Flash freeze this weekend

This past week was a fine example of the warm spells that show up every winter; but at the start of February I’m pretty sure everyone knew that more winter was still on the way.

That said, I hope you’re ready for it, because winter returns this weekend in the form of what meteorologists are calling a ‘flash freeze’.

Sounds pretty exciting!

Icicles, with a twist - Whirly Pool Falls, Stiles Cove Path

Icicles, with a twist – Whirly Pool Falls, Stiles Cove Path

This photo, taken a while ago on the East Coast Trail near Flatrock, shows the beautiful effect the wind can have when icicles form in freezing weather.

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A peek through the clouds

Newfoundland from space - NASA Worldview

Newfoundland from space – NASA Worldview

Today the clouds parted just enough to give NASA’s Worldview satellites a peek at Newfoundland.

You can see that this week’s unseasonably warm temperatures have melted some of the snow on the far east coast, but what’s more exciting about this image is the sea ice that can be seen drifting in from the north, easily visible on either side of the Great Northern Peninsula.

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Snow squall on Sugarloaf Path

A hike to the top of Bawdens Highland offers many spectacular views, maybe even more so in winter:

Walking through a snow squall - Sugarloaf Path

Walking through a snow squall – Sugarloaf Path

This shot was taken 2 winters ago on this very day.

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Winter selfie

Here’s a self portrait taken 3 years ago today at the ice falls in Middle Cove:

Newfoundsander - Middle Cove

Newfoundsander – Middle Cove

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Snowshoe to the Spout

In the heart of winter, when all the ponds and streams are frozen solid and a heavy blanket of snow covers the land, you may find yourself contacted by an adventurous friend with an intriguing proposition: “Let’s snowshoe to the Spout!”.

If you’ve never snowshoed to the Spout before, you’re in for a mighty big treat, and having a friend who knows the way is a huge bonus, so by all means join them if you can!

Pristine winter snow – on the way to the Spout

Pristine winter snow – on the way to the Spout

This 13.2 km winter trek (return trip distance) does require a certain level of fitness, as you’ll be snowshoeing from an elevation of 150 m (highway trailhead) all the way up to 250 m, then all the way down to the Spout (close to sea level), and then all the way back again of course.

Unfamiliar with the terrain? Here’s what to expect (simplification):

  1. Climb up through the forest, from the trailhead to the plateau.
  2. Cross the plateau, a vast expanse of snow and trees.
  3. Climb down through the forest, following ribbons to the coast.
  4. Enjoy your break at the Spout, before returning.

When I first snowshoed to the Spout, I was very eager to get to the prize at the end, the frozen winter Spout, an icy cold and spectacular natural attraction that has never failed to amaze me.

On subsequent winter visits though, I realized the snowshoe trek itself was the prize: nearly 7 km of absolute silence and sparkling winter beauty, with a break at the Spout as the cherry on top.

An early start - on the way to the Spout

An early start – on the way to the Spout

Frozen sunrise - Spout Path

Frozen sunrise – Spout Path

The basic map of the Snowshoe route to the Spout on this blog can be used to find the unmarked trailhead in Middle Pond, right on the side of the Southern Shore Highway. There is no dedicated parking area here so just park on the shoulder, assuming that snow has been cleared.

A safety tip: always bring a GPS with fresh batteries. Even if you’re with someone who knows the way, you can record the route on your GPS so that later you’ll be able to go by yourself or act as a guide for other friends.

A GPS also comes in handy if your party gets lost or separated, as you’ll be able to easily find your way back to the highway.

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Winter weather on Torbay Point

When winter weather batters the coast, it’s usually a good idea to stay inside.

And yet, there is something about hiking through a winter squall, which can be mighty invigorating as long as you know your way around the trail, even in near whiteout conditions.

Here are some photos from Torbay Point taken five years ago today, when a winter storm pounded the East Coast Trail much like it did today:

Winter weather on Torbay Point - Cobbler Path

Winter weather on Torbay Point – Cobbler Path

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Winter weather on Torbay Point – Cobbler Path

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Winter weather on Torbay Point – Cobbler Path

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Winter weather on Torbay Point – Cobbler Path

 

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