On the 4, 5, 6th October of 2013 myself and 3 others ventured into the Tobeatic Wilderness in South Western Nova Scotia for a three day canoe trip. We started at about the midpoint of Fifth Lake and canoed towards Whitesands Stream to arrive at the Burntland Carry after about 1.5 hours good paddling.
The portage here is about 600m long and was just vaguely present after a few years of what seemed like little use. We did take the time to freshen the carry as we moved canoes and gear towards Whitesands Stream, although it could use a chainsaw to clear the half dozen deadfalls. Canoe trippers now though, should find the route a little more easier to see as they portage. The carry is straight forward enough and comes out on a bend on the wide Whitesands Stream,, which looked very inviting in the afternoon fall sun.
It was a perfect time, with great weather and the colors really showing themselves, we took our time moving up river towards our next portage, known as Wild Cat and then on to our camping area on Whitesands Lake. I had never been to this area before and it wasn’t long before you could see how uniquely beautiful this place was. Huge erratics met us on every turn, nestled against wind swept pines with boggy shrubs, a bright red, bordering these huge boulders, it looked as if the whole place were some manicured garden!
Evening and morning were the most spectacular times as we made the most of our stay. Sunset was always a stunning occasion. After dark, we watched shooting stars under a cloudless sky and listened to Barred Owls booming over the lake from the woods opposite.
In the surrounding forests, late migrating birds moved through and more than once we met large flocks of Canada Geese moving down river as we edged towards them. The area has a long history, of course with the Mi’kmaw First Nation who have been here for thousands of years, and for part of the last 100 years, a rich history of ‘sport’, with fishermen and hunters coming to hunt and fish, guided by mostly Native guides, who knew the area well.
The Tobeatic is huge as far as protected areas go and when combined with Kejimkujik National Park, it makes the region a world class canoe tripping destination. Some of its original fame came from the book, ‘The Tent Dwellers’, by Albert Bigelow Paine, which chronicles his travels through these deep woods and rivers in 1908 using birch bark canoes and canvas tents. This is a wonderful quote from the book which says a lot about Paine’s thoughts on why we should regard wilderness as a teacher.
“…if you are willing to get wet and stay wet – to get cold and stay cold – to be bruised, and scuffed, and bitten – to be hungry and thirsty, and to have your muscles strained and sore from unusual taxation: if you will welcome all these things, not once, but many times, for the sake of moments of pure triumph and that larger luxury which comes with the comfort of the camp and the conquest of the wilderness, then go! The wilderness will welcome you, and teach you, and take you to its heart. And you will find your own soul there; and the discovery will be worth while!”
With good company and great weather, the weekend was a huge success and I feel a new series of landscape work from this area will be forthcoming.