Recap: Two summers ago, Cedric and I became Woods Explorers. We were paid to explore Canada in of its outdoorsy goodness for five glorious months. I’ve blogged about our time in PEI and on Cape Breton – now, we’re four weeks into the trip and in New Brunswick’s Fundy National Park.
Let me make one thing clear: Fundy National Park is beautiful. It is a UNESCO site with gnarly tides and stunning oceanfront hikes and there is plenty to explore. But I would not recommend going in early June.
To be fair, there are many places in Canada that are miserable in early June because of bugs. It’s part of the Canadiana experience, I suppose – even the European settlers complained about the waves of bugs this time of year.
The bugs in Fundy were terrible right off the bat. I remember setting up our tent in one of the park’s campgrounds on the first day. Part of our role as Woods Explorers was to film lots and lots of content to be used on their social media channels, particularly content that featured Woods gear. Our task on Day 1 was to film a video about the tent that we were using (a mighty fine tent, might I add – we actually used a Woods tent on our West Coast Trail Hike because we grew quite fond of them.)
The only problem is that our campsite was swarming with itty, bitty, bitey black flies. We took turns “starring” in our Woods videos, and this time, it was Cedric’s turn to narrate. He demonstrated incredible patience as we attempted to tackle each “scene” in one take. I don’t think the camera really captured it, but bugs were attacking his face and flying into his mouth.
(If you can click the above video to view it on Facebook – around :48 you can start seeing some of the bugs).
Although I was behind the camera, I was also having a tough time. I don’t know if it was because the camera was black or because it was warm, but the black flies LOVED IT. I was battling my own swarm while attempting to capture somewhat steady footage.
Interestingly, we found that the bugs were not actually all that bad while we were hiking. As long as we were moving, they were tolerable. We spent the entire week doing day hikes around the park – the Coastal West Trail was a particular highlight. But around the campsite, the flies were maddening.
This meant that we did not spend much time chilling around camp. Instead, when we weren’t hiking, we could most likely be found seeking shelter from the black flies in the town of Alma. Alma is a little town with two excellent places to eat.
The first is Kelly’s Bake Shop. A friend from New Brunswick had sagely advised me to stop by Kelly’s to sample the sticky buns. HOLY HECK – they were unbelievable. I’m disappointed with myself for having not taken any photos of them – but I wasn’t sure how these sticky buns would align with the Woods Canada brand. Instead, we attempted to make our own version over the campfire back at camp. The flies mellowed out a bit when the campfire was going, thankfully.
An aside: I had some FABULOUS food items on my journey as a Woods Explorer, despite the fact that my diet consisted 95% of peanut butter and banana sandwiches and backcountry curries. Here is a list of the top seven things I ate as a Woods Explorer:
- Battered and fried lake trout in Quetico, Ontario – we’d caught the fish ourselves earlier that day.
- Home-cooked duck and a hand-shaken cocktail at our canyoning guide’s home in Quebec, near Baie-Saint-Paul.
- Fudge from a fudgerie (who knew there was such a thing?) in Beausejour, Manitoba.
- The aforementioned sticky buns in Alma.
- The most delicious burger and yam fries in a dark lounge in Hay River, Northwest Territories.
- Persians in Thunder Bay (you’re nodding along if you’ve ever had them).
- Hot chocolate in a bowl in Quebec City.
Back to the story.
We spent a bit of time at Kelly’s, but we spent a LOT of time at Octopus’ Garden in Alma. The food is delicious, and the staff are really nice. One time, we loitered for HOURS after a hike until we knew the bugs would die down a little. They did not kick us out – bless their hearts.
Black flies were the primary nuisance in Fundy, but there were also brazen squirrels patrolling the campsites. Cedric and I keep a very tidy, minimalist campsite, so they didn’t bother us a lot – but they were very much there. That’s why we decided to pick this particular ornament to commemorate our leg in New Brunswick:
Squirrels bathing a moose – classic.
Although, let’s be real. Had there been a black fly ornament, we would have bought it in a heartbeat.