I think I may have broken the law today. I trespassed. I stepped over the chain barrier that said DO NOT ENTER, and proceed onward to a wooden path that was also blocked by boards nailed across the entrance. I climbed them like a ladder and jumped to the other side. The yellow caution tape was no hindrance, I lifted it and ducked under. The hand rails have been removed to give you a bit more sense of insecurity but I skipped down the treads with ease. I figured I have come this far – in for a penny, in for a pound. I will just go to the end and get a panoramic photo.
When I get to the end, the final access stairs have been removed and a tiered cement structure is all that remains. With a big sigh I figure I have been euchred. I take my panoramic picture squinting into the sunlight.
The cliffs of Joggins are incredible. The various layers of striated earth rise out of the sea and continue up the shoreline. Folded and pushed together, slices of the ages are visible in the cliff. Coal and shale have trapped eons of creatures and fossilized them so we can see them today projected on rocks that become exposed with each low tide.
I see something move along a one of the seams running out into the bay. Down at the tide edge, A person perhaps? I zoom my lens in for a better look. It is definitely a man. He didn’t walk out of the sea or hike the entire shoreline to get here, so he must have climbed down this tower in front of me.
I have a long look at the tiered cement structure and strategize how to climb down: the ends are stacked like logs and if I get a grip on the top, I can place a foot on each level and feel my way down. A rush of adrenaline courses through me when my feet finally strike the shale rocks. I find myself in another forbidden place. (Please read My Quest for the Forbidden in Saint John)
The first thing I notice is a shower of water shooting over the cliff’s edge and finding its way out to the bay.
The folds in the rock are so cool. I jump the stream and start to scour the ground for fossils embedded in rocks. I find unusual colours and shapes in the rocks immediately.
The man has left the water’s edge and made his way up to the cliff side. He puts his back against the wall of stone then kneels down and hunches over his cigarette while trying to light it in the wind.
I approach quietly “Hi, I am Kelly, I take it you also climbed down the cement log cabin.”
He puckers his lips and takes three quick draws on his smoke to ensure it is lit. Then replies, ” Yes, I always come by whenever I get back home.”
“I read on the website that it was open on April 22nd, I figured one day early wouldn’t matter.”
He nods, flicking the ash off the end of his cigarette.” Doesn’t look like they are ready to open. It is so nice of them to leave that well at the end where the stairs are suppose to be. I have been here when it is closed more than when it is open. I don’t get home from B.C. that often.”
I do the nodding this time. “I am heading to Halifax, down from New Brunswick. I thought I would stop have a look, I have been here once before.”
He draws hard on his cigarette holds his breath for a moment then turns his head and exhales the smoke out into the wind.
“Yes, I just like it here,” he stares out to the sea.
“Well enjoy your day,” I smile and leave him to his thoughts.
I amble over the rocks snapping a few more photos.
I make my way back up the to the parking lot and search the exterior of the building for cameras that may have captured my violations, I am sure there are here, hidden, but I don’t see any. Just then I noticed the bricks of the building are designed to look like the cliffs slanting upward as if coming up out of the ground. Too bad it wasn’t open today, I enjoyed the exhibits in the fossil center last time I was here. If you want to know more about what the center has to offer here is the link. Joggins fossil cliffs,
The address is;
Joggins Fossil Centre
100 Main Street
Joggins NS B0L 1A0
Until next time happy travels from Maritime Mac.
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