Trail Journal

Date: June 29 2000
Trail Day: 29
Miles Today: 16.8
Location: Jordine Brook
Section Mile: IAT 378.8
ECT Mile: 378.8

I had breakfast at the same store. I talked a little more with the store owner. Took a photo with him. His name is Arthur Bacon. He has lived here since he was 6. He and his wife have a daughter who is married and they have two children. There had been a fire in a barn and trailer yesterday. I had seen a police car, two fire engines and several cars speed by as I was hiking along the road. Yesterday evening one of the fire fighters had come to the store and related what had happened. It seems two of the horses in the barns had been trapped and died. Last night as I was about to fall asleep I suddenly realised that I had talked to the man who owned the horses and dogs. He had said he had sold the place and was moving 10 miles away. So in the morning I asked Arthur if that was indeed the house. Turned out it was. It was somehow bizarre. I mean what are the chances that I would talk to the person and within the hour his trailer and barn burns up. Spooky.

Anyway, I got hiking at about 7:30. It was cloudy. I did about 7 km to Glenwood Provincial Park which they have actually shutdown. I found the trail and continued. The trail is quite well marked with white and blue stripe flags and some parts have metal tags with the SIA/IAT tag on it. It started raining around noon, so I put on the backpack rain cover. I just get wet during rains. Raincoat cuts off the air circulation too much and you end up sweaty inside. Either way you get wet. I saw a bear and a moose. The bear was the same size as the one I saw in Park Forillion but this one bounded off immediately. I was able to see the bear and the moose because of the rain. The noise of the rain drops had drowned out the noise of my footsteps.

At one point I got to the place where they were cutting trees. The posts and the flags were all gone. I continued in the general direction and saw the large machine responsible for the carnage. The operator was new and had no idea about any trail. He drove me to another similar machine. The second guy knew where some parts of the trail were. We drove around till we found it. They then dropped me off where I had seen the first machine so I could hike the whole thing. People think it odd when I ask them to drop me back at where I found them. But once I explain that I have to walk the whole distance they understand. I have even pieced together the necessary sentence in Francaise. Its "Je dois marche la trail complet".

Boy, the machines do an awful lot of damage. It destroys everything - the smaller trees, shrubs, weeds - everything. It looks as though a gruesome murder has just taken place. I walked a little further down the trail. It had some of the large, magnificent trees. I realized with a pang of sadness that the machine would be getting them some time next week. What hypocrasy - the western countries blame the " third world" countries for destroying the rain forest while the rape occurs everyday at home.

The rest of the hike went well. There are a lot of ridges in this section and as a result I could only do a smaller straight line distance than I had hoped for. After what seemed like an endless number of ups and downs I came to the hill beside the Restigouche river. It was a beautiful scene. I then made a long descent to Jordine brook. Now there are two ways one can cut a trail on a hill. Straight up - short and steep or with numerous switchbacks - gradual descent but long. The trail down was an example of the second approach carried to the extreme. I was almost dizzy with all the switchbacks. But I had decided to camp beside the brook and was in good spirits. So I just enjoyed it.

Most of my places to camp in the forest are quite bad. It will either be sloped, cramped or have a big boulder or root sticking into my back. This time I found a semi established camp site. Nice and flat. There was also a nice fire ring with a lot of dead trees nearby. I was about to get a fire going but then decided to sleep instead. This is also prime bear country. So I have cooked and eaten away from my tent. I am also supposed to hang my food away from a bears reach but I am too tired and lazy to do so. Tomorrow I will let you know if I still have my food.

Picture of the River Course

Date: June 30 2000
Trail Day: 30
Miles Today: 18.6
Location: Near England Island
Section Mile: IAT 397.4
ECT Mile: 397.4

First off, no bear visits. Tonight I complete my first full month on the trail. I am enjoying it so far.

Last night I was thinking of walking along the river Restigouche. The trail never touches the river. So today morning I tried to hike to the river from the brook I had camped on. Within a few 100 feet however the valley closed in and the vegetation became too thick. So I continued on the trail. Got to a good view point. The river is very low, they say. I could clearly see enough shore to walk on before the mountain began. Further down the trail there was a dirt road which seemed to be headed towards the river. I followed it for a while but then it started paralleling the river. I then decided to bushwhack to the river. It looks like the mountain has a very steep slope just as it gets to the river level. I had to lower myself down those 50 ft or so. My ski pole fell off and I landed on my butt several times but finally made it.

Walking the river was easier. I cant believe the trail never touches the river. Some of the sections were much harder. These were where I was walking on the outside of the curve of the river. Here the river cuts into the rock and there is no walking area. In one such place I barely had a foot hold, my body was parallel with the rock face at about 70 degree angle with both hands on the rock. I had a good 10 feet plunge into the water if I slipped - Not life threatening but a definite soak and swim. I made it and was so relieved that I decided to rest. It was a very odd place. A highly sloped rock face with good depression for a back pack and a person to sit in. Above was a tree that was growing at an angle to get the sun. It had started raining and the tree acted like an umbrella. I sat there and really enjoyed the strange location I was in. Then I continued on.

The rain then picked up and it rained off and on almost all day. I was fully wet. There was one rock section that I had to climb into the trees to avoid. Since it was raining very heavily I decided to rest. I thought - about a month ago I was working in Pratt and Whitney now I am in the middle of nowhere sitting under some trees behind a river soaking wet. I really like rain and was very happy. I was grinning a good 10 minutes. 5 canoes with women passed by.

Due to the rain the rocks had become slippery. I skidded and lost my balance several times. There is one flat red kind of rock that is the worst. I saw numerous tadpoles in the little pools. Three officers (police, forest kind) stopped their canoes to chat. One of them knew about me starting from Cap de Gaspe. We talked trails, salmon and bear and said our byes. I got towards Pine island. Somewhere in this area the trail diverges from the river for about 20 km. I decided to get back on the trail. There was a club. I talked to 2 ladies working there. They gave me directions and some soup and bread. The soup was wonderful as I was wet. People have an inborn tendency to help others and sympathize with those who are having a hard time. Its very difficult to believe this in this modern age, but its true. The two women were an example. They saw me soaked and worn out and naturally gave me food and encouragement. This can be a very refreshing experience and rebuilds one's faith in humanity.

I found the trail without any problems. Due to the cloud cover however it darkened a little quickly and I couldn't find the flags anymore. I have almost no water, but was forced to camp where I was. Only snacks and uncooked Ramen noodles for dinner today. It is still raining but I am out of wet clothes into my dry ones and in my sleeping bag. It is very cozy.

Date: July 1 2000
Trail Day: 31
Miles Today: 0
Location: Unknown location on River Restigouche
Section Mile: IAT 397.4
ECT Mile: 397.4

I spent most of today lost. Things started out OK then the trail formed a T with both sections equally well maintained. The map I had gotten showed the words "New location" faintly in the general area. I took one of the forks using guesswork. It led to a dirt road with absolutely no signs. I continued on this till it petered out about 4 km or so away. No signs anywhere here. Then at the very end there were flags that led to another T. Another guess with compass and I continued. After several hours I saw the river again. I continued then suddenly realized that the river was to my left and not right as it should have been. So I had picked the wrong direction some where. I continued in that direction hoping to find a road.

After a long time the trail got lost in a big land slide. I bushwhacked to the river and started walking in some direction. I am now thoroughly lost and am hoping to find a road tomorrow and head out.

It appears as though the designers have gone out of their way to make it "tough". It is constantly going sharply up or down. Should it gain popularity almost the entire trail except for the section that runs on the ridge will have to be relocated.

Date: July 2 2000
Trail Day: 32
Miles Today: 21.8
Location: Kedgwick
Section Mile: IAT 419.2
ECT Mile: 419.2

Today morning I realized that I had camped very near the place where I had started walking along the river. I found the road I had come down on and started to head out of the forest. After a dead end on one of the forks, I was able to get to a well used dirt road which led me out. I got to Route 17 and started hiking towards Kedgwick.

It rained off and on and I got wet each time. I decided to hike all the way to Kedgwick today and take a day off tomorrow. On the way a car stopped and who should it be but Dick Anderson, the president of the IAT. He was accompanied by Will Richards. I took their photograph and they took mine. We talked quite a bit.

Continued to Kedgwick and found a very nice bed and breakfast. Today was a long day.

Forest Massacare.

Date: July 3 2000
Trail Day: 33
Miles Today: 0
Location: Kedgwick
Section Mile: IAT 419.2
ECT Mile: 419.2

A day of rest. Laundry, shopping etc. Then took a nap and watched TV. A lot of shops and offices are closed due to Canada day. I am having poor luck with libraries and internet access.

Date: July 4 2000
Trail Day: 34
Miles Today: 23
Location: On Rte 180
Section Mile: IAT 442.2
ECT Mile: 442.2

Today morning Maurice Simon came to the bed and breakfast I was staying at. He is the one responsible for designing and maintaining the Kedgwick section of the trail. He is a very enthusiastic young man and knows the trail very well. We talked for a while about how and where I got lost, about the problem IAT is having with the paper companies etc. It appears as though there are now 2 sections that have been clear cut. The one I ran into was new. There is another one further down the line which I never got to.

I stopped by the library on the hike out to check my e-mail and the web page. Some of the names are getting transcribed wrong. Its my hand writing. Most of the times I am lying down in my tent and writing propped up on my elbow - not a very comfortable position. I tried to make an entry in the "From the trail" section but the browser almost froze. Then changed my mind. They have a really slow computer here.

Today and tomorrow will be a roadwalk to Mt. Carlton Park. There I will hike for a day and then begin another 3 day road walk to Plaster Rock from where the trail leads to the US border. At Fort Fairfield I pick up the set of maps for the Maine section that Vivek has sent and continue.

The road walk was relatively uneventful. Dogs are a nuisance. Too many of them. The smaller ones are not leashed and can be a headache. The owners only make half hearted efforts to call them back.

A few hours into Rte. 180, the houses came to a stop. I was lucky I got some water at the last house on the route. The man also gave me a Pepsi. After that there were no streams or houses for a long time. I was wondering if it was going to be another no-cooking day due to lack of water. But towards the end the road ran past a little lake where I filled up.

Something interesting - On my train journey to Gaspe I had gotten off at Matapedia station to stretch my legs. There I saw someone with a long white beard. I half jokingly told myself - "There goes Nimblewill Nomad". Then I gave it some thought and figured Nomad would be on the trail near Gaspe and not here. But during my conversation with Dick 2 days ago, he said that Nomad had seen me at the station. Nomad had jumped ahead due to snow at the Gaspesie section. What a coincidence. For those who dont know, Nimblewill Nomad is the second person to do the Eastern Continental Trail (Key West to Cap de Gaspe). He did it in 1998 at the age of 60. He is now doing it southbound. I have heard conflicting reports as to where he is headed. Some say Key West, others say Georgia. Anyway, I will know for sure as time passes. I also hope to meet him on the trail somewhere.

Date: July 5 2000
Trail Day: 35
Miles Today: 16.1
Location: Mt Carlton Park
Section Mile: IAT 458.3
ECT Mile: 458.3

It rained very heavily last night - almost Florida kind. Lots of lightning too. I was afraid my tent would seep water. The moss and the dry leaves are capable of holding a lot of water. But this was a downpour and almost non-stop. But the tent help up well. While filling up the water bag last evening the cap had caught a piece of the bag and hence started leaking. My sleeping bag was sitting in a little pool of water in the bottom compartment of my back pack. However by morning it had somewhat dried out in spite of the rain.

It rained almost all day. The temperature dropped and the wind picked up. All in all a miserable combination. My hands were numb. This is the coldest weather I have experienced since leaving Parc de la Gaspesie. The bright side was the strawberries. They are in season now. They seem to grow in places that are sloped, stony and open - road side drainage ditches are sometimes full of them. I stopped several times to pick and munch on them. Saw a grouse with two chicks the size of little hen chicks. They flew into the bushes as I approached.

Got to Rte. 385. Walked another 9 km to Carlton Park. The park employees knew I was coming. Apparently Mel Fritton of Natural Resources and Energy had informed them. I also met Burton and they put me up in a cabin with a fireplace. In all these days on the IAT if I really needed a heated cabin, this is it. I have now got all of my equipment out to dry. Tomorrow I hike the 3 peaks here - Carlton, Head and Sagamook and then leave the next day. The park staff have been extremely kind and helpfull. Thanks to all of them.

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