Sunday, May 27, 2012

FFP 2012: The Parks

This is the second in a series of blog entries on my hike across the Fundy Footpath in the spring of 2012.  The first entry about the hikers, introduced you to the people I was hiking with.  This entry will tell you a bit about where our hike started - Fundy National Park. and ended - Fundy Trail Parkway.

This small stream is one of many along the section of trail in Fundy National Park.
The Fundy Footpath is a grueling exercise that tests a person's resolve and determination.  Our plan was to move from east to west.  We would start in Fundy National Park (FNP) and hike towards the Fundy Trail Parkway (FTP) while covering 50km of steep coastal ravines and forests.  I prefer to hike the trail this way as I find it more rewarding to end at the Big Salmon River.  The 8km of hiking inside FNP is along old logging roads and while it is scenic, the road walking makes it seem anti-climatic when you end there.  Every hike needs a beginning though, and the Park would be ours for this years rendition of adventure on the Footpath.

The hikers were dropped off at the Pointe Wolfe parking lot at the southwest corner of FNP on a cool but sunny Friday morning.  Everyone was in good spirits and wore tired smiles as the night before likely was restless with excitement and anxiety.  Adrenaline and enthusiasm would carry us through our first day in which we would hike 17km to Goose Creek.  The red covered bridge we drove over to cross the Pointe Wolfe River was just an indication of what lay before us.

 Lately there  has been a great deal of debate over the roles National Parks play.  Some feel they should serve as a showcase for our nation's natural beauty while others feel they should act as a sanctuary that protects natural habitats and beauty.  Depending on how you frame your opinion, it may hinder how you view Fundy.  As a relatively small park, Fundy has little infrastructure, outside the golf course, so if a urbanized, full service escape is what you are looking for, Fundy is not likely your destination of choice.  It is for that reason though, a frequent destination of mine.  I hope that, as more and more Parks are moving towards high end, service oriented, tourism development, Fundy can resist that demand.

As I mentioned earlier, the hike in the Park is along an old logging road, but the end is a spectacular beach surrounded by tidal mud flats and steep valleys.  Goose River acts as the western boundary of Fundy National Park and this could be unfortunate as the entire River deserves protection.  As we leave Fundy we play the "In Fundy, Outta Fundy Game near the signs marking the Park border.

The next Park we encounter is the linear Fundy Trail Parkway.  A number of years ago some people thought it would be a great idea to promote the Fundy coast here as an undeveloped coastline by developing it.  It is unlikely that the tax payers of New Brunswick truly know, or understand maybe, what they are paying for in regards to the Fundy Trail Parkway.  The road is built over steep valleys that are prone to drastically changing weather conditions not just seasonally but daily.  The steep valleys create high volumes of runoff when the weather brings rain or snow, and when you put a road in a steep location such as the area around Big Salmon River, controlling run off, and maintaining roads becomes a large undertaking.  Unforunately some of this has resulted in the development of large washouts along small streams and Long Beach Creek.  In many places you can see where the FFP has been impacted and become impassable due to this washing and slumping.  I don't place all the blame on the development of the Parkway as some has to be attributed to more intense rainfalls by nature lately, but I still don't agree with the manner in which the FTP was developed.  I think New Brunswickers, especially those who love nature and wild spaces should be upset that their tax dollars are being spent on creating this environmental degradation and more so that we will continue to pay for it as it will likely never pay for itself.

The next entry will be more cheerful and showcase the beauty of the FFP.  I promise.  I just really needed to let people know again about the threats to the FFP in the name of tourism.  In my mind we would have been much better off to promote more backpacking and wilderness excursions to the area.

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