Saturday, August 10, 2019

Sunnybrae to New Glasgow

Today was a long one for us - almost 40 km in fact - but we ended it feeling good. It marked the successful completion of a longish stretch of trail (136 km) with no resupply points during which we were tested by little water, heat, swarms of deer flies, and difficulties with navigation, but we came through it positive and feeling strong, if a little beaten up physically.

Last night we were serenaded by a pack of wolves! We heard them howling and calling to each other, first in the distance, then much closer. Then they went quiet. Although this was slightly worrying, we both had one of the most restful nights we've had in a while.

When we left the tent to make breakfast we were greeted by a morning that was shrouded in mist and slowly turning golden in the morning light. We were sad to leave our cozy little campsite on the edge of the river, but the trail was calling, and it too looked magical in the soft morning light.


Things got even better a few hundred meters down the trail when a Great Horned Owl silently took off and flew down the trail ahead of us. He was quite some distance away, but we did manage to get a so so photo of him. This was super exciting for us, and really made our morning!

The trail section we hiked east of Sunnybrae was really beautiful. It was a grassy track bordered with lovely tall shade trees, and it followed beside a beautiful river.

A few kilometers down the trail we came upon a pair of Ruffed Grouse. The female was sitting on the trail sunning herself, and the male came strutting across the track with his ruff partially fluffed up. Although it was no doubt meant to be impressive, he looked kind of silly.

In a clearing we were delighted to come across a Ruby-throated Hummingbird sipping nectar from a patch of Northern Evening Primroses.

A little farther down the trail we came to a very active bird spot. There was a family of Blue Jays, a pair of Olive-sided Flycatchers, a pair of Black-throated Green Warblers, and a family of American Goldfinches.  Overhead a Northern Harrier soared in the sky.

Apart from the fantastic birding we got to enjoy this morning, the walk was beautiful. We were serenaded by the sounds of cicadas in the trees, and at times were walking through clouds of butterflies. We could have been in the middle of the wilderness on our sun dappled trail. It was wonderful.

About 7 km into our hike we emerged in the community of Sunnybrae. We took a break in the Community Kiosk, which was a picnic area with a shelter and some interpretive signs. They informed us that the community of Sunnybrae was settled by Scottish immigrants in the 1790's. Farming and lumbering communities sprang up in the area, as well as a grist mill, and a tool handle factory. Once the railway reached the community in 1803 a booming industry of iron ore mining began.



From Sunnybrae to Plymouth was a 25 km walk along a road. The hilly winding road took us through forested hills, rural areas with picturesque barns, and many small communities. We were intrigued to see that the road signs in this area were in both English and Gaelic.

We stopped to take a break at the East River Valley Recreation Center, which was a sports field with a picnic area, a walking track, and a very well equipped playground. As we sat at the picnic tables a very curious older lady from the house beside the park peered at us through her window, then sent her husband and dog into the yard to investigate, and then came out to trim the bushes at the edge of her property. We have seen similar exhibitions of curiosity before, and would encourage anyone who is curious about something to go investigate. You might discover something new, and if nothing else, you will satisfy your curiosity. In our experience we have always exchanged interesting stories with the people who come right up and ask us what we're doing, and we often leave those encounters having learned something interesting.

We finally reached Plymouth, very tired from the road walk, but happy to have made it. Walking Nova Scotia has been very different than walking Newfoundland so far, and in some ways more challenging, but it has been just as beautiful and interesting to be sure.

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