Saturday, September 1, 2001

Lost in the Woods with a Bear on our Trail

Spider Lake Trails, Waverley Game Sanctuary, September 2001:

This is a story of a mountain bike excursion gone totally wrong!

My ex (Si) and I knew how to get on the Spider Lake Trails from a dead-end street somewhere in Waverley, and that is where we left our car. After riding for about 8kms (I had a bike computer) we got lost. We didn't have a map with us (duh). I was stopped and waiting for Si to catch up, when I heard something in the bushes - something big, crunching and snapping branches as it walked. I looked but I couldn't see anything. Then I heard a grunt/growl type of sound and my friggin heart was pounding in my chest. When Si caught up I told him I thought there was a bear in the woods. He listened and heard the branches snapping. I heard the growl again and said "THAT'S A F***ING BEAR!!" and I took off like a bat out of hell, bounced off a few rocks and blew out my back tire.

So this is great. We're lost in a game sanctuary, flat tire, bear stalking us and no flat repair kit. We continued on in the same direction (away from the bear), hoping we'd come to trail that would lead to a road or something. We walked the bikes for about 5km over gnarly terrain, not realizing that we were heading deeper into the woods, not towards our car. I felt like crying (actually I probably did when the trail dead-ended at a lake. We turned around and headed back the way we came. We never saw or heard the bear this time. We walked and walked and walked - pushing the bikes up steep hills, over roots, rocks, brooks and puddles. I clocked the mileage on the bike computer, and walked for about 10kms before we finally came out on the 118 Hwy. Si wasn't from the area and he didn't know where we were in relation to our car, so I took his bike and rode back to get our car, which was 12kms away on Spider Lake Road. I was so exhausted, dehydrated and hot that I jumped into a lake along Portobello Rd. - helmet, sneakers, gloves and all. And it felt some good too. I was so dehydrated, I even drank the water - the drink was worth getting beaver fever for. Then I looked up and saw a bewildered fisherman standing on the shoreline looking at me. lol

So I got back on the bike and continued on to Spider Lake Road. My leg muscles were toast. I stopped again at the overpass on Rocky Lake Dr., and laid down on the concrete for a rest. When I got to Spider Lake Rd., it was all uphill. I got halfway up and couldn't go any further. I stopped and sprawled out on someone's front lawn. After that rest, I made it to the top, got the car and went back and got my ex. What an adventure that was. By the way, I never ended up getting beaver fever (thank God!).

Lessons learned:

Don't go into the unknown without a GPS.

Don't go without a cell phone.

Don't go without sufficient water/food.

Don't go without a tire repair kit and pump.

Monday, April 30, 2001

Wards Falls - One of Nova Scotia's Hidden Gems

In the spring of 2001, Simon and I went for a hike at Wards Falls, which is near the community of Diligent River (about 8km from Parrsboro).  The trail to the falls is about 6km in total (in and out), and follows along the Diligent River.  It crisscrosses the river a few times, and there are bridges.  The falls are approximately 20 feet high, and there used to be a ladder so you could climb up and into the cave.

I have not been back there since 2004, but I have heard that the ladder has been gone since 2009.  There is a rope someone placed there to facilitate climbing, but I don't know if I'd trust someone else's securing of the rope as that is a long distance to fall if it let go.  So unless a new ladder is erected I will probably never see the inside of this cave again.

You have to cross the river using stepping stones (you can see a couple of them in the lower right of the pic).  They can be slippery and you may end up with wet feet if you slip.  Once you climb the ladder, there is a rope anchored in the rocks with handhold knots to facilitate rappelling to the cave floor, and climbing back out again.  It is not a huge distance to the cave floor so if the rope broke you wouldn't have too far fall. 

The cave is actually a gorge, and is open at the top.  In the pic below I am standing in a ray of sunlight beaming in from the gap in the ceiling.

Looking up at the ceiling of the cave.

We ventured further into the cave, but it doesn't go very far.

And this is the very end of the cave.  Another little waterfall, and that is where it ends.

This view is looking back out towards the mouth of the cave.

Even though there is no longer a ladder to the cave, this is still a beautiful hike and the falls are well worth the walk.  There used to be a picnic table perched on a flat spot overlooking the falls, and there are outhouses along the trail as well.  I am just so thankful that I had the opportunity to get into the cave before the ladder was removed.