Wednesday, March 14, 2018

It's Been a While.....

Yes I know it's been a while...months in fact.  I was called back to work back in September and have been flat-out busy since.  I know, I know.....enough with the excuses.  All that matters is that I'm still around and still posting.  I just took an extended break.  I also didn't really have much to post lately as I have not been going many places or doing much due to having to work full time.  One thing I do look forward to in the winter is getting outdoors on those rare, nice days especially if an outing includes some snowshoeing! 

I was a bit late getting out this year for my first snowshoe hike.  The first weekend in January was the first full weekend I had off work since November as I've been diving into the optional overtime again.  Might as well take the hours and the money when you can, right?  Anyway, we received a little more than a light dusting of snow that weekend and Saturday morning the temperatures were just above zero and the sun was shining. I didn't want to travel too far on my first run of the year so I opted to try out a trail near my house that I had never hiked in winter before. 
I grew up in Lingan and played near this trail as a child and hiked it in the warmer months many times since.  The area has changed over the years.  The old house that was there is long gone and the one that replaced it has since been torn down and the land sold to Nova Scotia Power who have a power generating station nearby.  A windfarm with several windmills has gone up in the last dozen years.  Other than these few changes, the trail is still intact and it's still a beautiful area to spend some time outdoors.   

That particular weekend was much anticipated and I planned in advance that I would spend the majority of it outdoors no matter what the weather was like.  Fortunately, it turned out to be quite nice both days.  On Saturday morning, I called my dad, who also loves the outdoors and has recently taken up snowshoeing, and headed to Lingan.  It's only five minutes away so it wasn't a big adventure like I usually write about; the adventure would be seeing the area under a blanket of freshly fallen snow for the first time.

There were no cars in the parking area.  A good sign.  I like the trails to myself and when it comes to snowshoeing, I like to be the first one to break in the fresh snow.  And I was the first one that day because the only tracks on that trail were those of some bunny rabbits who must have been hopping around looking for food the night before.  Perfect!  We slipped on our snowshoes and bundled up and set out towards the narrow path that led to the windmills and the ocean.  The snow was perfect in every way.  Untouched by the dirt of the nearby road and untouched by anyone or anything except those bunnies and some squirrels who must have been munching on the bushes as their crumbs were scattered in little piles in various places.  We came to spot that I instantly fell in love with; a perfectly sheltered place inside the low branches of a spruce tree.  Protected from the wind and almost warm enough to lay down and take a nap. 

I had no idea how long it would take to reach the clearing by the ocean since it had been a while since I took that trail and I was usually walking, not snowshoeing.  We continued along, stopping from time to time to relax while enjoy the pristine, white surroundings and the sounds of birds and wind gently rustling the trees.  I didn't need to bundle up as much as I did because I quickly became overheated and had to remove some layers.  It took about 40 minutes to reach the clearing where the wind turbines were.  As we exited the thick forested, the terrain and sounds changed.  All of a sudden, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and my layers went back on.  The calm rustling of trees was replaced by the raging Atlantic ocean smashing into the cliffs.  The blades of the windmills made a loud whooshing sound as they turned in the breeze.  The scenery was now that of  a large clearing ending where the Atlantic Ocean started.  The old barracks stood on the edge of the cliff, long abandoned by its original tenants but still used by partying teenagers judging by the broken beer bottles and graffiti spray painted all over the inside and outside.  As I stared out over the ocean, watching a large cargo ship go by, I spotted something odd in my peripheral vision; one of the windmills looked to be swaying dangerously in the wind.  None of the other ones looked to be swaying like this so I don't think it was my eyes playing tricks on me.  All I could think about was the fact that three of these massive things have fallen over in the last couple of years.  Perhaps that is why there are warning signs up in the area.  

We headed back the same way we came but reached the car sooner than anticipated.  We didn't stop for as many breaks and photo ops as we did going in so it only took half as long going back.  The whole hike took about two hours total.  I enjoyed it so much, I went back and did it again the next morning!

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