The waterways of Kejimkujik National Park

Kejimkujik National Park and her series of lakes, rivers and streams! How I wished we had more time here than the one single night and day, so that we could have gone camping on one of the islands in Lake Keji.. or back country camping after kayaking up streams. We had to make do, however, and arrived in the late afternoon after whale watching at Digby.

Kejimkujik National Park

After setting up camp, we headed out for a short trek and to drop by Whynot Adventures, the company running kayak rentals at Jakes Landing. The staff of Whynot Adventures were extremely friendly in all our interactions with them; but unfortunately, other than for overnight rentals, no reservations are allowed. We were told that arriving shortly after opening hours should guarantee an available kayak, though!

We headed down to Grafton Woods, stopping by the viewing tower to read about Keji Lake’s geography. The sun was setting as we started out into Grafton Woods and the air was cool.

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The trail leads through the woods and out into marshier areas, before opening out along the ends of a river. We could get close to the river edge and the plants growing in the water made for a pretty picture.

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I thought the mystical woods were charming too, bare branches trapping soft green lines of leaves, the trek paved over with an early autumnal red even though it was still summer.

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Back at Jeremy Bay Campground, we had a calm campfire side dinner as we listened to the coyotes howling into the night. What an atmosphere!

The next morning, we arrived at Jakes Landing at around 9am. Almost all the boats were still available! The staff handed us a waterproof map of the waterways in the area and explained that there were going to be strong winds building up over Keji lake, advising us to head up Mersey river instead.

After a leisurely breakfast on Jakes Landing, which is really a beautiful spot, we popped out onto the lake briefly but the winds were indeed strong. We returned into the safe haven of Mersey River and decided to head upstream from there.

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The first part of Mersey river is pretty calm, and although the going is against the current, it’s nothing too tiring. The tiny tributaries are a delight to explore, and we saw quite a few wild water birds along the way!

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Soon enough, though, we hit the (small) rapids. We managed to forge the first one by sheer arm strength and will power, but the second series of rapids proved too much for us! After a few failed attempts, we decided to heed the advice of Whynot’s staff, “just get out and walk”. Thinking that he meant we should head out to the trail next to Mersey River, we managed to get our kayak out and onto the trek in a calm little bay, and after getting out of the rapids zone, we were back into the river and paddling upstream.

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On the next rapids, though, there was simply no way to disembark and carry on by land. After a few attempts to brave the rapids by arm power, we decided to try getting out of the kayak and pulling it along in the water while walking… which is clearly what we should have done all along, as it was so much easier as compared to rowing against the rapids or carrying by land! We did have to watch out not to go towards parts of the rapids that were too deep for walking, but on the whole managed to cross every subsequent rapids by this method. Too bad that we did not take more photos to document our hard work!

We stopped for lunch in a calm little bay, and continued on before finally reaching the bridge where the road forks to go to Jeremy Bay Campground, which was our goal of the day. The whole trip took us a little longer than 4 hours, for heading out onto Keji, exploring all the small tributaries and taking our time against the rapids and over lunch. On the return, with the current in our favour, we undid all our hard work in about half an hour’s time! What a good day to be out on the kayak, with tired bodies and happy hearts.

Just before leaving we did a quick stop at Merrymakedge beach. The water of Lake Keji is always pretty warm even late into the day, but the beach itself was rather pebbly. We were bound to head down to Rissers Beach Provincial Park, so we did not stay too long and decided to get on our way.

And that was our penultimate stop in the Canadian Maritimes roadtrip. One last morning along the Nova Scotian lighthouse coast before we were bound to be back in Halifax for our departing flight!

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