Fundy National Park: Acknowledging the Territory

Fundy National Park lies between the Saint John River system and the Petitcodiac River system. There are easy inland portage routes which joined these river highways. They were extensively used by indigenous peoples who would be both Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik. The area would be included in the Peace and Friendship Treaties – unceded, signed by the Wabanaki. Many Canadians do not know what “unceded” means. When Europeans first arrived in the Maritimes Peace and Friendship Treaties were negotiated which created agreements around trade, peaceable relations and so on. These treaties did not cede land to any government of any country at any time.

 

Summer season is Pow Wow time. The public is invited to many events. It is a great time to learn and connect. WestJet Magazine had the most accessible article that I have read on Pow Wow etiquette, which is posted below. The article originates from Western Canada so bear in mind there may be other etiquette to be aware of for local Pow Wows throughout the country. In general, a good rule of thumb is don’t be a jerk. Put positively, be courteous, respectful and open to learning. It seems strange to have to say these things, but indigenous communities have to put up with an incredible amount of unintentional and intentional racism so it bears saying. If you are white and don’t know if you are racist or not, another good rule of thumb is to do a lot of listening. Not only will you will be surprised at what you will learn, you will really enjoy yourself and connect with some wonderful people.

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Elsipogtog First Nation Pow Wow (photo by NB Tourism)

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Elsipogtog First Nation PowWow (photo: NB Tourism)

The West Jet article:

https://www.westjetmagazine.com/story/article/a-guide-to-powwow-season-in-canada

A New Brunswick schedule of Pow Wows:

http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/aas-saa/pdf/POWWOW-Schedule.pdf

Fundy National Park: How Those World-Wonder Tides Work (by Carl Yates)

The Tilting Tides of Fundy

When Linda and I went on our first anniversary tour as a couple, she was keen to take me to Fundy National Park where she had previously explored as a young child on camping trips with her family.  One of the big draws then, and still is, the amazing high tides of the Bay of Fundy that occur twice a day.  The twice a day occurrence of course is not unique but the height of the tides in the Bay of Fundy sure is.  When Linda and I did our tour, we met up with a friend of ours, Derek Dunphy, who went to university with us and had just graduated from engineering school.  As part of our reunion in the park, we decided to see what these high tides were all about and planned a day trip from the town of Alma to see how far we could go out on the flats after the tide went out.  Being smart engineers and recognizing the trek could be long and tiresome, we took a six-pack of beer with us to ensure our thirst would be quenched along the way.  After going quite a long distance [> 2 km out] in our rubber boots on a hot sunny day, we decided enough was enough and sat down for our first beer.  With our thirst quenched, we stood up and proceeded back to Alma with one beer gone and another in our hands.  As it was sunny, the walk back was slower, aided by the fact we had to have a swallow every now and then.  After finishing the second beer, we decided it was time for a proper break and found an old log to sit on and tell some war [university stories].  After the third beer, we were getting a little giddy and didn’t seem to have a care in the world.  That was until I looked behind us and saw water rapidly advancing towards us and headed for the beach.  Alas, the tide was coming in and coming in fast.  We had no choice but to pick up the pace and keep moving towards Alma.  By the time we reached the town, we had a good sweat on.  What appeared to be a tranquil resting place to share a beer was long under very deep Carl and Derek Dunphy astonished at the tidewater and we were tired.  The moral of the story is don’t underestimate the speed and extent of the Bay of Fundy tides as they have stranded many an unsuspecting tourist.  So, why are the tides so high you ask!  Well, it goes like this:

As mentioned above, the tidal cycle occurs approximately twice daily, or every 12 hours and 26 minutes to be precise. The Bay of Fundy is shaped like a funnel so as the water enters the mouth of the Bay, it continues up the bay to the narrower part of the funnel and climbs higher up the shoreline as it goes.  In addition, there is a phenomenon called the “seiche” effect that comes into play.  If you put water on a shallow tray and start the movement of water from one end, it is magnified in height at the other end due to the momentum of the water as it travels across the confines of the tray.  The Bay of Fundy is in essence, a rather long, shallow tray.  Now here is the fascinating part.  It just so happens that it takes about 6 hours and 13 minutes for water to travel from  the mouth of the bay to the end of the Bay at the Minas Basin and Petitcodiac River just downstream of Moncton.  In other words, it matches the natural tidal cycle between low and high tide.  So what does the unsuspecting tourist see from this combination of natural forces at work.  The tide rises and falls by as much as 53 feet at the inner part of the Bay.  As Fundy National Park is a little more than halfway up the Bay of Fundy, tides in the order of 30 feet are quite common.

 

Linda’s Note: The tides are a wonder worth exploring. Take waterproof boots and dress for cool weather when you are on the windy flats. Keep track of your time and where you are. Many a tourist has had to frantically climb cliffs in order not to be swept away by the sea. Sometimes, sadly, they don’t make it. Currently both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are exploring ways to harness the massive energy power of these spectacular tides. Some companies have tried putting in turbines but the tides chewed them up and spit them back. The turbines are controversial because the Fundy tidal ecosystem is essential to an incredible variety of marine life. The Fundy sea bottom was once thought to be relatively devoid of life. Scientists have discovered (and you can too) a rich ecosystem uniquely adapted to salt water rushing in and out.

Gros Morne: Gone fishin’ (by Carl Yates)

Not everyone likes fishing but those who like it, like it a lot.  It can be one of the most relaxing things to do, especially if the setting is right.  In my opinion, the setting is right at Baker’s Brook in Gros Morne.  Baker’s Brook is located north of Rocky Harbour and in strict Newfoundland terms it is a brook.  In other provinces in Canada, it would be called a river but in Newfoundland the term is reserved for the big flows that are at the base of many valleys.  Baker’s Brook is fed by Baker’s Pond which again in other jurisdictions would be assigned lake status.  You see a pattern here!  Baker’s Pond was once a fjiord open to the ocean but after the last glaciers retreated over 10,000 years ago, the earth’s crust rebounded and the fjiord got flushed with fresh water from the receding glaciers.  The brook is home to speckled brook trout and Atlantic salmon, the two most common freshwater fish on the island.  Both of these species have a desire to travel to the sea to feed and as result, grow bigger.  Baker’s Brook discharges to the ocean approximately 1 km from the main highway that goes through the park and is one of the better places that an angler can try his or her luck for salmon or trout.  First, the rules are in order; fishing licenses for both trout and salmon are required but you don’t need a guide if you are a Canadian citizen as the park is on federal land.  Although Baker’s Brook is an unscheduled salmon river, you still require a provincial salmon licence and a park licence if you wish to retain salmon.  In essence, you will have two sets of tags and if you are fortunate to land a grilse [a salmon less than 63 cm centimetres], you must insert and lock each of the two tags through the gills of the fish.  It is hoped that salmon will continue to make this ocean journey to ensure a sustainable run but our “friends in Greenland” may put an end to salmon if they continue to harvest salmon from the ocean as part of a commercial fishery.  The numbers are very clear here that recreational fishing brings a greater return on investment than commercial fishing which is why Newfoundland banned commercial fishing in the 70s [a very good move].  In addition to the economics, Atlantic salmon are an important aspect of indigenous culture and a source of food for thousands of years.

To speak directly to the angling, a beautiful pool exists just upstream from where Baker’s Brook flows into the sea.  It is meant for fly fishing with a steady current to ensure your wet fly trails nicely.  I have had the fortune to hook both salmon and sea trout.  The trout gets the “sea” designation if it makes the journey to the ocean to feed.  One can tell the trout is of the sea variety by its brilliant orange underbelly and its taste [sweetness].  The other interesting aspect of hooking a fish in the lower reaches of the brook is that the fish returns from the ocean with a full belly and an abundance of energy which means that the fish will put up a good fight when hooked.  Although I have landed salmon at this pool, I have lost many after a fish has leapt in the air to set itself free.  Even if you don’t catch a fish, the experience at Baker’s Brook is one of tranquility.  You have beautiful views of the mountains and coastline to the south where the Tablelands rise, a wide-open ocean to the west and immediate views of hikers dropping by along a beautiful coastal trail which I have walked many times with Linda and our Jack Russell terriers.  I have also had the pleasure of fishing this pool with my son Matthew, the fish biologist, who is even more enthralled with salmon fishing than myself, but not as much as my father who got us all hooked on this recreational past time. In addition to enjoying the recreational aspect of fishing, Matthew is finishing up his doctorate degree at Concordia University with objectives to ensure a sustainable approach to fishing for future generations.

camper at Green Point Gros Morne

Gros Morne: Trails? Finest kind.

Gros Morne National Park: Trails? Finest kind.

Are there trails in Gros Morne? Finest kind, to use a Newfoundland colloquialism.

There are four sections of the Park: Gros Morne North, Gros Morne Central, Gros Morne Southeast and Gros Morne South. Discover interesting, beautiful trails in all four.

A previous posting told the evolving story of our relationship with the Green Gardens Trail. This post will describe two more favourites.

Coastal Trail

This trail is do-able for a group of hikers of diverse abilities, including the occasional elderly or small child hikers. We have often found trails rated “easy” to be, well, boring. However, this trail takes you along cobbled ocean beaches, alongside a fishing river, past dense tuckamore trees, into forests for a bit, then ends at Green Point where there is an excellent interpretive display about the importance of those astonishing cliffs. To add interest, there is an intriguing little collection of homes on the beach at Green Point with a wharf and a couple of boats. Much of the trail exists because it was previously used as a mail trail to this little collection of fisher homes.

The first time I hiked the trail (many years ago) Carl told me about these trees that were several hundred years old. They rivaled the redwoods, he said. For the life of me I could not see them. About halfway through the hike I demanded, “Where are these old trees you promised?” “You are standing on one,” he said, “they are called ‘tuckamores.’” I looked down to see my feet encroached on the lower branch of a hobbit tree. I had expected to see giant pines of some kind. Living next to the ocean, punched and ripped by the winter winds, these little gnarly pines grow slowly. To our delight, a little further along the cobbled path there were tuckamore trees that had grown together to create a series of caves. Our boys loved to go in under them when they were young. They didn’t go too far because it gets pretty dark in there.

Another bonus of this particular hike is that, although it can get windy, on a really hot day there is no more refreshing place to be.

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Coastal trail

Gros Morne Mountain

As you might expect, the 16 kilometres hike up and down Gros Morne mountain is one of the signature hikes of the Park. It takes 6 to 8 hours and so some basic planning needs to be done. You will need lots of water, some food and really good shoes. You will need to wild-pee, so bring biodegradable tissues, if you need them. The cobbles were the most difficult part of the hike going up. The cobbles are about 3 to 5 inches in diameter and scatter and shift as you walk on them. If you have flimsy shoes, you are doomed to wreck them and possibly your ankles. Once you get past the cobbles, the hike is steady and steep but is strangely rewarding if you keep looking back to see how far you have come. When you reach the peak, the panoramic view is predictably stunning. What is not predictable is the cloud cover. Make sure you go on a clear day or you are just as likely to get up there and see nothing but fog. It is a great thing for the Park that this hike is so popular. The bad thing about this trail is the pressure that this number of hikers places on the ecosystem.  It is the only hike in any Park that we have been on where you have to be very clear and careful about hiking etiquette. Slow? Get out of the way of the ones behind you. Fast? Let people know you are coming behind them and say “thank you” when they move aside. Passing is no easy feat on some points of the trail. Gros Morne mountain participates in geocaching, which also requires some etiquette. Going down the mountain is more difficult that going up. The constant descent takes a toll on knees and ankles, but it does go quickly. Finally, it is weird to have to say this, but, people, if you have to do number 2 on the trail, bury it – all of it. Since no dogs are allowed on the trail, it is the humans creating this problem of human waste and associated tissue.

There are three favourite points on this trail: the beginning, the peak and the end.  The beginning is a point of optimism, excitement, hope and some trepidation. The peak is place of beauty, rest and appreciation of the ancient wildness of Newfoundland. The end of the trail is a place of tired gratitude and a sense of accomplishment.

 

List of Gros Morne Trails

 

Old Mail Road – 2 km return, forest sand dunes and a tiny fishing community

Steve’s trail – 1 km return, seaside meadow, view of Long Range mountains

Western Brook Pond – 6 km return, view of Western Brook gorge, coastal bogs, forests

Snug Harbour – 8 km return, harbour at mouth of gorge, rated black diamond difficult

Coastal Trail – 6 km return, beaches, tuckamore forests, ocean, birds

Berry Head Pond – 2 km loop, forest, pond

Bakers Brook Falls – 10km return, waterfalls, forests, bog

Berry Hill – 1.5 km return, views of coastal lowlands

Berry Hill Pond – 2km loop, wetlands, ponds, forest

Gros Morne Mountain – 16 km loop, highest point of the Park

Mattie Mitchell – 250 m loop, forest, stream

Southeast Brook Falls – 700 m return, waterfall, forests

Stuckless Pond – 9.5 km loop, forests, pond

Lomond River – 6 km return, river valley

Stanleyville – 4km return, old logging community, forests

Lookout – 5 km loop, 300 m climb, panoramic vistas of Bonne Bay, Gros Morne Mountain, Tablelands

Tablelands – 4 km return, serpentine barrens, walk on earth’s crust

Green Gardens – 9 km return, valleys, hills, coastline, cliffs, wetlands, meadows

Trout River Pond – 14 km return, deep valley which continues into Tablelands

 

 

The tent shelter: a truck camper’s second room. (Carl Yates)

What’s Old is New Again

As we prepared for our trip to Forillon National Park in the Gaspe penninsula of Quebec, we recognized that a dining tent would be in order.  We have used dining tents in the past when tenting and saw the benefits again with a truck camper as it got us outside to fully experience and appreciate nature during meal time. Eating and sitting outside helps us get to know our neighbours, which is a wonderful part of travel. It also, of course, keeps the rain off and the mosquitos out.

I checked out a few models but found them all to be too heavy or too bulky to be carrying around in a truck camper where space is a little more limited than that found in a fifth wheel [our previous RV].  I almost bought one in July when all the tents went on sale but still didn’t see a model that caught my fancy.  Finally, I said to Linda, let’s just use the old one that we stored in the basement as it could fit nicely behind the front seat of the pickup truck and wasn’t too heavy.

After we were settled into the campsite at Petit Gaspe, we decided to put up the dining tent.  As we unpacked it, it did not seem familiar so we took out the instructions to guide our assembly.  Although it was a two person job to assemble, it surprisingly went together well and was quite functional.  We couldn’t however, remember when we put it together last and as we inspected it more closely, realized it was brand new!  After racking our brains, we recalled that we bought the tent just before our son Matthew and wife Sarah got married.  It was bought just in case the weather was bad and we needed a little more space for the rehearsal party (cheaper to buy a tent than rent one!). As it turned out, the weather was good and the tent did not get erected for the celebrations.  The erection in Gaspe was the first time it was put up.  In essence, we won one on account of being picky and having a bad memory!  We now have a brand new tent that will do nicely as we travel about in our truck camper.

Oh you ask, what kind of tent is it?  It is manufactured by Roots and is 12 feet by 12 feet with an entry on all four sides which can be covered with a flap fastened by velcro strips or rolled up and secured.  The entry openings are all equipped with a mesh that keeps the bugs out and the breeze fresh.  The roof has a mesh with an additional fly to put over the top to keep the rain out.  During the few rain showers we had, it performed great.   Interestingly enough, if I went looking for a new tent, I would buy this model as it is very functional with lots of flexibility to adjust it to take wind direction and rain into account.  The only challenge, as mentioned above, is the support frame requires two people to assemble it without cursing.  I suspect one person could manage it as long as you don’t mind that the neighbours could hear a few choice words.

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Or, you could go to the Park shelters and recreate with some new-to-you friends.