Kerri Ough - a work in progress...

Deadman’s Bay Path: East Coast Trail

Sunday, November 12th, 2017
Deadman’s Bay Path: Blackhead to Fort Amherst: 10.6km one-way
Weather: Sunny with a high of 5 degrees.
Hiking party: Brian, Jen & I

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Usually, in the autumn, I wouldn’t start a 10.6km hike after lunch because the sun goes down by 4pm, and who knows what kind of obstacles might come up on a new section of trail. But due to circumstances under our control – like the long overdue birthday dinner out with friends Saturday night, and circumstances that spun out of control: like the raging after-party-for-two that resulted in a much needed sleep-in Sunday morning – we set out for our Sunday hike much later in the day than planned.

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Still, we were on the trail by 12:20pm, the sky was blue and the sun was beaming down on us. Not too shabby for November 12th.

We were joined by our friend Jen, who is the kind of person who is up for anything at a moment’s notice. We were a good hiking trio, chatting, walking at a good clip, stopping for photos when opportunities arose, and we shared a mission to make it to the other end of the trail before the sun went down.  Jen’s lived here on and off for over 5 years, we’ve been here just over 4 years, and between the three of us we’ve covered a lot of ground along the ECT. Not one of us though, had hiked the path between Freshwater Bay and Fort Amherst so we set out to see what we’d been missing.

Below is a picture of Brian and Jen bouncing along ahead of me at the start of our hike.

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And here’s one of me posing cliffside, camouflaged in my November greys and blacks.

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The first half of the trail was easy and beautiful. We met about ten other happy hikers, and almost as many dogs happy to be off leash on a Sunday afternoon. We wore toques and coats, but soon removed our outer layers and basked in the positively balmy 5 degree – and dare I say windless – day. I carried my 12-pound camera with me along with an extra sweater and wind pants. But, I needed only my camera for this hike. It was a stunner.

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At the halfway point, we crossed the rocky barachois leading us across the bay (man was it ever beautiful out there.) I snapped a photo of Jen approaching fast behind me and she snapped this silhouette of me crossing the rocks. It was warm, sunny, and perfect hiking conditions right up to and just past these rocks.

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Then we started the steep, heart-thumping, achilles-tendon-stretching climb up and over the rock toward Fort Amherst. It felt like an hour but it was probably only twenty minutes of climbing. We went up and then looked ahead for signs that the trail would level out, but it was still a ways up, and then around a bend and then up again, and then up even further, and then we stopped for water and an apple and a pee, and realized there was still more climbing ahead. Basically it looked a lot like this for that 20-minutes of intensity, just sweatier and sweatier as we approached the top, and fewer smiles and a lot of grunting, hard to depict (shoulda taken a video.)

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And then we were up on top, and it was clear and quiet and warm and among my favourite “peaks” along the ECT. Views of Cabot Tower from this new angle excited me (ask Jen and Brian, it’s all I talked about every time it appeared in full view for the last hour of the hike.)

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We met two runners out for their Sunday jog (impressive if you ask me!) and carried on with only a few stops for photos and to take in the gorgeous November day. It was about 2:30pm when we reached the top and if we had had more time to linger we would have, but alas, the sun was low in the sky and we had another hour still ahead of us. I asked Brian and Jen to hike on ahead and climb one of the rocks so I could take their photo on a beautiful sunset backdrop of rocks. They obliged, and I took a short series of photos of them at a distance.

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Then, while I continued this photo shoot from afar, and as they stood waiting for me to join them, Brian spotted two moose below.

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I have never encountered any moose on a trail, and had wanted desperately for this moment to happen. And there we were, in mid-November, watching the sun set on two beautiful young creatures who could have cared less that we were watching them. I snapped photos, I filmed them, they nibbled at trees and slowly walked into the bush. It was beautiful.

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We started the final descent for Fort Amherst, over rocks, mud and many steep stairs. It’s a great trail, and I took the lead, jumping down quickly, landing heavy on my knees and getting more and more excited about our dinner plans. A man and his hyper dog overtook us on the way down, and we followed them to the end.

We were about 100 metres from the end of the trail when I slipped on a patch of black ice and landed fast on the fleshy part of my rear and the pointiest part of my right elbow. Jen claims I was already saying I was okay before I landed on the ground. I got up, now noticing the patch of ice that took me down, saw that my rear was covered in mud and made sure they knew I was ok.

And still, even with the dramatic crash-ending, it was a fantastic trail that I can’t wait to share with our next out of town visitors.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t share another photo of Cabot Tower (this one is mostly for Jen and Brian but I hope you enjoy it too.)

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Here’s to hoping I get one more good hike in before we start our Vancouver-Montreal Christmas Tour in 10 days!

xo/ko

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