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. 

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!