|Published in the South Shore Breaker - Sept 7, 2016
Just a 30 minute drive from downtown Halifax, it took us about one and a half hours from the South Shore to arrive at the small parking area. The trail is protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and is part of the Dr. Bill Freedman Nature Reserve, a 372 acre area of protected coastal barrens and forest. There are no facilities, and no signage. The four kilometre trail is quite easy to follow and I would rate the difficulty as moderate, but I’m not a hiker. There are lots of rocks on the well trodden paths, which meant a lot of looking down for me as I was walking. My bursitis filled hip was talking to me by the end of the afternoon, but the scenery was spectacular and a sore body was a small price to pay.
|hikers on the ridge show the proportion of the landscape
Oh my. The beauty of the area is amazing. There are two approaches to the trail and we parked at the end near Prospect Village. We hiked up the hill covered in rocks at the beginning of the trail and quickly came to a beautiful ocean view. The constant breeze was a blessing on the hot summer day that we were there. The wind swept barrens were abundant with low growing plants, most of which I didn’t know. There were boggy areas with cranberries that will be ripe for the picking in the fall. Wild irises were everywhere, and I made a note to myself to come back early next summer to see them in bloom.
It seems every time I hike with my friend, I learn something about nature. This trip introduced me to pitcher plants, which I had never seen growing wild before. Carnivorous plants with a single dull reddish flower rising on a leafless stalk, the pitcher holds water to trap insects. We carefully walked over the spongy ground to take a close look at them.
Reading about the area after I returned from our hike, I learned that the granite barrens purify the ground water prior to its entry into the ocean. Regardless of their role in nature, the rocks are stunning and a joy to climb on, or simply just stand on and take in the endless beauty of the area.
|a sailboat in the distance enjoys the area in a different way
They also make good resting spots to stop and eat. If you want nourishment along the way, you have to pack it in and you just couldn’t ask for a more beautiful location for dining. We watched a colony of cormorants and a few seagulls while we relaxed. A couple of fishing boats went by, and we saw several sailboats in the distance. A while later we snacked on some wild beach peas, similar to the garden variety but smaller. There’s nothing like freshly picked peas.
|scavenged beach peas make a great snack
We hiked for over four hours and probably didn’t see more than twenty people the whole time. Our hiking included a lot of stopping to gawk and a lot of photography. Not many walked as far as we did, and many people had dogs with them.
|lots of photo opportunities, and a great area for dogs
I hadn’t even finished walking the trail, and my mind was busy thinking about all the times I’d like to return to take photographs. Late in the day with the setting sun. Fall for the crimson cranberries. Winter for photographing the area under much different circumstances. And late spring to capture the irises in bloom.
Or maybe I’ll just return with my walking shoes. I’ll relax and enjoy. I’ll focus on the sights with my eyes, not my camera. And I’ll fill my heart. And my soul.