Monday, 29 June 2020

My first 100 km bike ride

In 1969 the last passenger train ran on the Newfoundland rail system in favour of bussing.  In 1987 the entire railway system was abandoned.  The rails and ties etc were taken up.  Subsequently it became part of the Trans Canada Trail System.

Some of my friends have ridden the entire 880 kilometer distance from Port aux Basques to St. John's.  I contemplated doing it this year but with Covid-19 plans have changed.  Instead this year I decided to test my setup with a couple of back to back 100 km rides.

I left from Holyrood destined for an overnight camp at LaManche.

Eleven km in I was at the old station in Avondale which as been turned into a museum.

It was overcast and cool, excellent for riding.  The railbed is limited to a degree or two of rise so it takes a winding course to avoid steep inclines, often times threaded between ponds.

It runs across bogs where the bed had to be constructed to support the weight of traffic and ...


... over solid ground here hemmed in by trees.  The trees and undergrowth are kept back by the use of all terrain vehicles.  In some places the railbed has been turned into dirt roads that people use to commute to cabins at various places.

I had my GPS mounted on my handle bars so I could keep an eye on my distance and speed.  I began a steady rise in elevation and distant hills appeared.  I surmised I was near the Long Harbour / Normans Cove turnoff where there's a good downhill and uphill section of the Trans Canada Highway.  I topped out at 167 meters.

In places the railbed had to be raised well above the surrounding country side to stick within grade parameters.  In those places I had great views looking down on ponds and bogs.

At Rantem Harbour Station the side line still exists but is not often used and doesn't bear the same amount of traffic.  I made a mental note that maybe it might be an interesting side shoot to investigate sometime in the future.

I had planned to leave the rail line and ride an ATV track down to the abandoned village of LaManche.  When I reached the access road to Little Harbour I was at 104 kms and still had 6+ kms to my planned campsite.  So. I decided that was far enough and backtracked to a fine campsite near by.  I wasn't thinking so much about the extra distance but about the next morning having to ride back up a questionable track of some 150 meters of elevation.

I set up my tent, cooked supper, all the while swatting away black flies, and started a small fire to keep the flies away.  As the fire burned down I got ready to hit the hay after a good days riding quite pleased with myself.






Monday, 12 August 2019

Finishing up Bauline to Pouch Cove


After landing at Cripple Cove from Bauline on Saturday in hot humid temperatures I slept like a log and woke Sunday morning ready to finish our hike.  For the first time I can rememember II was up and breaking camp before Dean.  He didn't sleep well getting only three hours sleep which I found out when we walked out.  Here we're back on the main trail from the side trail to Cripple Cove.


I was completely exhausted when we got into camp but the good night sleep restored my appetite for hiking.  We were soon looking down upon where we had camped from a height of 300 feet.


Making headway along PUDs (Pointless Up and Downs) which we'd be doing for the rest of the day.


Where Saturday started out foggy with high humidity, Sunday started out with a cool breeze on the hilltops.  Among the trees we lost most of the breeze as the sun shot daggers of heat.


The trail meandered around some big boulders.


Again on top of a hill we could see where we came from which looked close but it didn't account for the distance hiked on the regular up and downs.


The striped stunted growth of tuckamore trees here is testament to the ferocious northerly winds that last the hills.


Nearing Cape St. Francis we catch our first glimpse of saltwater on the other side of the peninsula at Biscayan Cove.


At Cape St. Francis we finished the White Horse trail from Bauline and discovered a box of KD mac and cheese left by a trail angel *lol*.  So it seemed until I read the best before date was in 2018.  so, we left it.


Dean and I planned on breakfast after we left Cripple Cove and walking to the Biscayne trail head we spotted a picnic table by one of the cabins.  The folks weren't home so we had a convenient place to cook and a place to replenish our water supplies.


Along a wooded section of Biscayan Cove trail.  It was starting to warm up as the morning progressed and we began to sweat again particularly in the dips between hills.


One of a few mushrooms we spotted.  Neither one of us volunteered to try it!


Looking down into Horrid Gulch as we got near to walking out at Pouch Cove.


And that marks the end of the Biscan Cove trail with Dean on the left of the trail head sign.  Interesting that the name on the topo is Biscayne Cove whereas the trail name is Biscan.  Probably the trail is spelled as its pronounced?

A short hike to Dean's car at the parking area and we were off to pick up my vehicle at Bauline before heading for a coffee and some self congratulations.

Saturday was oppressively hot for hiking but Sunday was more benign, at least the first few hours.  Overall it was a great experience hiking these sections of the East Coast Trail and I was glad we did it.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Hike to Cripple Cove


I haven't hiked since September of 2018.  I've been on the bike mostly and haven't done much kayaking either.  My kayak buddy Dean hasn't been in the kayak much either but more than me.  He's done much more hiking and this weekend asked about my interest in doing an approximate 30 km hike over two days.  Time to strap on the backpack again and maybe do a bit more than once a year.

We settled on a hike from Bauline to Pouch Cove but overnight at Cripple Cove near Cape St. Francis, about 17 kms on Saturday.  Here at the trailhead for White Horse trail.


The day started out foggy and hot and before long we were sweating.


It was hot, hot, hot.  The trail is a lot of up and down (PUDs - Pointless Up and Downs) making it a challenge in the 27C temps but 30 with the humidex.


The fog began to lift as the sun came out.  That didn't make matters better, worse in fact.  There was practically not wind.  It was challenging going up hill and ...


... down hill.


The slightest of breezes were on top of the hills.  Looking down the coast from where we came.


I rationed the water I carried as best as I could until I could filter some more.  There weren't  lot of opportunities between Bauline and Cripple Cove.


We passed about a dozen unoccupied tents.  We surmised they were tents of East Coast Trail who were upgrading the trail and eventually we happened upon their handiwork.


Up on top of another hill looking down at a couple of tents of the ECT crew.


It was hot in the sun and even on sections of the trail that passed thru wooded areas.  When we got closer to Cripple Cove we were on bare bedrock.  The heat increased in intensity from both the sun overhead and the heat emanating from the rocks.  I slowed considerably deliberately putting one foot in front of the other but ...


... we were closing in on our campsite and it kept me going knowing the end was in sight as Dean points it out.


When we got down, the last down for the day, to out campsite I dropped my backpack and immediately headed to a place in shadow under the cliff.  An hour or so later I got gear out of the backpack and set up home for the night.


As the sun went lower in the sky things became more tolerable and we sat looking out over Conception Bay where people were out in boats catching codfish.  Dean brought a chair; I sat on the rocks.  Here there was a bit of interesting geology where a mafic (dark) dike (suspect basalt) was intruded between lighter weathering rock (possibly rhyolite).

I have to admit, it was a brutal day hiking in the heat.  I suffered leg cramps.  But we survived and getting into Cripple Cove put the difficulties out of mind.  I did worry about the hike to Pouch Cove the next day so I called it a day at 8:30ish hoping for a good night sleep to get me thru the next day.  I was gassed so I expected to sleep soundly.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

First hike in 11 months


Hiking is not my main activity.  Its my first backpack hike since last October so clearly I need to get on the trails more often, if for no other reason to keep in hiking shape.

Friday Hazen and I set out for Brocks Pond falls for an overnight camp out.  We left from Portugal Cove where its initially steeply uphill.


Once on top we were in dappled shade in the trees but ...


... the cover didn't last long as we were on the exposed Harbour Main grup volcanic rocks, the oldest rocks on the Avalon Peninsula.

Here we're looking up thinking we have to go up there after a good bit of up and down already.


But, up there we did get with a fine view down in the distance.


Three hundred feet above the falls we started ...


... our descent towards the falls.


We went to look at the falls which were disappointingly just a trickle after a very dry summer.  Returning to where we dumped our backpacks we set up our tents, collected some wood for a fire and made supper.


We had a super sunset and as the sun set we ...


... started a fire.  Flankers started to fly which raised our concern for starting a general forest fire.  I joked, though not a laughing matter, that if we started a fire we'd lose the tents and everything and we'd have to walk out in the dark to ignominy.  We let the wood we started with burn down and die being very watchful not to start anything bigger.

It was only 6.2 kms but the up and down, and rocky rough terrain took 2.5 hours to hike.  The terrain and our lack of consistent hiking with heavy backpacks slowed us down.  The message is we need to do more of it.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Roaring out of Roaring Cove


Saturday night we had light rain as we slept in the tents at Roaring Cove on the East Coast Trail.  The timing was perfect; Saturday was excellent weather for hiking and we got our social in before the rain.  Sunday morning we woke to beautiful brilliant sunshine for our hike out.  Brian and I walked out to the viewpoint over the cove with Flamber Head beyond.


Setting out along the forested path.


I checked out Flamber Head the previous day whereas the others bypassed it to hike directly into camp.  So, on the way out we all stopped to climb the headland for ...


... the view, here looking south.  Deep Cove Point in the near distance, Brigus Head further on and Cape Broyle Head in the far distance.  Some of us have kayaked that shoreline back at the end of March 2014 and we resolved to do it again soon.


We walked long the west side of Freshwater Bay where at The Key, the bottom of the bay, a river runs out.  An old bridge crosses the river but it looked like it soon would need replacing.


Climbing out of The Key uphill we gained some altitude and arrived at Gentlemans Head where we had another great view.  This time looking south we could see Flamber Head and how far we had come.


Leaving Gentlemans Head we still had some elevation to climb and stopped to catch our breath in the sunshine.


Brian, Clyde and Dean took a side trail for the view at Cape Neddick before we all took another side trail at Money Cove for the view.


Walking into LaManche under fall colours.

It was my first overnight backpacking trip which I very much enjoyed.  Such a first comes with lessons learned.  I expect to modify what I pack for the next one and apply other lessons learned until I end up with a fine tuned set-up.

Many thanks to Dean for instigating the trip and Brian, Cathy, Clyde and Gary for sharing the experience.