Unplugging in Grand Manan

Hello from Canada! This is Matt Palmariello, the T3 Event Manager.  As a staff, we like to hit the trails too.  I recently spent two days hiking the backside of Grand Manan, a small New Brunswick Island in the Bay of Fundy about 9 miles off the Maine coast.  Grand Manan may only be 1.5 hours away by ferry, but it can feel like another world. 

First break, about an hour into the hike.

First break, about an hour into the hike.

It's a special place with rich history dating back to the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy & Penobscot Indians. It thrives on tourism and fishing and is an incredible place to get away and relax in the outdoors.  It's not a large island, but there is no shortage of things to do.  From bird watching and sea kayaking to whale watching and fishing, there is plenty to do.  It's a famous haven for writers and painters with lots of old stories of treasure to get your imagination running wild.  

One of a few oceanfront off-grid cabins we walked past.  

One of a few oceanfront off-grid cabins we walked past.  

On this trip we planned to sail, mt. bike and hike the coastal trail - an island long hiking trail that traverses the backside of the island, meandering through the thickest undeveloped parts of the island.  From Southwest Head to The Whistle, the trail climbs, descends and follows the edge of the impressive cliffs facing the sea, right on the edge of thick forest.  It's worth the trip!

1 at a time!  Lots of stream crossings, all flowing with freshwater from the island's interior.

1 at a time!  Lots of stream crossings, all flowing with freshwater from the island's interior.

So magical.  One small piece of the Buoy trees!  Hundreds of pieces of nautical flotsam we strung up in the trees on a piece of private property the trail crosses.

So magical.  One small piece of the Buoy trees!  Hundreds of pieces of nautical flotsam we strung up in the trees on a piece of private property the trail crosses.

Trish & I got dropped in the dirt parking lot at Southwest Head Light House around noontime.  In a few minutes we prepped our packs, made our last adjustments and said our thank-you's and goodbyes.  Leaving the very southern tip of the island we snapped a few quick pictures and headed off.  As the trail wound its way into the trees we quickly found ourselves at a lookout just three feet from the edge of the first tall cliff, looking down onto dozens of seals floating in the eddies and vying for space on dry rocks.  Impressive scenery right away!

As we made our way North, the landscape got more beautiful, more diverse and way more challenging.  The air was warm, the forecast was favorable, visibility was outstanding, wildlife was all around us and cell phones were off! 

We snapped photos as we walked, discussed life and took in the ocean vistas.  It was an absolute treat to be outside and feel the stress of the last few weeks disappear. Unplugging from technology and soaking in this coastal environment was much more important than I realized. Around each corner was another vivid landscape worthy of a painting.  The salty air was enjoyable and sounds were rare, mostly birds & waves.  This part of the island has very few inhabitants and besides the trail itself, we saw more evidence of eagles than humans.  

Below the Eagle's perch.

Below the Eagle's perch.

About halfway through the 25km walk, we slept at a gorgeous oceanview campsite.  Making dinner and settling in, we watched the sun set over the Maine Coast from our little spot in maritime Canada. 

The last major outlook before we reached Swallowtail Lighthouse.

The last major outlook before we reached Swallowtail Lighthouse.

The next day was even better as we hiked through Dark Harbour, Money Cove, Indian Beach and a half dozen other landmarks we've visited by sea.  A few miles before finishing, we stumbled upon my dream home, a tiny wooden off-grid cabin looking out to sea..  I daydreamed about cabin life for the rest of the trip.  Later that night, back at the cottage in North Head, we discussed the highlights of the trip and were so happy to have completed this incredible little get-away on the trail.