Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fundy National Park, NB: Tides in the Extreme

Back in the days when I used to fantasize about bike touring, I remember seeing a brochure for a tour that went along the Bay of Fundy. I thought, wow, that would be a great place to go and see the biggest tides in the world. So now that dream is a reality, too.

As we crossed inland from Shediac, through Moncton, and toward the Bay of Fundy, we could see reddish brown water in the distance. And crossing a bridge over a tributary channel, we realized we were in the zone of extreme tides. We were at low tide in the afternoon, and we saw the erosive evidence of the daily fluctuations.

We reached the coast and Hopewell Rocks, just at the maximum of the low tide. Now don't get the impression from this picture that we had it to ourselves. The parking lot is as big as some New Brunswick villages and there was a line to pay the $8.50 a piece to get in the gate. But the tide leaves huge swaths of beach where you can feel all alone.

The next day we cycled south along the coast to Fundy National Park. We started late due to morning rain showers and a stop in Alma for $20 of lobster meat and fresh rolls from the local bakery. Our destination was the campground at Point Wolfe, which required crossing some steep grades to get over the highlands. Late afternoon light was our reward for views of the highlands we had just tackled.

Dinner that night was late, but we made our own lobster rolls. We bought some garlic butter to go along with the lobster, conveniently packaged at the store in 1/2 cup containers. I thought we might eat half of it, but only a few drops were left at the end. At one point John was pouring it on his sandwich and watching it soak into the bread like a sponge.

The campground was perfect -- only unserviced sites, so no big RVs, and our neighbors were tent campers also there to enjoy the setting. We were a bit of a curiosity throughout our stay. I got cornered at least three times in the washroom by people asking where we were from and where we were going. Our last night we sat around the campfire with a family from Cornwall, ON, drinking Canadian beer, and telling stories.

We spent a full day in the park, taking a hike through the forest in the early morning fog. Can you find the spider web gilded by dew?

The main attraction, of course, was the tides. We walked the beaches and scaled the viewpoints both at high and low tides. Below are our favorite views of the estuary at Point Wolfe at both extremes. Amazing.

The low tide was late in the evening, and we walked to the edge of where the estuary meets the sea. A beautiful ending to a place of dreams.

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