29 June 2017

Hiking in Hell: From Laughter to Tears on the Fundy Circuit

Ah, adventure month. The whole thing began with this hiking trip, which actually began with our (Meghan's) love of adventure non-fiction. Naturally, we could do our own! How fun would that be? WRONG. Originally we were supposed to journey into Fundy National Park for three days of hiking and two nights of backcountry camping, a trail known as the Fundy Circuit. A VARIETY of factors (including Meghan insisting it would rain when there were 20% chances of 1 mm) changed our plans over and over again. The biggest change was the addition of Meghan's sister Julie, an experienced Fundy hiker who carried a third pack, navigated, and boosted morale. All three of us cried.

the lovely Julie Hayes who looked 1000x better than us the entire hike and continued to take the must ug photos of us Megs

Here is a list of what the three of us carried on our backs:
  • 2 overnight, large camping backpacks
  • 1 airtight, waterproof barrel with backpack straps
  • 1 three person tent
  • 2 sleeping bags (yes there were three of us ... it was a MISCOMMUNICATION)
  • 1 sleeping pad (we learned that pads are not for comfort, apparently they are for insulation)
  • 2 Columbia fleeces
  • 1 pair of hiking boots, 2 pairs of Nikes that are unintended for hiking, 1 pair of Canadian themed Crocs purchased at Wal-Mart last minute for crossing rivers (we were all planning to share apparently)
  • sweatpants, leggings, wool socks
  • 3 sporks
  • water purification tablets
  • 1 Nalgene water bottle
  • 8 small plastic water bottles
  • 6 Easy Mac KD (extra cheesy) 
  • 2 packs of sesame seed bagels
  • 1 tin of blueberry muffins
  • 5 Dunkaroos
  • 1 package of Crystal Light
  • 1 box of marshmellow and chocolate chip granola bars
  • half a bag of eaten marshmellows
  • 3 packets of hot chocolate mix
  • 1 box of Val Nature protein bars
  • 4 Ritz cheese sticks and crackers
  • 3 shitty apples
  • 2 Fundy National Park maps
  • 2 flashlights
  • 1 unfortunately small can of bug spray
  • sunscreen
  • 2 rain parkas
  • 3 boxes of matches
This trip was not sponsored. Obviously.


~2hrs in
Meghan's Take

So once I expand this trip from hell into a full length book I think I will call it Wild Through Literature: How One Girl's Ill-Informed Obsession with Expedition Non-Fiction Led Her Astray. It will be ~300 pages with a lot of photoshopped pictures.

After months of telling my sister she could not come with us on our hike I ended up begging her to come along just a few days before we set off. I was fresh off a camping trip in Grand Manan, New Brunswick, where I learned I HATE sleeping in a ten and couldn't possibly survive three nights without my sister. She decided that she would come with us because my actual life was on the line. She started her period the day we left ... she is the real hero of this story.

Meg will write a lot of lies and slander in her version I'm sure, so let me clear a few things up:
  • Forgetting the third sleeping bag was due to a LACK OF COMMUNICATION. I clearly told them that I could not fit it into the barrel ...
  • It WAS going to rain and so we wouldn't be able to do any of the river crossings
In a way I am kind of bummed how poorly this hike went because these types of books are my absolute favourite and I have been romanticizing long-term hikes for YEARS. After two hours in I remember thinking "well I certainly won't be quitting my job and hiking the Camino de Santiago." But whatever, these books are still fascinating to me and if anything it gives me a greater appreciation for the challenges these people overcome. I also just bought Walking the Nile by Levison Wood, so I haven't kicked the habit.


 1. Coastal East Trail - 3.2 km - difficult (terrain is uneven and there are lots of steep hills)
2. Coastal West Trail - 6.9 km - difficult (similar to Coastal East)
3. Shiphaven - 0.5 km - easy (a slight detour on the road)
4. Marven Lake - 8 km - difficult (the first km of this trail is pure. absolute. uphill. hell. but the rest is a simple carriage trail)
5. Bennett Brook - 7.7 km - difficult (one river crossing)
6. Tracey Lake - 7 km - moderate (a nice walk)
7. The Forks - 3.4 km - difficult
8. Upper Salmon River - 8.8 km - difficult (mostly downhill but terrain is rough and there are 2 river crossings)

You can do the circuit in reverse, but then your first day is almost exclusively uphill and and you have 2 river crossings (and very wet feet) on your first day. 

There are 3 different options for camping:
1. Wolf Lake: front country campsites after the coastal trails with full amenities
2. Chambers: back country campsites (2) between Marvin Lake and Bennett Brook trails with grated fire pits and firewood
3. Tracey Lake: back country campsites (2) between Tracey Lake and The Forks trails, one site has a fire pit and the other does not


comment how many times you hear Meghan say "help" in this extremely amateur go-pro compilation... 


after a night of no sleep, still without feeling in fingers
Meagan's Take

The sleeping bag was not a miscommunication. Julie and I told Meghan to pack it, she tried and it didn't fit, and left it on the floor of the living room. The story really begins however, when Meghan called me the Monday before at 7am ET to tell me she'd been camping in Grand Manan the previous weekend and hated camping with a passion. I asked her if she wanted to cancel, she insisted she was fine and we'd go, she just wanted to let me know she hated camping.

Fast forward 24hrs and I'm in Saint John, NB, and Julie and Meghan begin with what is obviously the most pre-rehearsed set of excuses why we should just do a single night (or not go). I pouted, but I agreed to cut it to one night if we agreed to hike 2 days worth of hiking on the second day so we could finish the circuit. Julie got her period.

We left for the first 18km of the hike around 11am because we didn't want to wind up at the campsite super early. The VERY FIRST~.25km is the steepest hill you've ever seen. This is where Meghan's complaining began and did not stop until we were in her dad's car around the same time the next morning. To be fair, she wasn't wearing her pack right. She expected us to know this. She's 25 years old.

The hiking itself wasn't actually that bad. It was exhausting, yes. We made a wrong turn once (Julie's fault). We took breaks to sit down and take our packs off once EVERY MILE by the end of it (thank you to Meghan for wearing a fit bit). But the hiking wasn't that bad.

Then it got dark and I freaked the fuck out. Every noise was a bear. We were 7 km on foot away from the nearest place a vehicle could reach. It was FREEZING FUCKING COLD (as we tried various different setups of 2 sleeping bags for 3 people and I ended up using a wal-mart bag filled with socks as a pillow). We called her parents. I begged the girls to let me call 911. Meghan and I actually yelled at each other, for the first and hopefully last time because it was AWFUL.

We waited 7 of the longest hours of my life for sunrise and got the hell out of dodge. What did we learn? Nothing. We will make these same mistakes again in a year's time because we are willing to try anything ~70 times. On the bright side, we did watch the entire first 3 seasons of The Fall in a day and a half as recovery and we learned that even as a serial killer Jamie Dornan is smokin' hot.

Here are a series of photos Julie took to document our experience. Fundy National Park is beautiful, don't let this blog post turn you away from a hiking trip of your own.


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