Monday, 16 October 2017

A first backpacking trip

Two years ago I bought an Osprey Aether 70 backpack.  It sat idle since then until this weekend.  Earlier in the week Dean mailed some of us to propose an overnight backpack trip on the East Coast Trail (ECT) from LaManche to the campsite at Roaring Cove.  I felt it was now or never to break in the new pack.

Dean got 5 positive replies from Brian, Cathy, Clyde, Gary and myself.  The plan was to meet at 12:00 to drive down to the trailhead.  I opted to leave earlier to make the most of the day.  I started walking at 9:30 and 20 minutes later I was at the site of the resettle community of LaManche.  Today it is dominated by the beautiful suspension bridge on the ECT.

Dean has been actively hiking for two years and fine tuning his set-up by replacing his heavier gear with (more expensive) lighter gear.  I used my kayak camping gear which put my backpack at 40 lbs.  That was a substantial load at 30% of my body weight but I had to get this first experience to base a decision on whether to invest in lighter gear later.

The pack felt good but it was early going.  At Herring Cove Point I caught sight of Cape Neddick my first target.

The start of a lung busting climb!

At Bluff Head a selfie with Cape Neddick.

At Cape Neddick I dropped my pack to make the climb to the top of the headland at 500 feet high.  Looking north along a coast we frequently kayak with Great Island on the right.  Climbing down I got out of the wind to eat my lunch.

A rock cut at Gentlemans Head.

At Gentlemans Head I was looking south over Freshwater Bay towards Flamber Head with the campsite location just behind it.  But first I had to make my way along the trail around the deeply indented bay.

Climbing through narrow forested openings.

Just over 4 hours after leaving the car I arrived at the Roaring Cove campsite.  There are tent platforms there but I decided I preferred to put my tent on the soft mossy ground.

After setting up the tent I walked over to Flamber Head which I had bypassed to see if I could see the others coming along the trail to no avail.  They had passed by me while I was at the top of Flamber Head and were ...

... busy setting up tents when I returned.

They left 3 hours after myself and arrived in camp two hours after me.  They obviously meant business and made much faster progress than I did.  I was happy I set off ahead alone enabling myself to set my own pace not knowing what to expect with the heavily laden backpack.  I stopped frequently to take pictures and take in the views.  It great though to see them in camp.

The evenings close in early this time of year.  We hit the hay at 9:00 after an evening chatting and a few laughs.  I worried about the pace hiking out the next day as I drifted off to sleep.  I slept like a log.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Bauline to Portugal Cove

The weather forecast for the weekend was not kayak friendly.  Gary suggested a hike from Bauline to Portugal Cove.  Its part of the East Coast Trail an know as Piccos Ridge Path.  The plan turned out to be Brian generously dropping Cathy, Gary and myself off in Bauline where we would begin the hike south.  Brian and Sue planned to hike towards us from Portugal Cove and meet somewhere along the trail.

Looking at distances; steeling ourselves for the 14.5 hike rated as strenuous.

The trail leading out from Bauline is up and down steep slopes, here with a rope aid.  The day before we had torrential rains and that made the trail slippery and mucky.

It stopped raining but drizzle was expected.  Luckily the drizzle didn't materialize but it was foggy obscuring what would have been a spectacular view over the ocean 100 meters below the ridge.

The trail was easy to follow even without the black and white markers spaced along the trail.  The foggy conditions continued.

We came upon these two big glacial erratics which I dubbed "Arnold's Dumbbells".

As we hiked along the fog gradually began to lift as Bell Island emerged from the fog.

An inukshuk!  We left a rock each.

Group of three photo on the ridge.

9.5 kms in and and almost 3.5 hours later we arrived at Brocks Pond Falls.  This is a regular destination for us by kayak.  The last time we were here was in My 2016 and you can check out my post here and see the 100 meter high falls from sea level.

Cathy, Gary and I arrived at the falls ahead of Brian and Sue coming up from the other direction.  We scouted a place to get across the river flowing out of Brocks Pond. We ...

... crossed and walked a short way south before calling out and making verb and then visual contact with our fellow hikers.

We walked back the short distance to the falls where we stopped for lunch.

Then, it was off again and a climb away from the falls up the 100 meters high Brocks Head where we had ...

... a great view 100 meters above the pond and the outflow and 200 above sea level.  The fog was lifting but it was still hazy.

The going became easier and drier.  Here the tree branches closed in overhead and we emerged into brilliant sunshine.

Once on top of the hills south of Brocks Pond the trail was mostly over glacially scoured rocks.  We stopped to take in the view.

As we approached the end of the trail in Portugal Cove it was downhill all the way.

I had my doubts about doing the trail on the day because of the water that fell the day before and the forecast for drizzle but it turned out to be a fine day with our hiking boots on.  Its not for the faint of heart or the occasional hiker but quite doable training up to condition.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Night time boil-up

A few of us have been talking about doing a night time snowshoe trek and boil-up.  With the dump of 60 cms snow in the last week we had our opportunity.  So, Saturday at 7:00 pm Brian, Derrick, Hazen, Sherry, Sue and I met at Olivers Pond Road to put on our snowshoes.

We walked down narrow trails between trees heavily laden down with snow.

At this clearing the trek went to the left.

Making tracks through pure undisturbed snow.

Emerging from the narrow trail onto the lake with ...

... its wide open space.  Here we had it easy waking along snow beaten down by snowmobilers.

Regaining the shelter of the trees we decided on this spot to have our fire and boil-up.  Each of us brought a bundle of splits and other odds and ends of wood for our fire.

We had a well sheltered location out of the wind that was really quite comfortable.

Derrick brought his hi-tech "kettle" and suspended it above the fire as people waited anxiously for it to come to a rolling boil.

I'm not sure what Jake made of all this?

After about 30 minutes the fire melted down through the snow layer and finished our hot chocolate drinks we piled snow on the fire to extinguish it and marched back to the cars.

It was a super way to spend 2 and a half hours and take advantage of the opportunities that winter offers.  Thanks to everyone who shared the evening.  We'll have to do this again for sure!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Skiing Butterpot Park

Today, Tuesday, Brian, Hazen and I took advantage of the super weather and drove the ~20 kms to Butterpot Park to do some cross-country skiing.  The park is closed during the winter so we had to park the cars at the entrance to ski into the skiing area.

Past the kiosk where entrance fees are collected, when open, the land falls away down over some steep hills until we arrive at the beginning of the loop.  The trail follows the roadway between the campsites and was usually groomed to put in a skate-ski trail and a classic trail.  Due to budget cuts its no longer groomed so we had to break trail ourselves, taking turns.

The river where the loop begins was frozen over and covered with snow.

Looking down another river path.

We were at the lowest level in the park where there was no wind and brilliant sunshine.

Looking through the trees towards Butterpot Mountain in the distance.

On the backside of the park and slightly over halfway we stopped for lunch.  We used our skis to sweep the snow off and make room to sit down.

No sooner did we get our food out did a pair of Grey Jays descend on our lunch spot.  Not one bit bashful, they came right to the picnic table to take away our offerings.  In one case taking food right out of Hazen's hand.

We arrived back at the beginning of the loop and started to make our way out of the park climbing up the hills that were so easily skied down when we arrived.

Its not unusual to have rain and warm temperatures after we get a dump of snow.  We got our latest snowfall on Saturday past and tomorrow, Wednesday, we are expecting rain.  I'm glad we took advantage of the chance to get out on an absolutely beautiful day.  Thanks Brian and Hazen!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

More snow, secret location

Sunday night into Monday we got a 32 cm dump of snow.  It wasn't much fun shoveling the driveway but it made for great snowshoeing.

I mailed Hazen to see if he was interested and he was so we met to trek through some trails for a couple of hours.

The snow was accompanied by strong winds but where protected from the wind, it settled on the trees.

Not much calling for park benches this time of year.

We were the first on the trails stomping through virgin powder.

A picnic table shows the depth of new snow.

After two hours we had competed the loop and exited and walked back on snowshoes to the cars.