Having mentioned our stay at Kejimkujik National Park in the previous post this seemed a good time to tell you about our time there. With a tongue twister name like Kejimkujik it’s no wonder that most everyone refers to this park simply as Keji. This was the third and last Canadian National Park we’d visit on this trip. Keji is also a National Historic Site because of a Mi’kmaw heritage site and the only Parks Canada site to be dually designated. The area where the park is located is known for old growth forest, lakes and a designated dark sky area. The park provides the core of the second largest biosphere in Canada. Keep in mind that at no time in Nova Scotia are you more than 50 miles from any coast. No wonder the Nova Scotia license plate has the slogan Canada’s Ocean Playground. There are two sites which make up the park: the main park in the center of the southwestern part of the island and the Seaside adjunct on the southern shore. See the green areas on the map below.
We were in the RV camping area at Jeremy’s Bay in the main park where we had electric hookups and tank water. Water supply points are located frequently throughout the campground so refilling was not a problem. We carry 200′ of hose and rarely find ourselves further away from a water supply. When we do we use collapsable water containers (2 and 5 gallon size) for cooking and personal use thus saving the tank water as much as possible. The sites at Kejimkujik are large, wooded and private just the way we like it.
The park is great for bike riding. There is access to the water for paddling near the campground and at a day use area. The Kejimkujik area boasts 46 lakes and ponds formed during the last glacial period which amount to 15% of the park acreage. The Mersey River flows through the park and its watershed is the largest in Nova Scotia. While we were there it was quite windy and we chose to paddle the river. Lake Kejimkujik was too rough for us. The river was wide and calm for about two miles. Then we hit some rapids. We were able to paddle through the first three but pooped out after giving the fourth one a good try. We didn’t feel so bad when a group of 20-somethings were working hard to make it. They just had a bit more endurance. The float back was great fun. This is definitely a When We Come Back Spot.
We took a few short hikes as well along the river to Mill Falls and drove to the far end of the park to see remnants of Mi’kmaq eel weir on the Mersey River. Keji was established as a national park in 1974 to preserve the dwindling old growth forest. It is estimated that less than 1% of all forests in Nova Scotia are over 100 years old. Under the protection of dense hemlocks in Spring a collection of wild orchids, mosses, lichen and mushrooms grow. Bogs are another of the protected environments in the park and can be accessed by hiking or paddling. Peak wildflower bloom is May-June. Do I smell another trip here?
Keji was designated a Dark Sky Preserve in 2010 by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. During the summer, Rangers provide Dark Sky presentations in an open amphitheater located at Jeremy’s Bay campground. The one we attended lasted about an hour and several constellations were pointed out. Unfortunately the presenters didn’t know how to operate their new computer assisted telescope and couldn’t get it to focus so we had to use our binoculars. With our new interest in nighttime photography we need to return and do star trails.
The Mi’kmaw Indians inhabited this area for 2,500-4,000 years before European contact. They built stone and wooden weir to catch fish from the river then dried and smoked them. There is a protected heritage site accessible only with a ranger. Guided site visits are lead once a week and you must sign up at the Visitors Center well in advance as group size is limited. We weren’t able to go this time but we know we’ll be back.
As if all of this isn’t enough there is the Seaside Adjunct located on Nova Scotia’s southern shore. This section provides excellent hiking trails and access to some of the finest white sand beaches in the Maritimes.
From our base in Keji we also drove over to Annapolis Royal, another Parks Canada site. We’d hoped to tour the fort but our timing was off. The town is also very interesting with lots of old buildings from the 1700-1800s. There is a beautiful garden there well worth touring however by the time we were there it was well past prime. You’d think with 2.5 months we’d have seen everything. Not so. That’s good. As if we needed an excuse to come back! We did spend about an hour at the Tidal Power Generating Station. This was an experimental station built to research using the power of Bay of Fundy tides for electric power generation. While this station worked well they discovered that other areas in the Bay were too full of silt. The silt quickly ground the turbines apart in as little as ten weeks. So for now this huge potential power source must wait for technology to catch up. We’d worked up an appetite by then so we stopped for lunch at a small German restaurant just across from the fort. Can’t remember now what we had but I do know it was very good.