This January I had a chance to head down to Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia for some winter hiking. My friend Rob and my dog Guinness joined me for the hike.
Keji Park is located inland in the western area of the province, it has a number of scenic lakes with a network of trail systems through the forested areas. The backcountry campsites can be accessed by canoe or on foot and are almost luxurious: they are fully stocked with chopped wood, picnic tables, fire-pits, tent pads, food hangars and are fairly private and remote.
This all makes for a safe, easy trip, and is an excellent park to enjoy for trips from 1 – 5 nights with a full loop trail that runs 60 km.
For this three day trip, Rob and I set out on a Friday afternoon for a short 8 km hike from the southern parking area to Loon Lake. This stretch of trail is actually a service road in the summer, but in the winter it serves as a groomed cross-country ski trail. We would have liked to ski as the conditions were excellent for it, but alas we tried snowshoeing. After 4 km of tromping through barely 3 inches of snow we decided to stash the snowshoes in the woods and continue on foot.
This was my first hike with my new Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus. It was very comfortable for the duration of the hike and I really like the external mesh pockets for storing and organizing gear. I ended up with a winter pack weight of 22.5 lbs.
My dog Guinness also got to try out his new pack, a Granite Gear Ruff Rider. It sat well on him and he seemed to enjoy carrying his gear. It also served to slow him down to a reasonable pace.
In this post I was going to bring up, despite my shamefulness, how useful it is hiking with an iPhone as it can serve as a multifunction device for a camera, book, backup light, and GPS/phone if required. However, shortly after the start of the trip the batteries died because I forgot to turn off cell service and it was searching for signal. I tried to commission the Group of Seven to finish the post artwork to no avail, so the following impressionist paintings illustrate the rest of the trip.
The plan was to meet our Park Warden friend Sarah
at Loon Lake and we were getting a bit concerned when darkness started to set in. A glowing set of eyes showed up in our firelight and we thought it might be a little coyote, until it got closer and we realized it was actually a small gray dog. Sarah skied in a moment later and we had a grand feast of instant Indian curry and spent the night in the cozy Warden’s Cabin.
The site offered some amazing views of Loon Lake and the river that feeds into it.
On day 2, Sarah headed back out and Rob and I continued down the trail another 8 km to a campsite at Cobrielle Lake.
It made for a short day, but we got some downtime to relax around the fire and attempt to teach Guinness to bring us firewood.
Site 28 doesn’t offer much for views, but is very private and tucked nicely up in the woods. There is a flowing water source nearby and there was plenty of covered chopped firewood to fuel our man-fire.
We stayed in my Outdoor Research NightHaven Tentthat night and again I was disappointed with the amount of condensation that formed on the inner wall. Admittedly it’s not a four season tent and probably shouldn’t be used in conditions when all the vents cannot be open. With the amount of moisture that soaked into our down sleeping bags I would be getting concerned if I was staying out for another night or two.
I slept on my NeoAir in my Marmot down sleeping bag rated to -9°C. The temperature only got down to -7 or -8, but I felt chilly as I’m a relatively cold sleeper. I will take a second thin sleeping pad or a light sleeping bag liner when I do another trip around these temperatures.
The last day we hiked back out the way we had come in for a total of 16 kms. We had beautiful weather throughout and I thoroughly enjoy winter hiking and camping. The trails are quieter, there’s no bugs, and hopefully no rain to contend with.
If you’re in Atlantic Canada, I highly recommend you check out Keji for some great backcountry enjoyment in any season.