Trail Journal

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.

Date: July 6 2000
Trail Day: 36
Miles Today: 15.5
Location: 6 km from Nictain
Section Mile: IAT 473.8
ECT Mile: 473.8

Got up warm and dry. All my clothes and equipment had dried out. The cabin was warm while it had been windy and cold outside. In Kedgwick I had decided to bypass Mt Carlton and take the Sentier NB trail instead. From Kedgwick to Plaster Rock (about 5 days of hiking) is all roads. The Sentier NB trail is an old railway line where they have taken out the rails. It runs among numerous other places, from Kedgwick to Plaster Rock. But then after talking to Maurice Simon and looking at the maps it looked as though the NB trail meanders a lot to avoid slopes. So I had decided to do Rte 385 instead and touch Mt. Carlton. I am now very glad I did. I got a chance to dry out, got a warm nice place to sleep in and got to meet very friendly, wonderful people. It is always nice to meet warm people. Its a morale booster especially on a hike where it can get quite lonely.

Spent the morning hiking Mt. Carlton, Mt Head and Mt. Sagimook. It was about 12 km. One of the park employees gave me a ride to the base of Mt. Carlton from where I started my hike. The hikes of the first two peaks was fairly easy. Mt. Sagimook was steeper and rockier. Took a photograph on Mt. Carlton. You can tell when you are nearing the peak - the wind will almost knock you off. I got done at about 1:00 pm and got a ride from an old gentleman who drove extremely slowly. He had a cup of soda that he was drinking . Between sips he would put it on the dashboard and it wouldn't even come close to tipping over - and we were on a bumpy dirt road ! He told me of an Indian friend he had named Kuppaiswamy, who was an engineer in the Indian Navy. He had some problem getting a US visa but a Canadian one was easier (This was 30 years ago). So the American company transferred him to Canada and then after things were straightened out over years he moved him back to the US. He married a native Indian girl and had two children who are now grown up. The old gentleman offered me some grapes as I was leaving. Only politeness prevented me from snatching the whole bag and gobbling it. They were delicious.

As I was done with my Mt. Carlton hike fairly early, I decided to get some trail miles in. Said thanks and good byes to the park folks and started walking Rte 385. About 5 minutes into the hike I saw a fox with a pup. It was sitting on the road and continued to look at me as I approached, then ran half up a small hill and looked at me for a while and then ran away.

Saw Dick Anderson and Will Richards again. Looks like they had bad weather at Parc de la Gaspesie and had to return early. They also said Henry, the President of ALDHA (Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association) was doing the IAT and that I would run into him soon. Soon afterwards I set up tent, cooked and got into my tent. Then I heard a voice say "Excuse me, is this the way to Cap de Gaspe". It was Henry. His trail name is Trickster. He also set up his tent nearby. We chatted a little about AT, ALDHA and other related stuff.

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