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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 9- Kejimkujik National Park ("Keji")

Weather: Overcast/Sunny/Sleet

With our late return to the accommodations last night I have to admit I was tired getting up this morning. We had a late breakfast (9am) so that was a nice way to ease us back into research. It was going to be quite a drive to Kejimkujik so I settled into the van and enjoyed the scenery along the way.

Much of Nova Scotia is really pretty rural. Its been such a contrast to see everything looking so different from home in Boston. Lots of land with houses only every so often. Some of the towns we drove through today were so small, they went by in what seemed like an instant. One of the towns we went through had a big event recently... they acquired a gas station! Before this, people had to drive really far and plan ahead for when they might need gas... not good if you are on empty!

When we arrived at Keji we first stopped for a little 1/4 mile hike to some rapids to stretch our legs. They were really raging but apparently once the winter thaw has happened, they get calm enough to walk across and sunbathe on the rocks. On our way back to the car we saw a red squirrel in a tree. She actually stopped long enough for us to photograph her :)
The rapids

Red Squirrel
Once back in the van we headed to an area to do some transects for deer scat but did not find any. Dr. Chris thinks that because there was so much snow this year, a lot of it was carried away in the meltoff. That was ok with us... it was time for lunch!

Kejimkujik was established in 1967 as a national park and its name means forest of the fairies. It comes from the native language of the first natives here in Nova Scotia called the Mi'kmaq. The Mi'kmaq are a matriarchal society (do you know what this means??) This tribe are descendants of people who had lived here for about 2000 years until they were forced out by government. The struggles that the natives here faced are very similar to those faced by the Native Americans in our own country. What is very interesting here is that there are many petroglyphs left on the rocks by the Mi'kmaq people. Here are some reproductions of them so you can get an idea what they look like. In the summertime you can go on a tour to see the real ones.
The Petroglyph Reproductions
After lunch we drove to an area of Hemlock forest (Old Growth) for a 6 mile hike. On our hike in we saw a few coyote droppings and some deer prints.

Deer Footprint

This forest has the oldest trees in the area... it has been untouched for about 100 years so there are some pretty impressive trees here. Its neat to see how old growth forest is very different from the younger forests we've been in. Old Growth forests are much more spaced out in the understory, whereas younger forests are crowded with lots of little trees growing. Only very tall trees are surviving in the old growth forests because they have out-competed the other trees for sunlight. Think back to the pictures of the woods at East Point Medway and compare them to the ones I show here of the Hemlock Forest.

Old Growth Hemlock Forest
The Big Tree you see here is over 100 years old!

What is also so neat about Keji is that there is a gigantic granite intrusion here. You should know what that means by now :) In certain parts of the park you can see it exposed such as in the photo I put below.
Root System and part of the Intrusion

The hike was great because we got to see a good bit of inland Keji. We will be visiting the seaside adjunct which is also part of Keji (though in a totally different spot), at the end of the week before we leave.

We went looking for deer droppings afterwards and were able to find a whole bunch in an area you could tell they had been sleeping in. It was pretty cool... also cool because we didnt have to count each one, only the "event" or number of piles :)

It was a pretty long day here in Keji but a really nice time. I am looking forward to seeing the checking out Cook's Lake tomorrow and seeing another new spot!