Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Grand Manan Through Hike

I recently spent two days walking the backside of Grand Manan Island, a small New Brunswick Island set on the edge of the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of Maine, about 9 miles off the Maine coast. I've been casually planning (or dreaming of) a SUP trip around the island and had been gathering information from locals and fisherman who know the coast. Over the last year I've gotten some conflicting information about safe landing zones & currents, especially on the backside. This trip was pretty rad because I got a true first-hand view of the entire 25km West Coast of the Island, which is stunning!

Around noontime we got dropped in the dirt parking lot at the South tip of the island at the Southwest Head Light House. In a few quick minutes in a very casual manner we prepped our packs, made our last adjustments and said our thank-you's and goodbyes. We set off from the light, snapped a few quick pics of our start location and immediately found ourselves just a few feet from the edge of 100ft cliffs, staring at down at tiny seals floating in the eddies and vying for space on dry rocks. The trail quite literally follows the cliff rim for much of the hike.

While we slowly made our way North, the landscape got more beautiful, more diverse and way more challenging. Under-prepared with less-than adequate sneakers, terrible socks and a pack that wasn't designed to hold the amount of weight I carried, it wasn't long before I was feeling the pain of a long walk in wet shoes. But the air was warm, the visibility was outstanding, wildlife was all around us, cell phones were off and we were immersed in a new natural environment, so my discomfort didn't matter all that much until day two.

We snapped photos as we walked, discussed life and took in the ocean vistas, it was an absolute treat to be outside and feel the stress of the last few weeks disappear. Unplugging from technology and plugging into this coastal environment was much more important than I even realized. Around each corner was a vividly beautiful landscape worthy of a painting. Salty air mixed with forest scents that made deep breathing more enjoyable. Sounds were rare, mostly birds, waves and the compacting ground beneath our shoes. This part of the island has very few inhabitants and we passed only a half dozen homes in two days.

Grand Manan is a special little island with rich history dating back to the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy & Penobscot Indians. It's rich in tourism and fishing and is an incredible place to get away and relax in the outdoors. After a day of rest on our return, we spent the rest of our visit mt. biking, sailing and visiting family.

As I write this, I'm prepping for a standup paddling trip around the island in 2018 and now feel completely prepared for the journey. Now it's in the hands of mother nature.

two straight days of perfect weather

buoy garden.  100's of buoys and sea flotsam

below an eagle's perch


looking down at Dark Harbour

The last big outlook

Grand Manan is fat bike friendly

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