Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Primrose Campsite to Quiddy River Campsite

This morning dawned clear and cold, but we could tell that as soon as the sun's rays made it over the ridge the day would start to warm up. As we were packing up we saw four guys walk past at speed on the access road, and then head down the footpath in the direction of Rosebrook. They were loaded with gear but moving fast, and we would meet them again later on.

The first kilometer was very beautiful as the morning sun began to filter through the canopy. It was a pleasant walk through a coniferous forest, which led us to a series of switchbacks down to Rosebrook and Azore Beach. The guys who passed us were doing trail maintenance up the slope, and one of them stopped for a friendly chat. It seems they've cleared most of the trail post-Dorian, and completed two reroutes farther long, and it was a great chance to thank them for their efforts.


Azore Beach, also known as Rose Campsite,  was extremely beautiful. It is possible to camp on the sandy beach or farther up in the trees, and although we loved Primrose, we half regretted missing out on this beautiful spot. We spent some time exploring, enjoying the view, and taking photos, and then set off again.


Almost immediately we were in for a bit of a surprise. The "path" went straight up. We found ourselves climbing on all fours up a muddy earth bank, clinging to tree roots in order to keep from sliding backwards. The first kilometer involved an incredibly steep climb, followed by an almost equally hair-raising descent. A smarter person may just have climbed up the creek bed and saved themselves some grief.


The next few kilometers were relatively pleasant. There were a lot of smaller ups and downs as we passed through a stand of mature spruce trees and made a gradual descent to Jim Brook, where a copper mine was once located. This was a lovely, moss brook with a primitive campsite located on the edge. An added bonus was that we were able to cross without getting wet.


As we ascended out of the brook into a birch grove a pair of Ruffed Grouse erupted out of a Rowan bush on the edge of the trail. These days the forest is very quiet, with most of the migratory songbirds already gone. The chatter of loud and agitated sounding red squirrels is the most frequent sound on this trail so far.

In the next section of trail we passed through a maze of exposed, moss- covered escarpment-like rocks, ledges, and crevices that reminded us of the Niagara escarpment along Ontario's Bruce Trail. Apparently the crevices retain ice well into the spring and early summer.

When we finally made it down the long contoured descent into Goose Creek Valley we were in for a real treat! The river estuary, which was situated between two very steep ridges was stunningly gorgeous. The Yellow Birch leaves are just turning colour, making the hills appear a patchwork of dark green hemlock, black spruce, fir, and yellow birch. The marsh grasses on the river were a rich golden brown and they contrasted with the red and grey of the river bed.


Goose Creek wended its way through the estuary, out past a natural gravel barrier, now covered with grass. We reached Goose Creek about 3 hours before low tide, but were able to cross with the water only being ankle deep. It was extremely cold however, hurting our feet after only a few seconds of being submerged, so we were glad of the warming sun. As we crossed a Bald Eagle flew up the estuary, passing low over our heads.


We walked straight across the estuary and then followed the western edge out towards the ocean, where we came to a beautiful beach, and a lovely campsite. There was a fantastic view of Martin Head from the beach.


It was a steep climb out of Goose Creek on a series of switchbacks, but not as bad as the previous ascent from Rosebrook. It was a relatively pleasant walk through a predominantly hardwood forest once we reached the top. By this point the trail was fairly close to the cliff edge, offering beautiful views up and down the coast and out across the grey Atlantic to Nova Scotia.


The descent into Brandy Brook was very steep, and a bit hard on the legs. The brook was in a gorgeous spot, with lush, bright green moss and leaves making a sunlit glade. We were sorely tempted to stay at the nearby campsite there, but decided to press on and get a few more kilometers done before the end of the day.


The next section of trail was a bit alarming for someone with a fear of heights. The trail skirted the extreme edge of the cliffs, even as it continued to undulate up and down. In quite a few places the trail, which was only about 6 inches wide, was not only descending steeply, but also sloping out towards the ocean, which was straight down, about 150 m below. To make matters worse, the narrow path was covered in loose pine needles and pine cones, making the likelihood of a foot shooting out from under you unexpectedly a distinct possibility. It is true that there were beautiful views of the Bay of Fundy, but it was far too scary for me to look straight down on them.


The descent into Martin Head was incredibly steep as well. As we approached the beach we began to weave across ATV tracks, and at one point quite a few of them converged in a large open area. We had hoped to camp somewhere in the Martin Head area. There was a large pool of still black water that offered beautiful reflections of the fall vegetation. However, it didn't look like an appealing source of drinking water, even though it was the remains of a reservoir for the previous community of Martin Head, so we continued on.

By this point we were pretty tired. The last climb up to an elevation of 300 m and the steep, switchback descent to Quiddy River were a bit painful. At the top of the ascent there was a beautiful coniferous forest, but we were too tired to enjoy it much.


When we finally completed the descent to Quiddy River we had to cross the icy stream. Luckily it wasn't more than calf deep. We gratefully pitched the tent on the beautiful sandy beach, made dinner as the light faded in the evening sky, and called it a day. It feels like a week has passed since this morning!

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