Bennett Lake to Lake Laverty 14 km return
I return to my truck four times before I actually make it to the trail head. Once to swap my down jacket for my rain jacket, then to check that I had packed enough snacks. Next I puzzled, Should take my phone? I can use as a timepiece. There is no cell signal on the trail. Lastly, I better take that extra pair of socks, just in case.
With all zippers secured and water bottle caps tightened, I head out. I wouldn’t normally feel so fragile and indecisive except this will be the longest hike I have ever attempted by myself and I need to get it right. This time of year, I am not likely to encounter many people who could help if I had a crisis. Just to be safe I told Luke, the campground attendant, that I was doing this hike, and that I would stop in when I was completed to let him know what condition the trail was in — which was really to let someone know I was soloing it and if I didn’t show up, to send out a search party.
The sign Tracy Lake trail points forward but this short paved path ends on the beach at Bennett Lake. The snow fences haven’t been taken down yet and it looks like a barricade. I don’t know which way to go, until I look beyond the enclosure and notice the starting point off at the edge of the woods, beyond the change rooms.
I have chosen this trail because the park brochure states it is one of the best places for sightings of moose, loons and beaver and I have been shut out of the wildlife viewing category so far.
Once I start my hike, I take note that the distance wouldn’t be the limiting factor, the rough footing is what will slow me down.
Ankle-wrenching rocks and roots are everywhere, requiring constant attention. I give myself very few opportunities to cast my eyes upward to look at the scenery. That being said, I found it interesting that large chunks of quartz crop up frequently in this boggy terrain.
The buds are sprouting a bright cheerful green and I don’t feel so alone with the birds singing so exuberantly. It seems the time flies and soon I can see a waterline beyond the trees. When I come to an opening I see a large beaver dam and I bushwhack my way to an open area but the swamp holds me back from proceeding and I have to get a far off view.
Returning to the main trail I hear bells tinkling and getting louder as they come toward me. For a moment I have a bit of a fright when a Australian shepherd pops out from behind the trees. His doggy backpack is the source of the bells. His owners arrive just behind him and I have a laugh with them. “For a moment I was trying to think what animal in this park might have been collared with a set of bells!” I say. I give the pup a pet and say, “Have a good hike.”
Rounding the bend is the familiar Amazing Places sign, this one marking Tracy Lake. The mixed cloud and blue sky reflect on the surface – it is very pretty. As I walk to the shoreline, my approach disturbs a few swallows and they take flight, squawking their annoyance at me. I don’t have any better shot of the beaver dam from his side and, other than poop, no signs of moose either. Setting the camera on a picnic table, I take a selfie and move off. The weather is calling for afternoon showers but I should have plenty of time to get to Laverty Lake and back before the rain starts.
So far the trail has been rough but now it is wet and rough. Following the trail is useless, it is soaked with standing water and while like-minded hikers have laid poles down to walk across, most of these are underwater too. I take alternate routes around trees and over fallen logs to stay dry, all the while being careful to not lose sight of the original trail. I jump from a tree stump to a high mossy patch that quickly fills with water and I concede if I am going to complete this trail, I will have to contend with wet feet.
And I’m not wrong. One swiftly moving stream has overflowed its banks and the makeshift logs used to cross are also sunk under the flow of water. I consider stopping, but instead I drag a large log over the edge and use it as a jump off to a rock, then make the hop to the other side. Every time I am successful my confidence grows. I know I will be able to do an overnight hike soon.
There is an upward slope and I am grateful for the respite from the soggy going. A mossy carpet and tall trees surround me. No birds sing here and the temperature seems to have dropped, spreading shivers down my arms. The remoteness of the area amplifies the silence and I feel very alone but I am determined to complete my trek.
Wet-footed and getting hungry I see the outline of a lake through the trees and I know I am close to my destination. The path follows for another 500 meters or so through wet bog and I emerge at an opening with two red chairs beside Laverty Lake.
I have my lunch of trail mix and crackers with peanut butter while I check the trail map. Laverty Road looks to be an alternative way back but my mind’s eye recalls it is the road leading to Fundy National Park – Third Vault Falls and the distance is greater than the map would have me believe. I resolve to return on the same trail through the swamp.
It is an uneventful hike back except my feet start to complain a bit. Within a kilometer of the end, I am staring down at the ground when I step over a lovely yellow flower. I search all around for another but it appears to be either an early bloomer or alone. Here in this large park, tucked away in the forest among the rocks, bog and moss it has chosen to persevere and get noticed. I see a kindred spirit in its petals: while the big and bold usually get the attention, sometimes being fragile and different goes a long way.
Thank you for reading and please join me again. Happy travels from Maritime Mac.