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Hiking in Kejimkujik National Park – The Seaside Edition

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We locked eyes not once but twice. And then I bolted.

I’d been looking out at a wave breaking over a rock. It was a pretty scene, peaceful and Zen like in that you could do it for hours. Then I’d turned around and read the blurb about the ruins of a former shepherd’s shelter.

But it wasn’t until I got my camera out to take a picture of the wave that I noticed her – a big, beautiful black bear and her two cubs – and no I don’t have any proof.

"Orchids - ones I've never seen before"

Orchids – ones I’ve never seen before

"Orchids at Kejinkujik Seaside"

I was all alone. It was about ten in the morning and there wasn’t another car in the Kejimkujik parking lot when I pulled in. I in fact had congratulated myself of having the place to myself.

And for a good part of the hike in Kejimkujik National Park it was great. I loved the desolate beauty of the place – wild flowers galore including the orchids above that I’d never seen before, rocky beaches, stunted trees and spectacular ocean vistas.

"Out of the woods and into the open"

Out of the woods and into the open

"Aiming to hike the loop trail along the coast"

Aiming to hike the loop trail along the coast

I had planned to hike about a kilometer out to the start of a 5.5 kilometre loop hike, do it and then call it a day. I was about 80% done with the loop – making good time even with lots of photo stops.

But I should have known something was up. I saw bear scat – fresh too – but mistook it for a dog and figured someone had walked rather then driven in with their dog to hike the trail. The scat didn’t have any berries in it – as it wasn’t berry season – and looked pretty darn pebbly if you want to inspect the picture. The scat should have been obvious clue #1.

"Fresh - though not steaming bear poop"

Fresh – though not steaming bear poop

There was a section of boardwalk I hiked – and I thought it was rather strange that all the ferns coming out through the cracks were torn and beaten up. I actually made some noise through here – just in case. Well duh.

If I’d put two and two together I would have known I was about 15 minutes behind the bears.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss – and I continued to snap pictures – rather lovely don’t you think?

"Looks like Arctic cotton to me"

Looks like Arctic cotton to me

"Looking out towards Thomas Waddell Provincial Park"

Looking out towards Thomas Waddell Provincial Park

"A path through the ferns"

A path through the ferns

"Beautiful pink flowers I've never seen before"

Beautiful pink flowers I’ve never seen before

"Tough walking on this cobbled section of beach"

Tough walking on this cobbled section of beach

"Lobster trap washed up on the beach"

No shortage of lobster traps washed up on the beach

"Markers leading the way down the beach"

Markers leading the way down the beach

"Wild iris line the trail in places"

Wild iris line the trail in places

"An inukshuk"

An inukshuk

"Pitcher plants"

Pitcher plants

It was at the shelter (photo below) that we eyed each other. I backed away and in fact ducked behind the shelter to see if I could get a quick shot. She was still staring at me. That’s when I decided I was out of there and there was no time for a picture.

You’re not supposed to let a bear see you running – and I didn’t but as soon as I turned the corner and was hidden from view I ran with everything I had in me.

I put many kilometers between she and I before I slowed down to a normal walking pace. For the first 15-20 minutes I glanced back every few seconds. I also picked up a few pieces of driftwood to make myself look larger.

"Ruins of an old shepherd's shelter"

Ruins of an old shepherd’s shelter

"A view of the landscape"

A view of the landscape

Since I’m writing this blog I obviously survived. In fact I ran into four people on the return and warned them. At that point I had some peace of mind because they were now between the bear and I ….unless she completed the loop and started back in my direction.

Useful Kejimkujik National Park (Seaside location) info:

  • Kejimkujik Seaside is roughly 185 kilometers west of Halifax.
  • Entrance is free.
  • No camping is allowed.
  • Facilities are basic – a washroom, a phone and some maps.
  • It’s bear country obviously so travel with others and bring along a can of bear spray. If you see fresh scat make a lot of noise!

Have you ever been hiking in the seaside part of Kejimkujik National Park? Do you have any bear stories?

Other posts related to my Nova Scotia trip you might like:

Leigh McAdam

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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • Muza-chan says:

    The orchids are so beautiful… great photos

  • Christy says:

    How scary and cool! I would have been shaking. I’m visiting the north tip of Vancouver Island in the fall and this is one of the reasons I’m hesitant to hike alone there. Beautiful photos — especially the flowers!

    • Thanks Christy. Are you hiking the North Coast Trail? It’s very rugged hiking on northern Vancouver Island – with lots of mud. There may be some bears but I bet they’re unaccustomed to humans and will takeoff if they see or hear you.

  • Prasad Np says:

    Those first 2 pics of Orchids and the stacked stones are just tooo good. Can’t say the same about the scat one :(

  • They say you are not supposed to run, but that might be a good idea when they have cubs. They say that running triggers their predatory instinct, but if they have cubs, that does not apply. They attack when they have cubs out of a fierce instinct to protect their offspring. If you run away that fear is gone and they are not going to leave their cubs unprotected.

  • Salika Jay says:

    It’s kind of a scary story but said in a quite a funny way (or maybe it’s just me?) :) I can picture you running and making yourself look large with driftwood (sorry, I’m laughing now. They say you should play dead when a bear comes but I guess it’s easier said than done. With all that happening, you’ve managed to capture some beautiful photos.

    • @Salika You play dead if you’re about to be attacked and she didn’t see me running. All the things you’re supposed to do were going through my head the minute I saw her. (And I know hiking alone isn’t always the best idea but I had no choice if I wanted to do this one.)

  • I didn’t know that orchids grew in Canada- I think of them as tropical or sub-tropical. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me.

  • Marcia says:

    Leigh, I cracked up when I read the line, “Since I’m writing this blog I obviously survived.” I’d been thinking how brave you were for doing this hike alone but you weren’t alone, not really. Kudos!

    I, too, was surprised to see orchids. They’re so beautiful; the landscape so captivating.

  • Pretty scary. Again, you’re so brave! The bear poop kind of looks like red beans and rice. :-/

  • Andrew says:

    I’ve just come here through a link in a recent post, Leigh, where I was intrigued about your mentioning the bear encounter. Lovely photos here — except you know which one!

  • Amanda Fisher says:

    I had a similar experience (2011) but saw her on the other side of the trail. I was jogging the trail with a friend and we were about to end the beach rock section and there she was with her cubs. Momma Bear on ins side of the trail and two cubs on the other side. We slowly backed away and headed back in the direction we came – essentially doubling our jog. In July 2016 I walked the trail and there is bear scat ALL OVER THE PLACE – easy to assume the bear population is healthy at Keji Seaside :)

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