We had planned to head to Woodland Caribou Provincial Park for a paddling adventure. This outing would have encompassed a 23-hour drive to reach the western edge of Ontario near the Manitoba border. We had to stop and pivot after receiving a telephone call warning us the area was experiencing an above-average number of forest fires, which eventually led to the closure of the park.
Our pivot took us to Eastern Canada, in particular, Nova Scotia along the rugged eastern shore, a mere 15-hour drive for us through Quebec and New Brunswick. The 100 Wild Islands are a little known gem of Crown-owned islands, a short distance east of Halifax. A fascinating paddle route with sand beaches, protected lagoons, seal and seabird colonies, and hidden campsites. This region of the Atlantic Ocean does have exposed areas once you travel beyond the protection of the islands that can be transformed from a quiet sea into a frothy maze of whitecaps in very little time.
We navigated tides and ocean swells, negotiated currents and reflected waves for the next several days. Also, we experienced absolute calm water, warm temperatures and sunny days, including a morning of thick dense fog limiting our vision to only a few metres. After leaving the Coastal Adventures put-in site at Mason Cove, we paddled past Inner Baltee Island toward Baltee Island. The passage between the two islands is shallow water and a soft-shelled clam bed. Just past the eastern opening, we found a crescent-shaped sandy beach, a pleasant place to stay for the night. With warm clean inviting sand, we had the whole beach to ourselves and a small flat grassy area to pitch our tent just beyond the sand.
Moving forward, we paddled around Inner Baltee Island before crossing over Tangier Harbour to find the Carryover Cove that once served as a portage. However, an hour each side of the high tide there is enough water that one can easily canoe or kayak through the cut. It opens to views of vertical sections of cliffs of what is thought to be the oldest rock on earth, the ‘Tangier Dykes’. Tangier Dykes are believed to be parts of the bottom of the earth’s crust that have been broken off and transported by molten lava upward through fissures. The mixture of rock fragments and lava solidified before reaching the surface and subsequent erosion and uplifting have exposed it. What waited for us was a small pocket pristine white sand beach with turquoise water harbouring a campsite. Flanked on either side by these cliffs was a view of several small windswept islands at our front doorstep. A unique spot.
The next several days, we witnessed Harbour Seals following our canoe curious about what we were doing. Eagles perched high in the trees keeping watch over their domain, while we viewed salt marshes, unusual for offshore islands. We spotted a deer passing silently as it moved along the edges of the unique boreal rainforest. We listened and watched as the tides changed the shoreline, exposing rocks and shoals only to have them disappear many hours later by crashing waves.
Cap Island, another interesting spot, had a small sand beach where we watched crabs trying to hide among the few rocks. The other side of the island revealed huge whaleback rocks scoured by the ice age, perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee while viewing Stoney Island and Gerard Island and the sea beyond. During the night we were listening to a symphony of sounds. A calliope of bellowing seals, screaming eagles, the chatter of what we assumed were otters, due to the amount of discarded crab shells and the rusty moaning of a distant unseen navigation buoy. To add to the mix was the occasional snoring and crashing wave, all of which kept us quite amused.
To find out more about this amazing area, obtain ‘Sea Kayaking in Nova Scotia: A Guide to Paddling Routes Along the Coast’ by Scott Cunningham. Or arrange a guided tour with Scott or Gayle at Coastal Adventures!
During our 2017 cross-Canada canoe trip we camped on Chapel Island and wanted to revisit the Potlotek First Nations community while we were in Nova Scotia. Since then, the community has built Potlotek Greenhouse, which encompasses a greenhouse, geothermal climate battery and a sustainable in-ground heating system. Here they are growing a huge variety of produce all year round from herbs to kale and watermelons! Besides planting, harvesting and selling their produce, they were busy at work getting ready to greet school students that were going to learn how to grow their own vegetables by planting bean seeds. It’s great to see sustainability and food security at work here by these young people! Way to go!
Tuesday, October 19th is the date! We are honoured to be a guest on the Canoehound Adventure Show! Be sure to tune in to YouTube at 7 pm!
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