Hey Toronto, remember to Practice Physical Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic!
And now on to the regular post …..
Every few years, our family packs up the car and heads east to Nova Scotia. We’ve come to love the South Shore, basing ourselves around Mahone Bay or Lunenburg for a few weeks in late summer to soak up sun, swim, gorge on seafood, and soak into the village feel. It feels like a second home for us, and we can’t wait to get there as often as we can.
On our first family trip there, in 2008, we were chatting with some locals who told us about a great beach called Hirtles. It’s a badly-kept secret at this point, but we can always get away from the crowds by walking the nearby Gaff Point Trail.
We’ve done this walk many times now, and it’s become a ritual on every visit. To get to the Trail, you have to drive to Hirtles, about 20km outside of Lunenburg. From the parking lot, you follow the boardwalk over the dunes to the beach, and then turn right to walk south along the beach for about 2 km to get to Gaff Point itself.
When you get to Gaff Point itself, there’s a well marked trail that loops around the point and returns you to the beach. It’s only about 3 km long, but it winds through little meadows, moss-treed forest, and rocky shore, packing a little taste of Nova Scotia geography into its short length.
One of our favourite parts of the walk is actually after we’re done the trail at itself. By then we’re always a bit hot and tired, so it’s wonderfully soothing to wandering back towards the car park, trailing tired feet in the water, and then rewarding ourselves with a swim at the end. That’s easier if the tide is out, because there are some rocky stretches of the beach that are tough. I’ve walked it in sandals a few times and now usually wear hiking boots, which I carry for the last km as I splash in the water.
We have so many memories of the walk. One year when our son was about 6, we noticed that someone had made little inukshuks from the rocks along the shore,
Another year, someone had put a solitary lawn chair up on a small cliff overlooking the water, to sit and contemplate the vastness of nature.
We often take a picnic lunch with us, to enjoy sitting on the rocks in the sun. One year it included a thermos of homemade seafood chowder that I’d made the night before,
and enjoyed it sitting on the rocks listening to the jug and gurgle of the water.
Later this year, we’re planning to return to Nova Scotia in September, this time to drop off our now 18-year old son at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
Afterwards we’ll spend a few weeks in old favourite haunts on the South Shore, and I am sure we’ll make time for Gaff Point, to say hello to an old friend as we enter our new chapter as empty-nesters. The sea is always there.