What can I say about Kouchibouguac National Park (The Koosh). It’s very pretty, by a lovely river, by some great barrier islands, with long isolated beaches, a few hiking trails and miles of biking trails.
But, OMG, the mosquitoes! We can’t say we’d not been warned, but it’s difficult to realize the amount of mosquitoes there until you experience it.
The day we arrived at our campsite and started setting up, we both were attacked by mosquitoes immediately. Really bad. But, it was just before sunset which we know is usually the worst time for mosquitoes so there was hope.
Well, basically, they were bad, worse or worst. And Canadian mosquitoes are big! We’d encountered them before, but this was a whole other level. And yes, they were worst at dusk, or after a rain shower, which we had a couple of while there.
As hard to believe as it may be, the mosquitoes were as bad there as in the Everglades National Park in Florida in the summer. Only the strongest chemical mosquito repellent worked. And I try to avoid using those really strong chemicals if possible.
As it happened, I’d been feeling a little under the weather, so I took this as a sign and took a couple of down days. I started some French lessons in anticipation of going to Quebec, worked on the blog and on a couple of other chores. The good news: our campsite had a pretty view of the river out the front windows.
Staying in also meant extra snuggle time with Angel. But Hector was much more brave than I and did some road biking and mountain biking on the mountain bike trail and on the regular biking trail while I stayed in. Of course he used heavy repellent and it worked pretty well, as long as he was moving. But the little buggers bit him through the bike shorts – ouch!
Well, after a couple of days, I too braved the exterior, and, after covering myself in mosquito repellent headed out with Hector to go kayaking. There’s a little tiny barrier island across the way (they call is seal island) where lots of gray seals hang out. The park offers a guided tour that to the island to to see them, but, since we have our own kayaks, we went on our own.
It was quite windy and the paddle into the wind turned out to be farther than we’d calculated but we made it out there. Good news was; since it was windy, mosquitoes were down. The island had a couple of pretty beaches, and, in fact, a bunch of motorboats had anchored there. But, alas, no gray seals. Not a single one.
We checked out the beaches on both sides of the island and headed back. The next barrier island down has a piping plover colony (it’s protected, so no one is allowed on the island) and we saw a couple of Piping Plovers, very pretty birds. We also saw a lot of Terns and Cormorants.
While heading back, we bumped into several other kayakers looking for gray seals. It seems the seals are on the island at specific times, possibly according to the tides but none of us knew when. Oops. Well, it was still a beautiful outing and the 8½ mile paddle was a good workout for me after my lazy couple of days.
That day right around dusk I noticed another RV arriving nearby. The guy got out to set up, and suddenly he started doing the mosquito dance, slapping his face, swatting then covering himself up with repellent. We know the dance.
The next day, I headed out on the bike trail with Hector. The park’s bike trail is a fairly level trail covered in very fine gravel, and goes around the river. In fact, this is where we took Angel for her walks – poor little Angel was surrounded by mosquitoes every time we took her out, but I think her long fur was too much for them to navigate thank goodness.
The bike around the river was very pretty and we spotted some bear poop, but no bears. This is black bear country also. And the bike ride wasn’t terrible as far as the mosquitoes. The trick is to go out when it’s a little breezy. And wear lots of mosquito repellent, which I did. And I wore two pairs of shorts, heh, heh.
The day we left, we met another couple who was on their way out at the dump site. They were from Nova Scotia and said they were leaving a day early because of the mosquitoes. Seriously they were that bad.
I felt a bit sorry that I didn’t fully experience this park, but I did enjoy a little of it. And we’re not alone, we bought a shot glass at the gift shop that has giant mosquitoes and two terrified eyes peering out from a tent. A perfect memento of our time at “the Koosh”.