Destination: Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick
We slept until about 10am in the car after our late night, only rising because the temperature was!
We used the wal-mart facilities and grabbed a coffee for me and a pop for my sis from the Mcdonalds. We got on the road and stopped only to get gas, and we arrived at Kouchibouguac around 2-3pm. We spoke with park staff and got an idea of the campgrounds available, deciding to go with Cote de Fabien – it was a bit more remote and had options for ‘walk-in’ campsites, which I wasn’t really too familiar with and envisioned either packing up our backpacks, or making many trips the 200m from the parking lot to our site.
It turned out they have little wooden wagons to fill with your gear to solve that problem! Of course we had to have some fun with that, getting into the wagon and going for rides.
Our site is lovely, we made a great choice sight unseen because it was large and had lots of options for tent placement. Christine had hers toward the back of the site, and I was off to one side, settled in the trees. The trees were all pine, and there was hardly any understory. It had a deep impression of red and brown, compared to the verdant green of Forillon. There were other people around but mostly singles or couples. I think we needed a break from the very family-centred parks and this was just the thing. It was very quiet and the ocean was close enough that we could hear it.
I spent some time on the phone because my friend had a major car issue and needed some support, and when I was done, I went to find Christine. She’s usually by the water so I headed that way. Many of the campsites were right by the ocean, which was awesome. I’d love to return to this park, but I’d try to get one of those sites. Hearing the waves crash directly outside the tent is something you never take for granted.
I did find Christine on the beach. It was overcast and a little chilly, not the type of weather I’d want to swim in! Christine told me to go in the water and I did, just to my ankles, and when I paused to look, I saw lots – so many – even more crabs! They were scurrying and fighting and there were ones about the size of a fist and some as small as a pencil eraser, so small you didn’t even realize they were there because you were so focused on the big ones! It seemed a rather brutish existence, to be honest. I left the water and sat with Christine for a bit. We went back to camp and finished setting up for the night. We decided to have a fire that night so we got some firewood and then headed to our first hike.
Claire-Fontaine trail, a 3.3k loop in a forest, is rife with peeks through the trees to a salt marsh and estuary, which we learned about from their information post at the trailhead. It was quite pretty with a well-trodden trail. The overcast sky made the greens all the more vibrant, and it had a distinctly witchy vibe to it.
We went to the other campground to get potable water and hike Kelly’s Boardwalk, a short trail over the beach and estuary, mostly on boardwalk. We saw plenty of piper plovers and herons, and possibly osprey or cormorants. The wildlife was really thriving there and it was fun to see some of the birds crowd each other and some give one another a wide breadth.
Our last hike was a 1k called Mi’kmaq Cedar. It was meant to be an interpretive trail, but all the signs were gone, which was too bad – I would have liked to learn about the land. But the trail was beautiful, more boardwalk over sensitive understory, and monumental cedar trees. Cedars are especially lovely to me – the criss-cross pattern of the bark is so unique. We don’t have a lot of cedar in Muskoka, not like you get near the oceans. There was such a sense of peace on this trail. I would have loved to hike through again in the other direction, but it was beginning to get late.
Back at the campsite, we got the fire going and started dinner. It was our traditional camp supper again: mushroom soup and noodles. So tasty after lots of hiking! I had also bought candy-coated chocolate seashells from the gift shop, so we ate a bunch of those as well.
The fire was lovely and we sat beside it in our camp chairs and wrote. It had been an amazing day experiencing this beautiful country’s gifts. There is so much ahead of us but enough behind us that I’m beginning to feel as though our time is coming to an end. I’m excited to see what else Canada has to offer, but I definitely miss my home, my mom, my friends, my cat. I am also nervous to return because I’m all too familiar with the sensation of coming back and feeling like time stood still while for me, I’ve changed completely.
We smoked a bit of weed that night and I had to go to bed because I was at risk of paranoia, which often happens to me when I smoke – I have a low tolerance for certain strains and I can get so wrapped up in my own head that I lose a sense of what actually keeps me functioning in the world. I used to smoke a lot but I hardly ever do now, because I haven’t found something that offers the insights and the calm without the headiness and paranoia. In the tent, I also got a little lost in my first-person perspective, but I kept telling myself to stay absolutely in the moment, and I found that helped. And after I turned the light off and I couldn’t see all the little things surrounding me that seemed to trigger a cascade of disjointed thoughts, I was able to focus on good things again. I let my brain run down a few trails before reining it in and going to sleep.