Chignecto (Bruce & Sophie) 1999

After spending 3 days in Chignecto beating up the legs I've been beating up doing Sampson's weekly "Hamburger" runs, I thought that I'd take Sophie for a back-country hike to Refugee Cove. The weather wasn't promising, but it's rained every time that I've taken the kids camping, and it doesn't seem to dampen their enthusiasm. Packing was easy this week. Just had to take down the gear that was drying from last week. Spent a bit more time on the food, as I embarrassed myself last week with more garbage than carried foodstuffs. Clothes for Sophie took a bit of work, as she has little in terms of real rain gear and non-cotton clothes. We mashed together some of my backup stuff, but really could not have handled any serious rain.

Taking a kid back-country has a few limitations. They should only carry perhaps 10-15 lbs and unless you have a kid-specific knapsack, even that weight will be tough on someone not used to carrying a load. As well, kids' stamina needs more and longer breaks. Going back to Chignecto, in season, worked out well, because I knew the terrain, and was comfortable with the distance to Refugee Cove, especially considering that there would be more hikers on the trail, and other tenters at the campsites.


We left Halifax in the rain, but the roads were dryish out past Parrsboro. After a pit stop for the 'loo and some juice, we trekked all the gear up onto the bluff at Cape D'Or, just above the Lighthouse Guest House. BruceD and I had found this semi-legal spot last week, and being out on a bluff, surrounded by trees and able to set the tent doors to sundown and sunup was a real treat. The menu included hot dogs on the 'Murphy campfire, plus tea and Ritz crackers. The tent was quite spacious with only 2 people in it, and after a bit of reading, chatting and radio, it was off to slumberland. A nice memory was the view of a glowing tent, lit up from the inside, all alone on a blustery hilltop.


After a nice hot breakfast of tea and porridge, we packed up and dropped down to the Lighthouse for coffee and a chat with Harold and his wife. Trailhead was at 9:00 am and that 1st 20 minutes of climbing set the tone for the day. The weather was not sunny, but it was not cold, not windy and there were no bugs. Sophie heats up pretty quick, so it was perfect for an all day hike with gear. The first stop was McGahey Brook. Sophie really enjoyed the first look down, with the steps, bridge and little brook. We spent hour there and then loaded up for the trek to Mill Brook, where we had lunch (hot dogs, peanut butter and banana sandwiches and tea) out in the middle of the stream. We spent a full hour there, enjoying the little waterfall and fishes. The climb out of Mill Brook is some serious work and we had to break into the Gatorade and M&M's at the top. The next leg is long, but hiking in hardwoods, along the ocean is probably why I like Chignecto so much. We hit Refugee Cove around 3:30 and chatted with some people continuing on to Big Bauld, including some ocean kayakers. I think that Big Bauld is the nicest site on the trail.

We setup at site #11, a full 10 minutes from the beach. It sits right on the brook and is a lovely spot. Back to the beach for a Gonzo swim (me only) and playing with the rocks and the tide. Some of the other hikers included Ron Hill and his crew. Supper was a nice cheese and tomato pasta, with bread, butter and the requisite tea. Our kitchen included 2 pots, 2 bowls, 2 mugs, 2 spoons and a knife. The bugs held off and dinner was a real treat. Sophie liked the water filter and took it on as her chore. I like to pump all my water, including tea and soup, so it gets a workout. Back to the beach to watch the faux sunset. We hadn't seen any sun all day, but the weather was still beautiful. We made it back to the tent as it was getting dark and fell into a deep sleep with the brook murmuring along beside us.


The weather broke cloudy again, with a little nip in the air. Breakfast, cleanup, pack and at the Trailhead by 7:30 am. I was looking forward to going back the trail we had come in on, but after 25 minutes of Refugee Cove uphill, I figure that it's enough to last me for awhile. The woods smelled fresh and the birds always amaze with their variety. I think I'm turning into a birder. The more I know, the more I want to know. Hiking with just 2 people offers more opportunity to hear sounds, unlike a Gonzo hike where we sound like a pack of Bluejays.

We took another nice break at Mill Cove, which is nice to climb down into from the West side, but still a real bugger to climb out of, either way. I may have to start taking a camera again, as I would have liked a picture of Sophie playing in the brook or standing in our first bit of sun on the bridge. The climb out of Mill Brook cost us most of the M&Ms, but we saved a little for McGahey, where we planned the exit menu of ice cream and burgers. The sun was out in fits and starts, but the temperature was absolutely perfect. We started seeing lots of day hikers and some campers, quite unlike the hike last week.

The last 20 minutes were tough on the back, that gave out somewhere late Saturday evening. It's a nice long downhill to Red Rocks, but both legs and back would rather have had a small up, believe it or not. The delicious feeling at Trailend can only be gotten one way...

After some liberal use of the Red Rock bathrooms, it was off to the ice cream store, then a quick dash along the Bay of Fundy to Truro for burgers and coffee. Home in time for Sophie to have a shower and go to a party and for Dad to unpack and wash all that gear. Ah, youth, they recover so quickly, although there was not a peep out of the kid for a solid 12 hours after she went to sleep.

The entire weekend went very well. The rain held off and the temperature precluded any bug problem. Sophie enjoys camping, hiking and is a great outdoor companion. The workout definitely gave a buzz and I think Sophie has a better sense of what she can do. We did a lot of chatting and I'm sure that it generated memories that will stay with us.