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Triathlon time: Sink or Swim?

The swim was going to be my strongest portion. When I found myself hyperventilating in the middle of the lake I knew something had gone very wrong in my first triathlon in 20 years. What I didn't know was how to recover.

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My Big Day Downtown in Halifax: People's Choice Edition

Updated on Monday, September 1, 2014 at 8:02PM by Registered CommenterAlison DeLory

blogging assignment with the Downtown Halifax Business Commission. I once again had $150 to spend downtown and a stellar list of suggestions from my Facebook and Twitter friends who I canvassed as per this year's "people's choice" theme. (I know, I know, tough job but someone—or some 30 bloggers in this case—has got to do it.) It went down like this:

1. I love pushing my physical limits physically and was glad when @wryandginger suggested Studio in Essence, 1717 Barrington St., @studioinessence. It's like an adult playground with bright things to climb, swing, spin and stretch upon.

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Small Kenyans have a large way of welcoming Me to We travelers

As our bus rattled along the pot-holed dirt roads of Kenya's Maasai Mara, children burst forth from fields and mud huts to greet us.

"Jambo!" (hello) they shouted. Their faces broke into wide smiles, and their waving hands seemed to flap faster than hummingbird wings. "Jambo! Jambo!" they repeated, running alongside our bus on their small but mighty legs, and peering up at us with bewitching big eyes.

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Oot & Aboot in Blue Mountain-Birch Cove

We lay on the flat, sun-warmed rocks high atop the cliff overlooking Charlie Lake. After hiking for an hour it was time for a water break and short rest. A bird in the trees opposite called repeatedly in a high-note/low-note combination, and getting no response from his own species, I did my best to whistle back the same.

The Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes wilderness area—1,312 hectares of crown land encompassing forests, lakes, barrens and wetlands—is a huge swath of (mostly) protected land. It is almost three-quarters the size of the Halifax peninsula, stretching all the way (map) from Hammonds Plains to behind the Bayers Lake Industrial Park.

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Oot and Aboot in Herring Cove

Ready, set, launch! This is the first in a new series by moi, #DeLoryTheExplorer, in which I'll blog about my favourite things: hiking, running, cycling, paddling, eating and drinking at some of the best places in and around Halifax. Hopefully I'll inspire you to get outside and do some exploring of your own. 

For years I'd driven by the Herring Cove look-off, sometimes parking in the small lot on John Brackett Dr., gazing at the dramatic coastline, listening to the waves pounding on the massive rocks, and letting the sea spray dampen my face. I'd seen a footpath through some brush and scrub but never walked the length of it until yesterday. Better late than never did I discover that this trail, a meandering 2 km path through the Herring Cove Provincial Park Reserve, is one of the more striking coastal trails I've traversed and it's just 10 minutes off the Halifax peninsula.

The first kilometre walking south provides views across the Halifax Harbour to the Maugher's Beach lighthouse on McNab's Island and Dartmouth's Eastern Passage behind it. You can feel the power of the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the rocks every few seconds, a sound punctuated by the clanging of buoys, cries of egrets and seagulls, and (sometimes) the blaring of foghorns — hey it is Nova Scotia, after all.

The path is narrow but easy to follow. It winds around tidal pools to the water's edge, then cuts slightly inland through scraggly woods where the scent of cedar fills your nostrils, and up to the top of cliffs with sheer drops down to swirling white-capped water. It's not a long or difficult hike (total hiking time about 75 minutes without stops) but neither is it a walk for the faint of heart or for anyone with unsteady feet or a fear of heights.

There are some unusual sights to behold such as a single huge boulder on an otherwise flat rock, and another pile of boulders stacked in a circle (how did they get there?). It's possible to spot seals in the water but bring your binoculars if this is your goal, and on rare occasions you could even be lucky enough to see a whale.

To get to the Herring Cove Provincial Park Reserve, drive from Halifax through the Armdale Rotary and out Purcell's Cove Road past Frog Pond and York Redoubt (both excellent destinations for future #DeLoryTheExplorer posts). The road becomes John Brackett Dr. and when the houses thin out on your left and the ocean view opens up you'll see the small parking lot. For the car-less, the 20 Herring Cove bus will take you there from downtown Halifax.

Should you find yourself wanting a snack or drink after your visit, get back on John Brackett Dr. and continue driving south to where it intersects with the Herring Cove Rd. There you will find the marvelous Italian-styled Pavia café and gallery. Everything here is delicious, including the rich and frothy hot chocolate.

You only need a few hours for this outing, and nothing more than comfortable shoes and a windbreaker. Enjoy and please report back if you go.

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