It’s not fame, recognition or notoriety that compels Steve Skafte from Annapolis Valley to make his way through rough terrain and washed out pathways.
The self-described ‘Explorer/Photographer’ says travelling through Nova Scotia’s abandoned roads gives him the chance to connect with the province’s not-too-distant past, and to showcase the hidden gems of the landscape.
“I started exploring close to home because I didn’t really have regular access to a vehicle,” he said while on what the province calls a K-Class road in Berwick.
“I ended up going down every road in Annapolis County, driving and looking around and going down to waterfalls, old buildings, anything I discovered,” he explained. “Once I did that I realized that the only thing left to do was hike all the roads that I couldn’t drive.”
Skafte said he was compelled to “explore every inch of what was close to home.”
Skafte sees the province’s abandoned roads and the treasures found on them as links to our past, with each discovery only serving to further fuel his inspiration.
On Monday, he went on a journey he’s traversed already at Little Brown Road.
The road splits off into the woods twice within a few kilometres of its entrance, providing more sources for adventure.
Not too much further a short wooden bridge takes the road over a brook. But just before it, Skafte stops to point out one of his favourite finds.
“The granite head is carved by a man named Brent Reeve,” he explains. “He started carving these all through the deep woods in Kings County years ago.”
“He actually has 21 that you can see very easily along the rail bed within Berwick town limits and many more that are deep, deep in the woods.”
No doubt those aren’t the only facts he’s picked up on his travels.
Skafte has also amassed an enormous collection of photos of subjects like the carving, as well as the dirt -or sometimes snow- covered roads.
Recently he published his works in a book entitled “This Creek Was Once a Street” which he describes as a combination photo collection and guide book.
Jeremy Keefe (@Jeremy_Keefe) August 21, 2019
He plans to release another book next year as he has no intentions of slowing on his quest to cover every abandoned road in the province.
But he insists that’s not why he’s lacing up his hiking boots on such a regular basis.
“I do enjoy doing it on my own,” he explained. “I think that’s part of the adventure of it.”
But mixing adventure with another passion of his, history, might explain why he started this endeavor in the first place.
“The farther back history is our legacy but to me, as somebody who was born in 1987, said Skafte. “I’m thinking more about what came directly before me.”
“These old roads or these homes or these places that still are in living memory are 20th century history,” he went on. “Which might not mean much in the 90’s or the 2000’s but I should hope it will mean something in the 2100’s.”
“If we lose the 20th century I think it would be very hard to feel like we had a connection to that part of our past.”
Skafte encourages anyone who would like to follow his journey, or plan one of their own, to look up his Facebook group entitled “Abandoned Roads of Nova Scotia” for more information.