If you've read this column any, you might have picked up on my dream of a coastal trail running the length of the Fundy Shore from Point Prim to East Ferry.
This past weekend I hiked from Sandy Cove to Whale Cove and was surprised how little work that stretch would need.
I was able to stay on the shore the whole way—no detours around towering cliffs and deep gullies, no arduous climbs up thorny hillsides, no sneaking over private land—just pure, relatively level shore-walking all the way.
Don't get me wrong; it's not as if this stretch of shore is bland or monotonous. Quite the opposite: I was struck this whole trip by the unending variety of the Digby Neck shoreline.
To put it in terms more people might understand, imagine the beauty and energy of the rocks at Peggy's Cove, but imagine 10 km of it. That's the hike from Sandy Cove to Whale Cove.
I kept thinking what a shame more people haven't seen it, that more people from here aren't even aware it's out there.
That we aren't promoting that wild fun playground as one of our main attractions. That we aren't selling for example a package of nights where hikers spend the day walking down the shore. The hotels or inns or hostels meanwhile ship the luggage along to the next stop.
You could maybe do the whole of Digby Neck in four long, hard days—or half of the Neck if you took your time and stopped to smell the seaweed.
Point Prim to Culloden could be a day, Culloden to Gullivers, Gullivers to Centreville, Centreville to Sandy Cove and Sandy Cove to Whale Cove. Whale Cove to East Ferry looks like a half day but I don't know yet for sure.
Of all the hikes though, Sandy Cove to Whale Cove would require the least amount of work to make it a 'trail'.
Perhaps every 500m or every kilometre, a sign painted on a rock to let you know how you are progressing and maybe small interpretation signs in the coves to pass on history or geological or marine information.
Even that seems a little over-the-top. Maybe all we really need is to produce a good map with that kind of information on it.
Perhaps there are landowners out there willing to allow camping on a grassy headland.
There is very little development on this stretch of coast—nothing at all until the 4 km mark at Mink Cove. There are a couple camps there right on the water and a road out to the highway.
A few kilometres farther on is White's Cove—the biggest indentation in the coast between Sandy Cove and Whale Cove. I, for one, was happy there is no quarry and marine terminal here.
The noise and disruption would be one thing. But who knows if I would have even been able to get around the site. Perhaps such a walk would have no longer been possible.
The stretch right after White's Cove is the most challenging of the hike. There is a small rise there and it takes a little more looking and thinking to find a walkable route.
This stretch of shore is covered in tumble rocks – five-, six-, even seven-metre tall boulders that look like they are tumbling down the shore. They look like Rubik's Cubes or dice except you have to walk around, under or over them.
It's fun to puzzle and search your way through these fields of boulders.
Keep your eyes open for mink—they love this kind of habitat as it gives them sheltered access to the water.
You'll have to be quicker than me with the camera though. On two separate occasions last week I saw a mink and only managed the second time some fuzzy far away shots.
I would recommend this hike to anyone who wants to start shore walking. I did climb a bit, more out of preference than necessity.
Otherwise it is just walking, albeit walking over very uneven terrain and occasionally slippery rocks.
The distance, 10 km, is probably the hardest part about this stretch. It took me six hours stopping for lots of pictures but otherwise few breaks.
Pack plenty of food and water, wear sturdy footwear, be prepared for bugs in late spring, wind anytime of the year and wet feet are a possibility.
I started my walk a couple hours before low tide and found it helpful a couple times to be able to get down in the seaweed.
I have just one short walk left to do before the passage. And then I'm undecided: keep going round the Neck back to Rossway, or take the ferry over to Long Island and keep heading west, or take a week and walk the whole Fundy shore of the Neck again in one go.
One thing's certain: I'll be on the shore for sure.