Monday, August 5, 2019

Collins Pond to Boylston Provincial Park

When we opened the tent this morning, we found a magical world outside. The tall grasses and wildflowers in the clearing near us, the tamarack and spruce trees above us, and the fine spider webs draped over the bushes were all covered in sparkling drops of water. As I lit the fire to make our coffee and oatmeal the wood smoke helped create visible golden sunbeams through the trees. There were thunderstorms with quite a lot of rain last night, and it helped both cool things off and bring us this magical morning. In fact, right after switching our winter sleeping bags for summer ones, which we had been dreaming of for weeks, we were actually a little chilly.


There was a very enthusiastic American Robin proclaiming the beauty of the morning, as well as a more sedate Wood Thrush. As I was quietly cooking, the morning air was suddenly pierced by the extremely loud whistle of a White-throated Sparrow. It only sang once, but I nearly jumped out of my skin.

The downside to our sparkling world was that we had to pack the tent up drenched, and the short bushwack out to the road left us quite soggy. The warm sun of the morning soon had us dry though.

The first part of our walk was a continuation of yesterday - a further hike down Marine Dr. Shortly after leaving our campsite, we climbed a large hill and came out on the top with a beautiful view of the ocean below. As we were standing enjoying the ocean breeze and the panoramic view, we heard the loud complaints of a Merlin. Looking around we spotted it perched high atop a spruce at the side of the road. We never did figure out what had gotten its knickers in a twist.

A few kilometers later on we came to Port Shoreham Provincial Park, which has a public beach. Although it was a beautiful area, it looked like quite a long road down to the beach, and it was already getting hot, so we decided to continue on.

The walk again consisted of rolling hills. We passed lots of houses, fields of mown hay with picturesque barns, a few wetlands and streams, and the periodic lookout over the ocean.

Occasionally our hike was interrupted by road construction. These areas were quite entertaining, because it gave us a chance to observe the different reactions people have to two hikers walking past. Typical reactions are a smile, a smile and a wave or a thumbs up, no smile but a friendly acknowledgement with two fingers raised from the steering wheel (from people in pickup trucks only), a disapproving glare, open mouthed gawping (can be dangerous if driver unconsciously steers where they are looking), or pretending we are invisible. Today we saw them all.

About half way through the walk, the Great Trail (still signed as the Trans Canada Trail here) turned and went down to follow the shores of the Atlantic. There was little shade in this stretch, but beautiful views of the Chedabucto Bay, lovely houses, and a beautiful white church with adjacent cemetery.

When we approached Boylston we took a small detour to visit the General Store. To our delight it was open on this civic holiday, and full of locally grown, home made, and organic products and produce, and it had a small cafe. We enjoyed a cold drink and bit of blueberry loaf before continuing on our way.

We rounded the bay and started heading down towards Guysborough. Shortly after that we came to the Boylston Provincial Park, where we planned to spend the night. Little did we know that the campground was at the top of a very tall and steep hill! We huffed and puffed up it, and were rewarded with a lovely view from the top - back along much of the trail!

We discovered that this park is one of the ones in Nova Scotia that required self-registration. You can register online, or using a yellow phone located at the old park gates. This system was a cost-saving measure put in by a previous provincial government. I'm not sure it was effective, but we eventually managed to sort out a site.

Our campsite is a very nice one, and we spent the afternoon drying our things out, hand washing and then air drying our clothes, and planning the next few days of hiking.  After our very long hike yesterday, today felt almost luxurious.

As the sun is setting, we are looking out over Chedabucto Bay and listening to the songs of an American Robin, a Red-eyed Vireo, a Purple Finch, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, an American Crow, several American Goldfinches, and a Cedar Waxwing. We are high atop a hill, enjoying the crackling of a campfire, under a sky full of stars.  All seems right with the world in this moment.

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