Nova Sco­tia na­ture at its best

South Shore Breaker - - Sports - SAN­DRA PHIN­NEY

Four ve­hi­cles pull up at Ma­son Point in Tang­ier on a warm day in late sum­mer, each car­ry­ing one ca­noe, two peo­ple, and enough gear and grub to last four days

We’re headed out to Bal­tee Is­land ( part of the 100 Is­lands) where we’ll set up camp. Over the years, hun­dreds of kayaks have left th­ese shores. That’s not a big deal; what’s un­usual is that we in­tend to do this trip in ca­noes — a rare sight, as few ven­ture out for a wilderness ca­noe trip over the briny deep.

The fore­cast calls for ev­ery­thing from sun to rain, wind, fog and an electrical storm. Do we have what it takes to camp and ex­plore the 100 Wild Is­lands, Nova Sco­tia’s largest coastal wilderness re­gion, for four days in spite of the weather?

Nut­shell

We not only sur­vived, we thrived. Sure, the swells on the sec­ond day were a bit of a chal­lenge (down­right scary), but we took our time cross­ing to Car­ry­over Cove where the rocky cliffs and emer­ald la­goons were sim­ply spec­tac­u­lar.

That trip was so mem­o­rable, I re­turned the fol­low­ing year with a group of women for an­other wilderness trip. There were five kayaks and two ca­noes with a to­tal of nine women.

This time, we set up our base camp on Shel­ter Cove where we tucked our tents into the woods on the edge of a cres­cent beach and did day trips ex­plor­ing the re­gion.

The 100 Wild Is­lands fea­ture more than 250 kilo­me­tres of coastal habi­tats and 400 acres of wet­lands. It in­cludes ev­ery­thing from bo­real forests, and is­lands galore to bogs and bar­rens, hid­den coves, and pris­tine sandy beaches.

And we can thank the staff and vol­un­teers at the Nova Sco­tia Na­ture Trust for ac­quir­ing and pre­serv­ing this re­gion. If kayak­ing (or ca­noe­ing) is your thing, this is nir­vana. Don’t have a boat? Sign up for a kayak­ing ex­cur­sion with Coastal Ad­ven­tures at Ma­son Point.

When I orig­i­nally made my list of wow nat­u­ral spa­ces in Nova Sco­tia, I had more than 50, and the list kept grow­ing.

The ones that sur­faced to the top are be­low. They all rate a num­ber one spot. And this is only a smat­ter­ing of what the prov­ince has to of­fer.

Bax­ters Har­bour Falls

Lo­cated on the Bay of Fundy in Kings County (about 15 kilo­me­tres from Kentville) is a lit­tle-known yet charm­ing spot that’s well worth ex­plor­ing. It fea­tures a wa­ter­fall that you can walk right up to at low tide (and step be­hind it!) as well as stun­ning colum­nar basal for­ma­tions along the shore and cob­ble beds that are vis­i­ble at low tide. Great place both s um­mer and win­ter.

A pho­tog­ra­pher’s de­light.

Cape Sable Is­land

(Not to be con­fused with Sable Is­land) is home to the fa­mous Cape Is­land Boat or Cape Is­lan­der. The is­land is lo­cated in the most south­ern part of Nova Sco­tia and is ac­ces­si­ble by a cause­way from Bar­ring­ton Pas­sage. Once on the is­land, head to The Hawk. Des­ig­nated as an Im­por­tant Bird Area, it is a desti­na­tion for bird lovers the world over. At low tide it’s also home to the 1,500-year-old drowned for­est of ex­posed pet­ri­fied tree stumps.

Joggins Fos­sil Cliffs

Is a UNESCO World Her­itage site which just hap­pens to be the world’s most com­plete fos­sil record of life in the Coal Age dat­ing back 300 mil­lion years. Best ap­pre­ci­ated by tak­ing a sched­uled tour of the cliffs with an in­ter­preter from the cen­tre, or hire a guide in the vil­lage.

Sable Is­land

Not to be con­fused with Cape Sable Is­land, is a Na­tional Park Re­serve lo­cated far out in the North At­lantic. This is home to the fa­mous Sable Is­land wild horses, where they roam freely. It’s also home to gi­ant shift­ing sand dunes, as well as the world’s big­gest breed­ing colony of grey seals, and scores of plants, birds, and bugs. The is­land’s hu­man his­tory is rich, var­ied and an­cient. Ac­ces­si­ble only by sea or air.

Tobeatic Wilderness Area

Is the largest wilderness area in the Mar­itimes. It spans parts of five coun­ties and en­com­passes 118,000 hectares.

Re­ferred to as the Tobeatic, it fea­tures ev­ery­thing from old fire bar­rens to unique old growth forests, gi­ant er­rat­ics, ex­pan­sive wet­lands, long still­wa­ters, more than 100 lakes, the Her­itage Shel­burne River and more. It’s a pro­vin­cial jewel.

Tus­ket Is­lands

Lo­cal lore says there are 365 is­lands, one for ev­ery day of the year. That’s a tad ex­ag­ger­ated but most agree that in­clud­ing islets ands sig­nif­i­cant ledges, there are more than 200 is­lands, each with a dis­tinct per­son­al­ity. As the crow flies, The Tus­ket Is­lands stretch about 32 kilo­me­tres from Robert’s Is­land off of Yar­mouth, to Seal Is­land off of Shag Har­bour. To get a sense of the is­lands, its his­tory and cul­ture, sign up for Tus­ket Is­land Tours.

San­dra Phin­ney

The view from Big Tus­ket, one of the many is­lands in an area re­ferred to as The Tus­ket Is­lands.

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