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The Fundy Footpath
Guiding your spirit through wilderness into a state of grace

Alonzo Léger
Friends of the Fundy Footpath
June 1998

w.gif (482 bytes)hen we first took a walk through the coastal forest, we were taken with the primitive beauty of the mighty Bay of Fundy. Over a period of ten years, Edwin Melanson, trailmaster of the Dobson Trail, my brother, Gilles, and I had scouted various areas of this wilderness, not always arriving where we intended to arrive. While getting lost in the thickets and ravines, we discovered waterfalls, cliffs that appeared abruptly on our proposed route, small streams that disappeared in the moss, and scenic vistas overlooking "la baie fendu", "la baie francaise".

 

mattbetts1.jpg (13066 bytes)
(photo: Mathew Betts)

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"The damp smell ...  the wind blowing ...  the scent of the salt air ..."
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We submitted the "Fundy Footpath" project proposal to the recreational committee of the Fundy Model Forest. One of the many new terms that was uttered frequently at the recreational committee meetings that we attended was "non-consumptive recreational activity". Eventually we learned the definition of this new terminology - "non-consumptive recreational activity" is an activity that does not consume the resource but can provide a continuing economic benefit and therefore is measurable. During one of our interesting meetings with forestry engineers, Mr. Melanson mentioned he was feeling somewhat troubled. "I think we've been hanging around these guys too long; I'm starting to understand what they're talking about. It's time for me to go out in the woods." Enough of non-consumptive recreation; we're here to build a trail.

Generally, over the next two years, we preferred to spend our spare time in the woods, hacking away at the trail, painting blazes, meeting new friends. For our 2 x 6 inch blazes (the official Appalachian Trail size) we even found a paint that would stick to the trees in rainstorms and falling snow! "The trick of a perfect blaze is to get it squared off equally on the top and the bottom," as Mr. Melanson, painter of a thousand blazes, demonstrated. Volunteers from the Outdoor Enthusiasts Club, the Dobson Trail committee and the communities of Petitcodiac and Sussex contributed their time and effort towards the construction of the trail.

It was an interesting experience building the Footpath; sometimes it seemed unending. Occasionally we stopped to admire the scenery. At one point the trail building was halted as we were dodging the attacks of a Red-tailed Hawk; we were no doubt infringing on its territory. But we still missed the quiet and casual pace of the long hikes through the coastal forest. The damp smell of the forest floor, the wind blowing through the tall firs, the scent of the salt air rising above the cliffs, were not as well appreciated when you were busy working.

 

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"The thick fog generated by the mighty tides of Fundy..."
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mattbetts2.jpg (8243 bytes)
(photo: Mathew Betts)

We attended more recreational committee meetings and had the opportunity to enrich our language with new forestry terms - "verifiable indicators, assumptions for generating outputs, forest biomass growth", and of course, our favourites, "consumptive and non-consumptive recreation". But sometimes we're not really at the meeting. We're daydreaming of being out in the woods, meandering silently, with a few friends, soaking up the atmosphere of the place, and, at night, admiring the heavenly vault of stars and constellations that can be only seen far away from city lights.

That wonderful forest has been travelled many times. It has enchanting powers, the Bay with its strong tides, the coves and waves, the decaying remnants of an era when logging was done with teams of horses and stories of men's lives lost on the log drives abounded. The ambience of the Fundy Wilderness invades your senses after a few days. The thick fog generated by the mighty tides of Fundy, the rhythm of the waves and your breathing. When you return home all of this stays with you for a few days, and someone asks you questions which may seem important, and they think you're really home again and you're not ...

The Fundy Footpath starts at the Fundy National Park Boundary and continues to Little Salmon River.