Picco’s Ridge Path Take 2

For the past couple of years I have been saying that the seasons have officially shifted their positions. It seems that summer only starts in August these days, but as a result it sticks around much longer than it used. So, this past weekend it seemed like a no-brainer that we would head out into the woods – since the weather gods blessed us with some sunshine. May I add that it’s like a religious ritual in our household to compare notes on the weather systems and whenever one of us gets some good news about the upcoming weekend’s weather we share it with the other person with the understanding that something might be happening outdoors. And so it did – Saturday was the day. 

We were planning to come back to Picco’s Ridge Path for a while – it being Randy’s favourite path to hike mostly due to its roughness and high difficulty level. So the verdict was in –  we were going to tackle it again. We parked one car at each end, which meant we were going to hike it one way – that would give us roughly 14.5km. To me, that’s a good hike that requires a better part of the day to be completed – this is probably due to my European origins. Randy tells me that European style of hiking limits how far they can go since they do not attach particular attention to the weight they are carrying, shoes or clothing they are wearing etc – this slows them down greatly making them unable to cover great distances and 14km becomes a full day of walking – think multiple rest periods, slower pace, etc. American style long distance hiking, on the other hand, focuses greatly on weight of pretty much everything hiking related – I’d call it a minimalist approach. Whereas the Europeans will carry everything they feel is necessary to make them feel comfortable while camping (not so much while hiking), Americans are prone to prefer to do without some amenities for the sake of being able to go further. So, you see, even though I carry absolutely nothing on our day hikes and my clothing – including shoes and any layers – are the lightest they can possibly be, my European roots are stronger than that and for now I consider 14km a pretty good hike. Rest assured that I’m working on my endurance daily, so just watch me – I’ll toughen up soon enough. But of course, I digress…

It was a pretty rough start to this hike at about 11:00AM by the time we got the cars situated and ended up at the South Trail End in Portugal Cove. That day I decided to skip the gym visit that I would ordinarily have on a Saturday morning to train legs – I figured that I was going to be using my legs all day long so I might as well preserve my energy for the walking and so I slept in and did not get my dose of endorphins first thing in the morning. That was a mistake, because in consequence all I could think about as we were getting ready for the hike was the fact that this was going to be it – we would hike the remainder of the day and nothing else would get done in the house. You see, I’m not very productive during the week in terms of household duties – I am way too beat out at the end of the workday to do anything after work (after all, my day starts at 3AM) – so the weekend is when I can catch up with stuff. That morning I let this simple thought overtake my mind that I almost ruined the whole experience. Thankfully I didn’t – I had enough sense in me to not take the bailout offer from Randy when he realized something was off – I simply said we were going to do it.

I thought my mood was going to be sour for the duration of the hike but it turned out not to be the case and the moment my feet hit the trail I was good to go – I’ve forgotten all about the household chores! I don’t know if it was the outdoors, the company or the fact that we started the hike at our most recent shakedown spot where we camped out back in late August – maybe it was a combination of all three and the fact that I’m starting to be more accepting of this activity being a part of my life now. I’ll never know, because what’s the point dwelling on figuring out things that finally truly work? Isn’t it better and easier to just enjoy them as they are? I think it is…

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Even though this section of the ECT is known to hikers as the most underdeveloped of the entire Trail, it starts off pretty easy with convenient boardwalks and stairs over sudden elevation. Seeing this beautiful boardwalk you might be thinking “what’s the big fuss”, but this only continues for a very short section of the trail and you are soon left with a lot of bog and no conveniences of a typical trail.

 

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You can tell right away that these steps have not gotten much use yet as they are fairly new and a rarity on this trail. You do get an appreciation though for what’s to come in terms of elevation – these were so steep they can seriously do some damage to your quadricep muscles – moreso than the stepper in the gym. Just sayin’ 🙂

 

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I’m not quite convinced that this picture does any justice to the type of climbing that this trail entails, but I am not exaggerating when I say it feels like you are climbing Everest 😉

 

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This was past the “easy” board walk part, it felt like we were on top of one of those mountains – that’s probably because we were, but my ability at orienting myself in my surroundings and then recalling my position later is very limited…. We decided to each try a panorama shot, or rather Randy came up with this idea and I monkey-copied him immediately 🙂 Turns out my camera is pretty darn capable of stitching a decent panorama photo.

 

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We clearly don’t do posed pictures of each other often, unless of course it’s me in the picture (see below) – I am more than willing to put up a little show for a photo shoot 🙂 I was particularly happy about the clouds that decided to make an appearance sometime mid-way. They add so much oomph to the scenery, it’s unbelievable….

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Voilà – she’s in her groove.
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See, always ready to strike a pose. I feel pretty lucky, though, because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of guys willing to switch gears and focus on the lesser beauty than the outdoors 🙂 Girls, I’m telling you, try this trick with the leg – it’s so bloody slimming! I have thunder thighs but you would not guess that from these pictures!

 

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This part of the trail I remember distinctly because it was so very lush that I spent a good moment trying to get down on my knees to capture it. It was right before the biggest stream on the ECT that does not yet have a bridge over it. It really felt like we were walking through some tropical area of the world or some land of the elves (minus the temperatures in the teens – which for end of September in NL is quite a treat but not for tropics).

 

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I had a most amazing feeling walking through this area! It made me think that if I can become this enamoured with a trail in NL (place that I don’t consider an overly exotic place) I can only imagine what’s to come when we head out of the province and explore other places… This was truly an unexpected feeling that I have not yet shared with my partner…. until now that is 🙂

 

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Of course I got down on my hands and knees more than once on this hike! How could I not? The light was perfect and was hitting these mushrooms so beautifully. I’m not an expert on mushrooms and never will be, I’d probably need somebody to confirm the edibility of Chanterelle mushrooms if I was to pick some, out of fear that I confused them for some other highly poisonous mushroom, even though they are very distinctive and easy to recognize. I’m pretty sure this one would kill me if I ate it, but thankfully I was not planning to, I just found it fetchingly beautiful to shoot 🙂

 

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So, here is the river I was talking about earlier – this section has some shaky logs laid on top for crossing. And here is my shoulder – I’m chomping on some seed crackers and cashews.

 

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And another shot curtesy of Randy trying to depict the strength of the flow.

I’m both saddened and happy to say that this is as far as we have gone on this hike – we turned around here and headed back to the car parked in Portugal Cove. It made me sad because I think I’m slowly catching the hiking bug – the one that makes you push and challenge yourself to see how far your body can take you. It seems that the body can, in fact, go to great distances if you only let it – if you limit it with your mind you will only go so far, but let your mind be limitless and the body will not stop – mind over matter, they say.

What made me happy about this unexpected detour was the realization that my partner has my back at all times. When you realize that your safety and your comfort are far more important than any challenge, adventure or CPH you become truly happy and at peace. For me, this happened at this little, yet quite monumental river where Randy scoped the crossability of the river in two different spots only to come back across and say “This is pretty shaky and the water level is quite high – I’m not risking you falling in a getting soaked. We can go back the way we came.” I didn’t object, because I knew if I was to be stupid stubborn about it this hike could have ended up quite terribly – so without a word I agreed. We will certainly come back when the temperatures allow for some toe dipping (intentional or not)!

 

img_20161001_135327527_hdr-02You know this post would not be complete without some food talk, so here it is. I decided to take only fat high snacks on this hike as I am actively trying to switch gears nutrition-wise to become a fat burner. I have mentioned this before in my recipe post for these crackers. – so this was the first time I tried getting all my energy predominantly from dietary fat during a hike. Pretty much everything we eat has traces of carbs, unless of course you are eating pure coconut oil. A serving of these seed crackers has 15g of fat, and both protein and carbs are around 7g each – so most of the energy comes from fat. And let me tell you something, you don’t need a lot of these to feel satiated which is both a curse and a blessing. I don’t know about you but I enjoy the act of eating – I think most everyone does, so the fact that volume-wise there is not that much to chew on takes away from this pleasure. However, from the hiker’s perspective this is a blessing because less volume equals less weight on their back and that would make any hiker happy. But this is a topic for a whole new post….

On this hike I had 30g of these Seed Crackers, 30g of another type made out of chia seeds and 1.5oz of cashews, which I only ate because I felt I wanted to chew for a bit longer – yes, I know, the carboholic in me is strong and is dying a slow painful death, but it’s on its way out, I promise.  

For a more in depth look at Picco’s Ridge and White Horse Paths you can have a look at a post written by my better half titled Should I hike Picco’s Ridge and White Horse