Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Back to High Head.

On my first trip there, High Head Trail was shrouded in fog.  The sea, the rocks and the sky were grey.  Where the sea ended and the sky began was a mystery.

Last Friday dawned sunny and clear; a perfect day to introduce my chums, Sara and Kelly to this marvellous hike, and an opportunity for me to see where the sea ended and the sky began.  

See ...

Foggy or clear, the scenery is amazing.

Here I s'pose I should insert some pithy comment about the single tree, blue sky and barren hill.

Sara spotted this piece of found art near the shore.

So many photo ops.

It's hard to know how far we walked as we stopped so often to take selfies, admire the scenery, photograph a massive glacial rock or stop for a sandwich lunch.

The only thing better than exploring a trail is exploring a trail with friends.
Wendy and Sooki are marvellous walking companions.
Before walking back to our cars after several hours of exploring we found this spot where we could look down on the nearby hamlet of Prospect.

What is amazing is that this scenic walk is far from unique.  So many country roads ending at the Atlantic or the Bay of Fundy leads to similar stunning walks.

What is surprising is how few Nova Scotians know about these marvellous not-so-hidden gems.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Living every day ...

The other day a dear friend reminded me of the importance of living each day to its fullest, so yesterday I went on-line to check tide times for Hall's Harbour and once suitably reassured that they were safe for a long beach walk, I went for a drive across the province to the marvellous Bay of Fundy.

Driving across the province isn't as onerous as it sounds; the distance from my door to Hall's Harbour is about 110 km or about just over a one hour drive.

Cruising through Centreville I felt compelled to stop at Charles Macdonald House as for the first time the flag was out and it was open.

Built as a one-storey house in 1910 by Macdonald who own a concrete factory in nearby Kentville, the second storey was added around 1917.

Though I didn't get to see it on my tour, apparently the bathtub is made out of concrete too.

It's not just that Charles Macdonald's house was made of concrete; pretty much everything inside and out was made of concrete.  Even the birdhouse hanging in the tree is made of concrete !  The grounds once were littered with concrete  figurines.


The bather has just been refurbished.

At one point there was even a life-size Moose which sadly was destroyed when hit by a car many years ago.

I was happy to finally get to see inside this unusual house.  As you might imagine it had a very musty smell.   Not sure I'd want to live in a concrete house in our damp climate.

Yep.  A concrete table.
Painted concrete ornamentation.

The Living Room.  BTW the Deer head ?   It's concrete too.

Like many places in Nova Scotia, the Charles Macdonald House does not get the attention or assistance it deserves and exists only through the support of a dedicated group of volunteers. Should you wish to learn more just click here.

After my tour I hopped back in my car for the ten minute drive to Hall's Harbour.

Though it was only two hours after high tide when I arrived, the boats were already sitting on the bottom of the harbour.

The tides of up to 48 feet, translate to a the rise and fall rate of around  EIGHT feet an hour ! The tides are approximately every six hours; not exactly every six hours or they'd be at the same time each day.  Each day the tides vary by around 50 minutes so that if high tide yesterday was at noon then high tide tomorrow will be around 12:50.   'course I'm ignoring the fact there are two high and two low tides at day; I only pay attention to the timing of the daylight tides.  That's why it was so important that I checked the tide time before I even set out from home.

The tide table told me that high tide was at 11:15 am.   That meant the tide would be going OUT for six hours.  I could walk the shore till well past 5 pm without worry.   If however low tide had been at 11:15 am then I would have to keep an eye on the rising sea for my whole walk to make sure I didn't get trapped in a cove by the rising water.

The view down the shore.

In the above shot the rocks are covered with green algae; a good hint that they will be underwater when the tide comes in.

Donald Trump's "comb-over"?

Farther down the shore I came across this rock formation which loomed  several feet above my head. Notice that the rocks are covered with sea weed.  Another not-to-be-ignored sign that a few hours from now the water would be well over my head too.  In other words I was walking on the ocean floor.

Wendy and Sooki checking out the view.

It was a hot day but the  constant breeze off the bay made for a pleasant walk.
Looking back toward Hall's Harbour.  Gosh, did we really walk that far?

It was a long walk and the dogs got hot.  They cannot drink the water in the bay as it is salt water but they managed to find fresh water dripping off the cliff-face.  I had brought a thermos of water for me which I never walk without.

There had been a few people on the shore near Hall's Harbour but after half an hour of walking the dogs and I were alone.  It is amazing how even in mid-Summer you can have the shore all to yourself.  I guess that's because most folk just want to go to the classic "pretty" sandy beaches to sun bathe or swim while I avoid such beaches with the dogs in the summer.

There are some lovely rocks to be found here.  My book "The Last Billion Years: A Geological History of the Maritime Provinces of Canada" tells me that much of this rock is basaltic lava. The cavities in the basalt have been partially infilled with orange chabazite crystals.  Dunno what chabazite is but it's sparkly and that's enough for me.  ;-)

  I always come home with my backpack weighed down with rocks.

Dunno what it is but it looks kewl.
Crystals worn down by the tides.    

Love these bumps on the face of this rock.  Wish I knew what caused them.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to look up and not just down at the rocks below my feet.

Trees just barely hanging on to the cliff above me.  

At 4:30 I texted my daughter, Kaitlyn to tell her I was just walking back to the car and would be getting home just after six o'clock.

At six o'clock I texted her to say I had just gotten back to my car -- it was a longer walk than I'd realized !

Just as I was walking up to the parking lot I spied some writing on a rock ...

 I even love the graffiti here !

In the end I got home just before eight pm having left home at noon.  What a long wonderful day.  Not sure about the rest of them but I sure lived yesterday to its fullest !

Thursday, August 11, 2016

High Head Trail

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.   Sometimes it's an unhealthy distraction, but other times it feeds my passions: exploring, gardening, abandoned buildings and dog walking.

One of the groups I belong to, is devoted to finding places to walk your dog off-leash in Nova Scotia. From it, I learned about High Head Trail.  That one thing alone outweighs all the crap I see on F.B.

About 40 minutes drive from my home in Lower Sackville, the trail head is located at the end of Indian Point Road just off Prospect Bay Road.

Indian Point Road is very short and dead-ends at the trail head.

Whaddayathink ?  

The well-travelled trail follows the Atlantic coastline for several kilometres.  

The day I went it was very foggy and though the forecast was for it to clear up around noon, the fog stayed put.    Looking out to sea it was hard to tell where the land ended and the sea began.  

I love how the fog makes the already stunning scenery more magical.

Wendy and Sooki had a marvellous romp, never going too far ahead and occasionally playing with other dogs we met along the way.

I love the "erratics" that  perch decoratively by the trail.  Erratics are rocks and boulders left behind by passing glaciers.  

The trail passed an ocean inlet.

I'm looking forward to going back and checking out the view of the small rocky islands that dot the area off shore.  Perhaps next time I may spot a Seal or two.

Care to come with me ?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

To Big Thrumcap and Beyond !

On Sunday, caching buddy Jacqui and I took the McNab's Island Ferry over to McNabs Island for a day of geocaching.  Since the most remote cache we were after was at the top of Big Thrumcap, the drumlin at the ocean-end of the island, we had the ferry drop us there.   The drumlin is quite overgrown with waist-high ferns and trees that were toppled in 2004 when Hurricane Juan came through.  We had Wendy with us and as usual she helped find the best route up the hill; well the best route for someone who is less than three feet tall !   Sometimes her choices weren't optimal but as she bats around 80% we aren't complaining.

Did I mention that we're in the midst of a heat wave with temperatures up to 35 C with the Humidex factored in.

Suffice to say it was HOT.

As we neared the coordinates of the treasure, staring down at the screens of our GPSs, Jacqui and I stumbled in circles around and through some evergreens calling to each other: "I'm at 6 metres here", or "I've got 10 metres here--I'm heading toward you".  In this way we zoomed in on the location of the cache.   Once we were a few metres away we stop looking at the screen and start searching in earnest.   When we spotted the cache we felt a bit silly.  It wasn't exactly small, or hard to spot !

It was an honest-to-gosh, fulled-sized treasure chest !

And oh the wonders it contained .

There were Doubloons, and foreign coins of many varieties -- all of it fake -- and all of it quite wonderful.  There were  "jewels" and packages of pencils and in the plastic bag some travel bugs with tracking numbers that we can drop off in a cache somewhere else.

Yours truly going a tad gold-mad !
When we lifted the top compartment off we found more (albeit creepier) stuff underneath.

Bones, a skull, one shoe and strangely enough, Christmas decorations, and of course, MORE coins.

This cache has only been found twice this year so Jacqui and I were thrilled to be the third group to find it.  

After putting everything back as we found it, signing the log, taking a trinket and leaving a trinket, we set off back down the hill following our own trail through the broken bracken.

Thrumcap's physical connection to McNabs Island is by a thread of land that one day will be breached by the Atlantic.  After that happens accessing the "Treasure cache" is going to be even harder.

From a distance Thrumcap's typical tear-dropped drumlin shape is easy to see.

The island is criss-crossed with many roads and trails;  without a good map and these marvellous newly-added sign posts it's pretty easy to get lost.

We headed up Rifle Range Trail taking a brief side trip along Searchlight Road to look for a cache hidden near the shore.

The cache was hidden in the roots of an up-turned tree.  Jacqui checked out the signed log to see who had found it before us.

We'd spent a couple of hours slogging up and down Thrumcap finding that "Treasure Chest" so we were keen to look for a few easy caches one of which was back on the Rifle Range Trail.  We were pretty sure it was in this tree but after 20 minutes of unsuccessful searching we had to give up.

While we searched, Wendy rested in the shade.

Later we settled down to have a picnic lunch near what had been an old rifle target shooting range. Years ago this equipment raised up targets;  now it is sinking into a widening bog.

Nearby I found some sprouting "Indian Pipe".  This fascinating plant lacks Chlorophyll.

Farther up the road we came across three concrete rangefinder platforms.  Inside one of them Jacqui found a small cache tucked under a rock in a crevice in one the building's walls.

With less than an hour left before we had to meet up with the ferry, we hustled over to Fort McNab. There were many marvellous buildings to explore but in finding two more caches we ran out of time and had to leave their exploration for another visit.

Our final hike down the shore to our meet-up point got us there with 10 minutes to spare.  It had been a full, tiring, fun day.  I'm looking forward to our next caching adventure there.

It's hard to believe that even though McNabs Island is a short boat ride away from downtown Halifax many locals have never visited it.  Their loss.