Monthly Archives: November 2007

Halloween Skiing

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I know Halloween is over but I just discovered that this years trick or treating included a special treat especially for eastern skiers. Sunday River ski resort in Maine opened for skiing on Halloween. It’s the first area to offer lift serviced skiing in eastern North America this season. It was also the earliest skiing at Sunday River in 11 years. The area opened just for that day but they’re continuing with snow making and could open for the season on November 9th or maybe even sooner.  That’s impressive

This reminds me of when we used to live in northern Manitoba over 20 years ago.  We spent about 4 years in a place called Thompson.  It’s a mining town located about 500 miles straight north of Winnipeg.  It’s cold up there and it snowed every Halloween that we were there. I still remember bundling the kids up in snowsuits as they trudged through the drifts from door to door. I also remember the early start to skiing up there.

I don’t know how Sunday River was able to do it but I’m glad they did. Sunday River and its sister resort of Sugarloaf USA are just across the border from where I now live in New Brunswick. They’re the closest major skiing mountains to us and some skier friends of mine are thinking of making the trip there as soon as possible. There’s not a speck of snow around here so these guys drive unto they find it.  They’re what you call hardcore telemarkers.  I’m hoping to have someone from Sunday River on this weeks Doing Stuff Outdoors podcast.  Be sure to listen.

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Filed under Adventure, Maine, Outdoors, Skiing

The Trouble with Trees

(This is a recent column I wrote in my local paper. I’m sure the concerns I write about here apply as well where you live. This is also the topic of an Outdoors Ramble I included in the podcast Doing Stuff Outdoors-24. Check it out!)

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Photo by Dennis Hickey

Trees must be very annoying things because people sure like cutting them down. I can understand it. After all trees are generally large with many nuisance branches that spread out all over and grow leaves that make noise in the wind and block the view. They have roots that grow deep into the ground and drink water. How annoying is that? It’s good to chop and cut and slash and poison and do whatever you have to do to get rid of the nasty things.

Of course I’m joking but when you look around at the forests and green spaces we have, you’d think there’s a plan to try and cut down as many trees as possible. I’m not only talking about the commercial cutting that lumber companies carry out. I know they need trees and we’re told pulp is in short supply these days. I also know clear cutting is being done by these companies on a large scale and it’s a concern for people who enjoy the outdoors. But what I’m also seeing is a lot of cutting on a smaller scale and not confined to wilderness area. It’s happening right in our backyards and the places where we play in the outdoors.

The most recent example of this can be found along the walking trail that runs between River Valley Drive and the railway tracks in Grand Bay-Westfield. It’s my favourite place to walk and run and people use it all the time. It’s probably one of the best things the town has done in terms of recreation. More people probably use that trail than all the other facilities combined. So you can imagine my shock and disgust when on a recent run along the trail I noticed many of the trees and bushes that buffer the trail from the tracks cut down and left lying in the ditch. The cutting began as a small slash beside the tracks just down from the Community Centre. A few days later when I returned for another run the slash extended farther along the trail and on both sides of the track. To make it worse the branches and trunks of the trees were left lying over part of the trail. I had to stop and remove branches just to get by. Maybe some kids hauled them out from the ditch or maybe the cutters just left the brush where it fell, but the trail is a mess and dangerous. What if an elderly person out for a walk encountered that and was injured while trying to get across the blocked trail? The cutting looks awful and destroys the beauty of the trail and if left that way is also potentially hazardous.

I did some checking and found out the railway is responsible for doing the cutting. I also learned that much of the trail is on land owned by the railway. While no one from the town could actually explain to me why the cutting was necessary, it’s assumed it has something to do with visibility and keeping the track right-of-way clear. One can understand the need for safety along the tracks but it seems in this case at least some of the clearing may not have been needed. Perhaps the people doing the cutting were a little over zealous that day and didn’t know when to stop. Either way, the damage is done and the last time I checked, the severed branches and brush still remain where they fell, alongside the trail.

This is just one example of the over cutting of trees. We see it all the time. Developers looking for the quick sale of a lot will clear cut the property first. Where once a little forest stood is now just stumps and slash. Surely the lot would be more attractive to potential buyers if left treed and in a natural state. Maybe the owner wants to build a house on a property that already has mature trees on it.

It’ll soon be time to put on the skis and head into the backcountry. Skis and snowshoes allow you get to places that aren’t easily accessible at other times of the year. Winter is the best time to really see how much of the forest has been harvested. Every year more and more of it disappears. I have no doubt I’ll discover more clear cuts this season.

For so long this area has been a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. You could travel on foot or on skis or even by snowmobile and ATV for miles and miles through forest trails. Now when you go the forest is often just a break between the clear cuts. If you love the outdoors this has to be a worry.

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Filed under Hiking, New Brunswick, Outdoors, Running, Trees, Walking

Doing Stuff Outdoors-25

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

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Just one story on the show today. Gary and buddies Dennis, Carl and Doug go for a hike and you’re invited to join them. They travel to the rugged Bay of Fundy coast in the province of New Brunswick in Atlantic Canada. They hike to the mouth of the Little Salmon River and from there travel up river to another stream. Walking in the water with sandals on they continue through a narrow gorge with towering cliffs until they reach a spectacular waterfall. On the way they encounter deer and other wildlife and learn a little about the history of the area, all the while surrounded by the forest at the peak of fall foliage. Eventually they rejoin a trail that climbs up to an incredible lookout giving them a view of what’s called ‘The Grand Canyon of New Brunswick’.

Enjoy some podsafe music along the trip by these artists: Justin Gordon, Andrew Pfaff, After Touch and Christopher Wright.

Find out more about the area on the following websites: Fundy Trail, Bay of Fundy Coast, Fundy Footpath.

Be sure to check out the Doing Stuff Outdoors website for regular blog posts and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes . Call in your outdoor adventures and story ideas to the comments line at 206-600-4557 and email the show at doingstuffoutdoors@yahoo.ca.

Next week on the podcast we’ll take you on another hike, this time in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.

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Filed under Adventure, Bay of Fundy, Hiking, New Brunswick, Outdoors, Waterfalls

Podcast Peek – Hiking to the Eye of the Needle

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I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at the podcast this week. There’s only one story on Doing Stuff Outdoors-25. It’s a hike I did with three friends earlier this fall. I brought along an audio recorder and captured some the highlights. We went to a place known as the ‘Grand Canyon of New Brunswick’. I don’t know where the name came from but the lookout we eventually reached is spectacular. It gives you a panoramic view of this gorge that includes towering cliffs, water falls and a glimpse of the Bay of Fundy. The day long hike took us to to the mouth of the Little Salmon River in the maritime province of New Brunswick in Atlantic Canada. This stretch of Bay of Fundy shore is supposed to be one of the last undeveloped coastlines along the eatern seaboard of North America. It is a fabulous wilderness area that includes the spectacular Fundy Footpath Trail.

Our hike took us up the Little Salmon to a tributary that leads through narrow rock walls to waterfalls and eventually to the lookout. Be sure to download and listen to the podcast. If you’re a hiker or someone who loves outdoor adventure I’m sure you’ll enjoy the program. I’ll include some links in the show notes where you can find more information about the area. And thanks to my buddy and fellow hiker Dennis Hickey who also happens to be a photographer, I’m able to include some photos of the hike. Enjoy and don’t forget to listen. DSO-25 will be available here and in iTunes and with other podcast distributors in a day or two.img_3246.jpg

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Filed under Adventure, Bay of Fundy, Hiking, New Brunswick, Outdoors, Waterfalls