If you missed it, you can hear my radio documentary “The Search for Boundary Rock” here, on the Atlantic Voice website.
The Boundary Rock, marking the meeting of counties in southwestern Nova Scotia, was once a significant landmark. But, as wilderness traveller Bob Johnston says in the documentary, “It’s fallen so far out of folklore that nobody even knows where it is anymore.”
If you have listened to the documentary, you’ll know we found something that had us baffled. Well, Bob Johnston, the man who put 10 years of research into finding the rock, has a theory he shared with me — that the position of the flagging tape was coincidental. Here’s Bob.
You know, rocks back there are as big as a house, ugly, and made of granite. Not something that you need to flag with tape to draw attention to it. They sort of stand out on their own. And people that travel back there are creatures of habit. They normally mark rocks with spray paint. An ugly habit, but I have seen it done many times.
In my humble estimation you found somebody’s snowmobile trail. The Tobeatic is laced like a tennis racket with them. You see, the snowmobilers love to run back there. And their favorite targets are the “Indian turnpikes” (eskers and ridges), followed by lakes and barrens. Many times while travelling I have come across trail tape and markers that just didn’t make any sense, until I got curious and tried to figure them out.
This is normally how the snowmobile thing works:They will cross a lake and leave its surface at a prescribed point. At the first oppertunety they will get back on a ridge or barren so they can get rolling again. The eskers are easy to follow, you just stay on them. But clearings and barrens are a different bird. You have to know where to enter and exit them to hit the next part of the trail. This is what I propose you found with the trail tape. You really get a good incidence of this on the barrens between Moosehide and Sandbeach lakes. The portage trail runs top to bottom, but the flagging tape runs left to right. Also up on Stoney Ditch lake, the portage trails are at the upstream and downstream ends of the lake, but on the right side of the lake there was trail tape marking where the snowmobile trails left the lake.