The Crew: SherpaJeff, Simon, Boo Boo and MrBig
Location: Kenomee Canyon
From Truro, drive west along Highway #104 to Exit 11
at Glenholme. Turn onto Highway #2 and follow for 34 km to Lower
Economy. Turn right onto River Philip Road (dirt) and travel 7 km to
trailhead parking area, on right. This road is often rough and low hanging vehicles will have difficulty.
Trailhead: Same as the Economy Falls trailhead off of the River Phillip Road.
The Crew: SherpaJeff, Simon, Dan (aka The Apprentice), Bob ( aka Boo Boo)
April 25,26, 2009
I had some trepidation in making a trip to Kenomee Canyon so early in the year. First the River Phillip Road can be difficult especially if wet. Second there still was some snow around and I wasn’t sure what the snow would be like in the various ravines that you have to hike through. Finally the water levels were particularly high this Spring and with 4 stream crossings this was weighing on my mind. This go around Dan (the Apprentice) and Bob (Boo Boo) joined Simon and I. We had planned to do the whole loop camping at Murphy Brook Falls. I planned to go in counter clockwise due to the water levels. If we got to Black Brook and it proved impassable we could just turn around and hike the 2.9kms back to Newton Lake and camp there. If we had tried going the other way and found that after 5kms or so to the West Branch Economy River that it was impassable we would have to go back 5kms to the start and then hike the 6kms back to Newton Lake.
As it turned out we ended up camping at Newton Lake Saturday night and returning the same way. The weather was perfect about 18 degrees and sunny. The River Phillip Road was clear however the last kilo had some real soft areas and a single track rut that would challenge a car for sure...no problem with the truck but it got real dirty. The beginning of the hike was great with the usual extra spring runoffs running across the trail etc....the river at the bridge was running very high. It was enough to confirm that we just might have troubles up river making the fords required. After crossing the bridge, we made the climb up fine and everything looked clear as we headed to Newton Lake. Within the next thirty minutes however, we started running into patches of snow that either had to be navigated or bushwhacked. The trail is hard to spot this time of year with no growth around the edges.....the ferns are all laid over randomly from the snow so the footpath is somewhat obscured. Even in places where I knew the trail well I had to look forward for the next blaze in order to ensure we stayed on track. Also there were a few areas where deadfalls needed to be circumnavigated.....there hasn't been much maintenance on this trail for a while. When we got to the Newton Lake run off ravine, the steps were pretty much ice and there was more snow down in the ravine itself. It took some delicate foot placements to get to the stream.....which we had to wade. I've never had to wade this stream before but I wasn't surprised. Bob slipped on the way down and skinned his knee quite nicely drawing the first blood of the trip. (he would later earn his nickname from this wound and his subsequent laments about the pain, suffering and the profuse bleeding) He was however very proud of his bandaging technique! Ha! Actually it was a good lesson for us all not to hike in crusty snow conditions with shorts on.
From then on the trail was just somewhat hard to see and flooded in some low-lying areas just before Newton Lake. Once passed the wood road that crosses the trail and the soft woods started again, there was more snow to navigate. It was difficult to make good time. Luckily we didn’t need to. Once we got to the hard woods near the lake the walking became very pleasant, warm and no snow. Simon found a duck nest without disturbing the eggs although he spooked the parent which took off. Even in this section we had to watch the trail carefully...again the ferns were all laid down. We arrived at the spur trail and headed in (a yellow blaze marks this side trail) We had already decided that we did not want to chance the back side of the trail. Based on the Spring sun angle it was quite likely we would get snow on Sunday from the West Branch of the Economy to the finish if not further out.
The spur trail was almost impossible to follow at points. I knew we would find the sites no problem but there was a lot of snow patches and all the diversions and post holing had the boys tired. We made it in fine and enjoyed a glorious afternoon on the lake...which was still frozen except for the edges. We took what the trail gave us and made the best of it. In any event we had a great evening and got out early the next morning. I was able to get some unique pictures of the lake as I had never been up there this time of year. Dan brought some cards and a mini cribbage board and Simon chased the ball over and over in between bouts of fighting with the local squirrels. It took us 3.5 hours to get in and 2.5 to get out. On the way out it was foggy and this actually made it easier to see the trail than on the way in. I suppose even the three of us trekking in disturbed it enough to make it easier. All in all a good warm up trip for Chignecto.