South Mountain is camping, hiking and Rest & Relaxation country, but that's not all! Fortunately, there was very little daytime precipitation in Nova Scotia this year. However, overnight torrential rains have served as our automatic, regular, car wash. As we live close at hand, we can avoid this unpleasantness by monitoring weather forecasts. We never camp out in tents!
This is the start of the climb to 600 feet and there is minor ear-popping due to air pressure changes.
That school bus sign tells visitors that there is a year around population up here.
Some of those residents appear to have built homes quite recently.
At this intersection, Cape Split is found to the left and The Lookoff to the right.
This is actually a preview of that height of land seen after a number of tight zigs and zags in the road.
Lighting of the landscape varies quite a bit depending on the angle of the observer in relation to the sun. By the way all this is along the Gospel Woods Road, which says a lot about the history of the nearby campground. Photo looks to the south.
Orientation map. The Blomidin Lookoff is described as a "provincial park." It is said to be wheelchair accessible but beyond keeping the land level and keeping down shrubs and trees there are no on-site services. On the north side of the road there is a camp ground consisting of RV sites, cabins, "showers, fire pits, wood, ice. Pool, large playground, mini-golf, rec hall, sports equipment, activities. Café, takeout & ice cream." Rates $30(unserviced campsite) - $120 (trailer rental), May 19- October 9. The average look and see here is 30 minutes, which says it all.
That's the cafe and gift shop across from look off parking, which hardly constitutes a park. Google reviews included this: "It has a beautiful view but the food served needed healthier options."In fact, when it comes to amenities for tourists this whole complex needs to be updated. Water and electricity cost an added $6. "Rustic camps" at $70 have electricity but no plumbing and no bedding. Renting a trailer at $120 overnight includes a 4 bunk room with a king sized bed and 1.5 baths. Their "Luxury Guest Room" at $100 is furnished like a dated motel room. The Hillsdale Inn at Annapolis Royal will give you breakfast included in that price if you opt for their second floor room.
We parked our seven-year old Toyota and Ruth studied the map since we were not sure where this road went. Blomidin Park perhaps? Meanwhile I took some snapshots of the valley which outdo those offered by Getty for sale on line. Their minions can't be on the ground in every season. Even Google's snaps of the roadside are weather dependent.
Since the sky war clear blue from side-to-side and top-to-bottom I decided to click away. Back lighting does have an effect on colours at the horizon particularly at midday. This first shot might suggest that the valley is heavily forested with largely deciduous trees.
As the old song says, "Everybody's Doing It." This view overlooks the Minas Basin.
A bit of telephoto shows that there are sizable farm operations and that the trees are windbreaks for open land.
Looking directly down over hundreds of feet of steeply sloping ground one sees that crops are still thriving.
Trees help to prevent erosion and weathering.
It would not be a good idea to explore this incline.
This is Google's satellite view of the area seen above. The photo shows water and landscape which is nearly due east.
10x. Illustrating the look of a medium-sized operation, a little more south.
Colour is not restricted to tree leaves.
Looking back down the highway.
It is a dizzying prospect for some people.
That same farm seen from a distance. Google maps names some of them.
These shots are a pan from east to west.
That is a lot of farmland and only a fraction of the Annapolis Valley under cultivation.
Hard to tell what is growing from this distance.
This photograph is of land far up the basin in the direction of Wolfville.
The parking lot is broader down hill. I did a lot of walking to get differing points-of-view with my Canon.
Here is a very long distance view, hence the fuzziness.
The following photo is of that land mass at lower right.
A nice property, but it lacks windbreaks and would be a cool habitation in winter.
There is even farmland associated with this remote looking property.
Enough of that! We continued to follow Gospel Woods Road which commenced to level off in an area where small farms become the norm.
Stewart Mountain Road and no mention of the fact that this leads to Blomidin Provincial Park and Campgrounds. We were correct in this assumption but were not on an east side peninsular highway as we assumed.
Viewing Blomidin from a distance we ha assumed it was a cape but that was incorrect.
This is, rather, a locational name for an area whose only access is the Stewart Mountain Road. The campground boasts 72 sites and at low tide a lot of beach.
There is only one stairway to that red sand beach and there is no supervised bathing. This area has some of the highest tides in the world and all around the head of the bay, visitors are warned that "The tide moves faster than a walk."
Thinking Blomidin still lay ahead Ruth drove on past the Stewarts Mountain access road. At this juncture we were sure that we were not headed there.
We though this might be a hobby farm, but where on earth...
With the water on the left, rather than the right, we knew we were headed toward Cape Split and land's end.
This pasture did not suggest a big commercial venture.
This had to be Scots Bay, an area was settled in 1764. A King's County history claims that the name was given after the shipwreck of Scots settlers in 1763. Later research suggests that those Scottish "settlers" were James Yuill and his son, natives of Glasgow, who were stranded there by a winter storm while ferrying supplies to a new settlement at Onslow in 1762-3.
"Another story has it that the area was named after a Captain Scott, which has some evidence including that there were records of a Captain Scott in the area at the time, that the original postmaster records indicate the area was named after Captain Scott, and the majority of deep-rooted residents support this spelling. Maps vary, with the oldest known maps recording the name variously as Scotchman's Bay, Scotsman Bay and Scotch Bay. The Church Map of 1872 has the water body labeled 'Scots Bay' and the community as 'Scott's Bay'." Officially the provincial government supports the shorter spelling.
"Wharf Rd." We will come back to it.
"The first European settlers worked mainly in the fishing, farming, logging and shipbuilding industries. An archaeological survey in 2004 documented 14 mills and three shipyards that operated at Scots Bay. At least 26 sailing vessels were produced at Scots Bay including 15 large square rigged ocean-going merchant ships. The last schooner to be built in the community was the three masted schooner Huntley in 1918. Farming, fishing, and logging are still active industries in Scott's/Scots Bay, with the addition of tourism." - Wikipedia
"Areas, such as Clam Cove and Davison Cove have been explored by archaeologists due to evidence of ancient Mi'Kmaq arrow head manufacturing sites. Many residents report finding arrowheads in their gardens."
That bit about tourism understates the situation, since an estimated 40,000 visitors and tourists come her; probably more than that in 2017. That may explain why Scots Bay has been slow to develop as cottage country.
Country roads? Perhaps not much longer: "Scott's/Scots Bay has become the center of local controversy in late 2013, when it was announced that an American company called Halcyon proposed to build a large-scale tidal power barrage from Cape Split to Baxter's Harbour. As early as 1916, companies have been documenting interest in harnessing the powerful forces of the tides at Scott's/Scots Bay." Then again, perhaps not now! That is Cap D'Or in the distance on the far side of the Minas Basin, and Cape Split in the middle ground, facing the Bay of Fundy.
These are cottages.
And it appears that there is some interest in Cape Split.
Scots Bay ends at Cape Split, another provincial park, a renowned hiking trail with cliffs to admire and fall over. Here there can be a tidal difference of up to 44 feet.
Had we wanted to park it would have been a half mile distant. This is where the park begins. Naturalists flock here to see protected and endangered species of plants and animals within the village and the park. The list includes several endangered varieties of bats, the Barn Swallow, the Canada Warbler, the Ram's Head Lady Slipper, and more.
A traffic circle at the end of the road allows escape from the mayhem.
Map seen at trail head. We will not recount misfortunes that have ensued here! This hiking trail is not an easy walking hike around Wolfville. The cardiovascularly challenged folks could require more that 5 hours for the round trip out to the split rocks and back.
Your mission should you care to undertake it commences here at trail head, where a dumping station stop is advisable unless you have read the book,"How To Shit In The Woods." Since my real wood's adventures are legion. I have been lost twice, I passed on sharing a groomed trail with hundreds of eco-tourists.
Black bear are extremely rare. Canada geese, loons, coyotes, white tail deer, and bald eagles are so commonplace in Nova Scotia they are hardly worth the effort of traveling to this outpost of civilization, now quite gentrified.
The presence of professionals whose All Terrain Vehicle is elsewhere suggests that there has been an incident or that patrols are routine.
Also seen on the scene that day.
This satellite photo of the trail head is not current as parked traffic was light.
If one walks all the way to the end of Cape Split.
You won't get to see this aerial view, but on a sunny day you will see something like the view which is inset. Most visitors have an interest which goes beyond simple R&R.
"The beach and cliff sides are known for semi-precious gemstones, primarily varieties of agate, quartz, and amethyst. These stones can be found lying on the surface of the pebble beach. Rock collectors, hikers and climbers make up a significant portion of the area's annual tourism, estimated at total of 40,000 visitors per year."While I used to help put together rock and mineral collections for schools and universities I never had much interest in collecting gemstones per es.
As we split from Cape Split, some adventurous souls were just commencing a fast hike. It needed to be fast to beat the autumn sun's disappearance.
When Hurricane Arthur struck Nova Scotia, July 3rd and 4th, 2014 it had been downgraded to a tropical storm. In Atlantic Canada and Quebec, hurricane-force gusts associated Arthur's remnants produced widespread damage. At that time there was only one fishing boat using this federally owned structure. There has been a wharf in the community since the 1930s. This wooden-cribbed structure replaced an earlier wharf in 1983. On August 18 a Fisheries and Oceans Canada representative informed some of the 150 residents that damage to the wharf had rendered it "surplus" but it could be "divested" to some non-profit local group. An estimate was that $2-million would be needed to repair the structure.
The damage was widespread as our photo shows. “I’m not feeling too good about it,” Fred Huntley, owner of a 40-foot lobster boat that uses the wharf, said, “To have the infrastructure handed off from the government onto the community just blows me away.” Three families were affected when he was forced to move the business to Halls Harbour. "The structure has cultural and historical significance for many in the community. It also acts as a breakwater for the road to Cape Split Provincial Park Reserve, one of the most popular hiking trails in the province. And it serves as a launch site for rescue boats in this area of the Minas Basin."
Halls Harbour is down the Fundy Shore nestled in a notch at North Mountain. Wharf Road (mentioned earlier) leads to Scots Bay Provincial Park and would not be open to commercial use.
Photos are sequential.
As one tourist commented "This place offers little more than a rest stop on a graveled beach." You can walk for a half mile offshore at low tide but that is a a mucky business. "Muddy but fun. Wear knee high rain boots or plastic shoes you can rinse in some of the tide pools. We never laughed so hard."
And don't be a stick in the mud.
A Japanese kid remembers this as, "The place where Dad lost his shoe.That's what this place will forever be known for in our family, as we all were wandering among the muck at low tide. Lots of different kinds of pebbles, driftwood and other treasures. It's great fun, and even better if you have a chance to see it at both high and low tides. You really get a sense of the height of the tides, with a vast expanse in front of you at low tide, but virtually all the beach underwater at high tide."
The road to the beach.
Ruth missed commenting on this beautiful herd.
This cornfield was unnoticed inward bound. The road leads to a few beachside cottages, who residents don't mind mucking about in the bay.
These sheep were observed grazing on the landward side of the road. One advantage of having Cape Split is that residents have a good paved highway through the community.
A few brief glimpses at The Lookout.
Halls Harbour by way of North Mountain looks like a prospect for 2018. We were of course headed back to Port Williams.
This was the highway down from North Mountain that afternoon.
The valley as seen headed south.
At a guess this crop as seen Harvest Home.
A heavy rain and high wind six days later swept a lot of leaves away.
Canning, with our destination Highway #358.
Seen from the right-hand passenger seat.
View of that abandoned garage/service station.
That heaped up earth in the distance is a dike.
The last sweep of farm land before taking Highway #1 for New Minas and Kentville, before going home.
The entry to New Minas where one cannot possibly survey all the box stores in a month.
Beyond that ugly misuse of flat land them country goes decidedly rural yet again.
These farm markets go well beyond the Wolfville (Everything) Market in the quantity of produce they are able to offer.
And parking is practically unlimited.
It is difficult to be entirely happy with this phenomena, but it has become a fact of life.
Like Christmas trees, Hallowe'en pumpkins are not about supplying a basic human need.
I suggested a turn off to North Mountain which led to a bit of extra mileage. We should have taken this right turn to reach the New Ross Road but was unmarked. So we went on, and took the next right, a dead end.
Ruth's sixth sense corrected the error and here is scenery on the height of land paralleling the valley westward.
At the terminal end of this enigmatic road it joined the New Ross highway and we turned south.
Observed at that huge campground seen earlier that day.
This highway scenery is not hugely beautiful as Wee Donnie might say but it was only a 20 minute drive.
Views of New Ross taken while traveling toward Mahone Bay.
Pit stop here.
The landscape gets more interesting from here, but we were slowed by a lead car traveling at 40 km/hr, with no passing lanes.
On, and on, and on... He finally turned off at Chester Grant and we took to the main highway between Halifax and all points southwest.
No change here, except that repair and painting work on Mahone's obvious churches appeared to be complete.
Main Street was still under construction.
Antique autos seem to be proliferating in Nova Scotia.
The Valley has this situation reversed. However, Harvest Home and winter will soon befall us all, and limit travel into these faraway places which keep calling us back.
One last strange coincidence. When Ruth next gassed up the Toyota, I was in the passenger seat nursing my camera. There was a ruckus from the parking lot opposite the Anglican Church in Mahone Bay and spotting the source I took a grab shot by way of the car's rear view mirror. I did not see the identification marks on that bus at the time.
A second snapshot through a rear window cut the light so much it appeared underexposed, but interesting, in Photoshop. Amazingly it did appear to have stopped some youthful action.
It did not take much jig, jig, jig, digital manipulation to reveal the Axemen and Axewomen hamming it up on behalf of Acadia University's football teams. They were not here to play football, so presume this was literally a pit stop, since "washrooms" are nearby. Someone out there will know?