Finally, a sunny day. I made a snap decision to go for a hike. I haven’t been to the Irving Nature Park since My Quest for the Forbidden in Saint John,
Late last spring I had followed the seal trail in hopes of seeing them on the rocks. I had a long, tiring hike and came away with only photos of black-capped chickadees and some gulls. With my camera roped around my neck, I head up the path. There is still snow on the trail but the forecast promises to warm up to plus five Celsius today. I am layered and ready. First stop is the boardwalk, The wind gusts across the open salt marsh. I see a few black ducks, and of course they take to the sky as soon as I get to the end. I watch for a bit more then retreat back to the treed path.
I follow the circumference trail – the side trails are too slippery. Trudging along, the snow is crunchy from all the other frozen footprints. I make enough noise to let any worthy animal or bird I might want to photograph know I am approaching. The going is uneven and my winter boots make me clumsy.
I take my time stopping along each of the look-out points. Several of the beach areas are free of snow but the seaweed is still icy in areas, It is slack tide, nothing but gulls gobbling up what is exposed in the mud.
Round the south side the sun is warmer now, and the snow is getting mushy and slippery. I have to watch my step. When I had seen sledge marks in the snow earlier, I figured it was a dad dragging his little one through the woods on a hike. The further I go the more I start to think it might be a search and rescue sledge. I had forgotten how far this trail goes.
I push on, grumbling that perhaps I should have turned around long ago, but there is more behind me than in front of me now. I can only go forward from here. Normally a hike this distance is nothing for me but the effort of punching through the snow is draining. I have to unzip my coat, I am perspiring – the search and rescue sledge is starting to sound good. Finally, the seal beach look-off puts a bit of spring back into my step.
The little rock island is quite far out. The seals are very near to pupping this time of year, and they come up to bask in the sun. I am in luck, even if my camera is pushed to its limits. I stay for quite a while and watch them. They make my challenging hike worth the effort.
As I close in on the end of the trail, I greet a couple coming towards me. They return my greeting in French and unfold a map looking for directions. We play a bit of charades and I show them my photos and point to the spot on map. “Ahh merci!” They smile and nod then turn and continue on.
Finally, arriving back at the parking lot, I check the trail head map. Seven km around, plus I did the boardwalk trail and most of the beach trails for about eight km total.
For a great day hike make sure to bring water, snacks, a camera and binoculars. If you are interested in the Saint John area, please check out my other posts.
Cheers and happy travels from Maritime Mac.
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