Fabulous Fundy flakes favour southwest Nova
Digby is the snow capital of the province right now and aren't we lucky.
Judging by the tracks at the Digby Pines golf course, the Acacia Valley Trails, at Van Tassel Lake, and on the railbed, a lot of people have been out and enjoying the wonderful wintry weather.
It has been snowing in Digby for a week and the light and fluffy flurries have really piled up. The snow has been a little wispy letting skis and snowshoes sink through to the ground underneath but the last few days it has started to thicken up and get some real base to it.
If you’ve never tried snowshoeing, this is a great time to borrow a pair from Digby Area Recreation and head out to the Pines to play in the snow. Snowshoeing is super easy to learn – it is just walking with extra big shoes.
Snowshoeing isn’t necessarily faster than walking in boots but if you take your time, it saves you sinking to your knees or waist, and gives you a little more traction and stability.
Snowshoe hikes and trails
A group of people on Digby Neck have an easy hike to a winter waterfall planned for Wednesday, Jan. 3. They are meeting at 1 p.m. on the Wharf Road in Sandy Cove, parking there and then hiking to TR Falls. The route is mostly along a snow-covered gravel road with just a short scamper through the woods to the falls at the end.
Other local options include the Acacia Valley Trails on Mill Road in Hillgrove. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal keeps this gravel road well plowed but the steep section near the bottom can be slippery depending on snowfall and ice.
Beginners can stick to the wide, level trail and the adventurous can roam off on the single track trails to the Hardwood Ridge, Picnic Rock, and Tupper’s Deadwater or even connect into the miles and miles of logging road on the neighbouring Crown lands.
The Van Tassel Lake Trails are also a great place to snowshoe with easy walks to the lake, a rougher but beautiful loop around the lake or the demanding hike to the look off with a stunning view of the snow-covered uplands.
For more information on the trails in the Municipality of the District of Digby go to digbytrails.ca.
As trail coordinator for the Municipality of the District of Digby, I want to share with everyone just how beautiful and fun it is here right now.
I’d really appreciate it if Digby County folk could share their best fun-in-the-snow photos of sledding, skiing, snow sculptures, forts and snowmobiling.
You can email me the photos at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook or just post them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #fundyflakes
FUNDY ERRATICS WINTER HIKES
The Fundy Erratics also have a series of winter snowshoe hikes planned Jan. 20, Feb. 17 and March 24.
Jan. 20 - Railbed
The first hike will be relatively easy. The plan is to snowshoe 7.5 km on the railbed from Jordantown to the airport. This hike is intended to introduce people to the fun of snowshoeing on relatively even and level terrain but also to show you some of the winter beauty out there along our railbed.
Feb. 17 – Acacia Valley
In February we will try something a little more aerobically demanding on the Acacia Valley Trail on the Mill Road in Hillgrove. The plan is again 7 or 8 km but the terrain, while not hilly, is a uneven and wild. We’ll plan on following Aunt Sarah’s Brook by several frozen pools to Tuppers Deadwater and then over to Picnic Rock for a little bonfire.
March 24 – Gulliver’s Cove
And in March, we’re planning a strenuous climb to a couple of spectacular lookoffs above Gulliver’s Cove. The hike is only 5 or 6 km but parts are very steep. We’ve scheduled this one for late in the season so you have lots of time to get in snowshoe shape.
The Municipality of the District of Digby and the Digby County ATV Club wants to make people aware of construction about to begin on the abandoned railbed in Marshalltown where it intersects with Hwy 101.
The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal alerted the municipality that construction on an overpass to carry trail users over the new section of Hwy 101 will begin Monday, Dec. 18.
Because of that construction, the railbed will be closed to all users between the Dump Road (Upper Cross Road) and the Jordantown Road for most of the winter. The overpass project is expected to be completed by March 31.
When complete, the new bridge will allow trail users to cross the Hwy 101 safely. The bridge will connect the main stretch of trail leading to Weymouth with Conway and downtown Digby.
JORDANTOWN - The railbed trail looks a whole lot better for about 10 kilometres west of Digby.
Two dozen volunteers spent Sunday morning, Dec. 3 crawling up and down steep banks and fighting through thorny brush, to pick up other people’s garbage.
In the end they had gathered enough junk to fill to overflowing a 30-yard dumpster and then some – two couches and a fridge wouldn’t fit in the dumpster and went straight to Digby Salvage and Disposal on the Upper Cross Road, plus volunteers planned to get two more couches to the dump Monday.
Greg Thomas of Digby Salvage and Disposal says the garbage weighed a total 3.5 metric tons.
“This was an awesome turnout and it was great to see all that garbage in the dumpster instead of on the side of the trail,” said JJ Scott, treasurer with the Digby County ATV Club. “This is a great improvement but we still need to trim some limbs back and get the road surface graded but things are definitely going in the right direction.”
Volunteers combed the brush on both sides of the railbed for four hours, from Hwy 101 to Jordantown through to Bloomfield and a ways into North Range.
They used winches to drag up dozens of tires, fridges, stoves and a dozen mattresses. They filled heavy duty garbage bags with countless cans, bottles, coffee cups and every imaginable piece of junk.
The volunteers then loaded the trash onto trucks, side by sides, ATVs and trailers and hauled it to a dumpster set up in Jordantown.
“I was really grateful to see so many from the Digby County ATV Club and others, young and old, men and women, ATVers and hikers, all working together to clean up this community trail,” said Jimmy MacAlpine, Warden of the Municipality of the District of Digby. “This is a big trail and we’re going to need the community’s help to keep it in good shape.”
The Municipality waived the tipping fees - Digby Salvage and Disposal donated the use, delivery and pick up of the 30-yard dumpster, and Greg Thomas even came out to open the construction and demolition site on a Sunday afternoon so the volunteers could unload a truckful that just wouldn’t fit in the dumpster.
The Digby County ATV Club and the Municipality of the District of Digby organized the clean up as part of their efforts to develop the railbed corridor into a multi-use trail. The Municipality is in the process of applying for a letter of authority to develop, maintain and promote over 40 km of trail from Smiths Cove to Weymouth.
“That first section looks so much better,” said Jonathan Riley, Trails and Open Space Coordinator with the Municipality. “We’ve got lots more to do but when you see that dumpster full of trash, you know you’ve done something. It feels pretty good.”
statue of bears at a waterfall
orange glass Christmas tree topper
cast iron floor lamp
cans, bottles, coffee cups
stubby beer bottles
shoes, sneakers, boots, sandals
plastic sheeting, garbage bags
dozens of TVs
dozens of tires
8 or 9 couches
6" floppy disks
I love the little yellow larch. I love it more because it has so many names – how many do you know? My list is at the bottom of this article but see how many you can come up with before you get there...
The fall colours started with some bright and spectacular reds this year – especially on the shores of the rivers and lakes a little further inland – now most of those reds and oranges are gone, ripped from the trees by the strong winds of late.
[See a collection of photos from around the Digby area at www.digbytrails.ca/fallingfordigby.html ]
Now we are into the brown oaks and beeches, some yellow birches and poplars and the last of the yellow maples. But trailing at the end of the colour parade is a showy little final hurrah, a splash of golden yellow like an exclamation point on the season of fall colours.
The larch is the only conifer native to Nova Scotia that loses all its needles at once and before it drops those needles, they turn a bright almost luminescent green and followed by a deep golden yellow.
I love to paddle the stillwaters and lakes of Digby County this time of year just to look at the larches along the shore. The top of the Wallace Branch is particularly pretty with some tall straight larches in the range of 10 and 15 metres tall. The stillwater on Lake Franklin Brook is also picturesque but the larches there are smaller, more of the twisted expressive variety.
A group of us ran to the look off at the top of the Van Tassel Lake trails this week and the big patch of yellow larches on the swamp that is the source of Bud’s Brook is just about the only colour left on the hills up there.
If you keep your eyes open you will see this beautiful yellow tree everywhere right now. The swamp at the front of the municipality’s property on Haines Lake is full of them and I saw a nice big yellow stand at the start of the road to Southville right where it meets the 340.
What’s your favourite place to admire the larches?
Share some photos with us by email to email@example.com, find me on FB or simply add #FALLingforDIGBY in the comments when you post on FB or Instagram, and I’ll find them and add them to our collection at www.digbytrails.ca/fallingfordigby.html.
Names for the larch
In Latin, the larch that grows in Nova Scotia is called larix laricina.
Tamarack, Hackmatack are both common names, undoubtedly of Aboriginal origin. Many here call it juniper as well, but juniper is actually a totally different plant, a bush actually. Along the same lines, some people refer to hemlock as tree juniper.
Our kind of larch grows right across a big swath of this continent, mostly in the north, even in Alaska and in other places it is called the eastern larch, black larch, red larch and even American larch and Alaskan larch.
In Acadian it is called violon because it does resemble a violin or fiddle in shape, but other French speakers call it mélèze and according to one source online the Mi’kmaw word is apu’tam’kie’jit.
Do you know any other names for larch that I’ve missed?
I was walking to the look off in Gulliver's Cove earlier this week and met two ladies who were surprised to see me in a bright ORANGE vest and hat.
"Is it hunting season?" they asked.
Actually it's been hunting season for more than a month now - deer hunters with bow and muzzleloaders and bear hunters have all been in the woods since Sept. 11 but today, Friday, Oct. 27, is the start of the general deer hunt - the big hunt.
Last year DNR issued 45,836 deer licenses and 10,748 archery and muzzleloader stamps; so roughly four times as many hunters will be actually hunting this weekend compared to the few who have been in so far.
I firmly believe the general public can safely frequent the woods throughout the hunting season but they have to be aware and take a few precautions.
Most importantly: GET YOUR ORANGE ON. By law only hunters and those accompanying hunters have to wear orange, but for safety sake, everyone in the woods should wear an orange hat and an orange vest or jacket.
Travelling in a group will also make you more visible and less likely to be confused with a deer.
It's also more important this time of year to know the land you're on - who owns it? do you have permission to be there? do the owners hunt or allow others to hunt there?
If you've been in the woods lately, you might have a pretty good idea of some places hunters are setting up or frequenting. Starting today they can actually pull the trigger on their rifles, but many have been in the woods for weeks, busy scouting game trails, setting up and checking game cameras, building blinds and stands and of course supplying bait stations.
Those are places it is just as easy to avoid for the next month (until Dec. 2 at least when the big hunt ends).
I also tend to avoid the early morning and late afternoon hours as much as possible - those are the hours where hunters are out in bigger numbers, before and after work, and also when visibility is at its worst.
Hunting is only allowed on the first two Sundays: Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 but no other Sundays so you should definitely get out and enjoy the woods Nov. 12, 19 and 26.
Another option for complete peace of mind is to visit a national park like Kejimkujik or provincial parks like Central Grove, Savary Park, Mickey Hill, Smugglers Cove and Mavillette.
For example, the Fundy Erratics hiking club usually schedule their November hikes for the national park: this year they are hiking from Jakes Landing to Merrymakedge and Grafton Lake on Nov. 18.
The fall is a wonderful time to be outdoors: just GET YOUR ORANGE ON.
For more on hunting regulations and safety advice see: https://novascotia.ca/natr/hunt/.
For a list of the 2017-2018 hunting and trapping seasons, see:
The Gulliver’s Cove trails should be a lot easier to find and follow, thanks to the work of a great group of volunteers.
Wanda VanTassel, chair of the Gulliver’s Cove Trails Association (GCTA), organized a trail clearing party for Oct. 14 and an enthusiastic group of 23 volunteers spent the day clearing the upper trail of alders and errant branches and brush. The Bay of Fundy Discovery Centre provided brush cutting equipment for the project.
The Trailgate party was held in conjunction with the Municipality of the District of Digby, the Fundy Erratics hiking club, Hike Nova Scotia, and the Government of Canada through the Canada 150 fund.
The federal funding paid for hotdogs and cake and some of the money left over was spent on signage to indicate parking areas and signs showing the way to the upper trails. The GCTA plans to add more signage and maps as they continue to develop and improve the trail system.
There are now a few parking spaces cleared at the end of the Gullivers Cove Road where the old fish sheds used to be. The lower trail (~800m) follows the shoreline to a rest area and look off with picnic tables and benches. The trail surface is mostly grass, mown regularly but in a few small sections there are roots, rocks and some small puddles.
Another smaller parking space has been mowed out on the right of the gravel road leading up the hill for people wanting to access the newly cleared upper trail. It is a steep strenuous climb of about 1 km to reach the upper trails.
From the start of the trail itself, it is another 1.2 km through the woods to the upper look off. The trail surface is wide and clear with many roots and rocks. The look off gives a breathtaking view eastward along the wild shoreline of Digby Neck, directly below is lower look off and further southwards one can see the beach and some of the houses of Gulliver’s Cove.
The GCTA was officially formed in August this year to develop, maintain and manage a network of trails in and around the Gulliver’s Cove area for hiking, walking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The GCTA is in the process of formalizing agreements with the private landowners who have graciously agreed to allow the trails on their land.
The GCTA hopes to see you out and about on these community trails, enjoying the views, the fresh sea air and getting a little exercise too.
For more information and a map of the trails, see www.digbytrails.ca/gullivers-cove.html.
Gulliver’s Head Trail brush clearing party
The Gulliver's Cove Trails Association needs your help clearing the Gulliver's Head Trail. We have planned a TRAILGATE party to clear brush and branches from the trail leading to the spectacular look off pictured above.
The Municipality of the District of Digby, Hike NS, the Gulliver’s Cove Trail Association and the Fundy Erratics hiking club have partnered with the Government of Canada to offer this Trailgate Canada 150 celebration. We're celebrating Canada's birthday and helping to look after one of the areas most stunning trails.
Trailgate Canada 150 is funded by the Government of Canada
Red and orange will soon be followed by white
I am a chionophile – someone who loves snow, who thrives in winter conditions. The first snow floats into my dreams in late August: in those dreams, I’m usually skiing or at a window watching it fall and then running to grab my skis.
I just read a delicious description of hikers making a trip into the Cairngorms, mountains in the northeast of Scotland, to check out the longest lasting snow patch in the UK.
(The last snow in Scotland, by Cairngormwanderer - Neil Reid, Oct. 4, 2017)
For me the best part of the story is why they went up - it wasn’t just to climb the mountain but rather to check and see if all the snow had melted.
Braeriach is the third highest mountain in the British Isles at 1,296 metres; the snow patch is below the summit at 1,140 metres in a big round bowl – what the British call a corrie or cirque – a steep-sided hollow. The bowl is called Garbh Choire Mor, or big rough corrie, and has only been without snow five times in the last 100 years (1933, 1959, 1996, 2003 and 2006).
2017 will make six times. When the hikers reached the snow patch, the 11-year-old snow had melted to the size of a welcome mat and is now, in all likelihood, completely gone. Not to worry though: it’s snowing again there and new snow will soon start piling up.
The author of the article, now in his 60s, mentions that despite his best efforts he “never did see the Garbh Choire Mor completely snowless”. It is something that few people have ever seen.
I love that those three people were that curious about snow - and it got me thinking about the importance of paying attention to natural cycles and rhythms – to the ephemeral elements of our world.
I made a point this past Thanksgiving weekend to get out in the backcountry to check on the maple trees. Some leaves were starting to turn around the shore, where most of us live, but I had a suspicion the colours were farther ahead inland - we’d had that frost the first couple days of October and I figured it was enough to trigger the big show.
Sure enough I took a quick paddle down the Mistake River, south of Porters Lake, and the maples along the stillwater were aflame in reds and oranges. But even as I paddled, the wind was blowing the leaves from the trees – the colours will not last forever. But my memories will, as will the feeling of wonder and joy at seeing those gorgeous sumptuous colours.
I also took a friend for a longer trip to the stillwater on Franklin Brook, southeast of Lake Joli. The same bright colours and even more leaves were flying from the trees there.
I’ve been trying to encourage others to watch, to really soak it up, and to record it too. I have been collecting Digby County fall colour photos on the digbytrails.ca webpage – if you’re seeing a good show where you are, how about tagging me (Jonathan Riley on Facebook) on your Facebook photos, use the hashtag #FALLingforDIGBY (simply type #FALLingforDIGBY into the comments under the photo), or message or email me – so I can share the colours with others.
Starting Saturday, I’ll be away from a computer for a while but send me your photos and I’ll add them to my collection when I get back.
Tour the trails and turbines of Van Tassel Lake on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 5:30 p.m.
WIN, WIN, WIND SITUATION
Combining recreation and clean energy in Mount Pleasant
MOUNT PLEASANT, N.S. – Clean water, clean energy and outdoor recreation combine within the Van Tassel Lake Watershed Area.
The Municipality of the District of Digby, the Town of Digby and the Van Tassel Lake Trails Association are holding an open house in Mount Pleasant at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11 to celebrate their various partnerships in Mount Pleasant.
The Town of Digby owns 550 acres of land around Van Tassel Lake which serves as the town’s back-up water supply. Development and use of this land is strictly controlled through the town’s Water Source Protection Plan.
The Town leases land there to the Municipality for its two wind turbines and has also signed an agreement with the trails association allowing them to construct and maintain hiking trails.
Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland says the town was especially excited to support the trail project on their land.
“When the Van Tassel Lake Trails Association approached us, we realized right away these trails would benefit our residents and even attract visitors to the area,” says Cleveland. “The trails offer a place to connect with nature, to get some exercise and fresh air. Combine that with the turbines, and this is really a win, win, wind situation for everybody.”
Jimmy MacAlpine, Warden of the Municipality of the District of Digby, says the two wind turbines are an investment in a sustainable green future for the Municipality.
“We are always looking for ways to increase revenue for the Municipality, for innovative ways to keep taxes down,” says MacAlpine. “And with this project we also reduce our carbon footprint and support renewable energy here.”
The Municipality bought the larger 800-kilowatt Enercon turbine from Renewable Energy Services Ltd. in 2016. It has been operational at the site since 2007. Last year the Municipality also erected a second brand new 50-kW Ghre Power turbine.
The two turbines supply enough electricity for approximately 510 homes, displacing about 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
FOR MORE INFO: digbydistrict.ca/wind.html and energy.novascotia.ca/renewables/wind-energy
In 2015 Sean Merrett, president of the Van Tassel Lake Trails Association first approached the Town of Digby and its Water Source Protection Committee for permission to build trails on the Town’s land.
The association of volunteers has since cleared and marked 4 km, including 2.8 km of single track hiking trail around the lake. The trail system also includes a 1 km spur leading to a look off with a view of nearby woodlands and through a gap in the hills to Conway, Smith’s Cove and Marshalltown.
“We are really lucky to have this network of trails so close to town,” says Merrett. “As an outdoor enthusiast, I’m grateful to have a place where we can get out and walk, hike or run. As a high school teacher and father, I’m thinking of young people, giving them a connection to Digby and the outdoors, but really, these trails allow all ages and abilities to access the forest here.”
Van Tassel Lake Trails Association on Facebook: www.facebook.com/VanTasselLakeTrailsAssociation
At the open house the trail association will unveil their new trailhead signage and map and afterwards the public is invited to visit and tour the wind turbines or take a guided hike through the fall woods to the lake. Transportation will be available to bring visitors to the turbines for those unable to walk there.
Linda Gregory, municipal councillor for the area, is thrilled to have the trails in her community.
“I like the idea of a trail where our residents and visitors can be active in nature,” says Gregory. “And you can see both turbines from the trail around the lake – it is a great way to show people we are serious about improving quality of life here, making this a green community and being fiscally responsible by seeking new sources of income for the municipality.”
Van Tassel Lake Open House – tours of Wind Turbines and Trails
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 11
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Where: 859 Culloden Road in Mount Pleasant
For more info: www.digbytrails.ca/Van-Tassel-Lake.html
For more information, contact:
Renewable Energy Program Coordinator
Trails and Open Space Coordinator
Background on the Municipality’s wind turbines and other green energy initiatives:
The Municipality of the District of Digby operates the wind turbines as part of their Climate Action Plan and Integrated Community Sustainability Plan.
The turbines have the ability to produce around 2 million kilowatt hours per year. This is enough electricity for approximately 510 homes and displaces around 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions. A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. So the investment by the MoDD is the equivalent of taking 212 vehicles off the roads.
Council recommended the purchase of the Enercon E48 (German technology) and the Ghre 2150 (Chinese technology) as part of a strategy to “greening Digby County” and reduce our GHG (greenhouse gases) output.
This project forms part of the Municipality’s Climate Action Plan and ICSP (Integrated Community Sustainability Plan) as a way to reduce our carbon footprint. The municipality for its part has signed agreements with Nova Scotia Power to purchase the electricity that is produced from the two turbines. The long term PPA (Power Purchase Agreements) guarantee a specific rate for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced.
The MoDD is involved in other green initiatives as part of its “greening Digby County” strategy. One of the major initiatives was the conversion, completed in 2016, of all municipally owned streetlights from High Pressure Sodium and Mercury Halide to LED (Light Emitting Diode). The 859 lights that were exchanged represent a reduction in energy of about 60 per cent.
Van Tassel Lake in the news:
Digby County turbine in Mount Pleasant marks decade milestone, Digby Courier, Feb. 2017
New trails developed at Van Tassel Lake, Digby Courier, March 2017