I am driving west on the Trans Canada highway, and I am having an internal debate, flip-flopping between should I ? should I not? The Notre-Dame/ Saint Antoine exit is coming up fast, so I have to make this decision now. Last moment the right-hand turn signal goes on and I decelerate down the ramp.
I had hiked around Victoria Park, Truro, Nova Scotia this morning and I really enjoyed it. A quick hike around Irishtown Nature Park, just outside Moncton, will give me a good chance to compare the two. It is still early in the afternoon, I will be home before the deer start grazing on the sunny side of the road, I tell myself.
It is a wide, muddy parking lot. I face the truck outward, grab my coat and camera and home in on the washroom facilities. After two hours in the car they are a welcome sight. I check the trail map, plot my course and head up the 1400-meter Dragonfly Trail.
As you can see there is still plenty of snow in the woods but the trail is wide and flat and well groomed. I seem to be walking among sapling and young spruce. I hear chickadees and a woodpecker knocking away on a tree trunk, off in the distance.
I pass an older couple holding hands, the lady greets me with a heart-warming smile. “Hello, nice day.”
“Yes it is.” I return her smile. Lots of people are out enjoying the sun. A lady walking her bulldog. A bluejay squawks to let me know I am in his territory. I come to the junction of trails but only the main paths are winter-maintained. I follow the path now up the Bouctouche line for another 1970 meters. I approach a young man, he seems excited and stops me and asks, “Did you see the red dog?”
“No red dog passed me. I have been following the trail all the way from the parking lot. Maybe he went in the woods.”
He lifts his arms and outlines a circle with his fingers while saying, “No, I mean the ring around the sun, did you see it?”
“Oh you mean a sun dog, no I haven’t seen one today,” I say with a chuckle at his enthusiasm. I add, “They usually show up about 36-48 hours before rainy weather.”
“It was really cool” he says again with a grin. I am happy to see an aspiring nature lover.
“I will be sure to have a peek when I get to a clearing, enjoy your hike.”
He nods and turns away.
I pass several other people walking dogs and one lady power-walking. I come to the clearing and look up, nothing but fingers of cirrus clouds streaming in. They are also an indicator of a front pushing our way that will bring wet weather soon.
The park is large – 2200 acres and 250 acres of water.
I come to a wooden bridge that connects the two sides of the water. The left side is still frozen except for a small circular pond that has thawed. A pair of mallards are using the area to court. Even in the confined area they are cagey. When I move close to get a photo they hide among the twigs growing along the shore. I am hoping to get a perfect shot of the iridescent green colouring of the male reflecting off the surface of the water.
Two young girls run ahead of a man carrying a third child in his arms. As we draw closer I ask, “Is everything OK?” It is a long way back to the parking lot to carry someone. He says “Yes, she twisted her ankle but I got her.” He smiles reassuringly and I let them pass.
I take the Spillway Trail, it is 1100 meters and completes the loop to the parking lot. This path twists and turns following a water source I can hear but not see. Some crows have congregated together in a tree, they are cawing aggressively. A couple of bluejays are pestering them, swooping low, trying to drive them off. The further I go the louder the rushing water sounds.
Rounding the bend I see why it is called the spillway. Another bridge with a concrete barrier directing the flow of water down the stream. I was hoping the roar was a waterfall but it was not to be. Still, a pretty place.
On the last leg of the trail I find another parking lot. Just across from it is a wide space that looks like it is maybe landscaped, perhaps a nice sitting area in the summer, but for now it is still covered in snow.
The parking lot is almost full now. Monctonians are taking advantage of the sunny afternoon. I snap a picture of the park sign and it is time to leave. I have another hour-and-a-half drive to get home. The local radio station says the temperature is dropping overnight, cloudy and windy conditions tomorrow, chance of rain the following day.
Lots of deer are grazing on the newly exposed grasses on the banks of the highway. A safe distance away, but I keep a sharp eye out in case they decide to dash across the road. I am glad I stopped at Irishtown Park. Every city needs a place for people to enjoy nature in their own back yard.
Please join me for my next instalment of the city parks series as I do O’dell Park in Fredericton. If you missed the first two instalments please read.
Cheers and happy travels from Maritime Mac
If you like this content you can tip me to show your appreciation.