Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘East Coast Trail, Newfoundland’ category

Avalon Wilderness Reserve & East Coast Trail

Thursday, August 22, 2019

There is a huge wilderness area in the south central part of the Avalon Peninsula, and I wanted to drive through it. I knew it would be a gravel road and a bit rough, but Martha was game. 

Well, it is a very rough road, first with houses all along a big lake before entering the reserve. One had a nice helicopter sitting outside. The further we went, the houses had no power. One had solar, others generators and some had satellite dishes. We figured we were in the reserve when there were no more houses. Only able to go 10-15 miles an hour, bouncing all the way, I thought about getting a flat tire in here. You would need some big, knobby tires for this road or an ATV, but it would be fun to explore as it is quite pretty. It would be a good place to ride a horse, but it would be a rough job driving a horse trailer in here.

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We stopped at a campsite by a lake and I fished a bit, catching one brown trout before Martha was ready to go. We saw one fat partridge, or ptarmigan, standing in the middle of the road. Hunting these wouldn’t be much sport as they just freeze when confronted, hoping you won’t see them. 

It was an hour getting back out. This is as rough a road as I have driven, as bad or worse than the road into the St. Mary’s River in BC. A few days of fishing and camping in here would be fun. There are thousands of lakes where Brook Trout supposedly abound. There are also a few rivers, and streams connect ponds. Best bring a good GPS and some maps, food, water and spare tires! I thought it was like the south end of the peninsula with its flat, open “Barrens”, but there are big hills or little mountains, some trees, lots of blueberry bushes and plenty of lakes – very pretty indeed.

Driving back up what we used to think was a rough paved road, we wanted to get out and walk a bit, so we went back to La Manche Trail from the highway, ate some lunch and went for a hike. It’s about 35 minutes to the suspension bridge. Crossing the bridge, we walked up a steep stairway to the East Coast Trail going north. I don’t know how much of this trail we have walked now, maybe 30% and all of it is pretty. We were surprised to see a number of people on the trail on a weekday. We walked an hour one way, then turned around and walked back, then another 35 minutes up to the parking lot. This part of the trail is mostly in the woods, and a lot of it is actually on a gravel road. In the old days, this trail was used to connect communities before roads were built.

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Hike The East Coast Trail Tors Cove to Mobile

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Martha said we were getting an early start at 8:30. It was a bit chilly, about 59 degrees, or 14C, as we drove north a few km to Tors Cove to pick up the East Coast Trail. We had hiked it at Signal Hill in St. Johns, and wanted to hike it at Cape Spear where we had a good chance of seeing whales, but we didn’t make it. The trail runs along the coast for over 300km from Portugal Cove to Cape St. Francis to Cappahayden. Our plan today was to hike the section from Tors Cove to Mobile.

We were looking for water, as La Manche’s water had to be boiled before drinking. We stopped at a convenience store in Tors Cove where I asked if I could fill a water bottle. A nice lady said I could just outside at the spigot. Martha got to talking to her, asking where the trailhead was, and Diego asked where we could get some blueberry pie. Fortunately, they both bought some things, but I’m not sure that mattered. She was from this Tors Cove, and her brother owned the store. She lives in St. John’s and drives 35 minutes to work two days a week. He was sick today, so this was an extra day. Gladys was her name. She asked where we were from, and when Diego said Mexico City, she said she had been to Cancun and somewhere else she couldn’t remember. She said one of the best hikes is in La Manche Provincial Park. It is the one with a swinging bridge and goes to what was once a town called La Manche. Gladys told Diego he might try the bakery in Burnt Cove for a pie. Then she told us about a restaurant in Burnt Cove that might have blueberry pie. She also told us where to find “The Cribies”, and that they are restored, old saltbox houses, and she advised us to stop in at “Running the Goat” bookshop.

Driving through Tors Cove, we had a bit of a hard time finding the trailhead, and we found nothing called “The Cribies”, but finally parked in front of an old church at 10:00.  A sign at the trailhead said it was 5k to Mobile, so 10k out and back. Sounds reasonable right, or as Newfies say, Eh? It starts as a narrow path along steep hill overlooking the harbor. Some fishermen were unloading and cleaning fish below us, with seagulls waiting all along the rooftops for the scraps that would soon come. A beautiful island lay just offshore, and there was a picnic table on a rocky beach opposite it, maybe a good place for lunch in 2 hours.

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The path turns into a dirt road that runs beside two brightly painted old saltbox houses, “The Cribies”! OK, that’s two for Gladys. I don’t know what cribies means, but these are very cool houses in a beautiful setting in green fields along a pretty, dirt road. There were also very nice, modern homes along the road.

Then the trail goes through a forest before breaking out to the coast, running along the edge of a bluff above the sea. It was cloudy all day, but it was perfect for a hike. We came out to to a grassy point and spotted a seal swimming around it. I went ahead to get a better look and found three women taking pictures. I think we had seen the mother, but one lady said there were babies swimming in this little cove. Then we could see them again at the mouth of the cove. After some picture-taking, she asked where we were from. “Oh my”, she said when we told her Virginia and Mexico City. Turns out she grew up in Mathews, Virginia. My parents had a little vacation house there for some time. Crazy, isn’t it? She said she married a Newfie from here. They live in St. John’s, but come back here often. She was with her sister-in-law and a friend.

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They went on and we followed, stopping to take pictures along the way. Near Mobile we met again, and Diego asked if there was a restaurant in town where we could get some blueberry pie. They said there was a restaurant, “The Fork”, but they only served dinner or certain nights. They were staying at a B&B, and began describing their breakfast this morning of blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup over them. Diego was dyeing and asked for the name of the B&B, thinking we might go there for breakfast tomorrow.

We thanked them for all their help, took a picture and turned around for the hike back. We had taken 2 1/2 hours to get to Mobile, stopping to take pictures, enjoy the scenery and talk to these nice ladies. Martha and I were tired, and not mentally prepared for this long a hike. Not that it was particularly difficult, but longer than the 5.5k the trailhead said. 

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We figured two hours back as we sat and ate a granola bar and drank some water, and that’s about what it was. We passed several other couples. Diego has always been in great shape, playing several racket sports, soccer, and he has always enjoyed running marathons. He and his step-daughter, Luisa, just ran a marathon last week. This kind of hike is a walk in the park for him, but for Martha and I, it is like a half marathon for us. 

As we came out to the dirt road, a lady was trimming bushes along the fence in front of a beautiful, newer house. She asked how far we hiked and was surprised we had gone to Mobile and back. She wished us a good afternoon as we walked up the dirt road to the Cribies.

Diego had gone ahead to get the lunch, and met us at the picnic table for a pretty spot. Looking at my fitbitch, we had walked 9.5 miles and 20,600 steps and 4 hours. How did that work when the sign said 5.5k? As we were eating, a group of young ladies, all with the same hats on saying “SQUAD”. I had to ask if they were on a team, and they said they were the bride and bridesmaids out for a walk before the wedding. The bride, wearing a white cap, asked if I could take a picture, so I did. She said I could send her a bill, and I told her I would next week. Off they went climbing the steep hill through the pasture like it was nothing.

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We drove back through Tors Cove and wanted to find out about Puffin and whale tours. Whale season is about at the end, but we did want to see puffins. We drove through Mobile to find “The Fork” restaurant, but it was closed. It looked nice enough, and had a menu on a table. We read it through the window. but It didn’t list deserts. Then north to Witless Bay to a tiny visitor’s center. The young lady suggested Gatherall’s for the puffin/whale tour. On the way out of town, we stopped where we could get cell service to book a tour Monday, the warmer of the next two days. 

Now on to Burnt Cove to the bakery. It was 4:30 when we got there. Sadly, Carmel, the owner, didn’t make pies, but we did buy some rhubarb squares and blueberry cake. When Martha asked if she had ice cream, she said she didn’t, but we could get some at the store in Tors Cove. Martha said, “At Gladys’ place?” “Yes, that’s right. We all know each other”, she said with a smile.

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Picture in bakery. I have been wondering if a moose could be domesticated. I guess this answers that question.

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Another picture in the bakery

By the end of the day we had walked 11 miles and 24,000 steps. Fare of the evening was lobster tails and vegetables after horsedouvres of carrots, celery and roasted red pepper dip. I read two pages of Patton before falling asleep. It talked about how Hitler was coming apart at the end of the war, still thinking they could win. They had lived in the bunker for a long time now, and it was getting to all of them.

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