Rail Trail – Hubbards to East River


“To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature.”
Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree

This post is an ode to wood.  I love trees and living in Canada there are so many everywhere.  Wood can be used for houses and furniture and books and toothpicks.

It is a Christmas tree and while on my way to the second half of this trail I saw a truck loaded with them and the driver was standing beside it in late November in tank top.  Not something you usually see but it was quite a warm late fall.  While on the trail and walking quickly I did take off a layer or two.  Nova Scotia exports Christmas trees to the US and beyond.

Trees contribute to our air quality and they provide shade for us and cover for plants and animals.  They are beauty and solitude to trail hikers.  Places with few trees are worse off.   They are too dry and not fertile and people suffer in heat and without the sense of serenity  they provide.  Trees ground us to our planet.  They also provide warmth when we burn them  and coolness when we stand under their shade.

There are many trails throughout Nova Scotia that used to be the old railway.  On the South shore it was finally finished around 1904 but only 65 years later the death knell was sounded after all the work and investment done by those who thought it so necessary.  Times changed and other routes were more viable and businesses and social conditions changed  making rail not such a great option.

This is a pity as I have enjoyed rail travel in many countries I have travelled in.  That said it is not generally the mode of travel in most of the Americas.  The road tends to rule here.


I first set out on this trail from Hubbards to part way to East River on a sunny mid-July day.   This trail is accessed at Exit 6 on highway 103 and I will eventually get to Exit 7 and finish it from the opposite direction.

I hiked a lot and please give me extra points for having to endure these weird bugs that kept going for my head and led me to having to put up my hoodie and flail my hand often.  Luckily I had a hoodie with me  as I have never needed to do that before.  One girl trotted through with only a dog and a tank top somehow.  These damn thing were buzzing at my head for hours but I was determined to make tracks and good thing as it was quite rainy for the remainder of July after my hike.



I saw a rabbit and a deer but a cyclist ruined my camera shot by coming around at the worst time just as the deer and I had a nice stare down from a distance.P1020387

I had lunch at one of the picnic tables that is distributed on the trail.  As usual I was walking to a point that would be easily marked and that was a bridge  so that I could finish it later.





I saw many interesting sights like bogs and forests and rivers and other bodies of water.  It was a good four hours of walking as I covered a lot of the trail.  Looks like a beaver dam below.



Another friend on the trail who didn’t run away too quickly was this guy who looks like a groundhog.


Fast forward more than four months when I have stopped doing longer distance trips so I am focusing on shorter trips with hikes and I finally decide to finish this trail but I was busy actually writing the last post and it was getting late and I wanted to take advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures at the end of November so after my first failure in the early afternoon of a bike tire blowing out, I got a drive back home and quickly started out by car to the other end of the trail so I could walk it to the point I had left off before.  I was determined despite the lateness of the afternoon in November.  The sun was quickly fading and lowering as I started out at 2:44.  I rarely start this late even in summer.

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The tower with the Canadian colors are from a factory called Canexel and this will be my guiding force coming back as light fails and cold comes on.  When at last I see this I know the end of the trail has come and I will not be stuck in the dark alone.  In later research I find out that Canexel which I have driven past many times, makes cool products that improve our lifestyle.  Nice wood siding that is nicer than metal and plastic.  Natural style on the outside of your house is more appealing.  Stone or brick are also nice.

There are things out there and here are their tracks.  Will I see anything this time?

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I was under the gun to get in and out before darkness fell.  So I entered at East River and walked back quickly.   I found many cool things to take a picture of despite it being late November.  It was different but just as interesting.  It made me think of the Japanese concept of wabi sabi.  One can find beauty in desolation and solitude.  Recognizing the fading and changing of things as we do in autumn is an esoteric practice that fulfills us.


There are apples still hanging in trees that look finished for the season.





It was this warm that the caterpillars came out.  I also saw flies.P1030492

I was surprised how interesting the trail still looked in late fall though it was warmer than usual.  Fall can show up neat things as well as summer.  Hint: these are the two best seasons here.


The road travelled.  With so many evergreens summer and fall can seem the same minus the bugs and some birds.


Look at the nice ripples in the pond from this struggling moth.  There is a philosophical message here somewhere.


A distant view of the ocean.  I didn’t have time but you can go downhill to a nice beach from here.P1030518

A distant view of the ocean.  I didn’t have time but you can go downhill to a nice beach from here.


These fall bullrushes look like afghan hound heads.

A foamy bit and an interesting plant.


It looks like snow but it is only moss.

Someone made a cairn.  Nice.

Finally I made it to the bridge I went to in July and just in the nick of time as the light was fading and it would be cold and dark soon.

This is everything in this moment of nature.  If you are in a nature moment please savour it.  Today I heard a girl say she couldn’t go three hours without her phone.  I am so happy I don’t understand that concept.  I am here and now in these woods alone needing nothing and no one.


Adam and Eve beware.  The apple is hanging in a tempting way.



Back to the wood for Canexel’s siding.  I made it back before dark at a fast clip.  It was still warmish.  I was safe.  Canadian wood.  I am home.

Some people have  a limited concept of what is beautiful and meaningful.  It is far more than sun and palm trees.  Many places on the planet can cause you to pause and think.  Besides verdant forests or balmy beaches, I find myself loving empty spaces such as dry deserts or quiet salt plains.  Trails with just me in them better yet.  Rivers and mosses and lakes and waterfalls get me excited not to mention dried up plants and out of place insects.

A few weeks after this hike I also went to East River for a church fundraiser where you could have a turkey or lobster dinner.  The lobster dinner was work and there were only crackers and not scissors  to cut or picks to pull things out with.  It had been a while since I cracked into one but I got most of the meat out.  Beware the spiny sides of the claws.  Later that week a work celebration included the same three salads-macaroni, potato and coleslaw.  Also a pickle and bun but with cold cuts.


Lobster is in season in December and May though always available.  Right now I see them outside my house pulling up their traps and throwing out the smaller ones.   Today in the early orangeish sky the fisherman were out in the distance checking traps.  It was quite cold then but very pretty.  We don’t always think of the conditions they must endure to get their catch.  December is a time to enjoy seafood.  Merry Christmas and beyond!