Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Musquodoboit Harbour to East Chezzetcook

We got up around 6 am this morning, and walked in to town for an early breakfast at the Dobbit Bakery and Cafe. As we entered the warmth of the shop we were greeted by the delicious smells of baking. The coffee and blueberry muffins were superb, and not just because we were extremely hungry from not having eaten yesterday :)

Just after 8 am we headed over to the Musquodoboit Harbour Public Library, which is in a fancy new building that is shared by the rec center. The very friendly and helpful receptionist let us in to the room we were presenting in so we could set up.

Around 9 am a very dedicated and enthusiastic group of volunteers from the Musquodoboit Trailways Association came in to hear our talk. Afterwards we went for a walk along the trail, beginning at the Musquodoboit Railway Museum and Tourism Bureau across the street. This was a fantastic chance for us to see and learn about some of the work that is ongoing on the trail.


It was very interesting to learn about how the trail is built in Nova Scotia. Here it is done by communities, not the province, so it is the work of volunteers. When they were describing, without complaint, the process and the challenges involved in planning, financing, organizing, and getting the trail work approved, it seemed almost impossible. We are talking about decades of work in which the regional pathways and trailways have become their passion. Reaching out to this community has certainly given us a huge appreciation for the passion, dedication, perseverance, hard work, and enormous amount of time and effort that is necessary for us to enjoy hiking on the trail. We cannot thank them enough!

The sections of trail we've walked on in Nova Scotia have been absolutely gorgeous, and there is huge potential for a world class trail system across the province, if the communities can get the help and support they need to expand and connect the existing sections. The work the volunteers have done so far is truly amazing.


As we walked towards Gaetz Brook, we hiked through a brand new section of trail that is still under construction. We could see the large machines digging, grading, levelling, and getting ready to lay the new gravel. We stopped to chat with work crews, who kindly let us pass through during breaks in the construction. They raised an issue we had heard about previously in several places, by asking us what our experience had been like with ATVs on the multi-use trail. This topic deserves a separate blog entry, because it is clearly a huge and highly controversial one in many places along the trail, including this one.

When we reached Gaetz Brook Susan treated us to a delicious lunch which included lots of veggies, and some interesting conversation. A lot of the challenges faced by trail associations surrounding the establishment of multi-use trails seem to be similar to those faced by groups trying to set up protected areas for birds and other wildlife. Sometimes compromises are possible, but with competing interests, differing values, and the potential for irresponsible behaviour by individuals associated with the groups involved, there are no easy solutions.

After lunch we continued down the trail for a little bit, and we were soon surprised to find yellow and blue arrows, signs for a Camino and directions for the Camino Stella Maris!  As pilgrims who have trekked the Way to Santiago through France, Spain and Portugal we are always surprised by the number of symbols of the Camino which we see in our daily lives.  However we have never expected to find ourselves on a Canadian pilgrim route here in Nova Scotia!  According to local residents the Stella Maris Pilgrimage is the result of the efforts of Rob Elford who is also a pilgrim who has travelled to Santiago.  The pilgrimage he arranged here in Nova Scotia to get people outdoors, reflect upon their own character, and consider many of the spiritual and personal questions which our modern world gives us little time to think on.  Ultimately Elford's efforts led to a highly successful 5 day, 105 km pilgrimage from Middle Musquodoboit to the city of Halifax and St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica.  Today we were fortunate enough to be able to travel along part of his chosen route! 

Soon again met up with Susan who volunteered to take us down to a wonderful family who hosted us for the night. We walked with Mary and her grandchildren down to the beach, where we saw a huge flock of Double-crested Cormorants, a couple Herring Gulls, and a group of mixed shorebirds which included a good proportion of Black-bellied Plovers.


It was an evening of losing at playing cards, helping with puzzles, good food, and great company. It was wonderful to be in a home again! We fell asleep vowing not to take any of the kilometers of this trail for granted again - each and every one is the result of blood, sweat, tears, and shear determination.


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