K2inCanada's Blog

December 2, 2018

Blues at home

Filed under: Canada, Hike, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 6:19 PM

After having to drive to Vernon again last weekend, nobody else has good snow yet, we decided to stay home this weekend. Last weekend’s drive was a bit more snowy than the previous two weekends. And this weekend we saw the first snow in town. So maybe there is hope. Mind you the bit of snow we saw Friday was quite localized around work and I think it was more hail than snow. At least it got me ready for our company Christmas party that evening. The local mountains got a bit more though. Not enough to open any skiing yet but it was a start. Jeff, getting his training in, rollerskied on Saturday while I hiked up Black Mountain. It was a bit slippery on the way down without any crampons or poles but I managed to not fall on mu bum. It was a beautiful day with a mix of sun and clouds and everything coating in fresh white stuff.

Today was even nicer, cold with a high of 7, but not a cloud in the sky. Pretty nice for early December. Apparently Vancouver actually beat Toronto last month in the most hours of sunshine. That’s unheard off :-).

 

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November 7, 2018

Mixed Bag of a Weekend

Filed under: Canada, Hike, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 10:13 PM

Fall – torrential downpour one day and beautiful sunny skies the next. Last Saturday was a lazy day. It rained! Only went for my hike in the morning and was surprised to still see 10 other cars in the parking lot on Seymour. Well beats the sunny days when you can hardly get a spot up there. Anyhow, less cars means less people so a great day for Dog Mountain. It’s not much of an elevation change but the wet and muddy trail still had its challenges and going was slower than I expected. A few people on the trail but overall pretty quiet. A day for mushroom watching and not views :-).

 

In the afternoon we went looking at a slide in camper for our Tacoma but even the fold-able ones will get us close to the payload. How would we be able to take our boats? More thinking is needed, although the campers were nice. Simple AND they had a furnace. Yeah, getting old … I know.

Sunday was a total switch in weather. Blue sky and sunshine till the late afternoon – which came earlier because of the time change. I wish we could stay in daylight savings time all year. It was still dark when I rode into work in the AMthe last two days! Anyhow, went for a walk in the morning while Jeff did his ski erg indoors. We skipped the fishing since the rivers were all washed out after the heavy rain this past week. Last week was the Fall edition of Bike to Work Week  and we always host a pancake breakfast at work on one of the days in the AM – Nov 1 this time. I think this was the first time ever that it was rainy heavy the whole time. I was dressed up in full rain gear carrying pancakes from the grill outside into the lunch area (dressed up a day too late for Halloween :-)) Mind you, we needed the rain after a beautiful but pretty dry October. Back to Sunday, I managed to convinces Jeff to go for a paddle in the afternoon. It was a bit windy, although the forecasted 50km/hr never materialized. Nevertheless, our 2hr paddle felt harder than it should have and we both were sore for a couple of days. Why!?

 

October 27, 2018

Had Company Today

Filed under: Canada, Hike, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 9:59 PM

One last dry day. It started out nice and sunny and I managed to get my friend and former paddling and now swimming buddy Krista out for the usual Saturday morning hike I do while Jeff rollerskis the road. Originally, I was supposed to join her for Crossfit but it was booked out and I really was looking forward to some fresh air after yet another week of hardly seeing daylight rather than sweaty gym. We went to Mt Seymour. It was a bit cooler than the previous weekends but we warmed up quickly on the way up. Krista easily kept pace on the way up and we went to the view point just past Brockton Point and then returned via Mystery Lake. The trail was quite a bit wetter and we were slow to come down on slippery rocks and roots and mud. Great hike though, it was nice to have someone to talk to for a change. Really about time to start our winter swim sessions again :-).

Since we started a bit earlier today I was able to even hit the river for an afternoon paddle. It was no longer sunny but overcast but I managed to finish my 90min 3-bridges paddle just before the rain started.

October 20, 2018

Just another day in paradise

Filed under: Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 6:23 PM

Which I shared with another 100 hikers but that could not taint the good feeling being out in the mountains on a beautiful sunny and warm October day. It should be raining by now but I am going to enjoy the sun as long as it lasts. Hiked up to 1st Peak today on Seymour Mountain. It’s a long time since I did it last in the summer and I was surprised that it only took 2hrs return. Could have been faster with less people on the trail :-). I felt it though afterwards and skipped my paddle. Or maybe I felt the 2 beer I had for lunch? Either way, resting for race day tomorrow.

 

October 13, 2018

Glorious Fall Day – Hike & Paddle

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Hike, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 10:00 PM

Beautiful blue bird day in Vancouver – after a full week of it as well. Didn’t see much of the sun during the week. It’s barely light when I ride into work and almost pitch dark when I left. Fall would be so much nice if the days would be longer. Anyhow, despite me expecting the rain to return for the weekend it didn’t. We don’t get many of these October days! In the morning Jeff wanted to roller ski up Seymour so I went for a short hike up to Brockton Point and back via Mystery Lake and down to Goldie Lake. Seymour was busy with people but I managed to sneak up on a couple grouse on the way to Mystery Lake.

In the afternoon I took my surfski out on the river. It was almost slack tide and I made it down to Arthur Laing Bridge and back going easy.

October 7, 2018

Flashback 2017: Meeting my parents half way

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Hike, Newfoundland&Labrador, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 2:01 PM

This post has taken me a long time, writing and picking pictures out of the thousand I have. But a few weekends at home and rain this fall finally made it possible.

Pre-Trip Notes:

2017 marked the year of Canada’s 150th birthday. It was also my 20th anniversary in this country. Last but not least, my parents picked that year to visit us again since it was their 50th wedding anniversary! This would probably be their last trip to Canada as the long travel time is getting to my mom. Unfortunately they are not getting any younger :-). So, I thought, why not meet them half way. They have been in BC many times before and I didn’t really know how to keep them entertained for 3+ weeks. Discovering a new Canadian province together seemed to be the right idea for all of us. Jeff and I always wanted to see the most eastern province. We had been to Nova Scotia before, for flat water racing in 2004 but we hardly saw anything else but Lake Banook. Hence the idea was born in January to visit Newfoundland & Labrador. 2 weeks over the July 1st weekend to celebrate Canada’s birthday at the other end of the country. Since both, us and my parents love camping, I decided to rent an RV rather than the usual Bed & Breakfast trip that this province is so famous for.  Getting the RV organized though was a bit of a nightmare. There is only ONE place in all of Newfoundland where you can rent RVs and availability was very limited. The 4hr time difference made it difficult to communicate by phone. When I woke up to call before work, they were on lunch break and when I had my lunch break the office was already closed. Island time. By the time we finally got to the booking stage, the unit I picked, 22ft, was already gone and I had to go to the next larger one, 25-28ft. But at least I had the most important thing organized. Since an RV is less mobile, we also purchased a couple cheap mountain bikes at Canadian Tire in St John’s for Jeff and I. The idea was that Jeff and I can still take off and explore while my parents rest. Canadian Tire does hold online purchases for up to two weeks which was petty convenient.  We just had to time it right and hope that the bikes we picked would be available. Worked out almost perfect, except I had to choose a one size smaller bike.

I didn’t find as much time as I would have liked to plan the trip properly. Just printed out some hikes and parks and a list of possible campsite in the different regions but that was it. All I knew was that I wanted to see the Vikings, hike Gros Morne and set my foot onto Labrador. My Dad actually came up with the idea for the first day, Cape St Mary’s, and the evening of the day we left I decided to book us a campsite for the first night in La Manche Provincial Park.

If you rather just look at hundreds of pictures than read the whole story, just click on these two links:

Parts 1: St John’s to L’Anse aux Meadow

Parts 2: Quirpon to St John’s

We left Vancouver for St. John’s, NL on the red eye flight at 11:20PM on Jun 23rd after still working all day and packing in the evening. I can’t remember why but our flight was almost an hour late leaving…

Day 1 – June 24, 2017

… and we only had 45min on our itinerary to switch planes in Montreal. There was a real chance that we would miss out connecting flight – not really how I expected to start off our trip.  Somehow the pilot did make up time in the air and we managed to be almost on time. But then it took another 15min until they let us off that damn plane. Jeff and I were sprinting through the airport for what felt like 30min! The two gates seemed to be at opposite ends and the airport in Montreal is pretty big. Some other passengers from our Vancouver flight who had to catch the same plane somehow managed to get a courtesy ride on one of those electrical terminal carts. When we passed them running, I knew we would be okay. Miraculously, and totally out of breath, we made it. And to my utter surprise so did our luggage which I had been worried about during the 4hr flight to St. John’s.

We arrived on time in St. John’s at just before noon. It was an overcast and a bit drizzly day. My parents wouldn’t arrive till 3PM from London, and our first task was to pick up the RV. The rental place actually offered a pickup service from the airport, which was very convenient, and we got the first taste of the friendliness of the Newfy people.  It wasn’t a long drive. It took a bit of time to get all the paperwork done and get a tour of the RV which, since I booked it, had grown yet another couple feet – to 31ft to be exact or 10m in length. It looked and was HUGE, and Jeff got a bit worried about how to drive this monster through rural Newfoundland. But he got the hang of it very quickly and did all the driving. Quite a luxury accommodation compared to all our other camping trips. It had a separate bed room – for my parents, a toilet – which my parents were very fond of, a shower – we never used other than to store beer, a kitchen with fridge and small freezer and dinner table – which we used every day, some extra seating for when driving – which my parents used, a bed on top of the driver cabin – which Jeff and I used, heat – which I thought we would not have to use but I was wrong, a big fresh water and separate waste water tanks – which we had to empty twice, strong batteries and a backup generator – which we had to use when, while not on external  power, we wanted to use the coffee maker or toaster, a big gas tanks – which we filled up almost every day. Pretty cool.

Next stop was Canadian Tire to pick up the bikes and a small portable BBQ. Turned out, my bike was a bit too small but the person in the store helped us raise the seat up a bit without us having to purchase the required tool. Very nice of him. The RV had a big storage compartment in the back which was accessible from the outside and perfectly fit the two bikes. There were lots of little storage compartments which housed the chairs we rented, the BBQ, any wood we found etc. Quite convenient, actually. Now it was time to pick up my parents. We only got a tiny bit lost driving back to the airport but still arrived in good time. Jeff just parked the monster along the road right in front of the terminal while I went inside to get my parents. Luckily, I did not have to wait long until they made it through customs. Even luckier, nobody chased Jeff and the big RV away while waiting for us – that would have been impossible at YVR. Hugs all around and off we went, officially starting the trip. Oh wait, we stopped one more time to pick up groceries and then were on our way. We drove south on Hwy 10 to La Manche Provincial Park. The weather got worse and it rained in earnest and we could not see much of the country side. The park was busy, it was Saturday after all,  and I was glad I had pre-booked the site. Even more so, since our 31ft RV did fit into the site. When I booked it, the max length specified was 28ft. Despite the damp, I went for a short walk with my mom. Jeff and my dad stayed back to assemble the BBQ. There was no power at the site so tonight’s dinner would be from the BBQ. Meat and potatoes – very German.  Although I seem to remember we had some salad or tomatoes as well:-). We were all tired from the long travel and hit the bed early that evening.

Day 2 – June 25, 2017

I woke up early and it was still wet out. But by the time we finished breakfast and were ready to go, the sun made an appearance and drove the clouds away. With the sun out our energy levels increased and we were eager to get the show on the road. As mentioned before, my Dad had picked day two’s destination, Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve at the southwest end of the Avalon Peninsula. The drive was beautiful through the open plains – wild and empty looking. Lots of water and lots of grass and low brush. I was hoping to see some caribou or moose but neither made an appearance. Driving along the small country roads, with plenty of potholes, in a huge RV wasn’t getting us anywhere fast but it was a great way to travel. Just before we turned off to the Cape the fog hit us. Cape St. Mary’s is known for its nesting bird colonies that are very close to the path for easy viewing. But with this really dense fog I was worried we would get to see nothing.  We stopped in at the visitor centre first and the ranger on site ensured us not to worry – no matter how thick the fog, we would see the nesting rock. It was a bit of a walk to the nesting rock over wet grass and rock. My poor mom wasn’t quite ready yet for a hike but she was such a trooper making it the whole way with only one slip. From then on, no matter how much I said it’s only a short hike, my mom put her hiking shoes on instead of the slippers :-). The walk out was well worth it despite the fog. The nesting rock was right in front of us, less than 10m way and it was full of birds. The main attraction are the Northern Gannets – tons of them. But also Common Murre and Kittiwake seagulls are quite abundant. The Razorbills are a bit harder to find.  We could not see much of the ocean 50m below us. It must be stunning on a bright sunny day when you can actually see the cliffs all the way to the ocean but the fog did have its appeal too. They don’t get very many sunny days the ranger said. My dad and I had secretly hoped to see puffins but we didn’t.

 

It was later than I thought when we hit the road again. The road wound its way right along the ocean with many small villages along the way. The fog mostly stayed out to sea and we were able to take in the sights. Newfoundland turned out to be much hillier than I expected – up the hill down into another cove with a few houses, up again till the next cove and set of houses. Really quite scenic but a bit labourious in a 31ft RV.  Soon it was time to find a place to stay for the night. Our options for possible RV sites were quite limited in the area and we weren’t quite ready yet to just camp anywhere. And so we ended up in Argentia because it was the only campsite on route. Argentia Sunset Park just outside of town wasn’t necessarily a scenic campsite, pretty much just a big open lot but they had plenty of space, the sites had power, it was quiet, washroom facilities were very clean and our site featured a view over the harbour and Placentia Bay to the west. Most importantly, it was sunny and warmish and we had a nice dinner and beers sitting outside the RV while watching the sunset.

Day 3 – June 26, 2017

Again I woke up early – not sure why I never have problems getting up early while on vacation compared to work days :-). The evening before we had found a pamphlet in the office that advertised some scenic trails in the area, mainly bike trails, starting not far from the RV park. It was another beautiful, blue sky, sunny morning and even before my parents got up, Jeff and I took off on our bikes to get some exercise. The first part was easy, down toward the ocean where we found the start of the trail – after some searching and ignoring the “Do Not Enter” sign. From there we went along the ocean on an active logging road until the trail cut inland where it started to go up. Quite a bit more up than I had bargained for. My saddle was still way too low and it was hard work pedaling up to the high point on an old gravel road. We did get to see our destination, Gull Pond, way below us but never reached it. I refused to go all that way down only to have to come back up again. I had enough of going up. On the way back we ended up on some narrower trails, I am sure they were supposed to be walking only trails, and the riding almost got technical for the non-mountain biker I am. No crashes though and we made it back to camp (which was up a hill again, sigh) . Just in time for breakfast with my parents after about 2hrs on the bikes. All in all Argentia, despite not being a destination of note, did provide a great camp 2.

Back on the road we turned more inland to rejoin the TCH – that’s what the Newfies call Hwy#1, and it only goes east and west as far as Newfy directions go, even though I was sure we were traveling almost straight north at that time :-).  Today’s destination was the Bonavista Peninsula. Again the scenery along the drive was quite beautiful but it was a lot of driving. We stopped in at the “must go” tourist attraction of the historic town of Trinity. Jeff almost had my head for suggesting that little detour because the road was VERY, VERY narrow and definitely not made for a 31ft RV. Ooops – I guess if I had done some proper planning I would have known. But all went well, and we made it in and out without running anyone off the road :-). The town itself did not seem that exciting to Jeff and I. Just a few more wooden, colourful buildings. Maybe if we had taken the time to read some of the signs, it would have been more exciting.  My dad wanted to try some lobster lunch in town but neither Jeff nor I felt like eating again and my parents didn’t want to go by themselves. I was sure we would find other, maybe better opportunities to have a Newfy lobster dinner but we actually never did. In hindsight, I felt guilty for not giving my parents the opportunity at that time but to be honest I wanted to get going to get to Bonavista – there was a coastal hike listed in the travel guide with my name on it :-).  And onwards we went towards Bonavista. Just before we got there, we sighted our first iceberg!! Our destination was known for being one of the best places to see icebergs. Bonavista was another town with small roads that needed to be navigated to get to the Cape but Jeff was getting the hang of the beast by now. We drove out to the Lighthouse, quite an impressive square red and white striped design. We saw a couple more icebergs far out to sea and a puffin colony with again no puffins. While my parents drove the RV back the Cape road, Jeff and I walked the trail back along this beautiful coastline. A nice 1.5hr long easy walk before we met up with my parents again. They had checked out the “Collapsed Arch Provincial Park” which was just a pile of rocks – as the name suggested.

Now it was time again to figure out where to camp for the night. There was really only one official RV park along the route and it was small. I called ahead to make sure there was space but it turned out they weren’t even open. Some road got washed out. Oops  now what – backtrack to some other campsites we had passed earlier? Risk a 16km dirt road drive to a nearby Provincial Park? Or just keep going and see what we find? And that’s exactly what we did, we had a self sufficient RV after all, may as well make use of it.  We found this beautiful flat spot along the road with our own gravel beach not far from Amherst Cove I think. Here we spotted our first whales. Jeff and I walked out along the cliffs to get a bit closer to the whales for a picture. Jeff almost lost his flipflops along the way – yeah I know “scrambling in flipflops” – what the hell. Damn tourists. Well, he had to go skinny dipping to retrieve his shoe and I am sure the water was freezing. There were iceberg out at sea!!! Another beautiful sunset and BBQ dinner. And the road was very little traveled at night and we got a great night sleep. Now THIS is camping 🙂

Day 4 – June 27, 2017

Again, I was the first one up and went to explore the area a bit. That’s when I saw the moose crossing the road up the hill. Unfortunately I did not get my camera out in time to take a picture. Moose #1, finally. I had expected to see a moose every day, multiple actually, but we actually didn’t really see that many on the trip. But I am jumping ahead. Tuned out we weren’t the only camper. There was what looked like a more established spot on the other side of the road which had a camper in it. I don’t think anyone was there as I walked by to see if I can find the moose in the bush. Off course I couldn’t. There was room for lots more but our spot had a much better view even though it was visible from the road. It is easy to hide though behind a 31ft RV :-). Another sunny and warm day. Only thing that disturbed the idyllic place was the noise of the generator we had to fire up to use the coffee maker and toaster. The inbuilt version wasn’t a nice quite Honda generator we had seen people use at La Manche.

Today’s main attraction, other than a lot of driving again through this beautiful country, partially along the coast and through tiny colourful coastal villages, was Terra Nova National Park.  All National Park entries were free in 2017 – thanks to Canada’s 150th birthday. Getting to the park was where we encountered our only “traffic jam” on the whole trip. It wasn’t really a jam but we had to go slow for 10-15kms. They were resurfacing the TCH through the park.

We parked near Newman Sound Campground, it was well suited for our huge RV but we would not have to worry – we were the only ones there. Here, my parents and us split up again. Jeff and I going for an easy but longer hike along Newman Sound, 9.5km return Coastal Trail, while my parents explored the area closer to the RV.  Both of us though got a nice feel for the area. Forests, sandy beaches, lots of flowers (I particularly liked the Scrotum Flower and the beds of bunchberry), easy trails. Just no moose. We did discovered our first “Red Chairs” that Parks Canada had placed all across their national parks for Canada’s 150th birthday. We made it a goal to always take a Red Chair picture. With all that sunshine and warmth, it was a near perfect day. My mom’s knee also was getting better (which she hurt on day 2 at St Mary’s when she slipped – I still feel guilty about that but she was such a trooper!).

It was too early in the day though to make camp and we decided to push on along route 320 “Road to the Shores”. More beautiful scenery, rolling hills, tiny coves, colourful villages. We passed all the campgrounds and found us a spot in the middle of nowhere again, right on the ocean, near Anchor Brook half way between Lumsden and Musgrave Harbour.  By the way, in Newfoundland, most creeks/rivers are brooks and most lakes are ponds. Sitting in our chairs while the BBQ was going drinking Iceberg beer, watching the sun set and icebergs float by. Can it get any better – other than having a moose walk through camp? Which, of course, did not happen.

Day 5 – June 28, 2017

We woke up to an overcast sky that morning. Quick breakfast and we were on the road again to make it to Twillingate for an iceberg tour by boat. Of course we hadn’t booked anything but the travel pamphlet that we had picked up at the RV rental said there are a couple operators. Due to the lack of sun, there are way less photos of the drive up even though it was just as beautiful. And we didn’t quite know how long the drive would be either. Once in Twillingate, we drove up to the biggest “Iceberg Tours” sign, “Iceberg Quest”. It looked like they were just about ready to go and lucky for us, they still had room for four. Now we had to find a place to park our monster RV. We took up a few car spots along a small park. All good. Soon after we were on board the vessel and moved out into the bay. The first iceberg was just minutes away from the dock. So cool! Apparently, the pack ice had just left the bay a couple weeks earlier – much later than normal. And yes the air was a bit nippy that day. It felt like we had left summer behind in Terra Nova. We also learned, well Jeff did and he translated Newfy to English and I translated English to German – sure lots got lost in translation 🙂 – that most of the icebergs we visited weren’t actually floating but are stuck on the bottom of the sea, some 70m below us!!! The icebergs towered above the small boat and despite knowing that icebergs main mass is below the water it was still hard to imagine. We also got to taste 10,000 year old ice. Very refreshing despite its age :-). And apparently we just missed the big berg that had moved out to sea again a few days before – we could still see it out there cruising down Iceberg Alley. Iceberg Alley is the reason that you can still see icebergs in Newfoundland till early Summer. It goes all along the east coast of Newfoundland past Bonavista (Day 3) and St John’s and up into the Gulf of St Lawrence. This year, they seemed to stick around even longer than the previous few years (just an off year and not to be confused with global warming ending), which was great for us late June tourists but not so great for the locals because it cut their relative short season even shorter. It was an awesome tour and we got close to quite a few icebergs but missed out on any possible whale sightings.

Back in town we decided to try the local cuisine for lunch. We walked all over town first of course before we settled for a place that looked like the locals would go to. It was pretty busy. Unfortunately no lobster on the menu but some cod dishes. All the fish though was deep fried and actually not all that tasty. My salad, well who orders a salad in a fishing town way up north, seemed to have seen better days. But it filled us up enough and after walking all the way back to the RV on the other side of town, we were on our way again. We checked out the end of the road – Crow Head and Long Point Lighthouse where Jeff and I did a short hike partway down the cliff.

Now it was time to hit the road again and cover some ground. We wanted to get to Gros Morne the next day. It started to drizzle and then to rain on the drive. We were looking for a proper RV site that night to recharge our batteries and ended up in Bishop’s Falls. Not the most scenic site, probably the least scenic site on the whole trip actually, but they had warm showers and there was a Chinese restaurant within walking distance. It was too wet for a BBQ dinner.

Day 6 – June 29, 2017

Lucky for us, it stopped raining sometime during the night. Jeff and I were up early again and took the bikes for a spin. Bishop’s Falls is situated along the Exploits River, a well known Atlantic Salmon River and Jeff wanted to have a look-see. Took a bit of searching until we found access to the river. It was a pretty wide, slow moving river in that particular spot, more like the lower Fraser without all the industrial parts, and sure did not look like this great fishing river Jeff had read about. Oh well, at least we were able to stretch our legs a bit before the long, long, long drive to Gros Morne National Park, all of it on the TCH. In theory, if you would go the speed limit, the drive would be about 3hrs but the big RV started rattling pretty badly at speed above 90km/hr. So it took a bit longer. But the clouds opened up as we went west and the sun made an appearance again and by the time we made it to the park it was mostly sunny. We headed into the southern portion of the park first. It definitely was more “mountainous” in the park than what we had seen till then. First stop was the Discovery Centre to get the lay of the land and get some advice on the best hikes in the park. There were so many but the ranger suggested Gros Morne Mountain, the longest of all hikes, as one of her favourites which as it happens was close to the campsite we had pre-booked at Norris Point – booked the night before on my dad’s tablet since it (a) was THE long weekend after all, (b) all National Park sites had already been booked solid and (c) we had a 31foot RV. I thought we were lucky that we still found a spot for our monster RV at the Norris Point KOA. It was still early in the day when we arrived in the park, only 2:30PM, enough time to do a couple shorter hikes. First off, Jeff and I did the Lookout Trail that started right at the Discovery Centre which provided an awesome view of the area and Bonne Bay. And of course there were Red Chairs at the top. The wind was a bit chilly but the sun was out in full force and it was a beautiful little 5km loop which took us about an hour. Not too steep, although too steep for my mom. My parents stretched their legs on some lower trails.

Then we drove another 15min down the road to do one of the parks most iconic hikes and UNESCO World Heritage Site, “Tablelands”. Here you can experience the power of the earth. The geology is quite unique. Caused by colliding continents, a different set of rock was pushed towards the surface in ancient times. Almost nothing grows here and the red rubble/mountain does seem almost out of place in the otherwise very green park. Since this hike was classified as easy, flat 4km return, my parents didn’t get a choice but had to come with us. Their first real hike at over 70 – I hope I can still do that much when I am that age. The hike was really beautiful – not only did the alien looking landscape catch our eyes but also the abundance of pitcher plants along the trail. And even the rain catching up with us on the way back could not wipe the “wow” off my face. We all were a bit wet – worst off my dad who did not bring a coat along :-).

Now it was time to get to our campsite which was on the north side of Bonne Bay. It was quite a drive (~2hrs) to get there but with lots of beautiful scenery to look at along the way never boring. And we saw a black fox along the road but no moose – again. The KOA at Norris Point was a ways out of town but it was quiet and the sites were spacey, had power and provided quite a bit of privacy, being surrounded by bush. We even started a fire, well tried to. It was a bit damp and even though we had collected the wood on day 2 when it was sunny, it was a bit of a smoky affair. But the beer does taste so much better when sitting around a campfire, especially since the rain had also brought on some colder temperatures. Another BBQ dinner night.

Day 7 – June 30, 2017

A non-travel day and we had all day to explore more of the park. My parents took this as a rest day finding a nice walk around a pond right next to the campground, while Jeff and I jumped on our bikes to ride to the start of the Gros Morne Mountain hike, a 16km loop and almost 800m of elevation. Gros Morne Mountain is the 2nd highest mountain in Newfoundland, missing out on 1st place by just 8m :-). We were actually lucky to be able to do this hike – it is usually closed from May till the end of Jun to protect the local wildlife raising their young (ptarmigan and fox). Jun 30th was it’s opening day that year. Getting to the trailhead was super easy – just down the big hill. I was a bit worried about how to get back up after finishing a 16km hike but those thoughts were pushed to the back of my mind as we started the hike. It was a 10-15C day with a mix of sun and clouds, pretty ideal for hiking. The first 4km are fairly flat and the trail winds its way through forest and bush with the occasional view of your destination. Once you reach the bottom of the climb, where the loop starts, it’s a steep 500m straight up to the mountain top. But you can stop every so often to enjoy great views over Bonne Bay and the Tablelands to the south. As you ascent, you are entering the harsh but beautiful Arctic-alpine environment of moss and alpine flower or for the first bit just simple crushed rock. The views are amazing and once on top the hiking is easy again. You walk along the fairly flat summit for a while till you reach the drop off to Ten Mile Pond and the long Range Mountain Chain – stunning. Here we sat for a while and Jeff got the binoculars out to find moose. And he actually found one – far, far away on the other side of the lake and hardly visible even with the binoculars. Apparently the moose population in Gros Morne is huge, over 3000 strong so we better had to see one. Moose are actually not native to Newfoundland but were introduced over a century ago. Due to the abundance of food and few natural predators they have almost become a pest, turning a mature forest over a few decades into open, sparse woodland as their main diet consists of young trees and brush. Now there are programs in place to actively manage the moose population, via controlled hunting and the park shows signs of recovery. Some areas are fenced in to keep moose out and the difference in underbrush is amazing. Besides moose, the park also features caribou, black bears and foxes of which we saw nothing on this hike. You descend down the mountain a different way than you came up. There were actually stairs near the top. This is where most of the arctic plants started up. We saw some moose tracks at the bottom of the stairs and as we slowly worked our way across the mountain side through tundra and stunted trees, the Newfy term for it is “Tuckamore”, I all sudden smelled – cow or maybe moose!? We rounded a little bend and there he was! A male moose not 20m above us on the hill, two actually. I was stunned. So close! I am sure they knew we were there but could not be bothered and kept eating away. I could not believe my luck. We stayed with them for a few minutes. A couple other hikers came up behind us and watched as well. UNBELIEVABLE! Eventually we moved on towards Ferry Gulch and the way down past another little pond with a rustic wilderness campsite on it. Newfys take the term “outhouse” to the extreme. It’s a door, the rest of it is open to the elements :-). From here it was an easy hike down to the bottom of the mountain and back to the parking lot – what a fantastic hike. It took us just over five hours. Now came the hardest part. We had to ride our bikes back up this long hill. It wasn’t too steep of a hill but with my saddle being way too low it was too much for me and I had to walk a bit of it. Took quite a bit longer on the way back but the hike was well worth it.

Back in camp my parents were waiting for us. They had a quiet relaxed day which was what they needed. We took the RV and drove into Norris Point. Someone at the campground told us that you can catch a water taxi across Bonne Bay and visit historic Woody Point. But it was too late in the day unfortunately. So we just had a late lunch – an assortment of snacks of which the deep fried cod bites were the best we had on the trip. We continued on to Lobster Cove to visit yet another lighthouse and strolled around in the area. The weather was getting more and more overcast. I believe this is also the same evening where we ate at Jackie’s Restaurant in Rocky Harbour (or it was the night before). A tiny little place, which felt more like someone’s living room than a restaurant that had a nice view of the ocean. The food though, wasn’t all that great. We spent the evening in the RV planning the next day. The same someone who told us about Woody Point had also suggested to visit Western Brook Pond – the one that is in the TV commercial and was the reason I wanted to see the park in the first place, I just didn’t know it was called Western Brook Pond. There was a 3km easy walk to the pond and then a boat ride to the end of it. Perfect for the 4 of us to do together. The pamphlets we had picked up at the Discovery Centre had the boat departures listed and it also said that reservation is highly recommended. Of course we did NOT make a reservation.

Day 8 – July 1, 2017

Happy Birthday Canada! We woke up to a mix of sun and clouds and it looked promising for our trip to Western Brook. We took off early to catch the first boat tour of the day at 10AM. The walk to the boat launch was stunning. The trail amazing – boardwalk through the wetlands and gravel through the forestry portions. Most of it was wetland with view of the mountains on the horizon. I was fascinated by all the sundew along the trail and we took our sweet time. We arrived at the boat launch an hour before the boat was supposed to leave and we actually still got tickets. Unbelievably lucky since the tour had been 98% booked out!  And I am glad we did not miss out on this. The boat tour takes about 2hrs through this iconic freshwater fjord with its stunning billion year-old cliffs and waterfalls cascading over 650m meter high walls. Jeff and I got a spot right in front and the best views. It could have been a tad warmer but otherwise it was a picture perfect day with the sun driving the clouds away more and more. From the tip of the fjord one can actually do a multiple day hike back to Gros Morne Mountain through the Long Range Mountains which must be amazing. But we took the boat ride back, sigh.

The sun was out in full force for the walk back and the landscape seemed even more beautiful. Back at our RV we started heading North. We made one more quick stop in the park to look at Shallow Bay – featuring a beautiful  white sandy beach. I went for a short walk but the other three just sat in the sun for bit. We continued on North along A430.  The next stop wasn’t too far away, Arches Provincial Park. A nice 3-arch rock formation right on the ocean. Well worth a quick stop and off course Jeff and I had to climb up on it :-).

Route 430 actually winds its way along the ocean the whole way and the views are quite spectacular on a sunny day. We had planned to stay near Hawke’s Bay at an RV park along the Torrent River, another river famous for its Atlantic Salmon run. When we drove into the campground it looked pretty busy. They had a big potluck going on from the looks of it. Obviously, we had not booked ahead and even more obviously, it was July 1st and a long weekend. This place seemed to be popular with the locals and was fully booked. Or maybe they did not want to deal with any newcomers during their Canada’s 150th birthday celebration gathering. But they suggested another RV park in Port au Choix. It wasn’t quite along our “planned” route but it was only a short 30-40km sidetrack. With the hwy so close to the ocean, we did not see any good spots to just pull off for the night either. And so we were on our way to Port au Choix, a small headland sticking out into the Gulf of St Lawrence. The RV park was pretty much a big parking lot but it was almost empty and right along the ocean with spectacular views, just outside of town. The person who booked us in was super friendly. Shortly after we parked the big RV, someone from town drove by to invite us to the Canada Day bonfire in town which would be lit up around 10PM. We had some time to kill.First we walked the rocky beach for a bit to look at fossilized something, then sat around, drank beer, had dinner and chatted with the camp host. He told us about the caribou that sometimes come into town in the evening or had recently been hanging out around the French Cultural Centre on the way to Richie Point lighthouse.

So Jeff and I hopped on our bikes and road out towards the lighthouse. It was maybe a 15min ride to the cultural centre. It was already closed and there were no caribou in sight. Since we were already here we decided to continue on towards the lighthouse. It was after all such a beautiful sunny evening. And that’s when we saw her – a female caribou just 100m or so off the road. Yeah! We watched her for a little bit and then rode on towards the lighthouse which was quite a nice one and it had Red Chairs! We sat down for a bit and watched the whales blow out at sea. It was a gorgeous spot, really. Who knew! I can highly recommend making this little side trip of 30-40km when on the way up to L’Anse aux Meadows. We saw the caribou cow again on the way back, even closer. She seemed to be used to visitors. Back in town, the fires were being lit. There were two. The first one we came to was made of old lobster traps. It was huge and the burning traps sure were a sight to see. We rode back to the RV park to get my parents. My mom was too tired but us and my dad walked back to town and joined the closer by bonfire. It was smaller, no lobster traps but it also featured music, a guy in a hockey jersey playing the guitar. There were a lot of people, bringing their booze with them – nobody seems to care. There were lots of kids running around – they were fun to watch. Everyone knew  everybody, except us. Quite a way to experience Canada’s 150th birthday in a small fishing town along the Gulf of St Lawrence. It could have easily been 1867.

Day 9 – July 2, 2017

I woke up quite early, just after sunrise, and went for a stroll through town on my own. The early morning light made for some great pictures and with the exception of a couple fishermen I seemed to have the town to myself.

Before we got back onto the highway north, we went out to Richie Point one more time. This time in the RV bringing my parents along, with the faint hope of maybe seeing the Caribou again. And guess what, we did see her again and this time she had male company. They came quite close crossing the road and then we lost sight of them. We drove to the lighthouse to have breakfast and for Jeff and I to do a short hike along the ocean through limestone barrens with rock formations that looked like dinosaur poop. Took lots of pictures of rocks and flowers and ocean and ran out of battery the moment we saw the two Caribou again. Well I got a couple shots off when they were coming towards us but when they literally walked right by us, the camera went dead. We could have almost touched them. I guess they are quite used to people and probably do get treats here and there. Port au Choix definitely was an unexpected highlight of the trip.

We continued on along Route 430, the Viking Trail, up the Great Northern Peninsula. For the most part the road follows the ocean and you can get a glimpse of Labrador across the Gulf of St Lawrence. As we traveled north, the sky clouded over more and more. Eventually the road turned inland towards the eastern tip of the Peninsula, towards L’Anse aux Meadow and the Vikings. When we reach the end of the road, we still had enough time left to visit the National Historic site. But man was it ever cold – quite a difference from when we left Port au Choix in the morning . It was overcast and windy. And  of course we could see icebergs out to sea. It felt like zero degrees! We quickly dug out toques and gloves and warm sweaters. We first explored the visitor centre to warm up before going outside again to see the reconstructed Viking village. They did a really good job. Even “real” Norse men were around to answer any questions one may have. Usually they walk around outside but that day, they were huddled up in the hut with the fire place :-).   It was very interesting but a few degrees warmer would have made a world of a difference. It was July 2nd for crying out loud! I am sure I saw some flurries near the end.

We found an RV park in Quirpon, not too far away. By now it had started raining and it was quite miserable. The RV park was right near a lake but it was to miserable to explore much. Some of the sites in the trees, tent sites, still had snow in them! Hence that day, we huddled up in the RV, fired up the furnace, read our books, played some dice games and drank beer. I also looked up the ferry to Labrador on my dad’s iPad. I was worried it would be hugely expensive to take a 31foot RV onto a ferry for a one day trip, being used to BC Ferries prices, but was pleasantly surprised that it was only $67 one way. So we finally made the decision to catch the 2:30PM ferry the next day if they have room for us. There is only one ferry that goes back and forth 5 times a day.

Day 10 – July 3, 2017

Luckily the rain had stopped, even though it was still cloudy out. I was up first again and went for a walk along the road for a bit to explore one of many wood piles along the road. You see them everywhere along the road. Nicely stacked piles of cut wood. I was wondering who they would belong to – we never took any. This one even had some kind of primitive lumber saw setup so I went in to take some pictures. Sure enough, it took only a few minutes and a pickup truck stopped along the road eyeing me suspiciously. Obviously the locals thought I am a wood thief :-). So I left before I got arrested for stealing the soul of a wood pile taking pictures.

Since we still had plenty of time before catching the Labrador ferry, we decided to explore St Anthony and do the Dare Devil trail, 400 steps up a cliff near the lighthouse. But somewhere along the way  we must have taken the wrong turn and we ended up in, I think, Goose Bay. Another dead end. Clouds were still hanging low over the town and bay but it wasn’t raining so we got out to walk around. We are here already, why not explore a bit. There was a nice flat trail out towards the ocean and a viewing platform. It was not nearly as cold as the day before and the views were quite nice. Of course there were more icebergs to watch :-). By the time we turned around the sun had started to push the clouds away. And when we finally found St Anthony and Fishing Point Lighthouse and the Dare Devil Trail, it was bright sunshine and blue sky! We made it up the 400 stairs, my parents stayed below, and enjoyed a quick look over St Anthony Bay and the open ocean.

Now it was time to head back south and try to get onto the ferry to Labrador. On the drive across to the west side of the northern peninsula we got to see another moose running along the road. The only road moose we ever saw and lucky for us it cut into the bushes and not across the road.  The west coast was quite foggy. We made it to St Barbe in good time and, yay, they still had room for our monster RV. The MV Apollo arrived on schedule and after a not too long wait we were on our way to Labrador. The crossing takes 1hr45min and we did not see a thing – it was totally foggy with zero visibility. I was sure we would hit an iceberg. But we didn’t and arrived on time in …Quebec!  Blanc Sablon, is where the ferry terminal is and that’s in Quebec. But it is less than a 5min drive to Labrador from there. Well, it would be less than 1min if not for all the potholes. Now in Newfoundland the roads weren’t always in the greatest shape but they were safe to drive on. In Labrador, the potholes were gigantic and deep, and I would have bet money on us getting a flat tire. We had no idea if we even carried a spare, never mind how to jack up a multiple ton, 31foot long RV. Oh well, we were here now and we weren’t going to turn around without exploring at least a little bit of Labrador. On we went, slowly, to avoid the worst of the potholes and because it was still foggy. But as we traveled north the fog moved further out to sea and we started to see a bit of the rugged landscape. As always, I hadn’t really made any plans on where to stay for the night. There wasn’t anything obvious in any of the small towns and we worked our way up to Pinware River Provincial Park. And as usual, we totally lucked out with that place. It was in the sun, right along the ocean, beautiful sandy beach, easy to get in spots and hardly anybody there. Just no power but we had plenty of charge on our batteries. We even managed to get a smoky fire going – very nice. A great place for our one and only night in Labrador. Jeff and I took our bikes for a quick spin and I finally found someone with tools to lift up my saddle. There was a guy with a motorcycle who was on his way to Labrador City and you don`t do that trip without tools. So finally, I could ride my bike without the knees hitting my chest :-).

Day 11 – July 4, 2017

The day started out overcast again but no rain. We still had most of the day to explore before we had to catch the ferry back. Hence we headed north to Red Bay and the end of the “paved” road. The landscape was quite beautiful. A bit more hilly than Newfoundland and even more remote, desolate looking. I loved it. Red Bay is a small town. It originated as a whaling station for the Basque fisherman in the 1500’s that traveled across the Atlantic from southwestern France and northern Spain in the hunt for whales. Whales provided a source of oil for fuel and lamps, and the oil was in high demand in 16th century Europe. Today Red Bay is a National Historic Site (http://www.historicsites.ca/red-bay/?gclid=CjwKCAjwnLjVBRAdEiwAKSGPI2Ihs4IfjM6QiI1QpBZ2HX0bKgzejmOhdXOjZB4PR8_VxAsC4Mf5bhoCoIIQAvD_BwE) and the museum is well worth a visit. We spent a good couple hours to explore the exhibition. Because it is all in English, my parents didn’t quite spent that much time at the museum and went for a walk through town. Except I did not know that and when it was time to leave, I could not find them. Jeff and I split up to search for them. It didn’t take long until I managed to catch up with them. Red Bay is not that big :-). We were on a road right next to the bay when all sudden a Minke Whale surfaced right beside us. Wow! We only saw him once but it was so cool to see the whales return to a place where they had almost been hunted to extinction.

The weather had improved a bit too and the sun was trying to break through the clouds. We stopped in for a short hike to Whalebone Beach on the other side of the bay. My dad and I went to the beach to search for whale bones that had been left here for hundreds of years while Jeff ran up the stairs to a lookout. Well, we did find some very old looking bones but not very many and by far less impressive that I had expected. No full whale rib cages or skulls. What we saw made sense, given that these are hundreds of years old but both my dad and I were a bit disappointed. The view over Red Bay and the old whaling stations was quite nice though. Jeff was happy with his run and we met right where our trails had separated.

Back on the road, navigating potholes. Actually they were less bad than they had been between the ferry terminal and Pinware River. Now with the sun out once in a while, the country we drove through looked beautiful and Jeff and I fell in love with Labrador for no real good reason but we both wanted to come back here. We made one more stop along the way to have a look at Point Amour Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site, featuring the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada, 109feet/33m high. We could see our ferry coming across the Gulf. And we saw big groups of seals charging through the water just off the beach. Last but not least we were entertained by a ground hog. We also passed a ancient burial mound of a Maritime Archaic Indian girl but there was not much to see.

Now it was time to head to the ferry terminal to catch the last ferry across for the day. This time though, the boat was pretty busy and we were 13th in line for standby. No chance we would get onto that ferry with our 31foot RV, I thought. But Labrador ferry workers are 100 times more efficient than BC Ferries ferry workers. Not only did they squeeze our 31foot RV into that boat but another semi truck AND trailer. It was tight and they made Jeff back up and go forward a few times to optimize the loading. Nobody got left behind! AMAZING. And we pretty much left on time too. I would have given the guy who got us on a big hug if I could have found him on the boat! It would have been a big rush to get back to St John’s if we had missed this ferry. Instead we had plenty of time to explore more. The crossing was much more exciting this time as well. It was flat calm and sunny and we spent the time outside watching icebergs, fishing boats, many whales and a pod of dolphins. There was so much going on in the Gulf of St Lawrence, the time of the crossing just flew by.

From the ferry terminal we headed south back to the northern tip of Gros Morne National Park, about a 2.5-3hr drive. We had hoped to get a spot at the National Park campsite at Shallow Bay and got lucky once more. They had plenty of space. They also had plenty of mosquitoes.  Especially at the entrance booth where we booked in.  Poor Jeff had to get out of the RV to pay since we did not want all those mosquitoes inside the RV. He got attacked right away. We almost decided to just leave and find a different campsite. Lucky for us though, the mosquitoes weren’t nearly as bad at the actual camp site. We were able to eat outside without being eaten and then went for a nice evening stroll along the beach and watched a beautiful sunset.

Day 12 – July 5, 2017

We woke up to brilliant blue skies, sunshine and nice warm temperatures. Despite having a long drive ahead of us, we wanted to get close to Terra Nova for the night, we had enough time for one last hike in Gros Morne National Park. Jeff and I picked Bakers Brook Falls, a 10km return hike to a beautiful waterfall, while my parents picked a couple shorter loops around Berry Hill Campground. The hike to the falls was nice and easy through a mix of forest and wetlands with only little elevation gain and some nice views towards Gros Morne Mountain to the east and the ocean to the west. The falls themselves were actually made up of several drops. Quite impressive.

We were back at the RV 2.5hrs later. My parents were sitting in front of it enjoying the sun. The rest of the day was spent driving. Only stops were for gas (yep, we did that a lot), coffee for my mom and ice cream for the rest of us and shopping for food. It was a nice day and the drive was uneventful. Question was where to stay that night. I guess we could have pushed on to Terra Nova to stay at Newman Sound but I had found a note about this little rustic campsite just north of Gambo that was situated along one of the famous angling rivers, Middle Brook River, called “David Smallwood’s Rustic Campground”. And rustic is was. All the fully serviced sites were already booked out but we found a nice site close to the river. Just down a steep bank, there was a little waterfall and ponds full of – fly fishers. We watched them for a while and walked along the banks for a bit. It was such a nice night. I sat along the falls to see if I can spot a salmon jump. I didn’t see any. Neither did I see anyone catching fish. There seemed to be way more fishermen than fish. It was still early in the season.

 

Day 13 – July 6, 2017

Another beautiful sunny day and actually quite hot. We stopped in at the Terra Nova Discovery Centre where my parents found stuff to do while Jeff and I went for a hike to Blue Hill Pond along the Goowiddy Trail and then down into Buckley’s Bay, combining forest, wetland and ocean views. Goowiddy is a low shrub of the laurel family but there was a lot of plant life along the way and we could not figure out which one was Goowiddy. Hence I took lots of pictures for later :-). After about 2.5hrs we met up with my parent again and drove to Sandy Pond. There was a short, 3km level hike around the pond and we dragged my parents along for it. Actually they came quite willingly. My mom and dad had started to develop hiking legs and it was such a beautiful day for a stroll. We took our sweet time and all was good. I had hoped to see some beavers or moose but no such luck. Even the frogs, which we could hear, were nowhere to be seen. We tried hard to spot one.

From here we headed south again towards the Avalon Peninsula. We were hoping to get onto a Puffin tour on our last full day in Newfoundland. Witless Bay Ecological Reserve is a small set of 4 small islands just to the south of Bay Bulls. The reserve contains North America’s largest Atlantic puffin colony. More than 260,000 pairs of the province’s official bird nest here during the late spring and summer. They come for the same tiny fish that all the humpback and minke whales come up here for each year. So we may also see whales although it was still early in the season for whales. I found this RV park, The Celtic Rendezvous, in some brochure promising awesome ocean views. It was a bit of a drive to find and we had to navigate down into Bauline East but they had space for our monster RV. The RV park was just one big parking lot but the views were quite nice. Most of the area was a hotel and they were booked out for a wedding. So we did not have access to the showers but the RV site did have water and power. What else would we need. Also, the very friendly host booked us on a Puffin Tour for the next day on the “Molly Bawn”. We were all set. After dinner, Jeff and I went for a short walk through town where we picked up a new friend – a most friendly dog, who happily followed us all the way back to the RV park. It almost looked like he wanted to be our tour guide :-). He stuck around our campsite for a while. Too bad my mom had gone to bed early that night. She would have loved that guy.

We shared the campground with a couple other RVs, same size as ours, and sat around the bonfire with some of the locals. They had just come back from spending the winter in Florida and we shared our stories. Newfies are quite a proud and friendly bunch of people for sure.

Day 14 – July 7, 2017

Puffin Day!!! And it promised to be a nice one. A bit breezy but the sun was out again in full force. It was a bit tricky to find parking for our huge RV near the boat launch and we had to walk for quite a bit and were almost late arriving. But there were only about 10 people on that little boat. It was tiny and very cute. Off we went. Our tour guide, Jeannine, was German but has been in this area for a few year doing these tours. One could tell she loved it. The ride was a bit bumpy. I was the first to spot the whale – 2 humpback whales came up and checked out the boat. I was in heaven. They were right beside us and you could see them turn under water to look up at us. Bingo!!! We hung around as long as we could but at the end we were on this tour to see the puffins. On we went to one of the islands, Green Island, I think. As we got closer, there were hundreds of birds in the air – besides puffins there a Kittiwakes, common murre and other sea bird. Some were resting on the water but none were ever sitting still enough for pictures. Especially the puffins always either dove away or flew away.  Finally at the island we saw bald eagles – which was bad news because they make the puffins hide in their burrows or fly away. We saw Kittiwake and their just day old chicks. And we did see puffins up on the cliffs, quite a lot of them but I needed a better zoom and much calmer conditions to get any good pictures. Jeannine actually was much more lucky than me and Molly Bawn does always share all their pictures which was great! It was amazing to see this many birds though and way too soon we had to return to shore. The tour was only 2hrs long but I can highly recommend the crew of the Molly Bawn!

We still had half a day left, a beautiful sunny day at that. We decided to explore more of the Avalon Peninsula and headed south on Route 10. First stop was Ferryland. To get close enough to the Point and the lighthouse to not make this a major hike, we had to navigate a very narrow, gravel road in our monster RV. Well, Jeff had to. The guide had mentioned it would be a narrow road but it had failed to say, RVs should not go there. Jeff was not happy with me, thinking we would have to back up all the way back since there was no way to turn the thing around.  We eventually made it to a place where we could park and turn around the RV. From there, my dad, Jeff and I walked for a kilometer or so out to the lighthouse. It was still quite windy but the views were nice enough. The lighthouse actually offers “pick-up lunch packages”, if you pre-book. People were sitting all around the lighthouse along the slopes eating lunch. Quite an interesting concept really and if not for the wind, a nice day to do it too.

We carried on south towards “Chance Cove” Provincial Park. I didn’t really know what to expect but it was another provincial park on the map that could be worthwhile to explore I thought. Nobody had any better idea and so we went. The thing I did not know was the fact that the last bit was on gravel road. When we turned off the Hwy onto the gravel Jeff immediately asked, “How far?” I didn’t really know the answer but kind thought it might be 4-5km. I did know if I tell Jeff it would be this far, he would not want to go. So I kinda said “Does not look far on the map”. I could see the doubt in his eyes but he went with it. It was slow going but the road actually wasn’t all that bad, I thought :-). And when we finally reached the end of it, the whole parking lot was full of large camping trailers, some of them dwarfed our RV! This isn’t an actual campsite but you are allowed to camp in the parking lot apparently. All of those trailers seem deserted. We were the only people there. We still could not see what the attraction was but after a short walk up a small rise the views opened up onto this large bay with a long gravel beach and green meadow in behind. It was screaming moose country – but we didn’t see any. Definitely was quite beautiful – in the sun. As we gazed over the meadows, the beach and the ocean, we saw a whale blow in the distance. And then another one, and one more and …. many more. There must have been 30 whales in that bay feeding, breaching, fin flapping. AMAZING.  Unfortunately they were quite far out to sea. Jeff and I hiked up to the tip of the bay to get a bit closer view. We must have watched the show for over an hour, until it was time to head back. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Making Jeff drive the big RV on a gravel road for 5km each way and risking a flat tired on our last day had proven to be worth it :-).

Day 15 – July 8, 2017

Here we go. Our last day in Newfoundland and we woke up to thick fog and a light drizzle. We still had almost all day before our flight but had to return the RV in the morning. That meant we had to dispose of the “Black Water”. If you don’t own a trailer you may not know what that means. The RV has 3 tanks. One for fresh water, one for grey water (kitchen sink water) and one for black water (yep, the toilet stuff goes here). So you empty the black water first and then rinse everything with the grey water. Lucky for us they had provided gloves. And even more lucky, we only had to do this once at the very end of the trip. Hallelujah to a 31foot RV and large water tanks :-). I prefer outhouses over having to empty black water to be honest.

We had planned to leave the luggage at the RV rental and pick it up on the way to the airport later that day after exploring St John’s for a bit. In theory that would not have been an issue but the airport is on the opposite side of town and the guy who had rented us the RV came up with the brilliant idea of calling “The Rooms” and ask if they would store our luggage. And they said yes. I had no idea what “The Rooms” are. Figured it was some kind of hotel. Wasn’t even sure I understood our friendly driver – i think his name was Gary – correctly. But the place was located right in the middle of St John’s. We again got a free ride to that place by the RV rental people. Their in-person customer service sure made up for all the trouble I had booking the RV via email and phone.

Turned out that “The Rooms” are part museum and part archives. Pretty cool actually and a great place to spent a rainy day. But of course me and my dad, had to go and explore. So we all walked down towards George Street. By now it was really raining, and it was windy, and it was cold. All those colourful building that St John’s is so famous for didn’t quite look all that bright. The right thing would have been to hunker down somewhere and get drunk. But not my dad and I. We split up again to meet a couple hours later at one of the bars. Jeff and I headed towards The Battery and up Signal Hill to get a view of the city and my dad and my mom went to explore the ocean front. It was quite a long walk. We could not even see the top of the hill. And eventually we gave up and jumped onto the free tourist bus back into town. We were soaked to the bone. My parents were already at the pub. My mom looked miserable and her and Jeff both agreed that next time they would just send my dad and I out into the rain alone :-). Damn explorers! Anyways, we wrapped up the trip with a couple good beers, some okay food, and some excitement when the awning outside the pub collapsed under all the rain water that had been collecting in it :-). St John’s sure did not show itself from its best side. Rain when we arrived, rain when we left. But all the in between more than made up for it. And traveling by RV was a great way to explore the land and to some extend its people. Jeff and I will be back some day.

The flight home, Vancouver that is, was uneventful and long but without any sprinting between gates in Toronto.

September 30, 2018

It’s Fall alright

Filed under: Canada, Hike, Hummer, Kayak, Paddle — K2 in Canada @ 8:40 PM

Well, it’s been 1.5 weeks since we are back from our kayaking trip and we had a beautiful week of sunshine – Monday through to Friday – of which I saw nothing but the lovely sunsets on my ride home from work and two more or less rainy weekends. Today is the worst of the rainy days, hence I am killing time blogging rather than going outside. Mind you I dragged my butt out for a short paddle up the Fraser during a less hard rain period. It was only a small outgoing tide but the current made me work hard up to the train bridge. Coming back was quick but not quick enough and the rain caught up with me 🙂

Last weekend, Jeff did his training roller ski up Cypress Mountain and I used the opportunity to hike up Mt Strachan. It was a wet day and the mountain top was in the clouds with the odd shower. The trail up the front side of Mt Strachan after going up the skin run (I usual use this as the down when I do the loop) was one big creek. There was sooo much water coming down. But my good hiking boots kept my feet dry and my new Helly Hanson coat kept me and my camera dry. There were lots of blueberries in the meadows but no bear. I was very tired by the time I made it to the top – more than I thought I should be after an hour of hiking up with only 550m elevation gains. Jeff’s ski also was slow. Maybe a 7 day kayak trip takes more out of me than I want to admit. :-). Sunday I went for a short paddle on the Fraser – my shoulders were still tired!

As mentioned last week was sunny and warm and beautiful and stuffed with too much work. Only got to see the sun for the two 10min basketball games. As every year I put in a team for the Alpha Madness 3 on 3  basketball team. This year there were very few teams and I missed the first game. But my team won! So we had two more games this week since we made it into the semi finals, which we lost, and the bronze medal game, which we lost. Maybe I should not have played :-). Below a couple sunset shots – I missed the best one which happened on Monday.

 

Yesterday, I went back hiking Mt Strachan. The right direction this time, coming up the back side from the Cypress Bowl trails. I felt much better and made good time. It also didn’t rain and the trail was much drier. Unfortunately though the sun we had all week long was hiding behind the clouds and the pictures below don’t do the fall colours any justice. Again no bears. A lot of people were on the trail, usually I only see a couple. That may explain why the bears are hiding during the day. There are still lots of berries and I am sure those belong to the bears early in the morning and the late evening :-). Since the forecast for Sunday was a wet one, I even got in an hour paddle on the Fraser in the afternoon.

 

Last but not least – hummer update. There seemed to be a different one coming by our feeder these days. I wasn’t able yet to get any good pictures since he is a very shy one. Maybe some of my readers recognize him? The frequency is much less than over the summer as I noticed my feeders don’t empty any more.

 

September 9, 2018

Some biking, some hiking, some camping, some paddling

Filed under: Animals, Bike, Canada, Hike, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 6:54 PM

Labour Day Long weekend last weekend, Sep 1-3, and we managed to squeeze in all our favourite things to do except campfire nights. Fire ban is still on. Apparently we should have brought a propane fireplace with us as every other person camping at Coldstream in Manning Park on Saturday night had one. We had packed up “most” of our camping gear on Saturday morning for an overnight car camping trip to Manning Park. Only forgot the drinking water canister and our camping chairs :-). Obviously we survived without both. We also brought our mountain bikes along. For Saturday we had a trip up Blackwall Peak planned. It’s 16km up, 8 of them paved with an elevation gain of 650m. We ski this up in the winter every so often – there is an actual race that for some odd reason I like – and it is hard work. I am not sure why I expected it to be less hard work on my bike. Well, it wasn’t! Jeff of course was flying up the mountain. We met up half way up at the Cascade lookout. Actually he turned around to keep me company for the last 2-3km. Views had improved from 3 weeks before (Windy Joe) as most of the smoke had cleared out even though you could still smell it. So this time, the views were actually worth all the hard work :-). And I was ready to keep going after a short break taking pictures of yellow pine chipmunks and Cascade Golden-mantled ground squirrels. The rest of the road, yep there were cars passing us once in a while but it wasn’t too busy, was gravel which was okay for the way up. Once at the top, by the way it took less time than skiing up for me at least, we did a short hike around the peak – Heather trail – hoping to see some wildlife and wildflowers. Both were scarce – the flowers because it was late in the season, the wildlife, probably because there were tons of people up there. We did get to watch some yellow-bellied marmots and pika though on our way down in the rock scramble just below the upper parking lot. That was cool! The way down was almost as tough as the way up. Not so for the legs but for the bum and wrist and shoulders. Flying down the washboard gravel road was torture for those parts of the body. I guess that only evened out things.

We rode our bike right into the pub at Manning Lodge for food and beer which was desperately need since I finished my drinking water bottle on the way up. The friendly server even filled our water bottles up for free :-). The only problem, we had to ride the bikes back to Coldstream on a full tummy. It’s not much of a hill but it felt like one. Anyhow, it’s only 2 km and I managed. We sat around a bit and played dice by the light of our headlamps. Gets dark so early now 😦 and it was actually COLD! I think we managed to make it till 9pm before crawling into our warm sleeping bags.

Woke up to another nice, sunny and cold morning. We loaded everything back into the truck  and drove to Hope where we were to meet John and his buddy Miles for breakfast at Rolly’s. Today’s adventure was to ride up the old train trestles from Portia – exit #202 along Hwy 5 – towards the summit at Coquihalla Lakes, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail. John had done it before and always talk very highly of it – but he also is an avid cyclist and does a lot of touring on a bike as well as some mountain biking. So whatever easy meant to John could be torture for me. But it was a great sunny day and despite my bum being a bit sore, I was ready for another bike ride. At least, there shouldn’t be any cars! This section of the TCT – Trans Canada Trail – was a designated hike, bike and equestrian trail only. But apparently ATV’s don’t adhere to those rules and find a way through the bush around the gate. Oh well. Despite a few ATVs the trail was awesome. Easy grade, mostly on gravel surface, a bit of single track through the forest at the beginning, a bit of BC history (old snow sheds and train bridges) and most of all awesome views of the valley and surrounding mountains! It was a bit longer than I expected, 25km one way but it was well worth it. Jeff and John were always ahead pushing the pace while Miles and I traded places on the uphills. Miles is a crazy downhill mountain biker but does not like hills, even less so than I do :-). Not much in regards of wildlife but the scenery more than made up for it.

We finished off the trip with a beer and early supper at a Pub in Hope, the south side of the Hwy. Jeff and I had never been there since a bit off the beaten track but the food was good and the beer very affordable. Plus we could sit outside and enjoy the sun for a bit more. For more pictures go here.

On Monday, we did our last training paddle for the “Indian Arm Challenge” on Sep 8. Finally Jeff’s wrist was feeling better again and we put in an exhausting 3hrs in bumpy conditions (2 x 25′ on 5′, 6 x 18′ on 2′). It did not feel like a great performance but that’s how it should feel like in the last big session before the race … a week of “rest” ahead. Except I still raced my single at the TNR and went running with a colleague of mine on Wednesday night.

July 18, 2018

Sore for 3 days

Filed under: Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 12:42 PM

Last Sunday we went for our first hike of the season. I had been doing a lot of easy hiking/walking on our fishing trips in May/June but the last 4 weeks have been all about paddling. So I picked an easy one – Mount Strachnan out of Cypress Bowl. Short (2-2.5hrs) and not much elevation gain but the bit you do goes straight up. I usually do this hike in the fall quite a bit (see here). The weather was still hot with blue skies and good visibility. It was quite a sweat fest to get up the gully at the backside of Mount Strachnan and I was surprised how much snow there still was. The trail was partially covered still which made the going even slower. The view from the top was nice though – 360 – but my knee did not like the way down. My legs were sore for 3 days – I can’t believe it 🙂

April 23, 2018

Share the trails – Earth Day Hike

Filed under: Bears, Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 9:27 PM

Sunday afternoon “hike” in Minnekhada Regional Park in Port Coquitlam. A great way to spent a sunny, 16C day when the body is too tired to go for a paddle. It’s by no means a challenging hike, more a stroll through the woods but this park is known for its bear sightings. Last time we were here, we scared a mom and her cub off the trail. So this time I was hoping but not really expecting to see a bear. It’s a busy little park and there are quite a few people around. But we did see a bear – two actually. Mama bear and her year old cub. They were coming down the trail we were walking up. So we stepped aside to let them pass, talking to them so they knew we were there. They did not seem to care much about us. While mama bear gave us a bit of space when passing us and got about 5m off the trail, the cub, a skinny tall guy, was coming right at us. He was so close, I could have petted his head. Mama bear was not too impressed about juniors behaviour and huffed at him and us since were so close together. The cub knew the huff and bolted up a tree as if he was getting shot at. We were standing less than a few meters away from mom who could have reached us in a single leap, talking to her calmly. Mama bear just looked as us like saying “Kids these days”. We didn’t want to stick around for the family drama to unfold and walked slowly away from the bears. No more huffing from mom. Junior came down the tree and, to our utter surprise, started following us rather than going into the direction they were on before our encounter. Mama bear was shaking her head but followed him. Our guess, someone must have fed the little guy before and he was hoping for something. He showed no aggression at all. We just continued on our way at normal pace, ignoring the cub. As we rounded a corner and lost sight of them behind us, Junior must have lost interest as well. We did not see him again. Weird behaviour for a bear but overall a peaceful encounter. We hiked for another couple hours, up some knoll with a great view over the valley. Really a fun little park. We never got to see the cougar, as the signage had promised though :-).