Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Point Wolfe Campground to Primrose Campsite

When the alarm clock went off at 6:30 AM it was still pitch black outside and raining hard. As we lay there in the dark, listening to the rain patter on the roof of the tent, a Barred Owl hooted several times quite close by, before falling silent. We decided to wait a bit and see if the rain would stop, as predicted. Sure enough, by the time we left camp around 9:15 AM we headed out into a warm, overcast morning. Watching the clouds roll down over the ridges and slide across the valleys was a magical start to the day.

From Point Wolfe Campground we set out along the Goose River Trail, which is an 11 km trail that goes to Goose River, at the western edge of Fundy National Park. We began by heading out to the ocean, where we followed a lovely boardwalk to a lookout high above a tidal estuary.

The boardwalk had writing on it, asking us to imagine a world without the common species, such as American Robins, raccoon, and squirrels. Following that sobering exercise, we then found a forest of signposts letting us know how each of us can help keep common species common.

As we enjoyed the view over the bay, we listened to the toy horn calls of a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches, and watched as a Peregrine Falcon circled overhead. As we've been talking to people across New Brunswick we've been hearing the same question over and over again - where have all the birds gone? We used to have so many birds at our backyard feeders, and now it takes days for our feeders to be emptied. It feels like it is past time for us to begin taking action to help our birds. We don't want a silent spring, or a world without our common species.


From the boardwalk the trail wound its way along the coast, twisting and turning, rising and falling, and providing breathtaking scenery. As we climbed up onto the ridges we entered the low flying clouds, and the tall, dark, wet, moss covered conifers were suddenly shrouded in mist.


As we descended again into the ravines and gullies, we crossed several babbling brooks. They were all running high from the last couple days of rain, so they felt very active as they bounced between their moss covered banks. We were very appreciative of the bridges and cobblestone crossings Parks Canada put in, knowing we will have to wade across several sizable rivers in the days to come.


Although the Goose River Trail was a relatively easy walk, and a crushed gravel trail maintained to Parks Canada standards, it was clear that it was designed for bicyclists. There were many bumps in the trail, and many twists and turns that weren't necessarily friendly for hikers carrying large packs. Although certainly not difficult to navigate, after a while our legs began to grow a bit weary.


When we reached the end of the Goose River Trail we found a sign saying it was 1.7 km more to the Fundy Footpath. This extra section of trail was a connector that backtracked north along Goose River to a lovely bridge that can be crossed when the tide is high. It then headed back south towards to coast.


When we reached the end of the connector, we came to a sign saying "Goodbye, you are exiting Fundy National Park." Somehow this made us feel like we were leaving civilization, and no one expected us to return. It may as well have said, "Here there be dragons."

We crossed Goose River, which was only about ankle deep, but ice cold and fast moving. By this point the sun came out, and we were grateful for the warmth on our stinging feet.


On the far side of the river was a spacious campsite with a large stack of firewood. There was also the zero kilometer marker for the Fundy Footpath!  When all was said and done, according to the trail signs, we walked 12.7 km from Point Wolfe Campground to the 0 kilometer marker of the Fundy Footpath.


Full of excitement and more than a little trepidation we set out, only to discover almost immediately that this trail is a trial by fire. The path went straight up! We found ourselves on an extremely steep ascent up a mossy ridge. The ground was about an arms length in front of my face as I struggled along. The narrow path was clearly marked with large white blazes, but at one point we momentarily lost the way, because the markings were so far above our heads that we missed them. This experience had us a little more concerned than we already were about what exactly we'd gotten ourselves into!


When we finally reached the top of the ridge, we were relieved to discover that the trail leveled off considerably. From that point on we enjoyed a magical feeling walk through primarily coniferous forest. Warm rays of sunlight were filtering down through the canopy, creating beautiful patterns on the deep drifts of moss below. The feathery ferns, now a deep gold in the autumn, and the bright yellow foliage of the Yellow Birches were positively glowing!


Highlights of the first few kilometers included several mossy creeks we paused to enjoy.

We also stopped to watch a Red Squirrel collecting a huge bundle of grass from the side of the trail. The wad was larger than the squirrel's head, and it was carefully arranging it into an organized bundle. I assume the hay will be used to line the dry or cavity where the squirrel will overwinter, but I have never seen a squirrel making hay stacks before.


At several points the trail brought us out to the ocean, where we admired panoramic views of the Atlantic from high atop the cliffs. At one of these lookouts we got our first of glimpse of Martin's Head. This geological feature is a spit of land that sticks out into the ocean with a tree covered hill at the end. At high tide it is an island, and at low tide it is possible to walk out to the island on a sand bar.

At 3:30 PM we arrived at the Primrose Campsite. Situated in a mossy glade beside a babbling brook, we found this to be a particularly magical spot. It felt like the trees were watching over us, and it wouldn't have been at all surprising to look up and see a Hobbit or a Centaur standing among the trees, or find John Muir sitting on a stump.


It was still early, but we decided to stay at Primrose for the night. Low tide isn't until late afternoon tomorrow, so there is no rush to reach Goose Creek early, which is best forded at low tide. We spent the afternoon exploring, photographing, and making a campfire. This took a concerted effort, as the wood was all soaking wet.

In the evening we enjoyed an Alpine Air meal of three-cheese lasagna with chocolate cheesecake for dessert. It was quite a luxurious treat, courtesy of my parents.

As we fall asleep listening to the rushing of the creek we can hear a Great Horned Owl hooting in the distance. It has been a magnificent beginning to the Fundy Footpath.

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