129.8 km – Cape Forchu to Smith’s Cove
We wake up to the sound of our alarms in the Best Western Mermaid of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I’m sleepy but the excitement of starting the adventure propels me out of bed. We pre-ordered our free grab and go hotel breakfast last night, and when I go to pick it up I discover we have ordered WAY too much food. There are eggs and sausage, fruit, yogurt, muffins, and cereal for each of us. If it was later into the trip, I may have easily devoured it all, but my nervous early morning stomach isn’t quite up to the task today.
It feels like it takes forever to get ourselves dressed, packed up, and into the car, but eventually we are on the road to the Cape Forchu lighthouse. We take a few minutes to enjoy the view with our lovely friend Katherine, who kindly agreed to accompany us to Yarmouth and then drive our car back to Halifax.
We get to start the trip with a gorgeous ride along the roads of the Yarmouth Bar, passing by sandy beaches and salt water marshes exposed by the low tide. After we pass through town, we get on the rail trail and all is well, for a while. The trail starts out fairly smooth, but gets progressively more questionable until a point where we cross a road and suddenly find ourselves in a sand trap. We skid to a halt and quickly realize we’ll need to reevaluate our route. Luckily, we were tipped off by another cyclist that the trail may not be the ideal route, but Highway 1 was a good alternative.
It took a little bit of back tracking, but soon we were flying along the highway, with expansive views and rolling fields and the crashing sea beyond. We pass through countless tiny, adorable Acadian towns, stopping in Meteghan to eat lunch in the Tim Hortons parking lot. We pay our dues by purchasing coffee and tea, and then flop out in the grass beside the drive thru to stuff out faces with pizza tortillas. Michael is lugging an insane amount of weight in the trailer, so we top our tortillas as liberally as possible in order to cut down the weight of our food bag.
After the town of Weymouth, Highway 1 merges with the much busier and faster Highway 101, which we are keen to avoid. The rail trail crosses through town, but it still looks like crap so we reroute once more onto some back roads. It starts out okay, but we seem to be climbing a lot. And climbing. And climbing. The road also eventually turns to rough washboard dirt, which doesn’t make things any easier. I keep thinking we have to go down at SOME point, because we are ending the day at sea level. But we seem to just keep climbing.
We notice on the map that there is a craft brewery tap room just ahead, and set our sights on that. Pavement eventually comes back into our lives and that makes things somewhat more bearable, but Gummies is starting to bonk hard after lugging our 50 lb trailer up all of those climbs. After he takes a quick break collapsed on the side of the road, we press on with the hope of beer in our hearts.
This hope is quickly killed however, when we arrive at the brewery building and find it locked and abandoned looking. An older woman wanders over from where she’s working in a nearby field and informs us that the tap room is no longer located here, and this is a brewing location only. We ask her if there might be a hose or something we can fill our water bottles from, and our sinking hearts quickly lift again when she says she has access to the brewery building and can fill up all of our bottles. It’s been hot and sunny today and if we can’t get a beer, we at the very least need water. We thank her profusely and then collapse against the side of the building to down as much water as our bodies will hold. Another blessing comes in the form of a man who comes over a bit later and informs us that it is all downhill from here to Digby. Finally.
We fly downhill into the valley, quickly losing all of the elevation we worked so hard to gain over the last few hours. It’s only a few kilometres to camp from here and we see soaring, until we get to the bottom of the hill and see that we have to immediately go up again, on an extremely steep dirt road. We try to punch it up on our bikes, but after the day we’ve had our legs are just not having it, and we quickly abandon the pedals and start walking. After pushing our bikes for a few minutes, we find relatively flat pavement again, and before long we are finally rolling into camp.
Our campsite is located in the mother of all trailer parks. The trailers are packed in wall to wall, kids swim in an outdoor pool, and there is a loud sound check going on for the live music that will apparently be starting shortly. I suppose it is Saturday night, after all.
Our site is nothing but a small patch of grass squashed into between a permanent trailer setup and a mega mansion car camping tent. Our neighbour with the trailer very kindly offers to lend us his picnic table, as our site doesn’t seem to have one. We are exhausted after riding almost 15 km more than originally planned due to all the rerouting. We rinse in the showers (a total luxury), whip up some “elevated ramen” (instant ramen noodles with Thai chili flavoured tuna and peanut butter – a PCT favourite), set up our tent and collapse into our sleeping bags. The rest of the tenants are loudly enjoying the live music happening not far from our tent, but nothing can stop us from passing out hard and fast.