Fundy Footpath, Day 4 of 4, Oct. 13, 2008

 

Goose Creek to  Wolfe Point

10 miles

    I awoke at 3 AM to the sound of light rain tapping away on the roof of my tent.  As soon as my consciousness cleared, I winced when I realized that I had to extract myself from the depths of my sleeping bag and rescue my pack, which was open and loosely hanging on a nearby tree.   My sleeping bag and gear that was on the floor of the tent would soon be soaked. I had to move quickly, as my tent fly was rolled up. I took care to consolidate my gear last night, as we were planning an early start, so all I had to do was exit, grab the backpack, throw it in, drop the sides of the tent, and get back out of the rain.  I soon fell back to sleep with the sound of the tides booming along nearby.

      Today we’d negotiate five more cuts:  Goose Creek, Fish Brook, Rose Brook, the Goose River and finally Rossiter Brook.      Two major tidal crossings would be reserved for today, and after consulting the Tide Schedule, we decided to awaken at 6AM for a 7AM crossing of Goose Creek, which becomes 30 feet deep here at high tide. 

     At exactly 6 AM I heard Xenon roust us, “They teach you guys from the States to wake up early?” It was still dark out.  At least now, my gear was either on, around, or laying right next to me. I took my time packing up, with the sound of the rain still peppering my tent.

    We headed out at 6:45, hiking in the dark with headlamps.  I decided to wear just my Crocs for the 1 kilometer walk upstream to the crossing point.  

    We were immediately walking through wet, cold,  swampy grass that ATV’s had  badly rutted up. At one point I stepped into cold muck that had me sinking up to my knees.  My next step left my bare foot exiting the suck hole. I panicked when I realized my Croc was imbedded somewhere down there. Luckily when I stuck it back in,  my foot felt the sandal, which I was able to slip back into and lift out. Plan B would have given me a slime-caked arm as well as legs.

      The crossing was surreal. We walked on in the dark struggling to make sense out of the meager markings here.     First , we weren’t sure where the white blazes ended, as our  headlamps would also occasionally illuminate light colored rocks, or whatever plastic detritus lie on the shore ahead.  We finally chose a likely spot, turned right and I headed over, as I didn’t have to change out of my hiking shoes. I was walking clueless, unsure about the depth of several of the channels of water I was about to traverse that were bisecting the stretch ahead, which I’d estimate was about 60 yards wide. When I had made it halfway across I did make out a prominent white blaze painted on a rock, and was relieved that we had nailed the correct spot to cross, but we were still in the dark.

     From here it was wash and wipe the muck off our feet and legs, put our hiking shoes on and head straight up, yet again, to gain the 500 feet in elevation that we’d need to reach the plateau above.

     The first section of high ground passed by some superb vistas, with one spectacular overlook some 600 feet above the expanse of the Bay. 

      I enjoyed the time I spent hiking with Rangoon today.  It reminded me of old times, like the 25 mile day he and I completed on the AT on the section from Boiling Springs to Duncannon in Pennsylvania. 

Late in the morning, we descended to Azore beach, the mouth of Rose Brook.  Here is a five minute video that I took walking into and around this spot. 

I fell and broke another Leki,  the fifth time that I’ve demolished a trekking pole in the year and a half that I’ve owned the set.I slid sideways off a wet canted rock and victimized my left pole.  Luckily,  I had just ordered a replacement piece after the anti-shock mechanism on the same section had  failed.  picture here

 

One unique feature about hiking along the Bay of Fundy is that this was the first time that my forward progress in backpacking was determined by the tides, twice in one day. 

We reached the Goose River exactly at high tide about 11:45 AM, where we sat and waited for the tide here to recede enough for us to negotiate a path along the steep and rocky shore.  

  The only way that we were able to discern the path ahead was through Xenon’s previous experience and a faint blaze on the side of a cliff quite a distance downstream.  The blazes on the rocks nearest to us were initially invisible , as they were deep under water.

   We sat out in the sun, ate the rest of our food, listened to music,  or just explored upstream.

At the time,  it  was  interesting enough to just watch this particular river rapidly drain back to the Bay.   

    We were able to start  walking again about an hour and a-half after high tide.  The river emptied amazingly fast, dropping close to 10 feet in that time.  

The trail ahead had us walking on the just exposed edge of the river, but the steepness of the bank and the slipperiness of the rocks made progress dangerous. Gritty mud soon entered the inside of our Crocs. 

Each turn opened up fascinating views of rocks, water, sky and trees. Eventually we encountered a mucky, grassy table that led to yet another ford at Rossiter Brook.

At the final beach site we washed our legs and feet in the Bay. 

We had now actually completed the Fundy Footpath,  bounded by Fundy National Park. However, , we were faced with more walking , this time along a maintained cart/ bike path running 5 miles east to our pick up point.  

We were now on the Goose River Trail in Fundy National Park.

Xenon’s wife Nancy was going to pick us up  at the Wolf Point area of the Park.  Problem was, we would be early, four hours early, way too early.   The printed material we received from the Interpretive Center warned us that “ You may be a day late due to tides or difficult terrain”,  and that, “ Concern has been expressed by officials of both Fundy National Park and the Big Salmon River Interpretive Center that persons arriving had been upset and worried that the hikers did not arrive at the scheduled time.  Perhaps a call on arrival or a few hours before arrival would be more appropriate to advise your party  of the time of arrival or delays.”  

We repeatedly tried to reach Nancy to alter the pick up time. For the whole last day, there was no phone reception from any of the different cell carriers the three of us phone guys were using, no matter how high we were on the plateau, or how clear the view was to nearby Nova Scotia.

In addition to no cell coverage, several more situations should be noted.  

First, whoever had recently trimmed back brush in the eastern half was in the habit of throwing it back into the trail, which is normally fine, but in the frequent boggy sections on the last day, we were unable to see beneath the spruce boughs to where rocks, or high points of ground were.  Our feet became unnecessarily wet. 

Also the switchbacks at some points were somewhat puzzling.  For example, while descending toward  Martin’s Head,  the switch backs seemed far too gradual. It almost felt like we were just walking back and forth, rather than actually descending. Then when we went up the other side it was as if it was the complete other extreme existed with far too few switchbacks, leaving us with  a good deal of  straight up going.

Most vexing was that someone had, for some undetermined purpose, laid out miles of either monofilament fishing line or white thread, at times on both sides of the trail, that frequently crossed the footpath so that we were either avoiding it, pushing through it, or frustratingly worse, getting the tips of our hiking poles entangled in it.

While the strip maps that we were sold were appreciated , the navigation  could be improved by matching the accompanying narrative section descriptions with running mileages/ or kilometer marks, as is the habit with most trail guides. 

We also neglected to use the extensive documentation of  GPS waypoints, as  most of the terrain is heavily wooded. In my experience, GPS units need relatively clear views of the sky to pick up the satellite signals.  

The hiking guide should also state at what tide levels you can make the crossings rather than just state they are tidal crossings. We ended up having more leeway than we expected.  

Nevertheless, I plan to return to hike the Fundy Footpath, taking an additional day to reach the Little Salmon River Gorge that we missed this time. Walton Glen and the Eye of the Needle sound like unique features to explore.  

I would also come a bit earlier in the season, to take advantage of the clear pools that we avoided swimming in this time of the year.    

In the end, what I especially liked about the Fundy Footpath was the raw, untraveled nature of much of the path itself. While we griped about aspects of it while walking, it is what we will remember and talk about as we  look back at it.  

I’d get up there sooner than later.  With the obvious spending that has already been done in the western portion, I expect the project will be manicured and pulled together in the years to come, in a effort to attract tourism dollars to the area.  

The international team we assembled turned out to be a positive experience. 

 

Uncle Tom, Xenon, Rangoon, Bad Influence

Uncle Tom, Xenon, Rangoon, Bad Influence

Without ever hiking one step together, I still signed up Xeon as a team member!  My intuition served me well this time.  Xenon’s prior experience on the Footpath was a huge plus, not to mention the efforts that  he and Nancy made to welcome these USA visitors  to Canada.  

  I’m left with Rangoon’s final comment, “ I was pretty much deliriously happy by the end of it.  This was a good one.  One for the books ”.

    

 

 

     

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5 thoughts on “Fundy Footpath, Day 4 of 4, Oct. 13, 2008

  1. What a great way to end the hiking season. Next up ! Winter hiking.

    This world we live in, well it is hard to find words for the hiking experiences I have had over the past two years.

    You guys were great!
    till next year.

  2. It was only a brief encounter 3 weeks earlier at the Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to on the Appalachian Trail, where I first met Uncle Tom. I have the Fundy Footpath as a training ground for the AT. The climbs and the solitude on the Fundy Footpath are mirrored on the AT. Only after completing the Fundy Footpath solo, did I feel confident to tackle the AT.
    With the expansion of the Fundy Parkway Trail, will the Fundy Footpath be able to handle the additional traffic? The campsites on the Fundy Footpath are primitive but so delightful. Who will be maintaining these jewels?
    I was really pleased to be a Fundy Footpath guide for Uncle Tom, Rangoon and Bad Influence and look forward to future hikes together.

  3. Once again, you’ve served up a wonderful report of life in the outdoors! I thoroughly enjoyed it…
    Hope to see you at snow walkers the weekend after next.

  4. Just hiked the Eastern part of the Fundy Footpath about two weeks ago. Absolutely an incredible experience for my first hiking trip. (Probably not the smartest trail to pick for my first). The park wasn’t open yet, so the group and I had an extra 11 mile hike to get to Wolfe Point and I had already gotten 3 inch diameter blisters on both of my heels. We endured the rest of the 3 days and were blown away by the scenery this trail had to offer. The plan was to finish the entire footpath but time and the condition of my feet/body forced us to cop out before crossing the Little Salmon river and beginning the Western part of the trail. We’re planning to make the trip again, hopefully soon, but will definitely be better prepared and in better shape. Can’t wait!

    Thanks for posting your experience.

    Matt

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