24 August 2009

Rockhounding in Scots Bay

Not this past weekend, which was a combination of working Saturday because Friday was a day off and watching Hurricane Bill blow past (with probably a few too many "look, sweetie, you're causing three metre storm surge" type comments directed at the boy), but the weekend before, we continued our Nova Scotia explorations with a rockhounding trip to Scots Bay, and a lazing-on-the-beach trip to Brule.

To get to Scots Bay from Halifax, you have to drive through the lovely Annapolis Valley, where they grow all sorts of crops and make my favorite hot day beverage, Stutz Cider. (Actually, Merridale Cider is better, but it's waaaay expensive and you can't get it here.) From the Valley to Scots Bay, you have to drive over a mountain, or what passes for a mountain in Nova Scotia. Just before you go over the top, there's a fantastic view, appropriately called "The Lookoff":

We hadn't been to this part of NS before, and actually drove right through Scots Bay without seeing the sign for the beach. We did find the start of the Cape Split hiking trail (that's for another day, perhaps), and a really tall pier. As planned, we arrived as the tide was still on its way out, so the boats were waaaay down below.

I'm not sure you can quite get the idea of how high above the ground the pier was, but let's just say that Bill wouldn't get too close to the edge.

At the beach itself, there was one of the tiniest Provincial Parks I've ever seen with a couple of picnic tables and outhouses, then a rickety high-arched wooden bridge over a stream to the beach.

Closer to shore, the beach was all water-smooth rocks varying from tiny pebbles to head-sized cobbles. There was all that's left of the Scots Bay Wharf, from shipbuilding days (for more on the archaeology of Scots Bay, go here).

Farther out to sea, and only revealed at low tide, the beach was an amazing red sand/mud. So before settling down to the serious business of picking up rocks, we headed straight out to sea to dabble our toes. I couldn't tell how far out the mud went, but there were people splashing in the shallows much farther out than we were. Because of the shallow water, it was quite warm, but there was an awful lot of red silt suspended in there. I could only imagine how that would feel seeping into every crevice, so I wasn't too crushed that I hadn't brought my bathing suit.

After wandering back in from the mudflats, Bill settled down to watch the water and take more photos, while I got down to rockhounding. Due to its location in relation to the various sources of rocks and the prevailing tides, Scots Bay Beach has a little bit of just about everything you could hope to find along the Fundy Shore. I didn't find any fossils or amethysts, but I did get some very nice agates (though quite small), and quite a bit of pink and white jasper. And some grey stuff that I haven't identified yet, because I seem to have left all my rock books in BC and the websites I've looked at are mostly focused on the spectacular.

Of course, I also picked up a lot of rather ordinary-looking specimens that had interesting aspects, like some greyish cobbles with little deposits of quartz crystals, and this greenish coarse rock with specks and spots of the loveliest glowing white and green stuff. My favorite piece is a small cobble of ordinary coarse grey with a thin (ca 8mm) band of translucent yellow and grey agate through it.

I'll keep a few of the rocks as-is, but most of them will go in the tumbler. The larger ones will have to be broken up, I think. As for what I'm going to do with them, some will go into a jar of pretty rocks, some will be sent to friends and relatives, and some will be used in my work. I'm thinking of incorporating polished stones into wooden book covers, and maybe wire-wrapping some smaller ones to use with the book jewelry. Maybe.

I did wish I had my rock hammer with me, as I seem to have completely lost the knack of busting open rocks with other rocks. Once upon a time, I knew how to flintknap and, though I was never particularly good at it, I could at least get a rock to break so I could see what it looked like inside. I'll have to work on that, and maybe get Mum to dig though my stuff in BC and send me my rock hammer.

Sunday we headed out to Brule, which is on the North Shore of the province. I didn't take any photos because I didn't want the sand to get into the camera lens. I'll have to charge up the little point-and-shoot for occasions such as this, because when I wandered back away from the shore, there was a really pretty saltmarsh complete with fishing heron. The beach was a little on the crowded side, though much less so than one closer to Halifax would have been. We sat on the sand for a while, then wandered along in the water, carefully stepping over the multitude of hermit crabs scuttling along the sandy bottom.

On Monday we had to run an errand all the way out in Pictou, but it was a quick run and not a siteseeing trip, so no photos or much of anything to talk about.


Dad said...

My favourite place in NS has to be the Cabot Trail. Have you been there yet?

Niko said...

Except for when I moved the NF, I haven't spent any time on Cape Breton. It's in the plans, though. If not this year, then next year.