"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world" - Inscription at Wolfe's Point, Fundy National Park, NB
Wolfe's point, in what is now part of Fundy National Park, was once a bustling logging site that came close to destroying the delicate eco-system of this pristine part of New Brunswick, Canada. Over the years, logging ceased, the area deemed a National Park by the Federal Government...and gradually nature has regained its balance.
This trip to Atlantic Canada's bilingual province (officially the only one in Canada) started out as a curious voyage to the small Fundy National Park, along the famous Bay of Fundy and ended up being a cross province romp through some jaw dropping nature sites.
The drive to Fundy NP is about 15 hours from Toronto, with most of it being on either Trans Canada Hwy 1 or Hwy 2, passing through Montreal, Quebec City unto Edmundston, the first major city after crossing into New Brunswick. I went into Edmundston's Tourist info centre hoping to pick-up some trail maps for Fundy NP en route to the park. Didn't get those, instead I was handed a big fat "New Brunswick Official Touring Guide 2014" with a really nice big map of the five major scenic routes criss crossing the entire province. I got hooked, changed plans in an instant and the rest, as they say...is history!
My first stop was Grand Falls in northwest New Brunswick (NB), a small town dominated by the Grand Falls landscape with Saint John river cascading down rocky ledges. The surrounding gorges and bridges over them are a major tourist attraction right at the doorsteps of the province. It was a rainy day and not many people around, as the summer tourism season was winding down. After spending a couple of hours, headed down the "River Valley Scenic Drive" along St John river, to Fredericton, the provincial capital...
The city's landscape is defined by the Saint John river which bisects it as it flows west to east. Besides holding the Province's beautiful Legislative Assembly building (see below), its waterfront has the ubiquitous pretty lighthouse (you see them aplenty in all the Atlantic provinces) and a really long covered bridge (or Kissing bridges, as they are often called) over the river
As evening fell, I decided to skip Saint John for the day (to return again) and headed to my original planned destination, Edgett's Landing, about 10 mins from the famous flower pot rocks of Hopewell Cape. This was going to be my base for the next 3 days, for exploring both Fundy NP and Hopewell Rocks area.
The Bay of Fundy's unique geographical location causes it to have the extreme tidal variances for which it is so famous. The Guinness Book of World Records states that Burntcoat Head, in Minas Basin of Bay of Fundy (on the Nova Scotia side) has the world's highest tidal range. 100's of billions of tons of sea water flow in and out of the bay every 12-13 hours...nature's awesome mechanism at work, for everyone to see
One of the smallest parks in the Parks Canada network, Fundy NP still boasts, within its limited confines some spectacularly varied landscape, right from the amazing tides of the Bay to the Caledonia highlands, all the while interspersed with coniferous and mixed-wood forests and abounding in waterfalls, my fav photo subject, of course...
My 1st day was spent hiking the Dickson and Laverty Falls trails, two exquisitely beautiful waterfalls, the former an easy 1.5km hike and the latter a relatively difficult 5km hike through lush greenery.
The next day, did the longer and more strenuous Third Vault Falls and then went up to Wolfe's Point, which once served as a regional hub for lumber, headed to England and other nearby colonies/provinces.
A UNESCO designated Biosphere reserve, Fundy NP has an abundance of wildlife, from the common moose and deer to cougars, ospreys, bald eagles and the endangered Inner bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon. First nations partners along with Government agencies are working hard to bring back this particular salmon species to its 'pre-lumbering' days numbers.
Best times (in any weather) to photograph the falls and gorgeous bays, are early mornings when there are fewer people on the trails and the light comes in at a low angle, creating the perfect recipe for some stunning shots. While carrying all the photo gear (lenses, body, tripod, water, snacks etc) can be nagging burden, the joy of capturing sublime scenery at the end of it all, more than makes up for it. I carried my standard wide angle and the work horse 18-200 lenses along with my newly acquired 70-300mm zoom (for those rare birds in flight shots). Almost all of the falls shots were taken with help of the 10 stop Hoya ND filter, my fav filter for nature shots. While carrying around the tripod can be bothersome, I have, over the years, got used to carrying it around. While it is indispensable for long exposure shots, it has (& can) serve in some really unique ways...as my first line of defence against wild animals (if I encounter any), breaking into an ice clad car (has happened once), support while wading through low flowing streams and rivulets and even as a walking stick sometimes...
Wildlife along Fundy Bay is not just limited to moose and salmon, in & around the park itself, but also the magnificent whales, seals, porpoises and fish eating birds that abound on the seas.
Headed off to Saint Andrews by the Sea, the next day, a small town whose whole economy seems to revolve around whale watching tours on the Bay of Fundy. Chose a fast catamaran led tour group for the 3 hour tour. While certainly didn't see the dramatic above water breaches by the whales, a few Minke and Finback whales did surface partially, playing around the curious onlookers visiting them...and not to be outdone, the seals, porpoises and birds were also having a field day, out in the sea.
Next day was a mix of city and nature tour, going to Cape Enrage for some dawn shots and then Saint John, the most populous city of New Brunswick, to watch the interesting phenomenon of "Reversing Falls".
Cape Enrage, along Chignecto Bay, has one of the best views in Canada (according to Frommer's Travels Guide list). While dawn was pretty calm that day, I had tried going there the night before for some night shots (though failed to get good ones) and standing there on the cliffs looking out into the bay, I could totally understand why it's named the way it is...roaring winds almost knocking me off the rocks.
As with all Atlantic provinces, the small towns and cities of NB are a heaven for sea food enthusiasts, fresh lobsters, crabs and atlantic salmon on the menu in every restaurant. And coupled with the stunning lookouts into the seas, from these eateries, the experience of sitting down in these cozy places itself is worth savouring.
With PEI, the beautiful Island province of Canada not far off, I decided to push further north and took a day to do a quick tour of the island (blog for that coming later).
After PEI, returned back via the Confederation Bridge, to Cape Jourimain, from where I started my northward trip to Kouchibouguac National Park, Miramichi, then to Bathurst, Campbellton (north NB) and then southward along the "Appalachian Range Route" to Mt Carlton Provincial Park, before heading west to cross NB border, and into Quebec.
Kouchibouguac is supposed to be a haven for both migratory and non-migratory birds. I'm not a bird expert but certainly saw a wide variety of species in the park as I strolled along its beaches and board walks.
Bathurst and Campbellton, two northern towns of NB, were quick stopovers before I hurried through to Mount Carlton Provincial Park, reaching it just in the nick of time before they closed the park gates. With a short and easy hike to Williams Falls, I was done for the day as I finally headed home...
This whole trip was probably my first one that involved multiple days driving to reach my destination. It was something new and I thoroughly enjoyed it, though at the end of it I was quite drained out, driving ~800km/day every day for the whole week. But I guess that is how I enjoy my travels, not sitting down on a ship or by a beach with a drink and a book in hand, but constantly on the move, from dawn to dusk, taking in, as much as my physical body can endure, capturing the beauty of this planet, on lens.
New Brunswick and PEI, this time and a small part of Nova Scotia (Cape Breton) some years before...only Atlantic province now left to explore is New Foundland & Labrador. Let's see if I can make it there, someday. And in all these travels, one province that keeps poking me time and again, with its natural beauty, to come visit her...is the province of Quebec. Strangely I'm not much of a city enthusiast, when it comes to photography, but so far I have only chosen to visit Quebec's charming cities (Montreal proper is still remaining though) and have not explored its natural treasures, which I'm sure abound in plenty. It's another province on my bucket list for now...
Click on link for entire New Brunswick set