From the Rapidy Brook Access Trail to Wolf Brook
We began in the dark. It took me a few minutes to convince Vicki to get out of the car. We had just passed two good sized moose before we parked. I told her that moose were only aggressive in rutting season and that the trail headed in the other direction. She wasn’t completely convinced but she got out, got ready, and we started down the Rapidy Brook Access Trail.
We were late getting started because I had promised Vicki a real meal before we left civilization. By the time we were done dropping off the kids, and dropping off the other car on the road to Martin Head, we were too late to eat at Adairs Lodge. That meant we had to drive into Sussex for our meal.
The trail was quite wet and it was difficult navigating around mud holes with our headlights. We were aiming for Wolf Brook. This was the location of the first campsite in the direction we were heading. The trail dried out some once we made it to the Fundy Footpath, but there were still some large muddy patches.
After about an hour of hiking in the dark we began to descend down into the Wolf Brook valley. There were switchbacks but there were also parts of the trail that went straight down the steep hill. I remembered the steep hills from our hike on the Footpath last summer and was glad we were going down and not up.
We could soon hear running water and assumed it was Wolf Brook. We turned the corner to find a waterfall. The falls dropped a short distance, hit a rounded rock face, and split into two ribbons. For some reason I thought I read somewhere that it was called Ribbon Falls but I looked it up since and it is actually called Wolf Brook Falls.
I was trying to figure out a way to get a picture of the waterfall in the dark but gave up on the idea when we turned around to see Wolf Brook. We quickly came to the realization that we were going to have to cross it. It’s one thing to hike in the dark but it’s another thing to cross a cold, unknown brook in the dark. I was just hoping that the campsite was not far on the other side.
We were shining our headlights up and down the brook to find the best place to cross when we noticed something large hovering over the brook in front of us. It looked to be about the size of a bat but I knew that didn’t make sense because of the way it was flying. We didn’t have long to think about it before it started flying straight at us. I ducked, which was not easy to do with a 35 lb pack, while Vicki pushed back against the bank. She was screaming “Bat! It’s on your back”. I didn’t care what it was so long as it was not on my face.
Eventually it flew down onto the rock into the light of my headlight. That’s when I realized it was a moth. A very large moth with large spots on its wings that were reflective. I still didn’t want it on my face. We took a picture before returning our attention to the stream.
While we were being attacked by the bat moth the stream had gotten deeper. The tide was still coming in. This increased our sense of urgency. We quickly got on our wet shoes and clumsily waded into the not quite knee deep water with our pants rolled up. We tripped and fell a bit but held onto each other. I was holding on for balance but I got the sense that Vicki wanted to take me down with her if she fell. It had been a long night.
On the other side of the stream we put our packs down and changed back into our hiking boots. Before we were done we had to move our packs to higher ground because the shore was quickly disappearing. We climbed up off the shore and onto the trail to find the campsite just in the woods on the left.
After setting up camp I returned to the stream with my tripod and camera. The tide was now receding. The night was clear and there were millions of stars. When I emerged onto the shore I looked down through the valley and saw the Milky Way. It was angled and looked like it was pouring into the outer bay. I setup my camera and used my flashlight to light the trees along the bay.
It is hard to pull myself away but I was getting tired. I climbed back up to the campsite and climbed into the tent. Sleep came easy.
From Wolf Brook to Telegraph Brook
I got up early. I usually do. I had to see the coast. I tried to climb out of the tent quietly and by that I mean I made lots of noise and woke up Vicki. I grabbed the tripod and camera and made my way to the stream. At low tide we could have almost crossed the stream without getting our feet wet.
I explored the old logs sticking out of the stream bed at angles. An indication of the history of forestry in the area over 100 years ago. They were used as dams to hold logs that would eventually be floated down the coast to sawmills.
I followed the stream as it meandered towards the coast. At the next bend in the stream I found another campsite on a gravel peninsula with a beautiful view of the coast. Once again we missed the campsite with the good view. Something to remember for our next trip. The stream cut across the valley, hit the rocky cliffs and then turned back to cross back to the other side. Eventually it emptied into the ocean. The tide was once again coming in so it pushed long waves up the stream.
On my way back to the campsite I stopped at the waterfall we had passed the night before. There was no sign of the giant bat moth. When I got back to the campsite I found Vicki packing up our stuff. We started on the trail between the two campsites. Once again the tide had come in and made crossing along the rocky shore difficult. We made it to the second campsite by balancing on the few remaining rocks poking out and holding on to the rocky wall, our heavy packs pulling us backwards.
We found the trail on the other side of the campsite and started our climb. When we got to the top the trail traveled through a beautiful, mossy, spruce forest, and it was flat. We saw a moose track on the trail. I guess the animals also enjoy the Footpath. We walked through fields of ferns. After almost 2 hours of hiking we began the descent to Telegraph Brook.
The trail opened up to views of the coast. Then we looked down below the trail and noticed an outhouse. We thought it was funny that the trail traveled along a ridge above the outhouse. Probably a good idea to have a spotter on the trail if you ventured to use it.
We explored the beach and the strange purple and gray striped rocks along the cliffs. We returned to the campsite near the outhouse and checked out the small waterfall nearby. Then it was once again time to climb.
From Telegraph Brook to Martin Head
Once again we were happy to get to the top of the hill to the flat part of the trail. This time the trail traveled close to the coastal cliffs. We could see the bay through the trees. Eventually it came to a lookout that provided a view back at the rugged coastline. The trail then headed deeper into the forest.
We passed through more spruce forest with a few large, gnarly yellow birch trees mixed in. We crossed a few small streams. On the edge of one of the streams we found a fire pit near a pile of old pails that looked like they had been there for 100 years.
Our next descent was down into the Quiddy River Valley. At the bottom of the hill we found a very wide, sandy campsite surrounded by a few hardwood trees. The rocky shore and Quiddy River ran by the side of the campsite. This was probably the second best campsite we had found on the Footpath. Seely Beach was still our favorite.
We stood on the beach and tried to decide what to do next. We could continue on the trail and climb up out of the valley to the access road or we could walk down the river valley to the coast. We didn’t want to climb another hill so we decided to try the river valley.
We walked along the rocky beach for a while. The river eventually pushed us up onto the grassy plateau. The beach on the other side looked like a better option so we put on our wet shoes and crossed, only to cross back again a short while later. The river widened out and forced us back up on the grass.
We soon got our first view of Martin Head in the distance. The dirt under the grass had now turned into slick, fundy mud. We could now see the large gravel bar that lead out to Martin Head so we decided to take a shortcut across the grass, away from the river. It was going well until we came to a deep trough cut through the mud from a stream. The trough was about six feet deep.
We considered jumping across the trough but all I could picture was both of us falling into the trough and being stuck in slippery mud up to our wastes. We made our way back to the river and slid down into the water. We decided to follow the river to the gravel bar.
We made it to where ATV’s crossed the river and then climbed up to the top of the gravel bar. The views of the coastline in both directions were amazing. It was a beautiful clear day with big puffy clouds in the sky. Our wet shoes were not made for large gravel so we changed back into our boots. We had to come back this way to cross the river again so we left our heavy packs by a log.
We walked out towards Martin Head, feeling like we were floating without our heavy packs. We hurried because the tide would be coming in again soon. The endless tide that could cut us off from the main beach. We didn’t want to make our way up Quiddy River by crossing the grassy, muddy plains again. If we got trapped we would be staying the night on Martin Head. Not a bad option but it was a bit exposed and the nights were quite cool.
We walked up the ATV trail to the small field at the top of Martin Head that overlooked the bay. You could faintly see the coastline of Nova Scotia. I checked out a side trail and soon heard a loud squealing sound. I knew that I knew the sound but couldn’t put my finger on it. While I was trying to figure it out a large bald eagle lifted off from a tree overhead.
We explored a bit on the way back and found an old grave on the east side of the island. When we returned to the gravel bar we made our way down to the waterline. We wanted to get a better view of the cliffs and the rocks. The tide was coming in and there were big waves so we had to watch where we stood.
We walked back to find our packs and crossed the river. We passed an older couple who were scouring the sandy road with their metal detector. They told us that they used to go on long hikes but now they could only go on shorter walks. They told us to enjoy our long hikes while we were still young. Words to live by and we planned to do just that.
Martin Head to Brandy Brook
We had another decision to make. We could either stay the night on the beach or hike to the Brandy Brook campsite. Our car was parked at the top of the hill but we wanted to see Twiddle Dee Twiddle Dum Falls before we left the next day. There were several groups of trucks and ATV’s camping along the beach. We opted for quieter camping. It was early evening but we decided to hike into Brandy Brook.
We walked along the edge of the woods past several ATV Trails that climbed the hill. We picked the last one and followed it up the hill where we soon found the Footpath. The trail was mostly flat and skirted around some deep ravines that were cutout down to the beach below. At one of them we were looking straight down at campers around a bonfire. We passed a strange pond cut deep into the ground. There was a narrow ravine leading from it to the coast for overflow. It was full of leaves and branches so it looks like it hasn’t overflowed in a long while.
After a day of hiking up and down hills we were glad it was flat. It was hard to tell from the map how much the trail climbed the hill. It looked as though it just skirted around the edge. We hoped that it only skirted around the edge but it didn’t. Soon we were on some steep switchbacks climbing the hill. The trail was quite narrow in places and there were a few muddy spots where we had to hold on to roots and almost crawl to get up to the next switchback. It wasn’t long after we reached the top that we started on the switchbacks down into Brandy Brook.
We were exhausted when we reached the small fire pit area near Brandy Brook. We couldn’t see a campsite anywhere. We could however see the Footpath climbing the steep hill once again on the other side of the stream. We dropped our packs. We really didn’t want to climb another hill so we looked for a flat area around the campfire to put a tent. We didn’t find one so we decided to cross the stream and look. We soon found blue blazes that marked a side trail.
We were relieved when after a short distance we found the campsite. We could even see Twiddle Dee Twiddle Dum Falls a short distance up the stream. It was now getting dark so we hurried to set up the tent. We tried to start a campfire but everything was damp. On our third and last try we got a nice campfire going. We sat by the fire and debated whether we should go up and see the waterfall in the dark. We were both too tired so decided that it would have to wait until morning.
We didn’t sleep as well as we had the night before. The tent was on a bit of a hump. There were also mice climbing on the tent. It sounded like they were jumping out of the nearby trees and landing on the tent. Last year we thought the mice were bears. This year we knew they were mice. Especially when they walked across the top of the tent. I am guessing a bear would be too heavy to do that. Creatures scurrying around within a foot from our face still made it difficult to sleep. I was considering our options (baiting them away from the tent, standing watch outside with a flashlight, mouse murder) when I fell asleep.
When I woke up in the morning i had one thing on my mind. I had to go check out the falls. Half because I wanted to see the falls and half because I felt gross after two days of hiking without a shower. I was determined to go for a swim.
I got out of the tent. I was quieter this time but still woke up Vicki. I took my pack and my tripod and walked up the stream to the falls. I later realized that there was a perfectly good trail on the other side of the stream. I took lots of pictures but it was still surprisingly dark. I could see the sun just touching the tops of the trees on the crest of the valley but it’s light didn’t yet reach down this far.
When I was done taking pictures from shore I put on my wet shoes and waded into the pool. I took a few closeups before I put the camera on shore. The water was bitter cold but I wanted to get clean. After a few attempts I finally dropped into the water and more quickly climbed back out. The second time I dove in to get my head wet but it was much too cold to stay in and scrub anything.
I then climbed up the first tier of the waterfall and found another smaller pool. I got the idea in my head that the moss covered, sculpted falls looked like a waterside. Once the idea is in there it is hard to get out so I sat on the lip of the upper pool and slid down into the lower pool. Once again I jumped out as fast as I had gone in. I tried it once more for good luck.
I stood around and drip dried since I didn’t have a towel. There was no way I was going to rub my dirty clothes on me and I didn’t want to get the new ones wet. After a while I was dry enough to get dressed. I was trying to get warm when Vicki showed up. She must have felt the same as I did because she was soon in the pool trying to clean off. Every time she splashed water on herself she screamed because of the cold. I asked her to stop being so loud because a passing hiker might think I was murdering her.
We packed up and hiked back to Martin Head. We found a lookout with amazing views of Martin Head that we hadn’t noticed the night before. When the trail got near to the access road we stowed our packs in the deep ferns and walked down the hill to the beach. We wanted to see how things looked at high tide. It was a beautiful day and we just sat by the water taking it all in. We didn’t want to leave but we also didn’t want to get home too late.
We walked back up to find our packs and then we returned to the trail. It crossed the road near where we parked the car and we wanted to map it out. There was quite a lot of steady climbing up out of the valley. We eventually popped out on the road.
At this point we realized (Vicki realized) it would have been a good idea for me to have GPSed the car before we left it. The trail was not strongly marked and we could have drove by it without noticing it. That meant that we didn’t know if the car was up the hill or down the hill. We both agreed that it might be down the hill so we dropped our packs and walked down the hill again, debating on whether we recognized this washout or that rock from two days before.
After about 500 meters we stopped and decided to turn around and climb the hill again. While we were standing there we noticed a small jeep coming up the hill. We were surprised to see the same couple who were looking for treasure on the beach the night before. We flagged them down and asked them if they had seen a gray car on the road. They said they hadn’t but that they had seen one further up the hill the night before when they came to the beach.
We started walking back up the hill. The jeep was now out of site and I said that we should have told them to beep the horn when they saw the car. Just as the idea came out of my mouth we heard a horn beeping up ahead. The couple must have had the same idea.
When we got back to the car we quickly drank the two bottles of water we had stowed in the trunk. We then started our long drive to pick up the other car and then drive home. On the way home we stopped for fast food to make up for all the healthy eating we had done over the past few days.