It was 3PM on a Saturday afternoon. We had no kids and it was beautiful out. Vicki mentioned going pants shopping. One of my pens had somehow ended up in the washing machine the day before and I owed her a pair. I said we should go to Saint John for a change. I was thinking of all the hiking potential and she was happy to go someplace different to shop.
After finding pants, and then going out for supper, we decided to go to Irving Nature Park. I have been around all the trails on the Taylors Island part of the park but I have never explored the Sheldon Point side of the park. We entered the the first parking lot just past Holy Cross Cemetery and read the sign. It said the gate closed at 8PM and it was 5 minutes to 8. We debated whether we should park near the road and walk in or whether we should continue on to the parking lot near the beach. We decided to continue to the beach. Originally I had planned that we would complete the Sheldon Point Trail, then return on the road and maybe check out the family trail and maze on the other side of the road, but it was getting late. I always plan to do too much when it comes to hiking.
We started down the beach and took in all that there was to see. There was a large cruise ship leaving the harbour that was being lit up by the sunset. There were several large tanker ships going to, and leaving, the Irving Oil Refinery. The ships were traveling just behind Manawagonish Island which provided opportunities for some interesting photos. You could see the bright orange flame burning off gases from the top of the Irving Oil Refinery straight off the point. We explored the eroding clay formations that formed the cliffs along the beach. The waves hit small patches of large rock gravel that made a nice sound as the rocks rolled over one another. We discussed whether the tide was going in or out. We continued on the beach until we saw the trail climb a small grassy hill and then turn away from the beach.
The trail left the beach and traveled through several gravel pits. From looking at the map and the trail closed signs on either side of the pits it looked like the trail used to follow along the top of the ridge nearer the beach. On closer inspection it looks like this trail closer to the beach has since washed out and no longer exists.
There were several steep hills created by ATVs climbing out of the pits. The top of the first and largest hill provided views of the valley and the beach below. This more than made up for the loose climb. After the second pit the trail followed a road that’s used to access the point (which we found out later). A short distance on the road the trail went into the woods on the right, back towards the beach. The trail then enters the woods and follows closely along the cliff edge. You soon come out of the woods to the more open area at Sheldon Point. A wooden fence followed along the top of the cliffs to keep people from climbing down on the rocky beach below. We took several pictures of the waves crashing against the rocks. It was getting dark and they were being lit by the moon that was now reflecting off the water. The mosquitos were also getting unbearable. We hurried around the point and mapped out the shelter and the outhouse. We decided that instead of continuing on in the dark, along the rest of the trail that we didn’t know, we should return the way we came on the beach.
We got our flashlights out and started back. Once we got back to the beach the moon provided enough light and we no longer needed them. We took several night shots of the ships traveling behind Manawagonish Island and the moon reflecting off the water. It was difficult to keep the camera lenses clear of condensation since fog was starting to form. We eventually made our way back to the car and went to get some ice cream for the drive home. We would have to leave the Family Trail and the rest of the Sheldon Point Trail for another day.