According to Mike Haynes, Duncans Cove falls under the heading of a
"traditional" hike. Leave it up to a bunch of Gonzos to make it
untraditional by doing it at night time, when the full moon is concealed
by a gargantuan cloud cover.
In his book, Hiking trails of Nova Scotia, Mike goes on to explain,
"Duncans Cove is a harsh, rugged hike that climbs on narrow,
unmaintained footpaths up and down steep, barren hillsides." Yup that
pretty much sounds like where we went for our March Full Moon Hike.
We gathered at the Bayers Lake/#3 Highway Tim's for 7:00pm. There were
eleven of us in total - Bruce Duffy, Greg Vail, Wayne Banks, Norm Stein,
Ian Blair, Betty and Chris Hollebone, their friend Frans Aeyelts and
yours truly. We were joined by two of Mark Stein's friends who
approached us, in a state of bewilderment. They were there at the
invitation of Mark, who forgot to tell them that he had changed his mind
and decided to invite his parents over for supper instead of spending an
evening with said friends.....I mean former friends. Mark invited Norm
for supper as well, but Norm opted for the opportunity to gnaw on
half-burned/half-raw sooty, and chemically laced, hotdogs hanging off
the end of a dirty stick rather than dining at his brother's table. (I
wonder what Holly thought of that?)
Gordie Warnica was conspicuous by his absence. In the old days
"Government Gordie" would never have missed a Full Moon Hike. Alas,
after 15 years of R & R (a.k.a. a Government job), Gordie has found
himself in a position where he's now working for a living. Word spread
that he was just too tired to join us.
Meanwhile, at Tim's we all sat gawking at each other, not knowing what
to do. Gordie wasn't there to pull the plug and rush out the door at
exactly 7:00pm. We were without guidance. It was at least 7:15 before
any of us figured out how to get the hike started.
We arrived at the trail head in Duncans Cove at 7:30, joined by our two
canine units. But, what happened to the moon? It was there when we left
Tim's. Not so at Duncans Cove.
The air was crisp but the trail wasn't icy. In fact it was punctuated
with wet spots all along the way. The advantage of having dogs on the
hike is that they don't give a shit. The just plow through anything, wet
or dry. Attentive listening gives you the advantage of being able to
navigate around all oncoming wet spots.
We moved southwestward along the coast........"a distinct track through
the brush heads down the other side of the hill to a tiny dam. Once at
water level, the path meanders along the hillside past Duncans Reef and
Duck Reef". (Thanks Mike.)
We passed a few significant historical locations, as pointed out by
those who had been on this trail previously. The first site was where
Ross once slipped on the rocks and damn near ended up in the ocean. The
next was an ancient ruin where a lost tribe stumbled among the rocks
near the water's edge. They say the leader was a brave warrior (wearing
a Elmer Fudd hat) who led his bevy of concubines to the shoreline where
a fire was built and a sacrifice was contemplated......but the womenfolk
decided to spare his life though he had caused them to become hopelessly
lost and miss out on the main portion of the night hike. That particular
site dates back to December of 1999, I believe (see the December
write-up for the details).
The third, and final, historical site was the location of the official
December Full Moon hike bonfire. Of course Norm wanted to argue that
Bruce had miscalculated the general location. Norm only mildly backed
away from the argument when Bruce pointed out that he (Norm) wasn't even
present for the official December bonfire (again, I refer you to the
December write- up for details).
It was now time for the March bonfire. Since we were situated at the top
of a cliff, and the wind was fairly strong, it was decided that we
should retrace our steps to the first available cove where the wind
would be more favourable. "The steep cliffs by the water's edge were
formed in an early geological age, buried later by softer sedimentary
cover, and exposed again when the layer eroded away. The cliffs retain
their harsh steepness, which might otherwise have been worn away by wind
We found a lovely spot. The next problem was how to get a fire going
without Gordie's and/or Bernie's expertise. It's always been an amazing
sight, watching the two former Scouters laying on their bellies in the
dirt, constructing the foundation for the fire, stick by stick - the
small pieces in the center, surrounded by the larger ones, in the form
of a small teepee. No paper. And, one match does the trick. It's simply
We opted to dump our wood and paper in a heap while Bruce doused it with
a generous splash of his secret family blend of fire water. Throw in a
lit match and.....whoof!!!! - bring on the wieners. Of course, those of
us in the front row suffered the complete loss of eyebrow and nose
I must add that, while the firewood was being prepared, Wayne attempted
to light Greg's pant leg on fire thinking, in the darkness, Greg's cuff
was the edge of a piece of newspaper. All of us, except Greg, thought it
was pretty funny.
It may have been windy and cold, but it was pleasant. We had the usual
supply of hot dogs, marshmallows and a few other odds and ends. We
talked a bit and laughed a lot. Then it was time to go.
"So-called rogue waves, unpredictable and more powerful than normal
breakers, can reach far onto the rocks, and almost every year someone is
lost in the ocean." (Cute, Mike.)
We followed the coast, arriving back at out vehicles at approximately
10:00. It was a bit of a disappointment that the moon was under cloud
cover for the entire hike, but it was still a most pleasant experience.
It's always a pleasant experience and I'm looking forward to the next