Monday, October 7, 2019

Chignecto Campground to Point Wolfe Campground

Last night we stayed in an oTENTik in the Chignecto Campground at Fundy National Park, and we were very grateful for the opportunity, as the night brought high winds and torrential rains. This was our first stay in such an accomodation, and with its table, four chairs, ample bunk beds, and heater we found it amazingly cozy. It also provided a great opportunity to dry out our gear. If you haven't been camping before, or simply enjoy slightly more comfort than a tent offers, the Parks Canada oTENTiks are a pretty nice option!

Another great accommodation option we discovered while at Point Wolfe was the Oasis.  This bright blue, teardrop shaped structure encompassed a pullout double bed, a table and two chairs, and a slept hammock. The tiny space was incredibly cool.  We since learned it is part of a series of creative structures Parks Canada has deployed as alternatives to camping in National Parks across Canada.

The heavy rain continued throughout the morning, so we stayed in our lovely dry, warm, shelter as long as we could. By 11 AM things started to look up a little, so we set out on our short trek to Point Wolfe Campground. It was very wet, but thankfully quite a bit warmer than yesterday - around 17°C.

From the campground we headed south, first on the White Tail trail, and then on the Tippen North Trail. These two pathways are part of the multi-use network set up in the Chignecto Recreation Area, so there were a lot of twists, turns, ups, and downs to make them interesting for bicyclists. It was a beautiful walk, with the rain setting the coniferous forest aglow. The bright yellow foliage of the yellow birches and alders was set off by the emerald green moss below, and the bright red of the occasional sugar maple.

It was about a 10 km hike to Point Wolfe Campground, and when we descended out of the woods onto the road we found ourselves at the red-sided, covered, Point Wolfe Bridge. This bridge spans a wide, flat, gravel bottomed river, which according to the interpretive signs was once used by loggers for log driving, and is now being restocked with salmon. It seems that in the last few decades the salmon population in the bay has decreased from 450,000 to just 250 fish for largely unknown reasons.


From the bridge we climbed up into the Point Wolfe campground and checked in. The weather report has changed over the course of the day, and there is now fair weather predicted for tomorrow. With the help of the fantastic lady at the campground entrance we managed to shift our reservations for tomorrow to begin the Fundy Footpath a day early, and to sort out our registration to reflect this. We also had a good long chat about our hike, birds, what is important in life, family, and life in general.


In the afternoon we hiked the Shiphaven Trail along the coast of the Bay of Fundy, and the Point Wolfe Beach Trail down to the tidal estuary. It was very beautiful walking in the bay with the tide out, looking up at the towering hills and cliffs on each side of us. At the mouth of the inlet large waves were crashing into the shore, and there was a stiff wind blowing up the valley, giving the place a wild, rugged, feeling.


As we watched a Bald Eagle soared high above, getting buffeted by the wind. Suddenly a Peregrine Falcon came swooping over the ridge, straight at the eagle! The eagle rolled in mid-air, showing its bright yellow, outstretched talons to the falcon. For the next few minutes the two birds swooped and dove in a high speed aerial battle. It was very exciting!


We spent the evening sheltering from the wind and rain in the tent and the communal kitchen, making dinner and reading about the coming attractions on the Fundy Footpath. We have talked to a lot of people about the Fundy Footpath, and it is hard not to be nervous of what lies ahead. One thing we have learned from this hike is that fear of the unknown is usually far worse than the thing you have been led to fear. It is generally best to summon the courage to take that first step, and to go see for yourself. As the storm continues to rage outside, we plan to set off in the morning.

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