Five Islands to Moose Island
I have always wanted to walk out to Moose Island. There’s something about walking on sea bottom, barnacle and seaweed covered. Looking ahead, you raise your eyes upward to see the beach that fringes the island. Above that, the island itself, a green shadow silhouetted against a fading glow of the sun setting in the west. Moose Island is in Five Islands Provincial Park in Nova Scotia. Its about 2 km long and shaped like and oval sloping upward from east to west. The 100 m high cliffs that border the west end of the island are basalt rock of volcanic origins layered over sedimentary sandstone. This kind of geology makes the region an attraction for fossil hunters and gem collectors. This is the site of the famous “Not Since Moses” adventure run. I participated in the 10 km run several years ago. It was an awesome experience, taking the water taxi across an open stretch of ocean, almost 5 kilometres (3 miles), and then 5 hours later a run across the sand bars and tidal flats back to shore.
Few people go over to Moose Island. Crossing over on foot is only possible on the spring tides, when the tides are higher (and lower) than normal. At Moose Island the tidal range (during one of these spring tides) is 14-15 m (50 feet). At high tide you could sail of container ship between the mainland and the island without hitting bottom.
Ours was an overnight trip and we carried camping gear and food with us. When the tide comes in, you’re committed to being there for at least one tide cycle (12 hours). We had about an hour while the tides were out and the sea bottom was exposed. Once on the island, we set up camp in a meadow next to a high bluff facing southeast. Later that night, we walked back to the low cliffs where first we climbed onto the island. In the moonlight, a kilometre (more than half a mile) of ocean separated us from the mainland. It was cold and forbidding and we realized we were stranded, isolated from roads and other people. We slept under the stars that night. It was early in the season and the temperature dipped below freezing. The cold woke us early and we watched the sun rise over the Minas Basin. Even though the tide was on its way out, there was still half a kilometre of ocean separating us from shore. While we waited, we searched the beaches looking for agate. Finally, at mid-morning, we noticed the water part and a path open up. Like Moses and his people we followed this path, across the ocean floor,