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Fundy National Park – Where Even Superlatives Fail Me

Continuing north, and at the end of a road that goes nowhere else, is Fundy National Park of Canada, where the Caledonia Highlands Plateau (the uppermost reaches of the Appalachian Mountains) meets the Bay of Fundy.

20140914_104149There are sloping, meadow-like highlands

20140913_135134and rainforest jungles (accessible by cantilevered board walkways and stairs – it strikes me that this spot is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever visited, as deep and rich and wet as anything I’ve seen in Washington state or British Columbia).

fundyparkpano1

fundyparkbeautyplace1And of course, all-hell-broke-loose (well, it took 1 billion years, but still … ) geology everywhere.

Herewith, illustrations with text provided by Parks Canada’s Fundy Park guide.

“Around Alma and Herring Cove the story is one of rivers and jungles. The grey and beige rocks forming the impressive cliffs of Owls Head are made of sandstone.20140914_120744This rock used to be sand and mud which a vast and ancient river lay down during the Carboniferous era (about 325 million years ago). Along this river there was a lush, tropical jungle.  The rock has a fine sandy look to it and contains many black plant fossils and thin seams of coal.

The story is considerably older at Point Wolfe where volcanoes and the movement of the continents have formed the oldest rocks in the park. Walk down the steps to Point Wolfe beach

20140914_120620and as soon as you reach the beach you will notice some grey, green rocks forming a low cliff along the right side of this inlet. The rock has been smoothed by the tides but the story can still be deciphered.20140914_122757_LLSVolcanoes erupting ash and lava created off-shore islands during the Pre-Cambrian era (one billion years ago). Afterwards, during a collision between the continents of Europe and North America, these volcanic islands were bulldozed into the mainland. Look for the white quartz veins, swirling folds and criss-crossing fractures in the rock, which tell of this transformation. Rocks, which have undergone changes due to the heat and pressure of continental collisions, are called metamorphic rocks.

Point Wolfe is a geologist’s paradise. Opposite the grey rocks, you will notice rusty, maroon coloured cliffs towering above you. (JK note: yes, visit at low tide…..)20140914_122252The rusty red cliffs tell a tale of crumbling mountains. These mountains were created by the ancient Pre-Cambrian volcanoes and by the collision of Europe and North America. At one time they rivaled the Rockies in massive splendour. But they were worn down, or eroded, by the passage of time. Water and gravity piled all of the debris at their feet. These boulders and pebbles were later cemented together to form a new rock which we call the Hopewell conglomerate.

Think about that for a moment: “The collision of Europe and North America…”  “rivaled the Rockies in massive splendour…” , and not only that, but the highest tides in the world. (Yep, in the photo below, that’s a kelp bed on the right …)20140914_121430Words do fail me, and that’s saying a lot.


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The Fundy Coast: St. Martins

A short drive north of Saint John is St. Martins. Look at a map of the NB coast and you’d think only Anglicans and Roman Catholics settled this area for all the saints memorialized here. And while I’m on the saint thing:  inquiring minds want to know why Saint John is always presented with “Saint” spelled out, but St. Martins, St. George and St. Stephen use the abbreviation. And while we are at it, why is St. Martins plural or did they forget the apostrophe? I’m sure there are stories behind all this; there usually are. I just forgot to ask.

20140912_120610St Martins is formerly a sleepy fishing village and now a sleepy (in the off season) village of inns , B&Bs, and campgrounds, along with lovely beaches, spectacular sea caves, and the crazy tide lands. It sits on a small bay of the great Bay, between some striking headlands, and is the gateway to the Fundy Trail, a relatively new provincially developed parkway, bike and hiking route that eventually will connect Saint Martins to Fundy National Park. We try to bike the parkway bikepaths, but they are for youngerhippies or oldhippies with better knees. Steep up and downs hugging the coastline; great for those we think of as “mountain bikers”, so the 2oldhippies Westy ourselves around and hike instead. Everywhere extraordinary coastline views and,oh yeah, more rock love – a lot more.

The coastal views are similar to Mt. Desert/Acadia, except that there are a lot fewer people, huge tide flats twice a day, few sandy beaches, and it's hard to find a motel or gift shop.

The coastal views are similar to Mt. Desert/Acadia, except that there are a lot fewer people, huge tide flats twice a day, few sandy beaches, and it’s hard to find a motel or gift shop anywhere.

When the tide goes out, it goes to where the color of this water changes. Yeah, that far out.

When the tide goes out, it goes out to where the color of this water changes. Yeah, that far out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fundy Trail astonished us at the scale and scope of this public investment in a roadway, bike and hiking path network that is not a through route to anywhere, and whose only purpose is recreation and sightseeing. At one of the great view-sheds, this tiered group of picnic sites, which we made use of for a rose sundowner ...

The Fundy Trail astonished us at the scale and scope of this public investment in a roadway, bike and hiking path network that is not a through route to anywhere, and whose only purpose is recreation and sightseeing. At one of the great view-sheds, this tiered group of picnic sites, for example …

 

 

 

This is a view from the end of Phase I to the beginnings of Phase II of the Fundy Trail Parkway. Eventually, it will extend from St Martin's all the way to Fundy National Park. The land in between is currently wilderness. Yeah, that's different from Acadia, too...

This is a view from the end of Phase I to the clearing and construction of Phase II of the Fundy Trail Parkway. Eventually, it will extend from St Martin’s all the way to Fundy National Park. The land in between is currently wilderness. Yeah, that’s different from Acadia, too…

St. Martins is a Stonehammer Geoparc site.

Just left of the sea caves that all tourists can see and enjoy is an important "contact" of two different geologic formations -- the light colored Quaco, and the red Honeycomb Point formation. The shrubs and foliage growing along the diagonal contact disguise it during warm months...

Just left of the sea caves that all tourists can see and enjoy is an important “contact” of two different geologic formations — the light colored Quaco, and the red Honeycomb Point formation. The shrubs and foliage growing along the diagonal contact disguise it during warm months…

Sea caves at St. Martin's, low tide.

Sea caves and formation contact at St. Martin’s, low tide.

"The Sphinx"

“The Sphinx” at the St Martin sea caves formation

 

Nope, not a painting by someone from the St. Martin artist colony - a freshwater stream flowing from a spring near the sea cave passes beside the seaweed deposited when the tide covers this area. The red-orange above is the Honeycomb Point Formation sandstone. A really lovely sunset scene.

Nope, not a painting by someone from the St. Martins artist colony – just a mossy freshwater stream flowing from a spring near the sea cave passing beside the brown-green seaweed deposited when the tide covers this area. The red-orange above is the Honeycomb Point Formation sandstone. A really lovely sunset scene, but only visible at low tide, when the stream is not inundated by the sea.

Sunset view from our campsite.

Sunset view from our campsite. Still low tide.

Sunrise the next morning, with the tide in.

Sunrise the next morning.

We are inspired to keep moving farther up the Bay. Next stop Fundy National Park.