Rail Trail – Chester to Chester Basin

I realized it had been six months somehow since I’d made any progress on my goal to hike the rail trail from Hubbards to at least Mahone Bay.  I had cycled it from Halifax to Hubbards.  But hiking it gave me much more time to savour things en route as long as those things weren’t insects which so far this summer haven’t been an issue.  It’s been pure bliss with interesting sightings mixed with just trees but time to think.  This section had some rocky sections which were tiring as my sneakers are thinly soled.  I came home exhausted this day though I had done over four hours and it was quite hot and months since my  last long hike.  I have already made Lunenburg though the last stretch was done by bike which was so fast with few photos.  I may do a bit more if I have time but I have covered a lot of ground recently.  It’s easy to do.

Here are some highlights from this section of the trail in late June.

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Duck  family.

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This looks like an alien.

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Lady  Slippers.  I saw many.  I haven’t seen them much for years.  Relative of orchids and supposedly don’t grow back for seven years if you pick them or so I was told as a child after I picked one.  Oh the shame.

P1040477Bridge over calm water.

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Look for the noisy guy who gave himself away.  There were a few but I only found this one.

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Loving the lupine takeover.  Everything has its time in the sun.

 

 

 

 

Rail Trail – Chester to Goat Lake

So I thought I was brave doing this trail on Boxing Day when it was 6  but today in January it was a few degrees below zero and little sun due to angles of the low sun and another nearby trail was full of people old and young despite the icy conditions.  There were more people out than I saw back in July so it just goes to show.  Get out there when the weather is half decent.  Walk hard and you will become warm and refreshed.  It feels better than sweating in the summer.  I just read about a South Floridian enjoying not sweating while living through his first winter experience in Cape Breton which is generally worse than where I report from.  Going out and walking now you will be revived  and feel hot when you return home.  You will also enjoy taking a hot shower afterwards.

But this post is about a few weeks ago when on Boxing Day I decided to walk off some Christmas turkey  and do my annual Turkey Walk.

I forced myself out of the isolation we can get into during the holidays when everything is closed and not much is happening.

I was glad I did as the weather was nice and I was motivated by a pre-storm day the same as today  when I feel I should take advantage of the trail before the next snow makes walking more difficult though I have heard much about snowshoeing lately and am tempted.  I had no idea I would  be out there for four hours but this time I had a lunch so I was set.

I started at the old Chester train station which is visitor information centre in the summer.

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The day after I was there it would be shown in the news as the Christmas decorations were  ransacked by young guys on a rampage doing destruction from there to the Hubbards mall.  My lovely photo was the same one on the news the next day.  I remember seeing signs about security cameras there so I hope this was what led to them being caught.

Chester is a cute town that attracts many including rich Americans.  It has a golf course and yacht club as well as nice cafes, a fancy restaurant and the Chester Playhouse which has interesting plays, musicals and concerts that I have been to.

There are a few pubs too but I favour The Foc’sle  which is the oldest pub in Nova Scotia.  I really like the chicken wings.  Here are a few things I have had there.  I have also had a burger on burger night.  There is also a pasta night among others.  Notice the draft below is two tone with dark stout on top.  Black and tan on the menu below.

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The wings are breaded and wonderful with the Thai Chili sauce on the side among others.  Somehow I don’t have a picture of them.   I must have dived into them(no pun intended) before I had a chance to take a picture.  Wing night is on Thursday as is often the case in Nova Scotia.

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It’s also one of the smallest washrooms ever with rather suggestive doors.

 

 

 

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The map is a bit shaded but I went from “You are here” to the fourth lake bridge.

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Meanwhile back on the trail I was thinking this strip was almost too urban as I was seeing too many houses and hearing countless barking dogs in kennels not to mention passing various cemeteries.  There was a cool ranch like property and then finally it got a bit away from humans and I saw fungi and rock structures.

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It was timely to pass three perfect Christmas trees.

You would think this time of year would be boring but not so as the fallen leaves revealed abandoned nests.

Not long after passing a property  full of rusting buses and cars and things I came across a lovely lake that really made the walk worthwhile.

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I thought I saw beaver dams too in two of the next three pictures.  This looks like an area they would like.  I saw one crossing a highway several months ago.  Their back legs seem to be better suited for swimming as they drag along.  They have been known to bite if you ever get too close to them.

There were trees not quite swamped yet as if this lake was expanding still.

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I ate my lunch here and enjoyed the sun. A pita wrap with turkey, apple, spinach and old cheddar mixed with mayo and dijon mustard.  I left some pita for the birds but I checked hours later and they still hadn’t found it.

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6 degrees in the sun walking briskly is divine.  I had briefly misread the signs and headed back until a reread made me realize I had almost made Goat Lake again from the other side and so I had to drive back to the point I had left off.  This led to me finding another cool vantage point on this lake.  It looks like it is still expanding over the land.

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I saw five trees in one and then a rooty area.  After that was an installation I called wasted apples.

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Then I carried on past a boring section until in the mid afternoon December shade I was once again coming on to Goat Lake which had somehow originally attracted me.

 

The  view through the trees showed a nice hillside area.  Next I saw some ducks on the edge of the lake but it wasn’t long until I found the grand prize.   Look hard at this picture before moving on.  Do you see it?

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Goat Lake had given me the best sighting of all of my travels in recent months.  I had been drawn there and I knew not why.  Something to think about for the future.  This was something I had never expected to see though many wish to.  Chances are better at night but if you look hard you can be lucky as they like to sit still and hope no one sees them.  On a recent nature show someone said the same.  That you could pass by numerous times and not even notice but this time the shape was unmistakable and it caught my eye.  I got my pictures.  Even seeing it again in pictures it still seems surreal.

I knew that I had seen my first owl.  It was mystical and unexpected and unbelievable.  At first it looked gray in the shade but my pictures revealed brown stripes so I think it was a barred owl which is common here and there are even tours in March to see them at night when they are nesting and getting ready to make babies.  There should be plenty of hooting and hollering.

It was a bit scary the way it sat and stared at me as most animals choose flight when faced with humans.  The only other option is fight and there are stories of owls attacking people.   See this.

It can be good luck or bad luck to see one.  I’ll go for good luck.  It was a bit scary  as it just stared at me and I think it even spun its head 180 degrees as its face disappeared.  I’m glad it didn’t find me a threat.  They are known as familiars of witches and I did see a witch-like woman later on cleaning up dog dirt she told me.  Times have changed.  I have seen it too and also the guilty owners smiling at me as they thought they’d get away with it.

I was only worried about certain bad males in the woods.  Do I need to worry about other predators?  If they don’t go away quickly they could attack.  Fight or flight.  You decide.  There could even be bears though this time of year probably not.

My final delight was to relish the shush shish of this mossy, happy flowing stream to the lake.  I was alone and just one person in nature feeling its power and emptiness and yet everything was right in this one brief moment.  The possibly attacking yet wildly intriguing owl was forgotten and no humans were nearby at that time.  I deeply enjoyed this one spot until I quickly decided it was getting late and I should return home.  Back to reality once again.  Goat Lake had not disappointed.

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