Now that the summer heat is over and many of our outdoor tasks are done for the season, we decided to start walking again. Hurricane Teddy was on his way and we were prepared and possibly a bit antsy because that’s how you get when you are waiting for a hurricane to arrive and are anticipating power outages and possibly some downed trees. Fortunately for us we live only a few minutes drive from some of the most beautiful trails in this part of the province of Nova Scotia. There is nothing better to take your mind off pending bad weather than enjoying some good weather and some stunning scenery.
The Salt Marsh Trail is one of my favourite trails. We have been enjoying it for years, but this year we had yet to get there due to a lot of other things going on. After all it is 2020 and not a typical year for anyone. The trail runs from Cole Harbour to West Lawrencetown. It is part of the Trans Canada Trail System and like many trails in this area was once the railway line. In the summer it is used by hikers and cyclists and during the winter it is popular for cross-country skiing.
We arrived, as we always do, at parking lot number 3 on the Cole Harbour end. The trail itself is 6.5 kilometers long one way. We keep saying that someday we are going to put a vehicle at each end so we can walk it all at once instead of having to turn around and go back at about half way. Hopefully someday we will.
The trail starts out edged by trees on both sides. Nature is let alone in this area and fallen trees are left to grow moss and become part of the habitat. The only trees that are removed are those that fall on the actual path. In the spring and after heavy rains, water rushes through brooks alongside. In the fall, the colours in the trees are extraordinary–nature’s fireworks. If Teddy doesn’t shred all the leaves, we will have to come back to enjoy their display.
Soon the trail begins to open up. There is so much to see. Water, marsh grasses, jagged rocks and birds. The salt marsh is home to so many birds. Blue herons are in abundance, flying over and wading through the tall marsh grass. Cormorants sun themselves on rocks and dive for dinner. Ducks float bottom up as they search for food, their tail feathers pointing towards the sky.
We cross one of the many bridges and can see and hear the water rushing under it. This is the tide coming in. Storm surges are expected and today it is moving quickly. Small gulls are diving into the whirlpools and eddies grabbing with their beaks at food brought in on the tide. These are not the same gulls you see in McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lots. These are about half the size and swift in their actions. They dart back and forth and up and down and in between each other to make their catch. We were not able to see what they were catching. They were much too fast. They were entertaining though so we stayed and watched them for a while.
Wild roses and other wild flowers, their seeds carried by the wind, have taken root on the edges of the actual raised trail that weaves through the marsh and water. During the summer the roses make a beautiful foreground for the scenery. Now there appears to be only a single rose left, but plenty of rosehips remain and they have a beauty all their own.
On this day we go just under half way and turn around. The scenery is equally stunning on our return trip. I take too many pictures like I always do whenever I bring my camera. It is as if I am afraid that I will forget all the details. At my age, I just might. I don’t want to ever forget this place.
The Salt Marsh Trail is a place that my words can’t accurately describe the beauty of. Hence all the photos. It is a place with so many different natural sights that one needs to be constantly stopping to take it all in. Sometimes I will find myself gazing into the distance at the big picture and other times I am engrossed by a creature or a plant not far from where I am standing. It is a place that can take your breath away in all seasons. It is both beautiful and fragile. There is a group of volunteers that work hard to maintain and protect this special place. They must cross their fingers and toes every time a storm like Teddy approaches because no matter how hard they try, they can’t protect the trail from an angry Atlantic storm, but they can and will help it heal if necessary. And for that, they have my appreciation and gratitude.
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Photos: Jenn Stone