Local Motion - New Brunswick

Welcome to Local Motion where we celebrate hiking, biking, rock climbing, paddling, skiing, and exploring in Southern New Brunswick.

December 11, 2009

Cold Comfort - Winter Camping Guide

Winter is here!  Welcome to the other half of the year!

Last winter I tried winter camping for my first time. A couple friends and I dragged two days of gear and ice climbing equipment into Walton Glen Canyon for an unforgettable weekend. I'll never forget the stars that night, then waking up to crisp morning sunshine followed by a hot breakfast in bed. 

Winter camping in Walton Glen Canyon with Lucas, Cory, and Peter.

 I just came across this excellent introduction to winter camping on the Backpacker Magazine website. It's got some real useful information for someone thinking about trying winter camping plus some new ideas for the seasoned explorer. Everything from clothing, to cooking, and when to build a snowcave are covered in this easy to understand guide. And its not just for winter camping, weekend warriors will find lots of great tips of being comfortable on a cold Saturday afternoon.

I really like this little guide. I think you will too. So check it out and kick start your next winter adventure. Just follow the link below.

No crowds, no bugs: Winter camping holds rewards aplenty– once you master the gear and skills required to thrive in frigid climates.

you can also copy and paste this link into a new window:

local motion new brunswick moncton hiking skiing sussex snoeshoe  fundy walton glen graham waugh saint john winter camping

December 7, 2009

Corn Hill Country Walking

A Saturday afternoon walk in the countryside with my dad. We traveled through backfields from Corn Hill to Knightville. Bautiful wide open fields with gushing creeks. When we hit the Rouse Road we followed it to the Knightville Road, crossed the pavement and followed the NB Snowmobile trail into a steep little hollow. At this point the snow flakes started to flow more heavily and the day drew to an end. We climbed the steep hill out of the hollow and gained a view over the increasingly dark landscape. In the distance we could see  yardlights flickering in Corn Hill. A perfect way to wrap up a walk. Now its time to go home, put on dry socks, and warm up with some soup.
This might be the last walk of the season. Hopefully this weekend's snow sticks around and I'll be out cross country skiing next time.

November 26, 2009

Outdoors Podcasts

If you haven't yet discovered Podcasts, crawl out from under that rock and open your eyes to a new world of online radio. These two podcasts might just get you hooked. Lazy sunday mornings and long car rides just got a lot better!

Doing Stuff Outdoors, is arranged and recorded by New Brunswick's very own Gary Mittelholtz. The show's topics cover the gammit of what we love doing outdoors and takes us around North America for interesting stories of individuals doing their thing outside. Learn about the growing sport of Cyclocross or hear about a young women's remarkable journey across Canada on horseback.


The Dirtbag Diaries is a refreshingly unique cocktail of stories about folks pushing the boundaries and conventions of outdoor adventure and culture. Topics range from pioneering ascents of the world's gnarliest mountains to new wave Consverationalists. No matter who you are, you'll find a topic that appeals to you. Maybe it's the show about Sarah Wroot finder her outdoor passion late in life or the trials and joys of being an outdoor parent. A favourite episode of mine is "No Car, No Problem" in which the host Fitz Cahall explores what it takes to get into the big outdoors without a using a car from his home in Seattle. The music selection with each show also rocks.

Happy Listening!

November 25, 2009

Up the Friar's Nose

Had a great hike up the Friar's Nose in Waterford last Saturday with a group from around Sussex. A year ago around this time I hiked in their by myself after some time away from the area. I wrote about it here. It makes me very happy to once again share this place with more people. It's one of our regions best kept secrets.


I love the feeling of turning down the Parlee Brook Road into a valley that gets narrower and narrower. The road bringing you startlingly close to the tumbling brook at times. The final squeeze into depths of the valley is darkened by the towering ridgelines until its just you and the clear brook. If you roll down the car window you can hear the brook whisper.

We parked on the bridge near the stone building that is known as the Abbey. From here we climbed Arnold's Hollow Road, that I like to imagine is a relic from pioneer days. The valley's silence is broken as we share stories and talk about doing stuff outdoors in the area.

It's a cool day, overcast and recovering from the previous day's hard rain. Dampness hangs in the air, needling its way into my clothes and keeping me cool. That is until we begin the final steep ascent to the Nose. The path at this point narrows and is washed out at parts. We stop for views into the hidden valley below. I've made many winter trips into the Hidden Valley and it's allure still burns strong.

The wind whips at us as we step onto the rocky platform called the Friar's Nose. In front of us is a rumpled canvas of fall colours, grey, brown, green, and purple. From the Nose you get an unmatched view over the twisted hills of Waterford and the rolling ridgelines of Sussex and Newtown. The well knonw Bluff is visible as a thin strip over the Dutch Valley and over its shoulder rises Piccadilly Mountain. In the distance Mount Pisgah rises like a slow moving wave ready to swallow Sussex. From here you can make out the backside of Poley Mountain and even gain a view of the rocky bluffs that face its lodge.

It's a quick jaunt back to the cars where the wind is silenced by the ridgelines and the brook whispers under the bridge.

graham waugh local motion new brunswick outdoors adventure sussex parlee brook friar's nose hidden valley waterford

November 17, 2009

Event Notice: Outdoor You, in Sussex Thursday Nov 19

I would like to invite you to Outdoor You in Sussex on Thursday November 19th at 7pm. It will be held at PALS which is upstairs in the Post Office Building in Downtown Sussex.

As many of you know all too well, November may be one of the gloomiest times of the year for the outdoor enthusiast. The days are short, frost hangs in the air, and rain can quickly turn to snow. But with the right skills, gear, and attitude you can come to enjoy whatever the November Winds throw at you! Plus, Winter's crisp snow and sunny days are just around the corner. Learn what it takes to enjoy the last weeks of Fall while gearing up for Winter Adventures.

This gathering on the 19th of November will bring together people who have a passion for self-propelled outdoors activities in our region. You can share your local trail knowledge, exchange gear tips, and find trip partners in your area. Plus it's an opportunity to learn from several experienced outdoor enthusiasts who will be on hand to share information and inspiration through animated presentations about getting outside in our region. These include presentations on GPS, Winter Sports Around Sussex, Clothing for Cold and Wet Weather, Safety, and more!

The evening is free and everyone is welcome - from folks just getting started to the experienced outdoor enthusiast. Bring the whole family and learn from other parents how to get outside with the young ones.

Hope to See you there!
graham waugh sussex outdoors adventure skiing snowshoeing winter sports fundy local motion

November 16, 2009

Wilderness First Responder Course

I just got back from an 8 day Wilderness First Responder Course in Halifax. A little tired and a little paranoid but more than anything craving backcountry adventure. This was my second excellent wilderness first aid course with Blair Doyle. Dave Poitras, a ski patroller and paramedic living in Newfoundland helped him out with this one. Together they ran us through realistic wilderness scenarios that taught us to keep a cool head and figure it out.

If you spend time in the backcountry or take groups into the woods I'd highly recommend a Wilderness First Aid course. First aid in remote environments is different from standard first aid in an urban setting. The difference is in how you can safely manage yourself and the situation and care for someone who is injured. The difference is about decision-making. Not only could Wilderness First Aid training save your butt when things go wrong, it will give you the self-assurance to travel farther and better enjoy the backcountry.

Check Out Blair Doyle's Courses -

Here are a few more photos from the course.

Group shot with our hypothermia patient all wrapped up

Moving a spinal patient on a backboard

A burn victim on our overnight scenario

graham waugh new brunswick outdoors adventure first aid first responder wilderness blair doyle

October 30, 2009

Event Notice: Waterfalls of New Brunswick Tour Coming to Saint John

I heard about this exciting event on CBC Radio Mornings. Over the last two years Nicholas has been tracking down and photographing New Brunswick's waterfalls. His work is truly remarkable. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of his new book!


"New Brunswick is home to over one thousand waterfalls — some remote, some surprisingly accessible. In Waterfalls of New Brunswick, Nicholas Guitard has chosen over fifty of the best. Cascading over an incredible range of ancient geology, this richly illustrated volume with captivate hikers and armchair travellers alike." (http://waterfallsnewbrunswick.ca/)

NICHOLAS GUITARD will be visiting libraries around the province, to talk about some of the spectacular waterfalls in each area of the province, and how to access them. Books will be available for purchase at these free, public events.

Spanning all five regions of New Brunswick (Acadian Coastal, Appalachian Range, River Valley Scenic, Fundy Coastal, and Miramichi River), the author will lead you on a journey of wonder and discovery. His evocative photographs render the falls in all of their powerful glory.

Over the last two years, Nick Guitard has documented more than a hundred waterfalls in New Brunswick, culminating in a website www.waterfallsnewbrunswick.ca, this beautifully illustrated book, and a forthcoming guide to New Brunswick’s waterfalls."


Friday, November 6th, 12:00

Saint John Free Public Library

1 Market Square

October 22, 2009

Local Motion - Gets Sticky

Apples on the Branch in Corn Hill

I've been kept busy lately with a blur of indoor and outdoor activity. Despite a lack of blogging there's been no shortage of things to write about.

Getting outside during a rainy month like we've had can be tough. But harvesting food provides a real motivation to get outside, get muddy, and make hours in the warm kitchen so much more valuable. With this post, I'm going to straddle the line between outside and inside with 100% local content.

Here's my story,

Come October, there's almost never a shortage of apples around my folks place in Corn Hill. The orchards around the farm are a mix of old gnarly varieties and modern grafts. There's the rough skinned Russets, the snappy Novamacs, unusually purple Tanglewines, and some others ones we just call Candy Apples. Walking through the orchards in October is enough to give you a stomach-ache.

With thousands of calories on a branch, the questions arises - What are you we going to do with all this fruit?

Cider. That's the traditional response and a practical one too.

For a number of years our family has pressed our orchard's apples with a neighbor's Cider Press. The Pressing Day in October has become a celebration of abundance; sticky, delicious abundance. We fill jugs and jugs with that sweet dark juice. Then its off to the deep freeze to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

This year, we watched the apple trees become heavy with fruit. For me it was especially exciting to see the bounty. I've been out of the province for the past few years and have missed the harvest. With a bumper crop predicted my mind couldn't keep itself from drifting back to apples. What can we do with the harvest?

Hard Cider. That is to say Alcoholic Apple Cider. That's the traditional choice if say you're a New Englander living in the 1800's.

Hard cider may remain low-key in Canada but it once was a going concern. In New England, settlers from the British Isles brought apple seeds and an appetite for hard cider. The Temperance movement and later Prohibition knocked the wind out of hard apple cider. By the time alcohol was acceptable again other drinks saturated the market. Though today in Great Britain hard cider is still a popular drink.


If there is any year to experiment with apples its this one. And if the hard cider fails I'll try to turn it into Apple Cider Vinegar. But hopefully I'll be enjoying a clean dry cider come wintertime. I convinced my Mom the food guru and wine maker to help me out. She always keen to experiment with foods and fermentations (raspberry wine and mead to name few examples) so it's great to have her involved. The rest of my family chipped in with strong backs and nimble hands to help pick the apples.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend my family raided the apple orchard with baskets and ladders. Baskets brimmed with crunchy fruit as we drove our harvest to our neighbours for pressing.

Things got sticky pretty fast but soon everyone had a job on the assembly line and juice started flowing. Neigbours dropped by to chat, some friends who are also experimenting with hard cider this year stopped by and provided some excellent brewing tips that we would go on to use.

The 200 pounds or so of apples turned into 15 Gallons of sweet cider! (that's roughly 50 Liters). More than we were expecting and almost more than we knew what to do with!

The Apple Press. A brilliant contraption with modern
touches like an electric motor and hydraulic press.

My Dad in front of the apple hopper.

Stick hands and elbows are mandatory. My sister shows off her apple stained hands.

The Good Stuff! Dark and Rich.

The next day we started brewing. The Champagne yeast was proofed the night before in a separate jar and ready to go when we loaded the 5 Gallon glass carboy. We decided to forgo the meta-bi-sulfite preservative and trust the primed Champagne yeast to work its magic. The remaining 10 gallons found its way into the freezer to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

The 5 Gallon Carboy is ready to go. Next we slap on
the air lock and put it someplace dark.

After a couple days, the carboy started bubbling and I'm crossing my fingers that it becomes delicious hard cider. I'll let you know how it turns out in a few weeks!

Having a reason to spend a rainy day outside makes all the difference at this time of year. And what better reason to get active and get outside than harvesting local foods.

Cheers to that!

October 1, 2009

Backyard Discoveries

Jo and the Giant Maples

You never know what you'll discover in your neck of the woods.

In this case I wasn't even looking for trees. A friend and I were out for a countryside walk near Petitcodiac when we stumbled into this giant hardwood forest.

Walking into this cathedral like space left us mesmerized. I was in shock. Not only is this forest awe-inspiring it's very close to where I grew up. And I had no idea it existed. I'm pretty sure they are Sugar Maples.

This is a great season for walking. The weather is cool enough to allow jeans and long sleeves which are great when you're bushwhacking in the back 40. In case you haven't noticed, the leaves are starting to change and soon the hardwood forests will be ablaze. People travel from all over the world to see our hardwood hills light up during the fall.

What about you? When was the last time you took a drive out to those golden hills for a walk under the glowing canopy? Or better yet, just cross the road and walk up that ridge line, you know that one that always catches your eye at dusk.

Let's have some fun outside while the landscape is still alive!
walking new brunswick sussex petitcodiac hiking hardwoods fall outdoors new brunswick

September 25, 2009

S.J. Council Approves Trails and Bikeway Strategy

In the Telegraph Journal this Morning...

"Bicycle user welcomes plan for trails

Cycling Consultant working with city to draft new strategy"

"Council recently approved the Terrain Group's bid to develop the new trails and bikeway strategy for about $61,600. The Saint John consulting firm is expected to meet with user groups and hold public meetings, with the work likely taking about three months." - Telegraph Journal

HURRAY! And they want to user input!!!! Woopwoop!

See the full Article here:

September 20, 2009

Walking Country

An old, but useful cattle fence in Corn Hill

I've visited lots of great places this summer and been on many great hikes but nothing beats an evening walk through the rolling farmlands of Corn Hill.

Growing up in Corn Hill, I at times thought that its open landscape would wear out my attention span. Yet in my adulthood I appreciate it more than ever. All my travels have only given me more perspective from which to say; Corn Hill is unique and wonderful. It's a geological anomaly in our region. Fertile hills boil up from the flat lands, breaking the 40 km long valley that stretches between Sussex and Petitcodiac. Whether you look East or West, tall ridges lumber into the distance framing Corn Hill's renowned sunrises and sunsets.

Since its establishment as a farming community almost 200 years, its roots are still firmly planted in agriculture. A mix of pasture, hay field, and grain crops cover much of its slopes. Woods are nestled in here and there and small creeks trickle through alder thickets.

Tonight I decided to head out into the west and enjoy the last warmth of sun. I followed tree-lines and fences, skirting corn fields and cow pastures. The lay of the land never ceases to amaze me. Around 10,000 years ago the receding glaciers shapedthis place into a rumpled tablecloth. Since then human settlements has provided the fabric's pattern so that now fields and woods blend together over beautifully rounded ripples. And at each hillcrest, the perspectives change thanks to the openness of this landscape.

In my 5 km walk around Corn Hill I came across beef cows casually grazing grass, big old apple trees loaded with fruit (I filled my pockets), and a sheep dog protecting its flock. From the top of the community, near the Country View Road, I sat on a big round haybale while the sun sent out its last hurray over the Giant's Step on Mount Pisgah.

This may be farming country but its also walking country.

Hopefully someday I can share a walk with you through Corn Hill.

The valley in the foreground was shaped by water rushing under glaciers a few thousand years ago.

Jackpot! I came across a tree loaded with big juicy apples.

Corn rows frame the Giant's Step on Mount Pisgah

Who doesn't love a good sunset?
graham waugh local motion corn hill walking new brunswick sussex petitcodiac walking

September 11, 2009

Welsford Cragging Weekend

The Golden Days...and Hays of Summer

Just wanted to tell you about the fantastic days of climbing I had in Welsford over the Labour Day weekend.

The Sun shined without skipping a beat all weekend. Saturating the pink rock and roasting sweet pine needles on the forest floor. The Fall feeling is in the air. Crisp mornings, lead to soft afternoons, and a glaring sunset that you don't get in the summer. I love this time of year. The temperature is just right for being active, the air is dry, and the black flies are long gone.

I drove out to Welsford on Saturday with Brin and Emma who were stopping over during their move to Halifax. We rolled up to the crag in their rented U-Haul which I think disappointed a few people who were hoping that a Gear Company representative would be inside passing out free gear demos.

I spent Saturday catching up on stories with Brin and Emma while showing them some of Welsford great granite lines such as Snake Peel and the Light Fandango. I had a blast climbing with them and can't say I've ever had such a relaxed guiding experience. Hanging out at the ledge for Upper Dawn Wall, thirsty and without water, we savoured the juicy black Huckleberries. I must have eaten a pound.

Brin enjoying some juicy Huckleberries at the Dawn Wall.

mmm...Huckleberries by the handful.

On Sunday, I said goodbye to my friends and spent the rest of the day floating around the crag. I took an unnecessary siesta around lunch time then headed off to find partners. At Minkey Wall I had fun leading a chossy arrete called Beastly 5.8 . Dirty cracks limited the protection mostly to Nuts and funky movement often left me twisted in knots while sensitively testing loose blocks. Type 2 Fun!

Later on Sunday I somehow lucked into getting to lead the freshly scrubbed Waterwalk 5.8 . This beautiful crack system had filled with dirt and bushes since the first ascension decades ago. Fred Berube spent the entire day scrubbing and digging to get it clean and came down from like some kind of boogey man covered from head to two in dirt and grime. Exhausted from the 8 hour effort he offered me the lead, which I insisted he have. After a short "nice - off" I accepted. The route follows a changing crack system that splits and mergers, gets wide, and narrow, all the while eating up protection.

I moved my tent down from the high camp to the horse pasture that night to stay with the other dozen climbers who were camping out. Huddled around a bright propane lantern, the circle of climbers talked... climbing. A support group for climbers.

On Monday, I headed to the Upper Tier with Cory from Saint John and Dominique from Dieppe, who is also a N.B. repatriate. Our goal was to tick off some classic sport and mixed routes. The air was nippy in the shade of the wall and the wind gave the sunny valley a eerie feeling. We warmed up on Talamasca and Witches, a 5.9 and a 5.10, which each required just a couple Cams to supplement the bolts.

The author climbing Witches(?) 5.10 in the Upper Tier (Cory Goodman Photo).

With our appetite whetted for trad climbing, we shuffled down the wall to Hole in My Pocket 5.10d which has only two bolts before getting into the 5.10 trad territory. It was a tricky lead for me but unbelievably fun; funky face climbing moves with just enough cracks to place Nuts and Cams and an off-width to top it off! Dom got on the next route over, Be Still My Bleeding Heart 5.11a and figured out all the highly technical beta, including at least three crucial under clings. I had a lot of fun talking with Dom about his travels and also our Minor Hockey rivalry from many years ago.

It was a great weekend of climbing, socializing, getting some much needed sun. It was the kind of weekend that reminds me why I love living in Southern New Brunswick. Good people, good rock, great weather, and all so close.
welsford rock climbing new brunswick saint john climbing, trad climbing graham waugh local motion

August 26, 2009

The Beauty of East Saint John

In the past couple weeks I've been getting to know East Saint John. This rough looking, sometimes smelly suburb gets snubbed only by those who don't know any better. I'll admit to it. Until recently I didn't know any better and just I dismissed it as a land of malls and ribbon development. But, with help from locals and by exploring on my own I've come to appreciate East Saint John's hidden wild spaces. It really is a spectacular part of our region.

I don't quite know where to start. There's just too much to say and too many questions to ask. So I'll warn you, this post is going to be scattered. But I have to get it out there, the summer is ending and you need to get your butt to East Saint John! You'll have to forgive me if my terminology isn't accurate. I'd love to hear from East Saint Johnners about name of these places.

Ok, first off, a must-see . If you do one thing in East Saint John then make it Silver Falls. Water roars through this narrow gorge like a freight train off its rails. There are many drops and pools in this gorge with some big falls too. There's a couple large pools that lure both cliff-jumpers, swimmers, and anglers. Follow the narrow path along the edge of the gorge to find ripe beds of bright red cranberries and sweet blueberries. In the past two weeks I've picked about 2 liters of those tart cranberries.
One of the larger drops along Silver Falls

Moving waters

Cranberry season

Silver Falls is easy to reach. From the parking lot off Loch Lomond Road it is about a 10 minute walk through grassy meadows. Follow the path leading from the parking lot past the old metal gate. To avoid some wet spots on the trail stay to the left following the higher ground. This path loops around to the gorge. There's lots to explore up and down the gorge. Hopefully the map below gets you started. The parking lot is across from the Church by the Commercial Drive - Loch Lomond Road Intersection.

Silver Falls Map

Another place that I've had the opportunity to explore through my work is what is known locally as the "Rez". It's not too far from Silver Falls. Just continue along Loch Lomond Road for another 2 km or so. This large lake was once the city water reservoir but has since then become both a wonderful piece of wilderness and an unofficial dump. The lake is surrounded by productive red spruce forest, wetland, and couple brooks. There is a sandy beach with a life guard near the road, while a network of off road trails will take you around the lake and into the forest.

I was excited to learn today that the hidden beauty of the Rez inspired has grass roots group called the Little River Reservoir Assocation. For the past 5 years they have been working to clean up the Rez and make it into a recreational parkland. They have already removed 15 tonnes!!! of garbage and are working to create a trails plans for the site. Good stuff!

Have a look at their website for more information about the Rez and the group.

Plus they were featured in today's Telegraph Journal. Just click the link below for the full article.
"Community support sought for reservoir project"

The Cold Brook marsh along Golden Grove Road

Above Glen Falls

Last night I bicycled out to take photos of a wetland along the Golden Grove Road for work. I was impressed to find an beautiful marsh complete with ducks. As I was taking photos I started to notice cliffs in the background. Large cliffs. I couldn't place them at the time but later at home I located them on a map. A another area, wild and rugged, that will have to be explored. Upstream from the marsh I had heard about a waterfall named Glen Falls. I could see the start of the ravine from the road. It was an unfortunate first impression; tires, shopping carts. But there's deeper beauty to this place that shines through the trash. I dropped my bike in a grassy meadow and discovered two lovely apple trees. This got me excited as I've been thinking more and more about urban fruit harvesting ( Abundance Sheffield in Britain). I'd like to find out who owns these trees because in a couple more weeks there will be quite a harvest.

Two varieties of apples!

Scrambling down the ravine alongside the river, there was plenty of trash, but the usual noise of the city was drowned by the gushing water. At the bottom of the falls was a green cathedral of hardwood trees. The road is only a hundred feet away but I am enclosed in a bubble of nature.

Glen Falls

The green cathedral

Saint John is one wild and beautiful city.
So much to explore!

graham waugh saint john east saint silver falls loch lomond waterfalls new brunswick

August 11, 2009

Don't forget your Brain!

Sometimes I need to get somewhere.
There's no time to think
Just act, just hit the gas
Although my body may arrive
My mind is often left behind.

Does that ever happen to you?

It's not easy traveling fast.
In fact its even hard to react

cause my brain
needs time
to adapt
to the place
that I've arrived at.

When I travel the countryside
I often have to drive
but if I can I prefer to ride.
Pedaling a bike may seem slow
but at least
It allows my brain to keep pace.
Or maybe it's just the fresh air
And sun on my face.

Last weekend I needed to get back to Saint John after a night in Corn Hill. It was hard leaving the idyllic countryside. My parent's vegetable garden was overflowing, the pond was refreshing, the fields were buzzing, and our dog would have loved a good walk. I could have found a drive to Saint John but where would that have left me? A Zombie, halfway between the country and the city. Instead I chose to bicycle. It was still hard to leave Corn Hill and I was anxious about forgetting my bike pump in the city, but as the miles rolled by I started looking forward to the city. I left in the middle of the afternoon and five hours later I arrived in Saint John with a smile on my face. The key is that I actively arrived, ready to engage in my new surroundings and appreciate the city's brisk bay of fundy air. I was excited to cook supper, catch up on some reading, and call friends about rock climbing the next day. Had I drove, the four hours I could have saved would likely have been widdled away as a zombie. Besides, the bike ride was really fun. Because I was biking instead of driving I got to chat with a young guy that was working in his field of organic hops in Corn Hill. I followed the old transcanada along the Kennebecasis, passing through Hampton, then entering Saint John via Rothesay Avenue. Maybe my brain is slow. But I don't think I'm the only one. So how about we try to give our brains a break once in a while. Walk or ride your bike and give yourself some time to actually arrive.

August 10, 2009

Climbing the Pink Panther

Roger at the top of the route Pink Panther in Welsford

Yesterday I had the climbing day I had long been waiting for. The summer is a busy time and unfortunately over the past month climbing has fallen to the bottom of my to do list. But yesterday brought it out of the depths and renewed my love for the sport.

Lucas, Kristy, and I started in the morning at Gallery Wall with two pitches up Astroboy 5.9 which would take us to a couple amazing climbs that start 200 feet off the ground. Lucas lead Rythm Stick 5.8 (awesome!) which ends on a huge detached rectangular block that you chimney behind to reach the top. After that I lead the Ragged Edge 5.9, which was so good. Protection off the ground isn't great but it soon gives way to a stellar finger crack with some stemming and a huge void to step over.

Later in the day we headed to Minkey Wall where we met up with a group of climbing friends of mine from Halifax, as well as a climber from Ontario, and David Brayden who is biking across Canada.

It was great to climb with my old friend Roger from Halifax, who three years ago brought me to Welsford for the first time. That trip showed me how great the climbing is here as well as introducing me to ropes and carabiners, rappelling, and how to lead belay. Back then I was a boulderer and completely distrustful of climbing ropes. Now, its almost laughable that I used to sweat on Top Rope like it was a life or death situation. During that trip I lead my first route...Go-Ni-Ga-Ga 5.6 sport. Things have changed a bit in the last three years.

Lats night as the sun was turning the stone to gold, Roger and I racked up for Pink Panther 5.10a. This is a route that I've been dreaming of leading all summer. Roger lead the short first pitch up to the pigeon shit ledge. He brought me up and I sat on the ledge for a few minutes to collect myself for the intimidating roof. I counted my slings making sure I had enough to extend around the roof then re-racked my #3 Camalot so I could easily reach it. My nerves were tingling but I chased away my doubts. I felt a long way from the top-rope turmoil that I experienced three years ago. I trusted my gear, my rope, and my belayer. With my mind focused on the crisp rock, I climbed up into the maws off the roof. I set a #0.75 Camalot and a orange Mastercam below the roof and extended the hell out of them, then launched into the sharp layback until I was jammed under the massive roof with one foot smeared on the face and the other leg jammed in the wide crack. I grabbed my #3 Camalot threw it in the crack, clipped on my long sling, took a breath and carefully puled myself around the roof to the exposed face. I caught the jug and sent out a whooop and with a big grin cruised through the rest of the route. I was rewarded at the top with a comfortable seat on a big flat ledge. I belayed Roger up and we sat in awe as the smoldering sun lowered into the valley.

We hiked out in the dark with growling stomachs and at the cars I said goodbye to Roger who was heading off for more climbing adventures in Kamouraska, Quebec.

I arrived at home just in time to meet David, the biker, who I had invited to stay with me. We had a late supper, shared stories about climbing and traveling out west, but mostly my roommate Ross and I just sat there getting inspired by David's summerlong biking adventure across Canada.

graham waugh local motion rock climbing welsford saint john new brunswick

August 6, 2009

Ride and Climb on the Kingston Peninsula

My two wheeled, ten speed "escape hatch" from the city

Nothing better than leaving for an adventure straight from work! This evening was a couple weeks ago on a hot day in July. I had my backpack ready to go with some basic climbing gear, warm clothing, and snacks so that by 5 pm I could hit the road. I wanted to bicycle instead of drive to meet my friends Lucas and Kristy at a favorite after work crag near Reed's Point on the Kingston Peninsula across from the Gondola Point Ferry terminal.

Shortly after leaving uptown where I work I crossed the transcanada highway and I got lost, having navigate by feel until I met up with a familiar road farther north. I was bound for the Summerville Ferry that crosses from Millidgeville, just north of Saint John, to the Kingston Peninsula. As I pulled up I passed a line of cars that had been anxiously waiting for the ferry. At busy times of the day car drivers sometimes have to wait for the next boat....not bike riders though! I enjoyed the luxury of boarding and unloading ahead of all the cars. On the ferry I had a few minutes to relax and enjoy the sun glistening over the Kennebecasis River.

On the Kingston Peninsula I rolled through quiet backroads. On my way to Reed's Point I met more barns than cars and got into a good flow rolling hills. The interesting views on this ride occured less often than I expected. The road mainly passes through a thick forest but a there are a handful of panoramic views over the Kennebecasis. And the scenic highlight of the trip occurs just before the descent to Reed's Point. Views are good but I'm not chasing those. The fleeting images I catch as I'm pedalling hard, with my mind focused, are always more memorable.

The road leading down to the Gondola Point Ferry Crossing

I rolled up to the Crag at just before 7 pm. The riding time probably only added up to just over an hour while getting lost and taking the ferry made up the rest of the hour. The crag, which we can Gondola Point, ( although its not in Gondola Point) is set down just below the road on the edge of the Kennebecasis River. It's a great spot to unwind at the end of the day. There are a few great, through short, sport climbing routes. This includes one that has 20 feet of delicate stemming (picture an being inside an open faced book) and another that traverses an overhanging wall over the water!

What a great summer night!

Lucas leading a DeerJaw 5.10 with Kristy on the belay

Lucas Leading MooseJaw 5.10 with the Kennebecasis River in the background

Where: Kingston Peninsula, near Saint John
Distance: 30 km (oneway) from Uptown Saint John to Gondola Point Ferry.
Directions: See Google Maps below. It's a straight forward route once you reach the Ferry. To get there I went on Somerset Street and Milledgeville Avenue but you'll have to take whatever streets make sense from your origin. Once you're on the Kingston Peninsula, there are no turns to make. Just stay on Route 845 following signs to Gondola Point. The climbing area is approximately 1000 feet before the Reed's Point/Gondola Point Ferry Terminal. There is a small roadside pull out on the water side of the road across from a wet 15 foot cliff. From the roadside pull out, facing the water, head left 30 ft to a steep trail that loops around to the cliffs. The cliffs are directly below the roadside pull out.
Roads: Good condition overall. Some sections are better than others. The surface is mostly pavement with areas of chip seal. (Chip seal is common on backroads. It is tar with rock on top with makes it rougher than pavement) Not many pot holes. Cracks are common yet easily avoidable.
Terrain: Rolling hills with just a couple bigger ones.
Road Conditions: Varied new and old pavement, but overall old 2 lane road with no shoulder. Potholes, cracks, and pavement patches in many places but easy to navigate around.
Traffic: Very little traffic. I was given lots of space by drivers.
There are a couple Convenience Stores along the way.
graham waugh, local motion, saint john, new brunswick, kingston peninsula, cycling, biking, bikes, outdoors, active living, rock climbing

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August 5, 2009

Back from the Trek!

Woooueee! What a week! Just a quick update for now... I am back from the Fundy Trek, back from the wilderness. This birthday challenge was just what I was looking for. Seven days of hiking in the Fundy Highlands strained my mental determination and battered my body . But all for the better! I saw swaggering forests, mind tingling landscapes and felt lots of pain in my knees!

I want to thank Ross Curtner for hiking the Riverview to Alma section with me. His positive attitude and determination kept me going through many painful miles and set the tone for the rest of the hike! My Parents, Joe and Jane, for providing much needed transportation on either end of the hike and a gear re-supply in Alma. Janelle and Lindsay, two compassionate women I met from Calgary, who I spent two days hobbling behind on my way to the Fundy Footpath. Cory Clark for the keys to his car that was waiting for me at the Big Salmon River.

After I distill the events of last week and slowly get back into the swing of my life in the city I will hopefully find the time to post stories from the trip.

Here are a few photos from the trek that for me capture its highlights. The highlights were the visual surprises created by the shifting light or the tumbling of rapids and the richness that hard work and wilderness imparts to the people I was with and the food I ate.

Day 2, Dried Pepperoni Extravagance for lunch at Laverty Falls

Day 2, Ross at one of the many crossing on the Upper Salmon River Trail.

Day 4, Tweedle Dum Tweedle Dee Falls on Brandy Brook

Day 6, My side hike into the Wild Country of Lil' Sal

Day 7, the final day, crunchy walking on Seely Beach