Our last days in Quebec were spent at Forillon National Park, where we enjoyed views along the Atlantic and hiked the Les Graves trail out to the Cap Gaspe lighthouse. We were joined by a friendly porcupine and an inquisitive moose. We absolutely positively did not hear bears in the brush. We missed seeing the coastal drive west along the St. Lawrence river in daytime but we did end the trip with one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in my life.
The drive from Gaspesie National Park to the Gaspé peninsula and the Percé rock was absolutely stunning. Every bend in the road revealed the glory of fall in all its splendour - yellows, oranges, reds and greens.
We arrived in Gaspé in the late afternoon and after checking into our hotel headed to town for dinner and to view the famous Percé rock with its large natural arch. Early the next morning, only two of us managed to roll out of our warm, comfortable beds to head out in the misty drizzle to see the sun rise over the Atlantic. Unfortunately, we missed the sun as it peeked out for a handful of seconds as it rose over the horizon but we soaked up the quiet, gray atmosphere as we explored to peninsula - together, alone - while the rest of the town slept.
When flipping through Nova Scotia travel magazines or browsing their tourism website you are sure to come across an image or two of the Peggy's Cove lighthouse. This picturesque landmark is iconic and instantly recognizable. In the summer months, the rocks and village are crowded with tourists but in the winter it is quiet and peaceful. The sun shone bright as we explored the area and catnapped in a warm, secluded and wind-free batch of rocks.
About a kilometre down the road from Peggy's Cove is the Swissair Flight 111 memorial, which was erected in memory of the 229 people who died when the flight crashed into the ocean 8km from shore. The three notches on the stone monument represent the flight numbers. Another stone monument was placed in memory of all the volunteers who worked tirelessly after the disaster during the recovery effort.
Nova Scotia's greatest treasures includes the numerous beaches that dot the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean. The vast shorelines provide a quiet and peaceful place for long walks, exploration and treasure hunting. In summer the beaches are rarely crowded and in winter you'll likely have the beach all to yourself. There's no better way to get away from it all!
The south shore of Nova Scotia is a fantastic place to visit for outdoor enthusiasts - even in the winter months. There are so many different places to visit and spend time outdoors - beaches, hiking trails, historic sites and parks.
One of our favourite places is Hirtle's Beach, which is also the start and end point of the Gaff Point Trail, a seven kilometre trail that meanders along the beach and through forests along Hartling Bay.
Hiking in the winter is always an adventure. You never know what the trail conditions will throw at you. Our hike began along the rocky shoreline, accompanied by sunshine and the sound of crashing waves. Once in the forest, many sections were covered in deep snow, some of it firm and easy to walk on but in areas where the sunshine had warmed the surface, it was wet and soft and easy to sink in thigh deep. I'm certain I fell through and down more times on that hike than in the rest of my years combined. The snow, at least, was a soft cushion.
The views, as you can see below, were spectacular. Old man's beard hung from the trees in the forest and and a thick carpet of red covered the ground in exposed areas. Icicles dripped from rock faces and ribbons of shale stood exposed to the elements, evidence of the prehistoric.
No hike at Gaff Point would be complete without a pastry and hot drink from LaHave Bakery on the way home.
I'm sure you've heard the saying 'if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes' applied to many different places. It's certainly true in Nova Scotia. The weather on our walk at Rissers Beach Provincial Park in Nova Scotia seemed to change from moment to moment - snowy, cloudy, white out, sunshine, more snow. It was great fun!
It's hard to believe that it has been almost two years since the little house on the Atlantic was packed up and the keys handed over to the new owners. I have a feeling this post is going to make my parents and siblings all a bit sad - so many memories of times spent together at this enchanting place, exploring, relaxing and getting away from the busyness of life. Not to mention the delicious combination of salty air, crashing waves and screaming seabirds. There's a lot to miss!
Our last walk along the shoreline of the property wasn't very long, perhaps a handful of kilometres, but we took our time and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery and sparkling sunshine.