Is hiking in the cards for me after all?

Exactly a year ago we were doing some car camping – after coming to the realization that I might not enjoy hiking/backpacking the way my partner does – I gave it one more try by switching gears a bit. He was resolved to the idea that I would never again accompany him on his hikes. It was a sad day, but he tried to accommodate and in an effort to keep some type of activity in common he offered to take me car camping to see if maybe I’d enjoy that better than hiking. I knew this was not something he was devoted to doing full time, but I appreciated the sentiment. So, on Labour Day Weekend of 2015 we went to La Manche Park to enjoy each other’s company. Long story short – I was one miserable creature – I failed yet again. Everything seemed to be an issue for me : the ground under the tent was slanty, it was cold, it rained quite a bit, I was chewing too much gum and that made me bloated… You name it, anything that could bother me, did – and it showed in my demeanour, I was awfully crooked the whole time. It was probably the last time I went out in the woods for any amount of time. I gave up trying because I simply did not enjoy myself and found all sorts of reasons to dislike it – it didn’t help that I was being accommodated in all sorts of ways – I just didn’t have it in me to let myself enjoy it. So I called it quits – that is, until now.    

My partner had organized a backpacking trip to the Outport Trail in Terra Nova National Park for this year’s Labour Day Weekend. I knew a couple of people had signed up and as the day approached I toyed with the idea of joining in as well. Why all of a sudden I’d sign up for a 50km hike, you ask? Well, I’ve been reevaluating everything I knew about myself, my attitude and most importantly I’ve been awfully jealous of all the photos I’ve been seeing my partner bring home after each and every hike! They were simply spectacular – I didn’t realize Newfoundland scenics could be this beautiful! Every sunset and sunrise, every coastal shot made me ache with longing- my inner photographer missed the time of photo taking trips, the joy of seeing a story unfold in front of me as I reviewed pictures I’d taken that day. Taking pictures of your surroundings and then going through the processing phase to arrive at the final product is such a rewarding act. You feel like a creator of sorts.

As the day of the trip approached I expressed the idea of joining in. My partner was a tad surprised (and probably a bit sceptical ) by my sudden interest but instead of dismissing it he embraced it and offered to do a couple of shakedown hikes to prep me and when the departure day came we packed up and left for Terra Nova.

I should mention that the 50km that we were originally planning to do consisted of: 16km to the first campsite in South Broad Cove to stay overnight, the following day we were going to continue for 8km into an area that was officially closed to hikers so it would have involved a lot of bushwhacking to get through the overgrown parts (think: no board walks and having to cross various streams) – the final destination that we were trying to reach was Park Harbour. The same day we’d turn around in Park Harbour to make it back to South Broad Cove to camp again and the following day return to our cars. I will spare you the mystery right now and let you know that I chickened out when we started on the overgrown section of the trail. We crossed couple of small streams and all I could think of was “We’ll have to cross all this again…” – that thought made me uneasy. I felt very shaky every time crossing the streams – the rocks that we were using to help us cross were very slippery and I remembered the last time I slipped and fell into a stream was not very pleasant.  So I pointed it out and just like that we turned around. On the way back we made it as far as Minchin’s Cove – 14km from the trail head – so a little bit back past South Broad Cove. All in all we hiked about  33km during the weekend.

 

At the start of the hike to South Broad Cove
At the start of the hike to South Broad Cove – this was it – I was going to jump right into a CPH with my two feet. Not a dip, but a full on jump. 

 

Bikers convention at the trail head of the Outport Trail in Terra Nova National Park
This is right at the trail head – as we were approaching it we were passed by a group of very polite children on their bikes – they announced their arrival to get past us and even thanked us for moving out of the way – this was quite advanced for young children and a very pleasant surprise. Once we arrived at the trail head this is the picture we were greeted with and I came to a realization that it must have been some sort of bikers’ convention at the Outport Trail in Terra Nova National Park that we were not aware of or invited to 🙂

 

Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park – right before we arrived at our first campsite in South Broad Cove. This is exactly what I had in mind – finding these unsuspecting shots and making them into memory imprints for the future.  My partner would say something like “Wow, it looks like a totally different place!” and I would reply “That’s because it is, my love :)”

 

South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park – our tent on the platform in South Broad Cove. I must point out that there were not very many platforms around that campsite and he picked the site with a wooden platform. I didn’t really think much of it then, but now I’m thinking that this was one of many accommodations on this trip – there is no way I was going to have an uncomfortable slanty night on this platform 🙂 I actually managed to sleep very well – regardless of the fact that this area of Newfoundland has a real problem with bears. 

 

South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park – these pictures are not very representative of the weather we experienced during this backpacking trip. They give the deceiving impression of wonderful, warm, sunny day – the truth of the matter is that it rained quite a bit on the first couple of days and my feet were constantly wet due mostly to ever so present bogs along the way. I realized that I have a choice to focus on the positive moments rather than the negative ones, so as weather dictated I snapped the pictures every time the rainy clouds dissipated and voilà all you see are the bright, sunny, happy moments. When you decide to focus on the right moments life becomes so much more enjoyable and you no longer feel the cold, wet socks in your hiking shoes 🙂  

 

South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park – this is right across from where our tent was pitched on the platform and this is the direction we went the following morning to try to reach Park Harbour. You can see my partner in the background fetching water…

 

South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park – it was a slow going fire since all the wood was rather wet from the rain the previous day. We did manage to boil some water for some tetley tea. I should mention that I have gotten converted into a black tea drinker. It was such a treat to be able to have a hot cup of tea in the woods. I actually have forgotten to bring some tea with me (even though my kitchen cabinets are filled up to the brim with all sorts of teas). But we were lucky enough to find some tea from a local Café/Convenience Store located in the Terra Nova Park – graciously provided for free by the Café’s clerk. 

 

South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
South Broad Cove, Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park – this was taken on the way back from the measly attempt to make it as far as Park Harbour. 

 

Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park – right before reaching South Broad Cove.

 

Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park – happily catching all the sun flares I could. 

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
South Broad Cove – clouds make a photo so much more interesting than clear sky – they create so much more detail. So don’t be fooled that you will get the best picture on a clear day. Don’t be afraid of clouds, unless of course they are rain clouds – but even then you’re bound to get bright moments that will create the most spectacular scenic pictures. 

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park – even though I cut the trip short I considered this backpacking trip my best hiking experience due to this little spot. The two of us ended up back at this lovely campsite to stay overnight and then headed  back the next day with a little detour at Mt. Stamford. I felt like I had let down the other backpackers by not wanting to go through overgrown parts of the trail, but I felt awfully rewarded by experiencing this spot in all it’s glory. I have to add that the peacefulness of this place made it so much better to enjoy than the hustle and bustle of city life. There was absolutely no wind to speak of and we got beautiful light both at sunset and sunrise. 

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park – this was on the opposite side of the trail – the water was so still and inviting I was seriously considering a dip. 

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park – I could see myself retiring in a place like this, away from noise of everyday life.

 

Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park.

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park – cemetery on the other side of the trail. 

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park – this is just beyond the  campsite. I was surprised to see outhouses spread out all over the campsite equipped with everything you need – quite a luxury if you ask me. 

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park – luckily we are both chasers of the light and we understand the importance of catching it just at the right time. In fact when the light comes out and shows the potential of making the most mundane objects appear beautiful we are quite willing to drop everything we are doing in the pursuit of the perfect shot…

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park – these guillotine like objects are actually not for hanging people, even though they might come across as such. That was my first thought when I saw them for the first time – I figured they must be some left over devices from the middle ages or something. They are in fact for hanging bags of food to keep away from the campsite in case a bear stumbles upon it – this way if the food is hanging way up in the air the bear will not get to it very easily. It’s to protect your supply of food, but also to deter bears and other animals from getting too comfortable with people’s presence.  

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park.

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park.

 

Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park
Outport Trail, Terra Nova National Park.

 

Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park
Minchins Cove, Terra Nova National Park.

The verdict is in and it’s a positive one – we are already planning the next backpacking adventure and I started reading the Appalachian Trail book my partner tried to get me to read so many times before. 

I’ve learned that – like with anything in life – attitude is everything and it can make you or break you. I learned that if I accept the small discomforts of the trail (like wet feet) I am more likely to come out the other end victorious and ready for the next best thing. Same as taking the picture when the light is right – I simply decided to enjoy the beauty of the trail and the company of a loved one – and I’m glad to say that I found my happy place on the trail. The food was right if not a tad too plentiful, the weight on my back was manageable and my shoes were 100 times better than what I was used to wearing before. Not counting a couple of minor breakdowns along the way and the fact that I made everybody turn around before we reached the end,  I still deem this expedition a success and one of many more to come.  

 

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