By Julie Chatelain and Simon Lacroix
Feeling well-rested, we left Saint John on a cool and drizzly Friday morning. Following Hwy 100 then Hwy 177, we walked along the edge of the Saint John River. As the kilometres rolled by, we left the more populated area and found ourselves in the countryside again.
We got into Grand Bay mid-morning and stopped at the local Timmy’s for a tea. It was there that we met a lovely lady fundraising for the scouts. She offered us some of the best apples we’ve ever eaten – no charge! She also offered her hospitality, but it was too early for us to stop for the day. After a chat and many thanks, we were off again.
The Great Trail became a waterway from Grand Bay to Oromocto. Our alternative would have us follow Hwy 102. We soon found a trail that followed the railway and gave us a break from road walking up to the bridge across to Woodmans Point. It was a short but scenic walk.
That first night we lucked out and found a little beach where we could camp near Public Landing. That night, tucked in our tent, we fell asleep to the sound of the waves lapping the rocky shore of the river. For the next few days we were on a high. The weather was cool and sunny, the vistas breathtaking. The road was relatively quiet and the going was good. It was as though we were floating along in a dream.
Day two out of Saint John, we walked 30 kilometres to get to Evandale. Simon, being his sweet self, found the last room at the Evandale Resort and Marina (the honeymoon suite, no less!) We enjoyed the hot tub and the cozy room that night. The inns and B&Bs in the area were fully booked with duck hunters. It was hunting season! In the morning, the sound of birds was replaced with the sound of distant gunshots. We were happy not to be on the river.
The good weather was holding on. We walked to Gagetown, another 30-kilometre day. We stopped at a local farmer’s market to ask about camping in the area. The lady gave us apples and pears and suggested we walk into town and camp by the river in the city’s park. She had walked the same two Caminos we had and was planning another for next year. She seemed very excited about our adventure and wished us luck. A short walk into this very quaint town found us in a small park by the water’s edge. We had a very quiet night’s rest.
The fall certainly had arrived. The leaves were changing colours, the morning brought mist to the river’s edge and the nights were getting colder. Following Hwy 102 had its challenges. We left the river and moved inland. The hills became more significant and our legs and feet were getting sore from the impact of being on asphalt. We struggled on this section, our legs seemed heavier and we started thinking of home. We needed to switch things up a bit. We decided to make the next few days shorter and take more breaks. After three more days, we made it into Fredericton.
Entering the province’s capital, we looked for a laundromat and a coffee shop. Fortunately, we found both within blocks of the riverside trail. The wash started, we headed to the Coffee and Friends and enjoyed a delicious second breakfast and coffee. A quick call to our new friends, Elizabeth and David solidified our plans for a homestay with them for the evening. What a treat, being able to visit with such a lovely couple!
It seemed strange to be going to spend a night at a stranger’s house, but Elizabeth and David made us feel like family right away. We found we had a love of travelling in common. Over a home-cooked meal and a glass of wine, we shared stories of places we loved and people we’ve met. David, a physician who worked with Veterans Affairs Canada, left early next morning but we had a bit more time to chat with Elizabeth, a retired nurse, over breakfast. It was hard to leave such a warm and loving couple; they had become good friends. We offered our hospitality if they ever come to Ottawa, and we hoped they would.
The morning was clear and crisp. An hour’s walk got us back on the Trail. We continued following Hwy 102 and the Saint John River toward Edmundston. Our next and final destination for this summer.?
Find us walking