Fundy Footpath , Day 2 of 4, Oct.11, 2008

Seely Beach to Little Salmon River
7 miles

Funky maps here.  I received  maps for the length of the Fundy Footpath on two waterproof computer-generated  pages, which you then cut into  6 individual  4.5 x 8” maps that fit into a ziplock plastic bag.
Yesterday we walked over one map, today we moved over a map and a half. Each small map is covers approximately 4-5  miles.
The elevation marks an the maps are in meters.
Some of the data is really skewed, as sometimes happens with  computer-generated maps.  I liked that the 50, 100, and 150 meter contour lines are bolded, but in places are misaligned with the numeration.   For example, I sometimes found the number 20 placed on the 100 meter contour line.  Other times you trace your finger along one contour line that shows a 160, yet a bit further it reads 180,  on the same line.
No matter what the maps say, the real world is here under foot.

The hiking today was unusually enjoyable.

This was a beautifully laid out path, that often side-slabbed across steep hillsides. The steepest uphills were sometimes characterized by placement of cable steps, essentially two foot long pressure treated  4 x 4’s that had holes drilled through each end, which in turn had cables passing through which resulted in very long staircases,  one of which was close to 100 feet high.
The morning saw us complete two difficult hill climbs, each rising from the Bay to  close to 700 feet in less than half a mile.   We spent the day hiking between 550 to 650 feet in elevation, with the sounds and often the sight of the Bay of Fundy within view,  and the far off shore of Nova Scotia in the distance.  What makes this trip unique is the ravines, where streams, and sometimes wider rivers slice down through the land, as the waterways fall from the heights of the plateau all the way down to the waters of the Bay.  Encountering each ravine is an exercise in rapid descents and demanding, steep climbs.
The footpath here is to die for.   Ninety percent of the walking is on a carpet of pine needles, a really thick carpet.  Rangoon calls it “mattress walking”.
Many of the trees we pass by  are ancient.  The mix is of spruce intermixed with abundant white birch.
We walked together well today.  No one was a burden on anyone. We took care in making that  happen.  At one point, early on in the day,  Rangoon rocketed ahead, but later we found him waiting patiently for the rest of us.

“I want to be part of the group now,” he said, as he fell in at the end of the line.

We ate a first lunch above Cradle Brook.  After a bracing climb of 650 feet in elevation, the trail skirted 600 foot cliffs.  Up on this plateau we looked for, but never found,  “evidence of an old copper mine”.  For a brief period, we followed the Old Telegraph Post Road, a worn, and  sometimes surprisingly steep path that had connected communities along the Fundy coast in the early 1900’s.
Later, we descended to the Little Salmon River.  Here, the ravine was blessed with a floor couple of hundred feet wide, with a 25 foot wide crystal clear stream meandering through from side to side, with tongues of glacial gravel extending at intervals toward the watercourse. Much grassland was also present.
Here we continued to walk upstream until we reached a relatively shallow crossing point.  There  was no way to get across without taking your shoes off to ford.  Bad Influence shouted out that this was the coldest water he had ever forded.

Even though it was only 12:30 PM, decided to stay and camp in this unusually beautiful site.    Perhaps these photos will do a better job than I of describing this absolutely superlative camp site.

There was plenty of time to eat, sleep, read, walk around exploring the area, or just lay in the sun and  share our pleasure about deciding to come here and see this land.

But the question that we continued to ask ourselves was, “Why were we the only ones here?”       Three of us aren’t even Canadians!
Reaching the answer to that question could take one a very a very long time.  I personally think that people are increasingly divorced from an appreciation of being in the outdoors. Couple that with the fact that backpacking is often  hard, sweaty, exhausting, and often less than pleasant, sometimes for days at a time, and you have a formula for attracting relatively low numbers of participants for this particular recreation activity.  If the weather here were rainy, cold, or if it were humid and hot ( and buggy), I’d understand why few would walk here.  But this whole weekend, it is not at all like that.

Here is a video of our crew in the late afternoon at the campsite:

I enjoyed using my wood stove immensely at this site.  Bad Influence also had his own home made wood stove on this trip.  For a video of my stove in action, click on the brief movie below.


Later on in the afternoon, we did see  our first hikers walking along, with full backpacks on,  coming down the Little Salmon.  It was a pair of women who were doing a section of the Trail.  They had been up to visit the Little Salmon River Gorge, which houses the 400 foot Walton Glen Falls and Flume.  Photos of the site are available at the Waterfalls New Brunswick site, which is maintained by a person who talked with us while Xenon and I were at the general store in Alma, NB at the end of this trip.

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