was able to watch from close enough distance to see its little "wing" flaps folded in along its sides! They don't fly, per se...but glide from tree to tree, hence the mdern sky diving "squirrel suits". They're about the size of a red squirrel, but a bit more plump. And the big eyes for nighttime activity are a giveaway! Throughout the course of the evening I watched several cruising about living their life.

By "course of the evening" I mean the very small amount of time from when we arrived to camp, stuffed food in out faces, brushed teeth, did chores and collapsed on our sleeping pads. No problems sleeping for this crowd! Tomorrow would come early as we needed to hustle to make the beach access at low tide.

I drifted off to sleep wondering what life as a flying squirrel would be like, while yet another owl hooted in the distance.

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