In early August we enjoyed 8 days on the beautiful East Coast Trail (ECT), a 312 km coastal hiking trail on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. It was a great combination of intense physical workout and beautiful nature scenes.
If you plan on thru hiking or section hiking the ECT, check out the website ECT Thru Hike, this website has a ton of information such as transportation to/from trail, individual path distances, road walk distances (I hated walking those), etc. Also, the website has a really great Google Drive spreadsheet with a huge amount of data (i.e. water sources, campsites), I simply made it available offline to my phone and had access to it anytime.
Below I tried to select 1 photo/video from each day. It may not be the "best" photo for that particular day, but I would consider it the most important. Enjoy!!
Southern Trailhead: 46.861000, -52.944894
Day #1: We were picked up at our house by Halleran's taxi (709-685-2075), this is a passenger/cargo shuttle that travels between Trepassey and St. John's each weekday. We were dropped near the trailhead for just $30; and enjoyed a great conversation with Bruce Halleran, the owner. If you plan on thru hiking or doing a section hike of the ECT, definitely get transportation with Halleran's taxi, you won't be disappointed. The photo above summarizes the condition of the ECT; newer sections are in much better condition while some of the older sections need major work. As an example, Spurwink Path, home of the famous sea arch, needs some major maintenance. The northern section has a lot of boardwalk that needs replacing, and some of the blow downs (trees that have been blown over and are blocking the path) have been there so long that a path exists, check out the photo evidence here. I love the ECT, and I love the fact that new paths are being created, but the older ones need some love and care also.
Day #2: On Day #1 we hiked in about 1 km on the first Southern Path of the ECT, Island Meadow Path, and set up camp. Since it was a beautiful coastal camp, I woke up before sunrise and enjoyed a spectacular scene of gannets, seagulls, and whales. This was probably my favorite scene on our 8 day backpacking trip on the ECT.
Day #3: About 3 km into Spurwink Path, we were enjoying some sunshine and coastal views; behind us we heard a sound in the bushes. As we looked around, two foxes came out; observed us, ate berries, and then played with each other. In Newfoundland, we don't see a lot of wildlife, (I can count on one hand the number of moose I have seen while hiking); so we really enjoy it especially with up close encounters like this one.
Day #4: After a great night camping at Chance Cover River, winds from the North came along and brought in fog. About 2 hours of hiking we came around a corner and the beautiful Berry Head Arch appeared. I had seen this twice before, and hiked on top of it, but it was especially great seeing it after 2 hours of hiking in mostly wooded areas and fog.
Day #5: Four days without a shower and 55 km hiked, coming across this somewhat well-known swimming hole was such a relief. I took off everything except for my exofficio underwear (it was close to the main road) and slowly lowered myself into the water. Since I haven't swam in 20 years, and I was somewhat tired, I decided to "bath" in the water; it was great! I felt so refreshed after this and it made the rest of the day so much better. As mentioned by the YouTuber Homemade Waunderlust, when hiking it really is the simple pleasures that makes some of the more difficult times so much better.
Day #6: Near the end of our favorite section of trail, Sounding Hills, we came across this lovely view of Ferryland. I had driven by this town many times before, seeing it from a trail and later on walking through it gave it a different feeling. We came to appreciate the beauty of walking through a town, from the spectacular views to the spectacular people who offered us rides and conversations.
Day #7: Cape Broyle Path had been my custodian path for several years, I would walk it twice a year and send in a "maintenance needed" report. I had been thinking about how difficult it would be to climb Cape Broyle Head with a huge backpack on (on a side note, we are now doing operation ultralight on our gear). It was difficult, but with breaks, and having a great partner to help me out, I overcame it and enjoyed a fantastic water and Snickers break at the top.
Day #8: We had planned on completing the whole East Coast Trail, after day #6 we realized that we would not have enough time to finish all 311 km, but we could get back to Ft. Amherst (St. John's), this would be 215 km hiked in total. Sometime during Day #6, my right hiking shoe (a trailrunner) started to develop a hole in the right side, this progressively got larger throughout the day. After trying unsuccessfully to fix it with glue and dental floss, we decided to call it quits (it would have taken at least 3 days to get new shoes); with the goal of completing the ECT next summer. The photo above is taken at Church Cove, on Cape Broyle Head Path; it was a wonderfully spot to set up camp with its combination of a grassy field and a water source nearby.
To sum things up, we had a great time and are really looking forward to getting out there again.
Sheldon Huelin is a proud Newfoundlander and enjoys all things outside.