Local Motion - New Brunswick

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

October 13, 2010

Thanksgiving Hike 2: Walton Glen Canyon

This is the second of three Thanksgiving Hikes I'll be writing about:

 My parents at the Lookoff over Walton Glen Canyon
On Thanksgiving Sunday, my parents and I loaded into their old truck and headed South, into the Caledonia Highlands. Our destination was Walton Glen Canyon. My parents and I made a pact back in July to take ourselves on a hike here for our birthdays which all fell within the middle of July. We wanted to do it in July, but with with Bike Festivals, parties, and the garden we were too busy.

So here we are on Thanksgiving weekend, digging out the toques for our birthday adventure. My parents had been to Walton Glen Canyon, about 35 years ago. I've been there a number of times in the past couple years. It's one of the main reasons, I was drawn back to New Brunswick.

I had never been there until the winter of 2009. But I'd found out about it online in 2007 and had been mesmerized by one photograph of the cliffs. After returning to NB in 2008, I fulfilled my dream to begin ice climbing and that same winter satisfied my thirst for the Canyon. The first attempt involved 20 km of skiing, headlamps, 1 pitch of ice climbing, and in fact we only reached the Little Salmon River Gorge but even that was mind blowing. A month later friends and I skied in with camping gear for a weekend of ice climbing in the canyon. Dropping into the canyon in the middle of winter, in waist deep snow, was ridiculous. My first thought was "How can this exist in New Brunswick? I feel like I'm back in the Rockies."  I wrote about it on my blog here. Since then New Brunswick hasn't ceased to surprise me with its hidden wilderness.

This fall I've been working in the Caledonia Highlands on a salmon habitat project. I've gotten to know the backroads well so a trip to Walton Glen Canyon is less intimidating than it used to be for me. The first time I tried to find Walton Glen Canyon was with my Dad and brother in 2003. It was Father's Day and we were going to find a big gorge that I'd never heard of. It didn't go well, my brother ended up with a blown ACL in his knee (long story) and after a trip to the hospital, my Dad and I got lost on muddy roads. We nearly got the truck stuck and finally gave up.

These days, the roads to Walton Glen Canyon are in great shape. You can drive a car to within a couple kilometers. A regular pick-up truck will take you to within 1 km. It's hard for me to even write this online. It's seems too easy and I hate to take away the awe of discover. It took me so much effort to get into Walton Glen Canyon, that I've come to really appreciate it's secluded power. I've been kept out of Walton Glen Canyon by raging water in the Little Salmon River (Read about the Fundy Trek here) and flat tires this Spring.Canyons are different than Mountains, they hide themselves from the world even while they lure you in. The nights are darker in canyons, the world farther away.

I like wilderness that you have to work for. Maybe that's why I've fallen for the Walton Glen Canyon. But it's becoming more and more well known. The recent Waterfalls of New Brunswick Website and Guidebook feature its falls. The canyons "Eye of the Needle" is gaining in popularity too. I'm excited that more New Brunswickers are getting out to see our incredible wilderness. But, even though I use this site to promote the local outdoors, I'll admit that I'm a bit selfish with it. I like to think of these places as 'my' places. A good piece of wilderness should always feel like it belongs to you. Whether you enter it alone or with friends, it should give you the feeling that you're "on your own". The more people use an area, especially when its trashed, the less it feels like wilderness. But there's a balancing point. If no one uses it, no one cares about it and it could easily end up on the chopping block like so much of New Brunswick's Crown Land.

Ok, back to the story. My parents and I had no troubles on the back roads and were able to drive into the Jack Pine Plantation just a short distance from the Canyon. The first thing we did was walk to the lookoff. I love taking people here, there's a point about 100 feet from the rim of the canyon, when I start to smile in anticipation of the other person's shock. The canyon just seems to appear out of nowhere. All of a sudden you're staring into a 500 foot deep void. The updraft wafts your clothing and falls plummet down the opposite face.
Walton Glen Falls - 200 feet

This is where we started our hike. Next I lead them down the rough trail into the Canyon. Once you've looked over the whole canyon, being deep inside it takes on a new meaning. We climbed down the steep trail, using the old ropes, and roots when we could. Down below the falls we found a gravelly little bar that was perfect for lunch. We enjoyed our Thanksgiving leftovers, chatting over the sound of the rushing water. After lunch my mom sketched the brook while my Dad and I each found a good place to nap.

We decided to save the Eye of the Needle for another day, perhaps a warmer one. On our hike out we ran into some good friends - what are chances. They were the only people we saw in the Canyon.
Mom and I at the base of the Walton Glen Brook Falls
Walton Glen Canyon is part of the Little Salmon River Protected Natural Area. It is located south of Sussex near the Fundy Coast. For more information and directions please visit Waterfalls of New Brunswick. Or as always you can drop me a line. I'm more than happy to provide directions in email or by phone.
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