Alien Safari:

A Taylor Head Adventure

4 hr 3 km return Challenging

Trail Info:

This is a beautiful scramble along the seashore. Though there are intermittent small paths, most of this is on the shoreline without a trail. It goes along sand and cobble beaches and along a tidal pond. Enjoy spectacular coastal scenery. Bring a camera and binoculars if you have them. This is a full day trip including travel time if you are from Metro Halifax or beyond.

It is far preferable to time this so that you are below half tide in the earlier sections as there is more life along the shore to discover and there are a couple of sections where you have to scramble up through the forest if it is above 2/3rds tide. Here is the tide table. There is lots of walking on rocky beaches, wear good shoes. Plan a good snack or lunch halfway through and spend time on the swimming beach afterward (it’s a great swim on a warm day if you do not mind cold water). Bring sunscreen, a hat and appropriate clothes (it is windy and cool here even in summer, and the weather can be much cooler and wetter than other parts of the province).

The park is typically open from Victoria Day through Thanksgiving, but this can change. Check the web or call for specifics at 902 662 3030 in the shoulder season. It has picnic areas, change houses, toilets, additional hiking paths and a large, sandy, unsupervised beach.

Directions:

Taylor Head Trailhead
View in Google Maps

Take Route 107 from Halifax Metro and drive approximately 100 km to Spry Bay. The Taylor Head Provincial Park entrance is a marked right turn. Drive 5 km on the main park road, stopping where it ends in a parking lot.

Trail Tools

  • Alien safari gear (sunglasses and hat)
  • Third eye (magnifying lens)
  • Darkness tool per pair (bandana/cloth for a blindfold)
  • Camera
  • Adventure Journal

Beam Down to Earth

Start on the boardwalk leaving the parking lot and walk 40 m to the kiosk on the left.

You are an alien from the planet Blicktar about to beam down to earth from your space ship. You’re on a safari scouting out this strange blue and green planet for interesting life forms. Record evidence of them for your official Blicktar safari report. Describe any strange creatures and their weird habits.

First, get on your safari gear and give yourself an alien name.

Now practice the traditional Blicktar greeting in case you meet strange life forms:

  1. Stand with your legs far apart and bend your knees.
  2. Stick your arms out to the sides and wave them up and down.
  3. In your best alien voice, say “Ooga Booga Shmuck”.

Report to your ship’s galactic transporter to beam down to earth:

  1. Stand on the boardwalk just outside the kiosk.
  2. Look up.
  3. Spin three times while looking at the sky. (Don’t get so dizzy that you fall down!)

1. Greet Rooted Creatures

From the kiosk, walk on the boardwalk 120 m to the beach. Turn right and walk slowly along the sand.

A strange blue liquid borders this rugged land. Search for exotic wild creatures. Look at the green flexible sticks coming out of the mound of sand on the right. They move like dancers, swaying back and forth. Their dance must be a greeting. You don’t want to be rude: do the Blictar greeting back to them.

Now look for signs of moving life forms in the sand. Draw any tracks you find in your Blicktar Adventure Journal.

2. Communicate to Blicktar

Follow the sandy beach and continue as it turns into a cobble beach. Stop at the large rocks about 435 m from the boardwalk, part way along the cobble beach where the shoreline begins to curve.

This looks like a communications command centre for life forms. Look on the ground for heavy, round, whitish spheres with sparkles in them. The sparkles may be microchips for communicating to space.

Create the Blicktar “all is well signal” to send to your ship:

  1. Put eight of these spheres in a circle on the first big table like object (a large smooth boulder with lots of little finger holes in it).
  2. Send the signal by tapping out a message on the communications keyboard

Now look for exotic creatures close to the water. See if you can find the tiny volcanoes (barnacles) on the rocks and study them.

Could there be life below ground? Dig deep into the cobbles to find out.

Search for life forms in the peaceful blue liquid and the green gunk floating in it.


Netukulimk

There are many cultural perspectives on this landscape. The Mi’kmaq are its Indigenous people and have legends around its ancient history. You may have heard of the legendary Mi’kmaw figure, Kluskap, (sounds like gloos-gap), which means the “first one who spoke.” Kluscap was created from a bolt of lightning that hit the surface of Mother Earth. He is made of the earth’s elements: feathers, bone, skin, dirt, grass, sand, pebbles and water. Shortly after he was created, Kluscap met members of his family. The first was Nukumi, his Grandmother who offered knowledge and wisdom, then Netawansum (his Nephew), who brought strength and companionship, and last, his Mother, Nikanaptekewisqw, who brought love for all her children.

Kluskap then asked the wind to blow on the sparks left by the bolt of lightning that created him. From these sparks, the Great Spirit Fire was born. The seven families of the Algonquin people were formed from sparks that fly out of the Great Spirit Fire. The Mi’kmaq are one of these families. Kluscap then asked all the animals, fish, plants in Mi’kma’ki to sustain the Mi’kmaq. The many stories of Kluscap often involve him sharing how to be a good Mi’kmaw person and how he protects the people. Kluscap is a kind and compassionate warrior.

Learn about Netukulimk

3. Find Life Forms

From the command centre, walk 100 m along and across the cobble beach to the edge of the pond.

Look along the edge of this blue liquid for various exotic forms of life. Can you find tiny to small coloured spirals attached to the rocks? Investigate them closely. Check for small darting creatures and long, thin slimy creatures in the shallow waters.

Continue around the edge of the pond 75 m along a narrow strip of pond edge with trees on the left and the pond on the right. Stop just past a 4 m high rock face where there is a tiny path on your left curving around the rock face hill. Step in the path a couple of metres.

At higher tides the pond comes right up to the edge of the forest and you will have to make your way on small, rough paths along the shore for most of the 75 m to avoid getting your feet wet.

Check out the small green alien life forms covering the slope just past the rock face. Are they edible? Do they have white petals or red circles on them? They are beautiful. Take a photo and beam it up to your spaceship for scientific analysis.

Do You Know— Bunchberries

Bunchberries have 4-6 green, symmetrically displayed leaves around 5 cm in length at the top of their stems. the plants are around 10 cm tall. In June/July they look like they have 4 petal white flowers on top, but the white ‘petals” are actually bracts (modified leaves). The actual flowers are in a small circle in the centre of the bracts. In later summer and Fall they develop bright red berries which are a favourite of deer, grouse and various songbirds. They are edible for people but not particularly tasty. Bunchberries grow in shady, cool and moist woodlands, especially coniferous forests, so this is a perfect spot for them.

4. Discover Tough Stuff

A couple of metres past the bunchberry path is an old straight path heading away from the pond. Follow it for approximately 30 m until you come to the rocky ocean shore. Turn right and look at the rocks for the next 20 metres.

It sure is bright leaving the forest for the stone shore. There is unusual evidence of past fossils and ancient history in these rocks. Here are two things to look for but there is likely much more:

  • Look for small, square red/rust shapes stuck in the rocks. It looks like one of the common minerals on Blicktar— iron. How did it get here? Could it have come from Blicktar? How did it get embedded in the rocks?
  • Are there markings that look like exotic creature tracks in a rock just before you climb over a small and thin rise to get to the cobble beach ahead. What are these?

From where you came out on the rock, continue about 50 metres to a cobble beach.

Whoa! Check out the mounds of brown, purple and green stuff on the rocks. Get close in and give them a good sniff. Yow, what is it?

  • the poop of a giant creature?
  • a weird type of dirt?
  • an oddly shaped creature?
  • dead rooted creatures?

How many different types of things can you find here. An expert can find six. Create a display of one of each type on a rock and take a photo to beam up to Blicktar.

Could this stuff be useful on Blicktar?

  1. Look for the longest piece of material you can find in a mound.
  2. Test it for strength by pulling on both ends.
  3. Try harder. Can you break it?
  4. Pick apart one piece to see what holds it together.

Could this be used for rope? Where does this stuff come from? Why is it so tough?

Do You Know – Kelp

Kelp is a type of large brown seaweed that grows in great forests in shallow coastal waters, including just off the shore here. They’re anchored to the rocky bottom. On the Atlantic coast kelp grows to three metres long. People use kelp to make a gel-like substance called algin that is used in dairy products such as ice cream. One type of kelp tastes quite good and can be used in salads or even made into candy. Kelp beds protect small creatures such as baby lobsters from predators. A variety of fish and sea urchins will feed in kelp beds.

Before you leave this spot, use the hard objects scattered on the ground to build a Blicktar signal tower on the highest point nearby. This marks your discovery.

As you move to the next stop, look for interesting earth artifacts such as sticks, smooth colourful objects (shells) and other exotic and interesting things. Where might these have come from?

5. Admire Spectacular Art

From the far end of the cobble beach cross over an open area back to the pond edge. Follow along the pond edge 75 m toward a point of land. At lower tides you can stay on the pond edge and at higher tides follow small paths in the trees just above the pond.

After 75 m, just short of the point, you must go up and over a small hill for 30 m through the woods, descending back down to the open flats as soon as possible. From the flats go another 50 m and climb the stones on the back of a long cobble beach. Once on top of the cobble beach, turn left and go 50 m along the shore to a cluster of ancient, dead trees.

This area has thousands of hard, heavy, roundish objects. On top of them are many large and long complex shapes of interconnected white or brown things. It is truly beautiful. And there is this dark brown substance beneath underneath them. Yipes, there is nothing like any of this on Blicktar.

Take out your Blicktar Adventure Journal and find a snug and warm spot to rest among this Earth Art Gallery. Sit and do a drawing of some of the interesting objects and specimens around you. Watch for flying creatures moving across the surface of the blue liquid.

Share your drawing with others.

Move down to the shore and search for exotic artifacts on the rocks.

Exotic Life Form?

Settling an Alien Landscape…

Much of the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia was settled by Empire Loyalists fleeing the US after the American Revolution. One rarely thinks of Acadians here but in fact there are a number of communities that were established after the expulsion of the Acadians from Grand Pré in the Annapolis Valley by the British in 1755. Acadians were brutally and broadly dispersed all over the world and some returned to establish Eastern Shore communities such as West Chezzetcook, Grand Desert and Larry’s River. Coming to this landscape, so different from the dyked farmlands of the Annapolis Valley, might have made them feel like aliens, but they adapted quickly. Families returned here to build strong communities which rely on fishing, forestry and small scale farming to this day. There has been a revival of Acadian culture on the Shore including the Acadian Museum in West Chezzetcook and an outdoor interpretive display in Larry’s River. Parents are calling for a new French language school so that children maintain a connection to their culture in Chezzetcook and Grand Desert.

6. Grock Alien Life

Walk about 200 m down the cobble beach until you see a mini pond to your right near a number of small trees, which are between the cobble beach and the pond. Go down to the pond side of the mini pond.

Blicktarians have sophisticated feeling sensors (fingertips) called ‘Grokkers’.26 This is another way to understand and experience planet earth, and it provides interesting data on exotic life forms. These feeling sensors are only activated in darkness. Here’s how:

  1. Pair up with one person as the leader and the other as the grokker.
  2. The grokker puts on the darkness tool (blindfold).
  3. The leader carefully guides the grokker around the area, stopping to let the grokker feel different life forms.
  4. Discover touches close to the ground and high up. Hint: There are interesting touches at the edge of the pond.
  5. Take turns being the leader and the grokker.

As you continue up the beach, use your touch sensors to grok life forms without your darkness tool.

Earthworks

The white spruce trees along the shore are stunted and deformed due to constant winds and salt spray. They survive here by growing together in thick clumps and by putting out branches in the opposite direction to the winds. If they grew in the forest, they would look like ordinary spruce trees. Seagulls also are suited to the harsh coastal environment. They have webbed feet that allow them to paddle in the water and walk on land. Their feather coats are extremely light, warm, and waterproof. These are examples of

Learn about the Earthworks

7. Identify Exotic Specimens

Continue about 200 m down to the end of the beach where the water channel enters the pond.

You can go no further and yet you have not catalogued enough exotic creatures as yet. On the ocean side, near the point, investigate the brown mounds of plant material in depth. Get down on your knees and uncover the top of the pile.

Do you see lots of small life forms hopping about. Try to catch one and examine it (they move quick). What does it look like? Are there other forms of life in the mounds? How many can you find?

Please give each type of creature a name in the Blicktar language (all creatures must start with the letter B).

Explore other mounds and see if they have different things in them. What value do all of these hopping things have here on Planet Earth?

Also look out for white splotches on the rocks? What are they? How and why did they get here?

Earth Steps

Here are some things you can do to help protect marine areas:

  • Be very careful what you pour down the sink or flush down the toilet as most sewage ends up in the ocean somehow. Only use biodegradable soaps and cleaners.
  • Pick up litter on beaches to keep it from harming marine creatures. Happily there is not a lot of litter at Taylor Head, but pick up at least some things you see on your return trip to the kiosk.
  • Eat seafood that is grown or caught sustainably. But how do you know what is “sustainable? Go to www.seachoice.org and download the Sea Choice guide and wallet card.
  • Learn from groups working to preserve ocean habitats such as the Marine Issues Committee of the Ecology Action Centre.

8. Communicate Presence

Stay at the point.

This is the end of your exploration and it is important to mark your journey. Build piece of Blicktar Art to mark your furthest point of the adventure. Here’s how:

  1. Collect neat-shaped objects from the immediate area.
  2. Build a beautiful sculpture close to the water and give it a name.
  3. Tour the gallery as a group and take turns describing each sculpture.

This is a good spot for a snack as you sit and enjoy your art gallery.

There is a limit to your time and provisions so you must return to the start where you can beam back to the ship. But first, throw a floating object into the liquid moving off of the point. Look at which way it is going and why. Where will your floating object likely end up?

As you retrace your path back to the kiosk, look for more exotic life forms along the way. There is so much to see.

Do You Know – Marine Protected Area

Parks protect the plant and animal life inside their boundaries. A marine protected area (MPA) is an area of ocean where government regulations protect different habitats and creatures that are found within its boundaries. Globally, they have been expanded over the past couple of decades but active and managed protected areas still only cover about 5% of the world’s oceans, while the global target is 10%. We have 14 protected areas in Canada covering 6% of our oceans.

From a sustainable fishing perspective, MPAs are helpful in allowing protected places for aquatic creatures to breed before they disperse outside the protected area. There are lots of conflicts and complexity in regulations and level of protections across countries and areas. Some areas are more ‘protected’ than others. Learn more here.

9. Beam Back to Your Ship

Return back the same way that you came to the boardwalk leading to the beach. Stop at the information kiosk. Water levels will have changed given the changing tide.

Surely, intelligent creatures built this kiosk structure. Maybe they left a sign or hidden message on it. Search every part of the structure for a symbol plaque. Look in lower and hidden sections of it to find a mystery creature. Use the side of your pencil or crayon to make a rubbing of it in your Adventure Journal.

The plaque symbol is:

G

Login/Register

Please login if you would like to record your trail completion, provide feedback or upload photos to the trail gallery.

Login if you’d like to upload a photo to share in the Adventure Gallery

Congratulations, you have successfully completed your alien safari mission! Upload one of your favourite photos of your mission to the earthling photo gallery to show others what is out here.

It’s time to return to your ship. Do your Blicktar greeting once more, as it also means goodbye. Go back to the galactic boardwalk transporter, spin three times and beam back up.

There are other beautiful and much longer trails in this park, including a trail around the tip of Taylor Head. Downoad the trail map here.

Visit the Acadian Museum in West Chezzetcook to learn more about Acadian life on the shore.

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You can install Earth Adventures as an app for easy access and offline use.
Tap share and then "Add to Homescreen".