Sunday, August 30: Day Six of our Taste of the Maritimes cycle tour.
Taking a 35 mile looping ride along more of the Prince Edward Island Coastal Drive, we began our day riding a couple of miles to the Greenwich Interpretive Center, where we locked up our bikes to see a movie about the natural heritage of the spit of land on which the Greenwich National Park resides. Our interpreter, Javon, then hopped on his bike and led us into the dunes and stopped now and again to describe the flora, fauna, and geology we were observing.
At the trail head, we had to get off our bikes and begin walking toward the beaches and the enormous dunes that are protected from deterioration by human activity via paths and interpretive signage and such, as part of the National Park mission. We walked along a trail and then onto a boardwalk that stretched across some marshland, and was even floating along the top of the brackish pond/lake we had to cross to get to the beach proper.
Once we reached the beach, we talked for a little bit about wind and water and dune erosion, and then we had a tough climb up very fine sand to see a parabolic dune. Parabolic dunes are crescent-shaped dunes mostly shaped by wind. As the parabloic dune migrates, lines of sand are left along the sides of the dune’s path, creating two “arms” or “tails” that become anchored by vegetation when there is a lull in movement. When the dune migrates again, the vegetation forms a line where the former base of the dune was, creating a dune-tracking ridge. This repeated process forms a banded pattern of ridges recording the path and movement of the dune over time.
They mostly occur in places where the wind is unidirectional, and mostly consistent wind velocity. They are also often associated with slip faces, where the vegetaion has slipped down or off the crescent or arm slopes. Javon told us that there are only about 5 parabolic dunes with similar migration band patterns in North America, and I remember he mentioned Michigan and North Carolina, but I can’t remember the other places beyond Greenwich, PEI.
We hiked back to our bikes, and most of us rode the bicycle-allowed loop out to the point and back, where we left the National Park and headed on the Coastal drive ride.
Folks could choose several routes from 12 miles through 35 miles, and Bruce, Jack and I again wanted to get some training miles in — we were all looking forward to the Cabot Trail and the legendary climbs we had all been hearing about (from locals) for days. So we grabbed a quick sandwich at Lou’s Take Out right before we got onto the Gravel Road From Hell.
This track was so wash-boarded and had such enormous gravel on it, we all thought we’d break a spoke or explode a tire before we were through. Thank goodness it was only about a click and a half (1.5 km). Even with the short length, I felt like all the fillings in my teeth were loose after the ride.
Then we really hit our stride. Another beautiful day on the cycle, on pavement, without too many cars to worry about. Travel simply doesn’t get much better than that.
We rode out to Naufrage Harbor to check out the lighthouse and we found public washrooms and then turned around to map our way back to a new part of the Confederation Trail and wind our way back to St. Peters.
Back at the Inn, we enjoyed another spectacular meal with our group of new and old friends. Jack and I shared a seafood sampler, and the sun set on another excellent day of cycling the Maritimes.
It is with reluctance we shall say “goodbye” to the Inn at St. Peters, as it has been a lovely place to bide some time. I earnestly hope I can return sometime in the near future.