I was starting to think that for some reason I wasn’t meant to go to Bouctouche. Back in the summer my wife, my sister and I had solid plans to go and explore the trails in and around Bouctouche. We had even packed the car some the night before. The following morning I came down with the worst case of the flu I had ever had. I could barely move. My next attempt in early March was starting to turn out the same way. My daughter was telling me that she wasn’t feeling good. She had a sore throat, head and stomach. I had Advil for her head. I went to the drug store and stocked up on Ricola for her throat and Gravol for her stomach. I medicated her then sat and watched the beautiful sunny day slip away. By the end of the day she was feeling better. Fingers crossed I decided to take the next day off work and attempt the trip yet again. I don’t give up easily and I now felt challenged.
The next day was about 10 degrees colder but the sun was still out. If you stayed out of the wind it was nice. My daughter was still feeling better. I was feeling a bit stir crazy after two days in the house. I packed both kids in the car with a bunch of random snacks and water before she could change her mind. After a quick stop of Tim Hortons we hit the highway.
After the one hour drive from the Miramichi we drove into the driveway of the Irving Arboretum in Bouctouche. We admired the memorial stone church then parked. The kids were off exploring the grounds before I could even get my snowshoes on. They made me follow the trails they had made in the snow. The kids must have read my mind (or maybe I told them out loud several times) because they led me back to the church where I wanted to take some pictures. When I got near to the church they were watching a squirrel in a tree. The squirrel was watching them right back. Eventually the squirrel got bored with them and ran off. I took some pictures while the kids continued to explore. We made our way up the main road admiring the many different types of trees. Before we got to the first junction in the road we had to veer off into the woods in search of a geocache. We found it quickly and continued on another side trail. This trail eventually curled back around to the road.
Once back to the road we continued on through a large field fringed with strange trees and bushes. The fresh snow in the open field made a perfect canvas for making snowshoe art. My son spelled his name in the snow in large letters, while my daughter drew a dog and a girl about 50 feet across. I joined in and created a large spiral. Once I took pictures of the kids with their creations we continued once again. We soon found an outhouse near the edge of the field. Low and behold my daughter had to use the bathroom. The snow was half way up the door. On further investigation we found that the door opened inwards and it was not locked. When we finished testing out the winter functionality of the outhouse we continued on the road. The road led us to the back corner of the field where we found the wooden arch that marked the entrance to the Dunes to Downtown Trail.
When we entered the woods we started to see Black River through the trees on our right. After a short distance we came to a junction in the trail. I knew going straight would take us out to an adjacent street. Turning right would take us across a bridge across the river. We were quick to cross the bridge because of the wind chill. It was below -30 degrees with the windchill.
Just after crossing the bridge we came to another junction. I knew it formed a loop so I let the kids decide which direction to take. They chose turning right so we could follow the river and more importantly the previously packed snowshoe trail. The trail followed along the shore of the river and my son was fascinated to be able to walk along the shore of the river. My daughter and I continued walking on the trail in the woods a short distance way. He was only on the ice along the shore but in his mind he was out walking in the middle of the river.
We found another geocache in the woods near the next trail junction. At the trail junction we continued straight leaving the rest of the trail to the Dunes for another day. The previous snowshoe trail had ended before the junction so we were now breaking trail. The cold weather made a thick crust so this wasn’t too difficult. The only tracks on this side of the loop were from deer. They must have left their snowshoes at home since it looked like they were sinking quite deep. After reading a sign about the Acadian Forest we found our last geocache and then were back at the trail junction at the bridge. The kids wanted to cross the ice instead of using the bridge so they took a short cut. We didn’t spend much time on the river since the wind was still quite cold. The kids were getting tired and cold so after crossing the river we headed straight back to the car through the arboretum.
When I got back to the car I checked the GPS and we had walked 3.6 km. That meant there was at least another 8 km of trail to get to the Dunes. This was our excuse to come back another day. Hopefully in the summer when we could go to the beach at the Dunes.
Have you ever been to the trails around Bouctouche? Do you know of any other trails in the area?