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View Full Version : Fundy Footpath in March



JAK
2010-03-07, 00:57
I just got back from an aborted attempt at the fundy footpath in March. Couldn't have asked for better conditions. Sunny, clear, highs 40F Friday, maybe 50F Saturday, low of maybe 25F Friday night. I bailed out Saturday halfway from Seely Beach to Cradle Brook, took the Cradle Brook access road out, then back down the Big Salmon River Road, then hiked back to the gate of the Fundy Trail Parkway. All in all about 20km Friday, and 30km Saturday, from 3pm to 4pm for 25 hours of adventure.

I bailed because even though the trail conditions were pretty much perfect, hard dry ground, very little snow, there was some ice in spots, and alot of blowdowns since post-winter trail maintenace hasn't been done yet. I had 33 pounds skin-out, which at my current weight of 195# was enough to make me a bit sketchy on my feet. I used 7oz adidas adizero running flats, which worked surprising well desipite their unagressive tread. I think if I was 10 pounds lighter and my pack was 10 pounds lighter, and some more hiking fitness, I might have been able to make a decent attempt at a winter Fundy Trek = Fundy Footpath + Fundy National Park + Dobson Trail, but only because the conditions were more or less as ideal as they get for this time of year.

There was more snow and ice at the higher elevations. The Fundy Footpath goes more or less up and down up and down from sea level to 500 feet or so. The shoreline slope is somewhat sheltered from the North wind outbreaks, and moderated by the Bay of Fundy, and heat from the sun; but the higher elevations don't get the same effect. Seely Beach to Cradle Brook was a good test as it gets up there, and my concern was that as I got further up the coast it tends to get colder, steeper, and more rugged, and perhaps most importantly more remote. I didn't want to make any embarrassing calls with a broken ankle, but the risk of actually slipping and sliding off a cliff had me thinking also. I had already taken enough chances for one trip. I had food and clothing for 5 maybe 7 days, but my intention was to be flexible.

Close calls:
One the very first km of the footpath on the Big Salmon River itself there was a frozen over landslide I had to cross, which wasn't too bad, but I ended up above the footpath and nearly fell getting back down to it. Fortunately I took my pack off first, and slid it down the 10 feet, then slipped and fell after it. Good wake up. There were 3 more major frozen over landslides between Big Salmon River and Long Beach Brook. One of them was massive, maybe 100 feet across, big trees and rocks, frozen pretty solid. Not sure when all this occured, but the construction they have going on to the Fundy Trail Parkway is probably contributing to it as well as the hard rains we had in the Fall. Probably nothing compared to the logging and mining done over 100 years ago. This wilderness has seen it all before.

Close call #2 = Very Stupid Move:
I got to Long Beach Brook just after dusk, too long after dusk really. I was lucky the white blazes were easy to see and the last part of that trail was moderate, except for the landslide right at Long Beach Brook I had to slide down as there was no other way around. I didn't have a working headlamp and like to go without them sometimes, which was a dumb move for this trip, especially as it was a third quarter moon. That was stupid, but the other thing I did next was very stupid. I hiked the beach from Long Beach Brook to Seely Beach Brook at low tide. I have done this before at night, but the difference this time was that it was a third quarter noon, not a full moon. This means two things. Less light, and more critically, a neap tide instead of a spring tide. I got to the three outcroppings from the cliffs just before Seely Beach about an hour before low tide, waited 30 more minutes, then to make a long story short nearly killed myself. First outcropping not too bad, waded around the second outcropping knee deep in 36F water, on slippery rocks, in the dark. The waves weren't too bad as the wind was blowing offshore, but they were bad enough for one wave to splash me pretty good. I was cursing myself pretty good by then, but had already decided there was only one way to go and that was onward, even if I had to swim. Third outcropping wasn't as bad as the second, but I stumbled hard over a black rock between the second and third outcropping, but didn't break anything or knock myself out. Very thankful to get off those rocks and up above high water onto Seely Beach. Beautiful starlit night, 9pm, maybe 3 hours before 3rd quarter moon rise. Orion looking down on my with much disgust.

There is a clothes line at the campsite in the trees at Seely Beach Brook, which came in very handy. Nothing really wet. 200wt fleece pants. Hiking shorts. Heavy Helly Hansen Fleece hoody I put over my wool sweater for the beach walk. Wool socks and running flats of course. Everything more or less dry by morning, or dry enough. Didn't bother with a hot meal. Just had a can of corned beef and cold lemonade and some fruit to goes and went to bed. Slept well. Blue foam pad. Gortex Bivy. 3 pound Kelty synthetic sleeping bag.

Older and somewhat wiser the next day. Hiked out the next day via Cradle Brook Access Road, Big Salmon River Road, Fundy Trail Parkway. Some snow on road but not much. Got a bit of a sunburn. Cramp in left calf, but I seem to be over my feet/ankle and hip/thigh issues for now. 6 hours hiking Friday for 20km, and 7 hours Saturday for maybe 30km, for about 30 miles in total over 25 hours, with 13 on my feet with pack. Need to lose weight, without risking live and limb. All in all a great hike though.

Main lesson was when doing something potentially dangerous for the 2nd or 3rd time, you have to be extra careful to really think things through because you might be missing something important, something important might have changed, or you might have just gotten lucky the first time. The mind is a funny thing, and gets very fuzzy sometimes when your in the middle of a hike. I should have stopped and spent the first night at Long Beach Brook. The fact that I hiked the last 30-60 minutes in dusk after sunset should have been enough to tip me off that things were not working 100% upstairs. If you do something stupid, but are in a safe place, stop and destupify yourself before going any further, especially out onto a beach at low tide after dark.

supertramp
2010-03-11, 14:48
Well good for you for bailing.so many times we try to prove things to ourselves that we lose sight of what's important to ourselves and family and that is our life.the footpath is not going anywhere-it's hard to bail but there are times it is prudent -take any pics? It looks like a great trail

Big Mac
2010-03-11, 15:03
You could have just pressed the panic button on your SPOT beacon.

JAK
2010-03-13, 16:45
lol. Didn't carry the SPOT. I had my cell phone though.
Damn, I had a sore calf too. Why did I walk out on my own?

Camera got the worst of the salt water when I did the beach dash. It was in my pants pocket. It only had 10 pictures anyway, because it sucked anyway, 10 pictures even with good batteries. I saved the second set of batteries for day2, and when I put them in, the camera just went all weird, so its fucked. Our good camera is also fucked with some sort of "lens error" message. It could take 100s of pictures and is rechargeable, so that's a bummer.

Going out again tonight or tomorrow, just as far a Long Beach Brook again with a buddy thats wants to do some geological work. He said landslides can sometimes uncover bedrock. There was a coppermine there years ago, and you can still see these green rocks, and the rocks all along that coast are all sorts of colours. Long Beach in particular has very nice sized well polished rocks, which is the extent on my daughter and my geological knowledge. Hope to learn alot from my friend. Maybe he has a working camera and I will post the landslide photos.

Austin
2010-03-15, 00:34
I just got back from an aborted attempt at the fundy footpath in March. Couldn't have asked for better conditions. Sunny, clear, highs 40F Friday, maybe 50F Saturday, low of maybe 25F Friday night. I bailed out Saturday halfway from Seely Beach to Cradle Brook, took the Cradle Brook access road out, then back down the Big Salmon River Road, then hiked back to the gate of the Fundy Trail Parkway. All in all about 20km Friday, and 30km Saturday, from 3pm to 4pm for 25 hours of adventure.

I bailed because even though the trail conditions were pretty much perfect, hard dry ground, very little snow, there was some ice in spots, and alot of blowdowns since post-winter trail maintenace hasn't been done yet. I had 33 pounds skin-out, which at my current weight of 195# was enough to make me a bit sketchy on my feet. I used 7oz adidas adizero running flats, which worked surprising well desipite their unagressive tread. I think if I was 10 pounds lighter and my pack was 10 pounds lighter, and some more hiking fitness, I might have been able to make a decent attempt at a winter Fundy Trek = Fundy Footpath + Fundy National Park + Dobson Trail, but only because the conditions were more or less as ideal as they get for this time of year.

There was more snow and ice at the higher elevations. The Fundy Footpath goes more or less up and down up and down from sea level to 500 feet or so. The shoreline slope is somewhat sheltered from the North wind outbreaks, and moderated by the Bay of Fundy, and heat from the sun; but the higher elevations don't get the same effect. Seely Beach to Cradle Brook was a good test as it gets up there, and my concern was that as I got further up the coast it tends to get colder, steeper, and more rugged, and perhaps most importantly more remote. I didn't want to make any embarrassing calls with a broken ankle, but the risk of actually slipping and sliding off a cliff had me thinking also. I had already taken enough chances for one trip. I had food and clothing for 5 maybe 7 days, but my intention was to be flexible.

Close calls:
One the very first km of the footpath on the Big Salmon River itself there was a frozen over landslide I had to cross, which wasn't too bad, but I ended up above the footpath and nearly fell getting back down to it. Fortunately I took my pack off first, and slid it down the 10 feet, then slipped and fell after it. Good wake up. There were 3 more major frozen over landslides between Big Salmon River and Long Beach Brook. One of them was massive, maybe 100 feet across, big trees and rocks, frozen pretty solid. Not sure when all this occured, but the construction they have going on to the Fundy Trail Parkway is probably contributing to it as well as the hard rains we had in the Fall. Probably nothing compared to the logging and mining done over 100 years ago. This wilderness has seen it all before.

Close call #2 = Very Stupid Move:
I got to Long Beach Brook just after dusk, too long after dusk really. I was lucky the white blazes were easy to see and the last part of that trail was moderate, except for the landslide right at Long Beach Brook I had to slide down as there was no other way around. I didn't have a working headlamp and like to go without them sometimes, which was a dumb move for this trip, especially as it was a third quarter moon. That was stupid, but the other thing I did next was very stupid. I hiked the beach from Long Beach Brook to Seely Beach Brook at low tide. I have done this before at night, but the difference this time was that it was a third quarter noon, not a full moon. This means two things. Less light, and more critically, a neap tide instead of a spring tide. I got to the three outcroppings from the cliffs just before Seely Beach about an hour before low tide, waited 30 more minutes, then to make a long story short nearly killed myself. First outcropping not too bad, waded around the second outcropping knee deep in 36F water, on slippery rocks, in the dark. The waves weren't too bad as the wind was blowing offshore, but they were bad enough for one wave to splash me pretty good. I was cursing myself pretty good by then, but had already decided there was only one way to go and that was onward, even if I had to swim. Third outcropping wasn't as bad as the second, but I stumbled hard over a black rock between the second and third outcropping, but didn't break anything or knock myself out. Very thankful to get off those rocks and up above high water onto Seely Beach. Beautiful starlit night, 9pm, maybe 3 hours before 3rd quarter moon rise. Orion looking down on my with much disgust.

There is a clothes line at the campsite in the trees at Seely Beach Brook, which came in very handy. Nothing really wet. 200wt fleece pants. Hiking shorts. Heavy Helly Hansen Fleece hoody I put over my wool sweater for the beach walk. Wool socks and running flats of course. Everything more or less dry by morning, or dry enough. Didn't bother with a hot meal. Just had a can of corned beef and cold lemonade and some fruit to goes and went to bed. Slept well. Blue foam pad. Gortex Bivy. 3 pound Kelty synthetic sleeping bag.

Older and somewhat wiser the next day. Hiked out the next day via Cradle Brook Access Road, Big Salmon River Road, Fundy Trail Parkway. Some snow on road but not much. Got a bit of a sunburn. Cramp in left calf, but I seem to be over my feet/ankle and hip/thigh issues for now. 6 hours hiking Friday for 20km, and 7 hours Saturday for maybe 30km, for about 30 miles in total over 25 hours, with 13 on my feet with pack. Need to lose weight, without risking live and limb. All in all a great hike though.

Main lesson was when doing something potentially dangerous for the 2nd or 3rd time, you have to be extra careful to really think things through because you might be missing something important, something important might have changed, or you might have just gotten lucky the first time. The mind is a funny thing, and gets very fuzzy sometimes when your in the middle of a hike. I should have stopped and spent the first night at Long Beach Brook. The fact that I hiked the last 30-60 minutes in dusk after sunset should have been enough to tip me off that things were not working 100% upstairs. If you do something stupid, but are in a safe place, stop and destupify yourself before going any further, especially out onto a beach at low tide after dark.

Wow, dude.

That was a really long post.

What did it say?

Gaiter
2010-03-15, 00:58
Wow, dude.

That was a really long post.

What did it say?

i think something about a hike?

JAK
2010-03-15, 08:59
Sorry dudes.
Next time I will include some photos and write in crayon.

Maybe this could go under Canadian Trails, along with the Dobson Trail posts. The Dobson Trail, Fundy National Park, and Fundy Footpath together form the Fundy Trek, which is about 125km 75 miles, mostly moderate to severe, and quite primitive. It is blazed like the Appachian Trail. Things are changing somewhat from the west at its terminus at Big Salmon River with the extension of the Fundy Trail Parway, which is a scenic motorway with footpaths and bikepaths along the side of it. Map shown here:

Fundy Trail Parkway, with end of Fundy Footpath (Fundy Trek) shown as E.
http://www.fundytrailparkway.com/assets/uploads/files/2009/4/FTR-MapWithLegend.pdf

Extension to Fundy Trail Parkway, showing proximity to Fundy Footapth Western Section:
http://www.fundytrailparkway.com/en/the_fundy_footpath/

Fundy Trek Site, which includes a hiking forum, not used much but friendly and helpful:
http://www.fundyfootpath.info/

Went out again with buddy yesterday. Had a hike. He took some photos. We hiked in to Big Salmon River on the Fundy Trail Parkway Saturday Night. Calf felt better even though I ran a 200m, 800m, and did shotput at a fun indoor meet that day. Daughter ran a really good 1000m. fun stuff. Clear starlit sky, but no moon. Got to Big Salmon River at 11pm and stayed up til 3am, 4am with the hour change. Only got down to -3C maybe, but a cool moist wind flows down the Big Salmon River Valley kept things chilled until noonish.

We arose and went for a 3.5 hour hike without our packs, up the extension of the fundy trail parkway, bushwacked downslope to join the fundy footpath at the Big Salmon River lookout, then along the footpath to were the major landslide is between Long Beach and Long Beach Brook. He took some samples and we climbed up the landslide from about 50m elevation at the footpath to about 150m at the top. Sure enough, the top was the extension to the Fundy Trail Parkway, so the cleared trees and roadwork and heavy rains in the Fall did cause the slide as I expected, despite all there precautions. I'm not sure how the Fundy Trail Parkway will effect the safety of the Fundy Footpath route in the long run, but it will always be a treacherous route regardless. Buddy took some rock samples at the slide, but a piece he took off a big chunk of quartz probably came from the rock fill at the top from the parkway, and probably originated from the cut as it goes up the hill from Big Salmon River. After we got back to camp we packed up and took the Fundy Trail back to his truck, so we got about 20 miles and 8-9 hours of hiking in altogether. I find his geological stuff interesting and we plan on getting out again in 2 weeks. He is keen on making his pack lighter and hiking more. We are going to check out some old mining sites up by Martin Head.

Photos to follow.