The moral and physical support that comes from wilderness hiking with a buddy is invaluable. For Danielle Griffin and Cameron Ough, roughing it together on the Fundy Footpath was the perfect challenge for their survival skills. And it turns out it also strengthened the young couple’s relationship.
They began their trek on the St. Martin’s end of the Footpath, which turned out to be a good decision. The couple missed low tide for the tidal river crossings and ended up with soaked shoes and mud up to their knees. Fortunately, they only had 9 km left to go. If you start in Alma and miss low tide, you’ll be wet and muddy going into the longest part of the hike. According to the pair, the tidal river crossings are not well-marked, so be prepared.
Hiking the pebbled and sandy shores of the many beaches was a highlight for Danielle and Cameron. But the best part of the Footpath for the avid hikers was really roughing it together. “The whole trail goes something like this: up a very steep embankment, short plateau, down a very steep embankment, cross a stream. Repeat!” The trail and trail markers are sometimes not easy to distinguish, so having an extra pair of eyes and second opinion comes in handy. The most difficult parts of the trail have rudimentary stairs, rope bridges and guide ropes.
Making it a shared experience taught the couple a lot about the importance of cooperation and staying positive. After an intense day of camping it was nice to have someone set up camp while the other started dinner. With no amenities on the tenting sites, having an extra set of hands is not only helpful but also comforting. Conversation was minimal while hiking, but they were continually reminding each other to drink water, and the feeling of mutual support was palpable.
For obvious reasons, they recommend an extra pair of foot ware and several pair of socks for evenings and hiking through stream beds and muddy beaches. Danielle has since learned changing your socks often and coating your feet in Vaseline will alleviate any blisters acquired along the. And having a hiking mate with a first aid kit was a lifesaver. It’s important to buddy up with someone of a similar fitness level, otherwise you’ll have to adjust your pace. And there’s a lot of problem solving, such as map reading, achieving daily distance goals, and in the case of the Footpath, coordinating with the tidal schedule.
They’re final take? “It’s just very important to work together. And to stay positive when you’re REALLY tired. It’s a really beautiful experience. Getting away from cell phones, etc is so wonderful. Your senses are heightened: food tastes better when you’re exhausted and starving after a crazy long day. You sleep so well. And too many people don’t ever spend 3-4 days outside. We both loved it.” They highly recommend it for couples, siblings, or friends.
The Fundy Footpath is 49kms of primitive wilderness trail stretching from the Fundy Trail, located in the historic coastal village of St. Martin’s, to Fundy National Park in Alma, New Brunswick.
Explore More Back Country of the Maritime Provinces
In New Brunswick: The Fundy National Park is where the Caledonia Highlands meet the Bay of Fundy. Inland wilderness trails offer primitive campsites and well-groomed trails. Mount Carleton Provincial Park‘s rugged granite peaks are part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. It covers more than 42, 000 acres of wilderness, with at least 100 species of birds and 30 species of animals.
In Nova Scotia: Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site on the Kejimkujik Lake, the second largest biosphere reserve in Canada. You will encounter Mi’kmag petroglyphs and historic canoe routes. And Cape Breton Highlands National Park juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and boasts rocky cliffs, deep river canyons and an Acadian, Boreal, and Taiga old growth forest.
Check out these websites for more in-depth information: