The perfect winter Saturday morning, a crispy bite in the air and warm sunshine. A great day for a hike at Keppock Mountain.
The parking lot was full, snowshoers lacing up and working their way up the trails ahead of us, the lodge was full of backpacks and snowshoes.
People were collecting firewood, building lean to’s and gathering in groups. This was the weekend for an outdoor survival experience and 20 people are spending the night on the Keppoch to learn the skills needed for outdoor winter survival.
We discovered that we could hike without snowshoes but it wasn’t easy going. We tried a trail but soon turned back.
Before we reached the beautiful, newly renovated lodge we were offered snowshoes to use for a hike! We laced up and headed up the Summit East trail.
Need snowshoes? $5.00 will rent you a pair of snowshoes from the the Town or County of Antigonish.
Keppoch Summit East
Thanks to the folks who are building the Keppoch community. We enjoyed the fruits of your labour.
Want to join in the fun? February 15 is Keppoch Fun Day.
Keppoch Mountain is about a 10 minute drive from downtown Antigonish.
Years of admiring Chanterelles at the farmers markets and enthusiastic mushroom forages have inspired me to continue to hunt for Chanterelles any time I strike out for a walk.
I always remember the instructions, a combination of pine trees and roadside are the best spots to hunt for Chanterelles.
If you think you have found Chanterelles, look for the following attributes to help identify them, orangey-yellow, fruity smell reminiscent of apricots, separate gills, separate stems, convex or fluted tops, filled stem (not hollow).
The Chanterelle must not be confused with the poisonous Jack-O-Lantern or the toxic False Chanterelle.
This is one of the Chanterelles I found on my walk so I thought I would turn to the experts to see if these were indeed Chanterelles.
I have bought Chanterelles from Veronica of G.E.M.M.S. Forest & Farms at the Antigonish Farmers Market, and so who better to bring my mushroom to for final verification. She gave it a cursory look and then a delicate sniff and confirmed that I indeed had found a Chanterelle. She was very quick to point out however that this one was past its prime!
As with all mushroom foraging, always err on the side of caution and have a trained eye confirm that your harvest is edible.
Happy mushroom foraging!
Anticipating a large family dinner with all the trimmings and a house full of kids, we choose a hike to prepare. A small amount of snow scattered the ground and we packed up the kids and Grandma and hit the trail. The trails were fairly easy to follow and nice loops to explore. The woods lived up to Robert Frost poetry and the fresh air was therapeutic.
We needed our boots and mitts, and could have used walking sticks. The kids ran on ahead and enjoyed wandering off the paths. We used an hour, just enough time to burn off the extra helping of potatoes and we could have easily stayed for 3 hours.
The Fairmont Hike
This is a definite come back and explore. Next time a lunch and walking stick.
A Saturday in Antigonish
We started our day with a trip to the Antigonish Farmers Market to choose supper and to fortify ourselves with the amazing $2 cupcakes, from Cakes by Ellie, mocha chocolate for me. The honey pixie sticks were scooped up for our backpacks. Heirloom tomatoes, thin-skinned potatoes, and fall baby vegetables were added to the menu.
Beaver Mountain Park is about 15 km southwest of Antigonish. Take Exit 30 off Highway 104 then go 0.5 km south on Beaver Meadow Rd, turn right on Beaver Mountain Rd and go about 2 km to the park. This is a great way to spend an 2-3 hours.
Our group consisted of my 70 something mother, 3 kids ages 12 to 15, and me of middle age. There is a paved trail that is an easy walk, and would be great for skiing once the snow falls. The gravel roads were decent, with the exception of a few ruts. My mother insisted that old homesteads would have been here once and that there had to be apples she could find, to turn into heavenly desserts. As usual mother was right.
The views from the ridge inspired a promise to return for another visit when the leaves have reached their peak.