One thing that does distract from full enjoyment of the waters along this part of the New Brunswick coast are the large numbers of jellyfish! The ones we saw at Kouchibouguac were reddish in colour (see photo) and came in various sizes from an inch or so up to about 6-7 inches in diameter. These ones do not have very long tentacles dangling along in the water, so they are quite easy to avoid and their 'sting' is not of a serious nature. As we sat in our beach chairs dipping our feet, we occassionally would have to lift them out as the waves washed the creatures past!
One good thing about the large jellyfish populations off the east coast of Canada is that they are helping to restore the population of the endangered Leatherback Turtle. These 500-kg (1200-lb) and 2-m (6.5 ft) turtles are the largest sea turtles in the world. Recently, hundreds of them have been observed in these waters gorging themselves on the jellyfish before making their return journey to the tropics some months after arriving for the feast.
When I returned to work after our biking trip, I mentioned to one of the guys at the Office what a great time Kouchibouguac was. As a result, he headed off there with his family the following weekend! They too had a very enjoyable experience in this National Park, including using the rental service for a biking expedition on the easy trails. His teenage daughter and son were biking ahead when they had to stop abruptly due to suddenly coming upon this young Black Bear cub beside the trail. There was a nice feed of plump blueberries nearby, and the young fellow did not seem the least perturbed by his sudden companions. However, caution is the word in situations like this, because you never know for sure just exactly what the mother bear may do if she feels that her cub is threatened. It seemed strange, but my wife and I saw what appeared to be an identical cub to this one two weeks later when we visited the Park. The Bear was into the Blueberries again, right beside the highway and just outside the Park entrance - not the least bit concerned with the commotion he was causing!
As for Russ and I, the biggest thing we saw were several Snowshoe Hares in their brown summer coats (they turn pure white for winter) at various stages of our trip (no wonder our sightings were limited, with us crashing wildly through the underbrush)! That being said, the Park does have quite a variety of animals, with some of the larger ones including Moose, White-tailed Deer, Coyote, Lynx, Fisher and even traces of the Eastern Cougar.
On both of our rides along the Major Kollock trail, it had rained during the previous evening with a real thunder and lightning downpour the second night. As a result, the numerous pot holes along the trail were water-filled and quite squishy is places! Also the ferns and leaves along narrow parts of the trail were wet as they brushed past our legs. We tried our best to keep the muck splashing to a minimum by going through the puddles as slowly as we could without getting stuck (most of the time!) and did succeed in avoiding any major streaks up our backs! However, both we (from the knees down) and our bikes needed a good hosing off when we finished with this trail.
The Park only contains one mountain biking trail, the Major Kollock, and it is in a completely different league as compared to the many kms of normal biking trails. Before you start on this one-way trail, you are given fair warning by this sign:
- Mountain bikes only recommended for the the next 6 km.
- Recommended for experienced bikers
- Be ready to meet the following conditions
> wet and muddy terrain
> elevated and muddy boardwalks - slippery when wet
> steep slopes
> various obstacles on and near trail
> narrow trail
However, all that being said, even though Russ and I had never done any mountain biking before, we found it to be a whole lot of fun! We actually went back and did it a second time the next morning, taking our time to savour the sights a little more that time!