Cape Chignecto Provincial Park Hike – Instalment 2

After 15 km of ascends and descents through springtime woodlands on Friday and a chilly night below the full moon, we woke up early to frost-kissed leaves. Brian estimated that it got to -3 to -5C. I believe it… the way the cold kept creeping up from my lower back to my shoulders was annoying. I had about two hours of continued sleep. But the anticipation soon took over again. Tent and cooking supplies packed away after a cup of coffee and breakfast we lifted our heavy packs back onto our shoulders and turned toward Seal Cove.

This stretch of coast-line is breath-taking! I explored it last year May and the imagery has haunted me ever since. I knew I had to come back! The weather on Saturday did not disappoint. Sunshine, dry weather and a light breeze to keep us from overheating – it was perfect for a coastal hike.

The terrain along here is not for the faint of heart. Steep ascends and descents rewarded us with views fit for royalty. (Rumour had it that the Royal Family had another engagement…). We stopped for while at Seal Cove to listen to the waves, soak up sunshine, take our boots off and fill our water reservoirs while chowing down on lunch.

The next stretch offered even more unique and breath-taking vistas. It made up for the strenuous terrain. We met hikers who consulted the map with us to determine where the best place would be to “bail” and exit via a park service road. We forged on. The destination “Big Bald” Camp Ground.

I had underestimated my water supply and found out just how challenging the trail would be, lack of hydration greatly magnifying these difficulties. And then we heard the rush of fresh water. Brian had overtaken Gaby, Enya and I. We had agreed to meet up at the campground.

Just as we located the trails marker leading to the river we briefly stopped to figure out whether to follow the flood trail marked with pink survey tape. But the lure of cool, running water was so strong we pushed ahead. Half-way down the steep trail Brian called out persuading us to turn around and follow the flood trail. That was tough to do. By now I had used up all my water and I could feel myself getting quite discouraged. Suffice it to say, we climbed to the top of the trail, turned right and headed in the direction of “ Big Bald Cabin”. Brian met up with us and suggested we pitch our tents right there, the main obstacle being that we had to scramble down a steep hill to access the river. We knew we would have to make our way down that hill eventually to continue on the trail the next day. We straightened up, focused and… scrambled down the steep incline without a clear trail to follow. The pink survey tape fluttered in the wind.

The campground was our least favourite. Yes, it was close to clear, fresh water but it was dark and very damp. We spread out and selected the best sites we could find. My reasoning powered great diminished due to the lack of water my tent found itself pitched next to the trail access overlooking the rushing river and bridge leading across. The fact that it might be very damp only crossed my mind after I had rehydrated and eaten some dinner. I begged off early to crawl into my sleeping bag for much needed sleep. The end of day two brought some much needed sleep. We had hiked another 14.9 km.

This is where the account of Day 2 comes to a close. Our feet were sore, our shoulders ached from the heavy packs and we knew that we had passed the half-way mark of the Cape Chignecto Trail. We were well on our way toward closing the circular route. And there was so much more ahead… check back tomorrow for Day 3 of the adventure.

Best wishes for a great Wednesday. It’s NSWalks here in Nova Scotia. A great opportunity to lace up our hiking shoes and join others, Anna

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