Gratitude for Gaff Point: A winter hike
The natural undisturbed beauty of Nova Scotia is alluring for many. Visitors are drawn to the vast ocean views, long sandy beaches, and pristine forests. Yet on more than one occasion, when people arrive they are quick to cut down trees and build on the vacant land that was so appealing in the first place.
When I walk through the trails of Gaff Point, I do so with gratitude and relief. These trails and the nature within them are mine to enjoy, and will be there for future generations to enjoy as well.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), Kingsburg Coastal Conservancy and Nova Scotia Nature Trust have worked together to protect this important piece of land in Lunenburg County. In the last few decades, Lunenburg County in particular has caught on as a residential, as well as vacation, destination for many.
And can you blame anyone really? Who wouldn’t want to build a house on a hill overlooking the magnificent Atlantic Ocean? But wouldn’t it be a terrible shame if all the pristine wilderness areas were turned into residential properties, changing not only the beautiful landscape, but evicting all the lives that currently reside in these areas. Lives big and small — from forest fungi and tiny ants, to snowshoe hare, deer and moose (and everything in between).
I had the chance to enjoy a walk through the trails at Gaff Point over the Christmas holidays. I left a snow-covered Halifax hoping to enjoy a chilly white hike at one of my favourite trails in Nova Scotia. My hike felt more like one I might enjoy in the spring. The only white I saw was the caps on the waves, and the trails were wet and muddy such as one might expect in late March. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of snow, but could never be disappointed by a hike in this beautiful area of Lunenburg County.
No matter what time of year, there is always an abundance of life to witness along Hirtle’s Beach and the Gaff Point Trail.
During a summer hike earlier in the year I watched a snowshoe hare eating brightly coloured flowers before my eyes; during my holiday hike I witnessed only tracks in a few patches of ice on the trail.
I am thankful for the people who work so hard to save the home of all the animals that roam this trail. I am thankful for the honour of being able to meander through this trail and share space and time with such precious lives.
And I am thankful knowing that Gaff Point will remain untouched by human interference, for me to hike at my leisure whenever I wish to do so.
The Gaff Point Trail is a 6.5-kilometre round trip from the parking lot. After a beautiful 1.5-kilometre beach walk, past the thunderous roar of waves crashing on the shore accompanied by a mist of salt water spray, a trail through a lovely conifer forest leads to ocean views high atop shale rock cliffs. It is an oasis.