The sound of silence

From the Atlantic coast we turned inland to visit the “Kejimkujik National Park”, which had been established before the land at the sea had been acquired. It consists of several larger lakes, which are connected by rivers. At the shore of the largest lake are also some indigenous petroglyphs, making it a site of national importance that led to the declaration as a “National Historic Site” at the same time.

Dark clouds were hanging above “Kejimkujik Lake”
Maren and I still decided to go for a kayak tour on the lake

Unfortunately all the tours to the petroglyphs were booked out, so instead we decided to rent a kayak to explore the lake on our own. I was surprised well it worked, considering that I had cracked my clavicle just about a month ago. When we entered the lake we could hear nothing but the sound of the waves and the birds. We paddled around some little islands until we landed at a tiny beach and claimed “The Sisters”, a small and long stretched island, before heading back out.

We claimed our own island at “The Sisters”
When we headed back out the weather was improving

In the afternoon we continued our journey north until we got to the shores of the Bay of Fundy, where the world’s highest tides can be experienced. The difference between high tide and low tide is more than 10m for most places around the bay, twice per day, everyday! But when we arrived at our campground in Whale Cove we couldn’t see anything through the thick fog. We had no choice but to hope for better weather for the next day.

Once we arrived at Whale Cove we were surrounded by thick fog

The weather was still foggy when we got up the next morning. We decided to take the ferry to Long Island anyway, since the forecast promised the clearing of the clouds for midday. So when we got to the Tiverton lighthouse it was no surprise to hear the deafening sound of the fog horn about three times per minute, warning the incoming ships of the rocky coastline. We took our pictures as fast as we could and tried to get away again as soon as possible.

The next day the houses and boats on Long Island were still hidden in the fog
Due to poor visibility the lighthouse sent out deafening sound signals

The main reason why we had come to this island was waiting for us at the next stop – the “Balancing Rock”. We had seen pictures of it and wanted to see it for ourselves. After a short hike we had reached the side of the island facing St. Marys Bay. A set of stairs took us down the cliffs, where a large basalt pillar was sitting on a protruding edge. It looked pretty neat with the blue sky, which had come out in the meantime, and the mist that was still hanging over the water.

The stairs down the cliffs marked the border between fog and blue sky
The “Balancing Rock” was impressive, but not as big as we had imagined

After a quick lunch break back the car, we decided to hike out to the other side of the island facing the Bay of Fundy. Once again we were almost the only ones on this trail, which was covered with branches and a bit muddy. This time the silence was filled with the sound of dozens of mosquitos and horse flies that were buzzing around our heads. Luckily the breeze at the water was strong enough to keep the away while we were enjoying the view.

The other side of the island looked a bit different and involved fighting many mosquitos

Back on the mainland we headed for Annapolis Royal. It’s one of the oldest towns in Canada and was founded by the French in the early 17th century as Port Royal. During its relatively long history it changed hands many times between French and British forces and used to be the capital of Acadia, mostly French settlements in what is now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Today the large fortified walls and the former barracks are a silent remainder of these troubled times.

Nowadays the fortified walls are covered in lush green grass and make it look quite peaceful
Annapolis Royal is one of the oldest towns in Canada

The next day we continued through the Annapolis Valley, where most of Nova Scotia’s fruit and vegetable farming takes place, which is why we stopped for strawberry picking and wine tasting along the way. Despite having a harsh winter, there are many vineyards in the area, most of them producing white wines. In 2012 a special appellation blend was created known as “Tidal Bay” using only grapes grown in Nova Scotia.

The appellation blend “Tidal Bay” can only use grapes from Nova Scotia

At the end of the valley we visited the “Grand Pré National Historic Site” commemorating the deportation of Acadians during the French and Indian wars in the late 18th century. The Acadians were neutral, but they were seen as a potential threat to the British, who had taken over Nova Scotia by that time. Anyone who didn’t swear allegiance to the British crown was forced to leave. An interesting display, a historically reenacted movie or self guided tour through the area provides more detailed information.

The “Grand Pré National Historic Site” commemorates the deportation of Acadians

The land around Grand Pré has been reclaimed from the Bay of Fundy by the Acadians

That night we found ourselves a campground high up on the cliffs of the “Blomidon Provincial Park”. We set up the tents and found a nice spot for dinner from where we could watch the beach and the red rocks, which seemed to be aglow during sunset. Afterwards we tried to chase the water of the Bay of Fundy, where we had to walk out quite far, as the water had receded at low tide to reveal a large sandy beach.

The view from the campground at “Blomidon Provincial Park”

We visited the steep red cliffs and the exposed beach after dinner

The southern shores of Nova Scotia

From Saskatoon I took a flight via Toronto to Halifax. The last part of my trip was about to begin – a six week adventure through the maritime provinces of Canada! I had booked a rental car for the whole time to be more flexible and independent, which I would share with my friends Maren, Raghu and Eiko, who would join me on different parts of this trip for about two weeks each.

A short layover in Toronto on the way to Halifax

After I had picked up the car, I drove downtown to meet up with Sarah. She had been an exchange student at my parents place in 2008/09 and I hadn’t seen her since then. It was the final stretch for the defense of her masters degree, but she managed to take some time off to give me a short overview of the city. We took a stroll through the public gardens and climbed up to the entrance to the citadel, where we had a good view of the city and the harbor.

The public greens in Halifax

Enjoying the view from the Halifax citadel on a city tour with Sarah

In the evening I left Sarah to her work and went back to the airport to pick up Maren. She had been in high school with me in Germany and had worked enough overtime for two weeks of holidays, which her boyfriend couldn’t get. To make use of the great weather, we departed immediately for “Peggy’s Cove”, where a picturesque lighthouse and a magnificent sunset were waiting for us. What a great start to this trip!

The small harbor at “Peggy’s Cove” at sunset

The lighthouse on the rocks is a well known tourist attraction

The next day we followed the “Lighthouse route” along the rugged coastline, but instead of more lighthouses we found little fishing villages filled with empty lobster traps waiting to placed and sandy beaches, where a few brave people defied the cold waters of the Atlantic to swim in the crystal clear water. Unfortunately the wind was blowing too much to enjoy a nice picnic at the beach without the food being covered in sand.

Dipping our feet was cold enough for us on this windy day

There are numerous little fishing villages to visit along the coastline

In Mahone Bay we ventured along the waterfront in search for some ice cream, while taking in the view of the numerous wooden churches lined up along the water and spread out all over the town. Without knowing, the day had gone by pretty quickly and we still needed to find a campground for the night. We opted for the one at “The Ovens”, which was also located right at the water with a nice view across the bay.

Several different churches line the waterfront at Mahone Bay

Maren and I found a great campsite right by the sea at “The Ovens”

The next morning we were quicker than expected and used the extra time to explore the rocky shore, for which this area is known for. We followed the little trail along the edge and discovered the caves that had been washed out of the nearly vertically stacked layers of shale. One of them was called the “Cannon Cave”, as it made a thundering noise when a large wave reached the end of the tunnel.

A little trail led along the shore to several viewpoints of different caves

The blue water and the reddish rocks at the “Cannon Cave” provided a great contrast

Afterwards we drove back to Lunenburg, which was named in honor of the British King George August of Hanover, who was simultaneously the duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg. However, many Germans settled in and around Lunenburg after it was founded in 1753. The historic downtown provides the best preserved example of a planned British colonial settlement in Canada and was therefore declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995.

The waterfront at picturesque Lunenburg

The colorful historical old town is protected as a UNESCO world heritage site

A little further down the coast we made another stop at the “Kejimkujik National Park Seaside”. It is located in an area that was once cleared for a large sheep farm. But the soil proved to be poor in nutrients and the sheep farm was soon abandoned and finally bought by Parks Canada in 1985 to protect the undeveloped shoreline, which is home to some endangered birds, as well as seals and other marine wildlife.

Taking a hike through the “Kejimkujik National Park Seaside”

The red chairs are a campaign by Parks Canada and are always placed in the best spots

Family and friends

After two weeks in Colorado it was time to go back to Canada. Since I wanted to go to the east coast for the final part of my trip, I decided to spend one more week with my old host family before heading out east. This worked out perfectly, as I got to see Faith, Torrie and Roland once more before they were heading out for a summer exchange to Ontario (Faith) and a road trip to relatives in British Columbia (Torrie and Roland).

After the barbecue with Faith and Torrie it was time to say goodbye and until next time!

A nice bonus was also the fact that I got to spend my birthday with Vic and Bev and the rest of the family. After Vic had sung “Happy birthday” to me, the three of us boarded the car and went over to pick up Bev’s mother, Ada. Then we drove to Michael and Brenda’s place for some grilled hot dogs. Of course Zayne and Ryker used the opportunity to show me around their rooms and the playhouse that Michael is building for them in the forest.

Zayne and one of their numerous cats

Later on we took the leftovers of my birthday cake over to Crystal and Jose’s place, where we sat on the nice patio for a visit. Victor and Santiago had just written their last exams and were looking forward for the summer holidays. Unfortunately Jose was still out in the fields to finish spraying the crops while the wind was not too strong.

Crystal, Ada and Santiago enjoyed some of the leftovers from my birthday cake

The next day was “Canada Day”, which was celebrated with big parades and fireworks all over the country. This year was even bigger than usual, as Canada was turning 150. However, most of the day I helped Melissa moving from her shared apartment in Lloydminster to her own apartment. Luckily she had also managed to find two guys with a big truck, who were willing to help her on this special day, because I still couldn’t do much with my cracked clavicle.

After helping Melissa with her move, I joined Cristina and Todd for the rest of the “Canada Day” celebrations

After dinner I still got the chance to join Todd, Cristina and Sydney at “Bud Miller Park”, where they had different activities going on all day long. After listening to the music of Sam Landell and his drummer, I just sat in my chair and enjoyed doing nothing at all. It was quite rewarding after a full day of moving around. And the best was yet to come – fifteen minutes of fireworks! And even if it was “only” Lloydminster, they had some pretty good fireworks going on!

Sam Landell and his drummer were playing on the main stage when I arrived

The fireworks were pretty cool and a nice finish to a long day

That day, Vic’s aunt Mary (90) and her husband Tom had arrived from California. There had been some confusion as to when they would arrive, because we had no flight number or anything. As it turned out, they had been driving all the way during the last few days! So the next day, after a crop tour with Vic around the fields, we invited Vic’s sister Karen and her husband Wayne over to join us for supper.

Bev, Karen, Wayne, Vic, Mary and Tom on the patio in the back

So, once again my week with the Hult’s went by pretty quickly. Before I knew it, I sat in the car with Megan and Tyler, who took me over to Saskatoon. Megan, who had been in my class in high school, told me about their recent trip to Europe, where they had visited Rob with Deandra, both of whom had graduated with us. And we also compared our experiences from the “West Coast Trail”, which Megan had been talked into joining her brothers for the full hike in four days a few years ago.

It was nice catching up with Megan and Tyler on the way to Saskatoon

The skyline of Saskatoon as seen from the other side of the “Broadway Bridge”

In Saskatoon I met Whitney and another Rob, who were also part of our graduation class. We spent the next day exploring the city on an extended hike along the “South Saskatchewan River” and through the downtown area, before going out for pizza and the best ice cream in town. The latter one so popular that the average waiting time is about 20 minutes for a scoop of avocado, Guinness or dill pickle ice cream.

On our walk along the river we even encountered several pelicans fishing at the weir

Finishing the nice day with Rob and Whitney over some good pizza

Along the golden trails of Colorado

While I stayed in Boulder, I managed to go on several different hikes, most of which I had never done before. One of them was in the mountains right behind the city – “Mount Sanitas”. Coincidentally I joined a group of very mentally and physically fit hikers of the golden age, most of whom were also part of the ROMEOs like John – “Retired Old Men Eating Out”. By the time we reached the top we were happy that we had started at 7am for it was already a hot day.

The view of Boulder as seen from “Mount Sanitas”
Hiking with Judy and some of the ROMEOs

For the weekend I went up to Eldora with Micki and John. There they have a nice cabin, which they like to visit frequently. It’s up in the mountains where it is a bit cooler than in Boulder and it’s also not as busy. It used to be a mining town, but the mines have long been abandoned. The “Goldminer Hotel”, “Klondike Avenue” and “Eldorado Avenue” are remnants of this short golden era. Now it mostly consists of weekend houses and only a handful of people live there year rounded.

One of the cabins in Eldora
The “Goldminer Hotel” is still in use

To accommodate the increasing number of day-tourists, a shuttle service has been installed, which connects the close by trailheads to the nearest town with bus connection. This way Oscar was able to join me for a hike up there. We left early in the morning and decided to go to “King Lake”. The reviews of people who had been there recently had all described it as being wet and snowy, but as we made our way up through the trees we only encountered small patches of snow. Maybe it had all melted in the last two weeks?

Hiking up to “King Lake” with Oscar
There is hardly any snow left in the lower part of the valley

By the time we reached the lake, we knew better. There was still lots of snow left, which was partly because we were in a valley, but also because we were getting higher and higher with an elevation of about 3400m at “King Lake”. Luckily Oscar had some snow chains for the boots, which he lent me for better traction. It definitely made it easier to balance. Yet the view of the lake and the surrounding mountains was amazing and it was definitely worth the effort.

“King Lake” was still partly covered with ice, but looked still amazing

The weekend after we also went up to Eldora. This time Micki and John had invited some friends for a dinner at their cabin. But before the guests came over, John and I went on a little hike up “Eldorado Mountain”. It was a short and relatively easy hike, but it provided a good view of Nederland, Eldora and the ski slopes that I had gotten to know so well during my time at the university in Boulder.

Looking towards Nederland
At the cabin with Micki and John

That night we slept quite well with a happy stomach filled with beef casserole, carrots and potatoes out of the oven and a delicious angle cake. The next morning we were ready for some more hiking. Unfortunately the area we had planned to visit was closed to protect the wildlife. Instead we looked for another trail at the “Sourdough Trailhead”, but we couldn’t find the one we looking for.

We were looking for the southern entrance at the “Sourdough Trailhead”, but couldn’t find it

Back in Boulder I decided to go with Oscar on one last hike. We chose one of the classics, leading up to the “1st Flatiron”. The afternoon sun was beating on our backs and dozens of hikers and climbers were making their way up and down the mountain. However, the view of the massive and inclined rocks of the other “Flatirons” and the picturesque city at our feet was more than rewarding.

The view towards the mountains from the “1st Flatiron”
The “2nd Flatiron” was still in view

It ended up not being my last hike for this time, as I had still almost all day the next day before flying back to Canada. Therefore, I asked John to join me, who readily agreed to show me yet another trail that I had never done before. We followed the “Fowler Trail” past Eldorado Springs, through fields of wildflowers and  a small canyon. On the other side we could see several climbers ascending the steep walls of “Shirttail Peak”, while the golden eagles were soaring above everything. It was a worthy finish of my time in Colorado!

“Bear Peak” as seen from the “Fowler Trail”
“Shirttail Peak” is popular with rock climbers