Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Hike Along the Remote and Rocky Shores of Fourchu - A Colourful Beach and a Deserted Island

I do a bit of hiking in the Summer but , for the most part, the weather is too hot or I'm just too busy to do any long trails. The fall is when I try to do the bulk of my hiking throughout the year. It's not too hot, it's not too cold and my schedule tends to be less hectic.

One of the first real hikes I did this fall was in Forchu along the southern coast of Cape Breton Island. It was a bit cold, windy and damp the day I set out on this trail but I dressed warm and headed out, determined to complete it from start to finish without letting the weather deter me. I often hike alone, especially since I moved back to Cape Breton but I've been meeting more people who have the same interests as me and more often than not lately, I have company on the trails as I did on this day.
I'd been to the Forchu area many times before but never hiked in the area so the idea of hiking a new trail was exciting for me....except this trail wasn't exactly a trail; It was a rugged coastal path that wasn't worn in enough to be able to actually see any path. Fortunately, we had someone with us who knew the area well and was able to guide us safely along the rugged coastline.

The hike started out easy and got a bit more difficult as we moved further along the beach and remote area of coastline. The air was chilly and windy but in a refreshing way. With all the hard walking I was doing, that chilly air combined with a light spray coming off the cold Atlantic provided welcome relief.

The first thing I noticed about that beach was how colourful it was. I'm referring to the rocks. Millions of rocks each one different. yes, I know most beaches have millions of unique rocks but there was something more rich and vibrant about the rocks on this beach that made it stick out from any other rocky beach I'd ever seen.

We were walking for quite a while when I decided to inquire exactly how long of a hike we were embarking on. The only person familiar with it pointed ahead and said "see that point. It's well beyond that". That point looked like it was a hundred miles away! Not that I minded. I love long hikes, especially coastal ones with scenery like this one. There was so much to look at. Seals bobbing in the rough surf, boats passing by on the distant horizon, deep forest lining the shoreline, various beach "treasures" that were washed ashore in storms. There was a smell too. A smell that is common along the seashore in fall. Rotting seaweed. Yes, to some, that may sound like the most unappealing smell in the world but I know I'm close to the sea when that smell fills my nostrils and as long as I'm by the sea, I don't care if the seaweed smells bad.
We walked for quite a long time before we reached that bend and I was finally able to see exactly how far we were going to go....and it was far. There was a possibility if the tide had been too high, we would have to turn back but since it was low, we pressed on toward our goal - the small island attached to the beach by a causeway that is fully exposed during low tide but submerged underwater during high tide.
As we inched closer to that island, the wind picked up ever so slightly and the ocean spray began to sting my face a little. I started to walk with my head tilted more towards the ground and that is when I noticed there was a lot of dog footprints in the sand. I wondered why a dog would be all the way out here on this remote beach and there were no human footprints accompanying the prints. And that is when it dawned on me that these weren't dog footprints at all, they were coyote prints. Good thing I brought my big walking stick and bear spray with me because these prints looked fresh.

It's hard to believe that the wide causeway leading out to the island had been submerged under a few feet of water only hours before. We were able to walk straight out to the island and climb right to the very top and look out at the wonderful view around us. Of course, because it was a deserted island in the middle of nowhere surrounded by beautiful scenery, it was also the perfect place to have a picnic. A small field on the side that was sheltered and out of the wind did the trick.
The walk back was much colder as we were walking into the wind. It seemed to take forever to get back to the car. Not that I like to rush my hikes but my hands were so cold, I couldn't feel them! But like always, they regained their colour soon after I reached the car and I was able to move them enough to grasp the cold steering wheel to begin the long drive home along that country road that by that time was encompassed in the soft glow of a setting sun and impending twilight. Another day, another trail knocked off that list.
Me at the very top of the little island...what a view!

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