Thursday, 31 July 2014

Avoiding Arthur

We were now warned that Hurricane Arthur was headed for Nova Scotia, and would strike the south eastern coast over the weekend. Yet another reason it had proved a good decision to take a more northerly route. But when exactly would it hit land?

It was still relatively calm when I left Herb's on Saturday morning July 5th, having decided to take a chance and head out early on the short leg to Lyons River near Pictou.  I had been invited to stay here with horse owner Mary McKinnon, and arrived safely around midday as the gusts of wind began to strengthen. Still time for Mary to take me on a car tour of the area and the quaint little town of Pictou, sometimes dubbed 'The birthplace of New Scotland'. It was here that the first two hundred Highland Scots were carried by the ship Hector in 1773.  A suitably dramatic photo of a replica of the Hector preparing to ride out Hurricane Arthur as the storm brews in the background.
But whereas other areas of Nova Scotia received gale force winds and heavy rain in the following hours, the Pictou area was relatively unscathed and the storm was mainly confined to strong winds.
Mary with husband Jack and photo bombing dog in the window behind.
Mary lives right on an up graded section of the Trans Canada Trail running along a former railway track from Pictou to Oxford, and the next few days provided some of the best riding I have had in Canada so far.  Not only was the surface ideal, but large sections were shaded by trees, a relief even though Arthur had cleared the air and dispersed the sweltering heat.
An idyllic ride through the woods with the tail end of the hurricane rushing through the tree tops .....
..and across the open country near Scotsburn..
I had been a little concerned about the possibility of the trail being blocked by fallen trees, but in the event it was not an issue as Lady and I were able to step over, duck under or as in the case below, scramble round the windfalls.
  That night we stayed with the lovely Bethany McClellan at her Squire Hill stables not far from the trail at River John.  Here she is with partner Jason outside Lady's stable window.
They gallantly insisted on sacrificing their bedroom to me, but I am afraid I did not prove a very sociable guest as having disappeared for a quick snooze after supper, I crashed out and did not wake up until morning! 

I had been invited to stay with Haflinger breeder and driving enthusiast Gillian Allan and husband Nigel at their home near Wallace River, and Gillian intended to ride with me from River John.  I was looking forward to meeting her as she was the first person in Canada to join me on the trail, and she had also kindly agreed to look after Lady while I returned to Wales for a few weeks summer break.   So I was delighted when Gillian and Nigel turned up with Haflinger mare Miss Arati in the trailer. It was tremendous to have company to chatter away and laugh with for a change.
A beautiful trail still, but one could have furnished a small flat from the domestic goods dumped in the woods.  Love the strategically placed paper!..
Yet another beaver lodge. You can see how the pond created by beavers blocking the stream outlet is  causing the flooded trees to die off.
We were impressed to see members of the Tatamagouche Area Trails Association out in force clearing the trail of fallen trees so soon after the hurricane, and doing an excellent job ...
Well done boys for your much appreciated efforts!  I can safely say this was one of the best kept sections of the Trans Canada Trail I have encountered so far.

An unfit Miss Arati was becoming a trifle tired, so we called it a day at Tatamagouche and Nigel drove over to fetch us with the trailer.

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