September 2, 2002
Blacks Beach, Fundy Trail, New Brunswick, Canada
Four small porpoises are surfacing in the cove off Blacks Beach where John and I are illegally camped. On Saturday, after looking at John's slides of climbing in the Bugaboos, he asked me to go sea kayaking around Tangiers, Nova Scotia, but I gotta kayak guide cruise ship passengers Wednesday, not leaving enough time, so I suggested we canoe Big Salmon River or hike if water was low-- a trip I've been thinking about for years. A couple hours later we were bumping down Shepody Road in the Spaceship, dust a-flyin', praying for clearance dodging boulders and huge ruts, stopping to ask directions from hicks sitting around a fire at a camp way back in the sticks, and from other folks on ATVs who didn't know where they were either. A guide from Adair's Lodge looking for moose gave us the low-down-- that we wouldn't be paddling, but the road to the river was close-- just aways back.
After hiking an hour along a dirt road that parallels the river, we set up our tent and put chili on the stove as purple and orange hues faded to black like dimming theater house-lights. Grab your grub and a comfy seat; it's time to let evening's show begin as black velvet curtains unveil marvelous stars and we contemplate this stage of our journey.
Good ol' boys in a jeep drinkin' Alpine at 9AM enroute to their camp stopped to talk and gave directions that got us down to the river gorge below. Hiking boots switched to water shoes, we traversed down-river along steep walls with hand and foot holds, and waded waist-deep through rushing water on treacherous algae-slick boulders, careful not to slip, get packs wet, ruin cameras, or worse-- split my head. The water was frigid, but we got used to it. I love the puzzle; which way to go-- high or low? ...cross here or over there?
Falls Brook was a beautiful sight, cascading down a ribbon of bright green algae on a hundred feet of vertical pink granite. When hornets and wasps joined us at lunch for a taste of raspberry jam on John's bagel, he freaked, cursing, dancing, swatting, saying he's gotten stung too many times-- likely getting him back for puttin' fire crackers in their hives.
We jumped rock to rock down the riverbed for most of the afternoon, taking short breaks to lay on a large flat boulder to rest and look at the map to guess our location, then picked up a trail shortly before Hearst Lodge, stopping again only to refill water bottles and dive nude into a clear, deep, cold pool to wash. Then over the suspension bridge and up to the interpretive center where we were given free cake and coffee, and met a friendly old couple from Rhode Island who later picked us up hitch hiking and gave us a ride here to Blacks Beach.
Dinner of spaghetti with cheese sauce led to fire-side stories and reading passages about "Spontaneous Prose" from The Portable Jack Kerouac. Next to me lay large sheets of birch bark I intend to make into postcards for siblings who I rarely spend time with and miss. Our liquid is in short supply, so we're off to St. Martins, then hitching home.