Monday, 13 October 2014

It Never Rains.....

Although we were making good progress, I started to face continual little setbacks, not least because Del was displaying an intermittent unsoundness.  Lady also managed to acquire a nasty girth gall one day, ironically as I had adjusted the pack saddle girth so it was more centred, which caused a rib on the girth to rub behind her elbow.  The girth is back off centre again now!
Monday 29th September. A wet day again - you can see we are now on the other side of the river which we crossed at Perth..
Crossing the bridge at Aroostock - this is where Lady stepped on my expensive waterproof trousers and ripped a leg zip so they are no longer waterproof..

Del's unsoundness seemed worse so I got off and walked for much of the way..

Arriving wet and tired at a damp camp spot beside a potato shed...
But I perked up enormously when Rosie from the house opposite invited me in for supper with husband Gaston.  And insisted I come for breakfast the following morning Tuesday 30th September.. 
 I needed cheering up as I had just discovered that the horses (I suspect Lady) had raided the baggage for food, removed the protective tarpaulin and distributed my chattels around in the rain.  Del also lost the strap for her hobbles, though I managed to replace it with a soft rope from a hardware store on our way round Grand Falls, attracting a certain amount of surprise when I parked the horses outside.
I stomped on in the rain, and in the circumstances was not best pleased to find an unavoidable anti ATV gate at the bridge across the river at Grand Falls.  The photo below is after I have just spent twenty minutes unloading Lady, leading her through the gap, re-loading the bags and re-roping the tarpaulin.
 The air was even more blue when I reached the other side to find another gate. On top of this the trail disappeared into thicker and thicker vegetation...
It transpired that this section of the trail has not been developed yet, but it took some bumbling around to find the alternative road route north to St Leonard - an hour and a half wasted and a long trudge ahead.
Not a happy bunny...

 In the late afternoon I managed at last to find a safe grassy spot to overnight the horses at Bellefleure behind the house of French Acadian Burton Bellefleure, shown here with son Richard and daughter-in-law Brenda Madore, a former truck driver!   Richard is the one with the crow on his head.
Warm-hearted Brenda came up trumps and provided a very weary and grateful traveller with meal, shower and bed for the night.
But when I settled down to go on my laptop, I discovered the screen was shattered - Lady must have trodden on it during her midnight rampage...

Hospital visit

Sunday 28th September and a glorious morning to follow the trail..
 But it was not long before we reached the Beechwood power dam.
 Above this a lake is dammed back to Grand Falls..
 Apparently the birds are religious round here.
 Autumn colours at a rest stop..
 The shadows lengthen on a long day on the trail...
 ..and we arrive at Perth-Andover.  After a bit of scouting around it seemed the only decent place to camp for the night was this grassy spot behind the hospital!  It had the added convenience of all night lighting which meant I could pack up early in the morning.
A friendly nurse escorted me in so I could use the washroom and fetch some water, the security guard kept an eye on me, and in the morning I was invited in for breakfast, though I had to decline due to shortage of time.  But I departed clutching a sandwich and two muffins.  Thanks Perth hospital staff!

One Potato, Two potato ..

Saturday 27th September    Breakfasting on coffee and doughnuts in my tent at dawn - who needs Tim Horton's?
 Coming into potato land. This area is renowned for its potatoes, and this was taken riding through Florenceville, where global French fries and frozen foods company McCain was started up in 1957 by the four McCain brothers.
This hirsute gentleman was waiting for me on the trail - Brad McBrine who rode his horse from near Florenceville to North Bay, Ontario over twenty years ago.

Arrived around midday at our next stopover with Heather Salmon, husband Shaun and two cute kids Rowan and Willow, near Bath.  Heather has a small home business making cakes, and she was busy producing her next creation for a birthday party that afternoon, a very elaborate process involving preparation...

and finally DA-DAH.....
A fabulous evening view over the St John River valley from the hill behind the house
before feasting on green waffles and maple syrup...
Family photo, but Shaun looks very serious and Willow has gone to bed....

Sunday, 12 October 2014

We don't cross the longest covered bridge in the world

Thursday 25th September.  Barb (and Rosie running ahead) accompany us on the start of our ride along the Trans Canada Trail to Woodstock, Barb well dressed for the occasion in her hunters orange, as it was the last day of the moose hunting season.
..and it was not long before we came across the gory evidence..
 The autumn colours on this isolated section of trail were stunning..
 ..though it was sad to see some of the destruction of the Acadian forest that has been taking place.
Unfortunately large companies such as JD Irving (known among other things for the famous chain of garages) that exploit these areas for wood, then spray these cleared areas with herbicides to prevent regrowth of less commercially viable hardwoods. This in turn has a knock on effect on the forest environment, as native fauna is not only effected by the chemicals used but by the resultant restriction of vegetation variety.
My hostess for the night near Woodstock was the public spirited Cindy Tozer, shown here with some of her many cats, twenty two at the last count!
This was not by design, but because of her generous nature.  Having inherited three cats on moving into her lovely property overlooking the St John river valley, people have kept dumping further felines on her doorstep. She feeds them all and has them neutered when she can - an expensive operation in Canada, unlike the UK where it is a free service. I had a hearty meal and a good night's sleep here while the horses roamed a large pasture.
It was a short walk down to rejoin the trail in the morning (Friday  26th September) - an idyllic section following up the bank of the St John river, utterly peaceful and beautiful.
 Posing in front of the longest covered bridge in the world at Hartland...
and it was slightly disappointing not to cross as the trail stayed on the east side of the river here, and I didn't have time to deviate. 
In the afternoon a young woman offered grazing by her house while we had a rest.  It turned out to be the cousin of Heather Salmon whom I was due to stay with!  Rather like Wales, "Mae pawb yn nabod pawb'  everyone seems to know or be related to everyone in this part of the world.
Late afternoon as we travel northwards up the St John river,..
 and eventually find a safe grassy spot to camp for the night...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The woman who thought her husband was a bear

This was a famous case in which an American woman on a hunting trip in Newfoundand shot and killed her husband claiming she mistook him for a bear.  The message of this story is that the short two-three day moose hunting season was due to start in the latter part of September, and I had received several warnings to wear 'hunters orange' when riding through the woods at this time. I had hoped to be over the hills to Woodstock by the time it commenced, but it looked increasingly likely that I might not entirely make it, as it was apparently scheduled to start on September 25th. But I made sure we were all kitted out with orange jackets.
At any rate it was a huge relief to be back enjoying the peace and beauty of the Trans Canada Trail the following morning Tuesday September23rd.   Along the St John river....
and up the Keswick river valley....

Lunch stop at Burtts Corner - this old building was once Cardigan Station ..
..and apparently there were quite a few people of Welsh descent living in the area, presumably originating from the Cardigan area of Wales.
From here the country began to become wilder, though we did not see any moose. The trail followed the rushing Keswick river for much of the way....

But though beautiful, the woods meant not much in the way of grazing, so after a long trudge I was happy to come across a large grassy clearing deep in the woods as the dusk fell.  No cell reception but a rather spooky gravestone overlooking the site...
We were untroubled by ghosts overnight, though in the morning I heard a distant shot - someone 'jumping the gun' perhaps?  Still no cell reception when we reached Milville at midday, but a helpful couple lent me their phone to warn my next hosts Barb and Neil Brown of my imminent arrival.  A friendly woman pressed two packets of seaweed on me (!) and happened to drop into the conversation that the moose hunting season had in fact started two days earlier as it had been extended to five days!   Ah well, we had managed to survive unscathed so far.
Further down the trail a lone figure clad in orange appeared - it was Barb come to meet me with dog Rosie.  Obligatory photo taken by Barb at a New Brunswick covered bridge - Lady fidgeting as usual.
The horses stayed in a paddock near the trail with friend Eileen, a school teacher with Barb's husband Neil, while I went on to Nortondale with Barb to see the cobs, have supper, and spend the night in a little outside cabin they have.

Neil with one of their home bred Welsh cob mares.

I am booked by the police.

Monday 22nd September was leaving Fredericton day, but first I took the truck over to the Mc Farlane's for safe keeping.  Cindy kindly followed me all the way along the main road to the Trans Canada Trail in Fredericton which I was very grateful for, and I set off through parks and residential areas.  It was getting late by the time I reached the outskirts of the town but there did not appear to be anywhere very suitable to overnight.  Reluctantly I started to set up camp on a grassy area with trees by a housing estate, but I had no sooner unloaded and pitched my tent than blue flashing lights appeared - a young policeman who did not really know what to do rather hesitantly got out his book. A more senior police officer had also turned up on the scene when my saviours arrived in the nick of time in the form of Sarah and Jason who kept horses up the road and were happy to take me in. I made a quick getaway, and ended up having one of those lovely unexpected evenings chatting over a glass of wine. Many thanks for the hospitality!

A Break in Fredericton

On Friday 19th September we continued the tedious plod along the Chipman-Fredericton road to arrive at Cindy McCloskey's Sterling Creek stables in Noonan, where we were to have a break for a couple of days while sorting out arrangements for the next leg.  Cindy gave me a quiet bedroom with en suite in the basement, and I could come and go as I liked - perfect.  First job was to fetch the truck from Spruce Hollow, and on Saturday I drove over to visit David and Marion MacFarlane, university friends of school friend Alison Metz whose help was so indispensable to me in Germany.  Marion and I had a very jolly day shopping in Fredericton for essentials such as French dictionaries and goose down jackets, and Marion threw in a trip to Boyce Farmers Market (here I am being tempted by the moose skin slippers)...
....and a pub lunch with French friends.  A relaxing non horsey day was rounded off by a convivial supper at home cooked by David....
...and enlivened by a bottle of wine.  As they have lived and travelled widely, we had plenty to talk about.
Sunday was spent catching up with blog, facebook and making arrangements. Cindy had been busy with a show on Saturday, but treated me to an early supper.
The McCloskeys at home..

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

I Spend the Night with two snakes.

Sunday 15th September and after considerable sorting out of the pack saddle baggage, the new team set off.  We took a back route to start with and Del baulked at the first puddle we came to, but then tackled them all without hesitation.   Our first real test was an unpleasant bridge with gaps between the planks, mainly with girders beneath, but open to the water at the sides - but I led the horses over one by one and they passed with flying colours.   Del waiting patiently for her turn...

  Along a fairly quiet road and Del seemed fine with the traffic that passed, and we stopped in a farmer's field for a lunch break and she took easily to the hobbles.

 Jeremy had arranged for me to stay with Ross and Paula MacFarlane overnight, and I had a comfortable and relaxing time at their lovely home.

 Paula used to run a stables and the horses were turned out in the riding arena with plenty of hay.

I hoped to cut across country to Chipman, so I was delighted when Paula contacted her daughter's father-in-law Sheldon, who lived down the road and knew the forest trails like the back of his hand.  Just as well I called in en route with him and wife Marg (who fed me gorgeous pie), as he was able to go over my intended route and point out tracks I had intended to use that were no longer functional.  Sheldon also kindly turned up later in the woods on his ATV to check I was on the right track.

Did not hang around here as I had no intention of being mistaken for bait ......

....but I did a lot of noisy and hopefully scary singing.  ' The bear went over the mountain' seemed most appropriate at the time.

 My camp site in a marshy spot deep in the woods...

I suspect it would have been mosquito city a couple of weeks earlier.

The following morning Monday 16th September we made our way to Chipman, encountering this river en route....
I was a little hesitant as I was unable to see the bottom on the far side, but having taken the precaution of putting my cell phone in my top pocket, we plunged in. Del strode across confidently, and in fact the water only came up to her chest

Great welcome in Chipman from Jenny Lemon and her partner Roger of Horse Haven stables, who gave me a cheery evening with supper, wine and a very comfortable sofa.  Many thanks!  Jenny (on the left with Lady) and friend Kristen with Del, ready to set off the next morning ....

Tucker the dog helps out with Lady....

After some consideration and a chat with Jenny's brother, I made a last minute decision not to ride across country to stay with Pam Allen at Durham Bridge. Although it would no doubt be wonderful countryside, I had come to realise that the dynamic nature of the forestry tracks on the ground did not match up with my maps. I had mislaid my GPS, and on top of it all I had been warned that there were still a lot of fallen trees from Hurricane Arthur blocking trails
So on Tuesday I rode along a back road to Minto.  I had seen on an ATV club website that there was an ATV track running parallel to the main Chipman-Fredericton road, but I soon found this was not to be. So it was a horrid tramp along the narrow verge of the road with trucks and lorries roaring past within inches. The only plus was that it was evident that the new member of the team Del was bombproof in traffic.
I was about to set up camp by the side of the garage at Allbrights Corner when Kyle, the young man who worked in the shop offered me the chance of a field of lush grass opposite, complete with apple tree to tether Lady.  Grandparents Brian and Irene Gillcash invited me in for supper.
 "Do you mind snakes?" Brian asked mysteriously, but all became clear when I was offered welcome use of a bedroom containing two snakes in tanks (...and no, I don't mind!) 
A curious room mate ....