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Life in Newfoundland
2012.05.14__15.26.04

Kingfishers are nesting

Icebergs, whales and puffins are here, it’s fantastic, and it’s all happening at the same time in late May, how great is that!?

With these splendid sights along the trail, it’s easy to forget about the little guys:

Belted kingfisher, tending to his nest - Silver Mine Head Path

Belted kingfisher, tending to his nest – Silver Mine Head Path

Do you know this bird?

It’s a belted kingfisher on Silver Mine Head Path, close to Middle Cove beach. The eroding hillside below the trail there is ideal for these little birds to build a nest. See the dirt on the tip of his beak? That’s there because he was using it to do some ‘nestoration’ to his tunnel, he comes back every year and uses the same burrow to raise his young.

Finding kingfisher nests is pretty easy because these birds are so very very vocal. If you come anywhere near their nest, like walking by on the trail for example, they’ll go off like an alarm clock. Trust me, you’ll know it when you hear it.

A few weeks later when the chicks have grown, be as quiet and discreet as you can and you may even hear their begging calls coming from inside the nest:-).

2012.06.23__23.40.58

Camping on the East Coast Trail

It’s the 24th of May and we likes to get away
Up in the woods or going out the bay
There’s all kinds of places but the place we likes to get
Is up on the highway in the gravel pits

– Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers / YouTube

Yes b’y, The Pits!

Of course, if you’re anything like me, you’d rather spend the May 2-4 weekend exploring the East Coast Trail, which in a way is a mix of the woods and the bay, and anything but the pits!

If you’re thinking about going camping, maybe you’d like to stay near that amazing sea arch or beautiful beach I posted about last week, both of them are close to an official East Coast Trail campsite:

Gallows Cove campsite on Spurwink Island Path

Gallows Cove campsite on Spurwink Island Path

Lance campsite on Cape Broyle Head Path

Lance campsite on Cape Broyle Head Path

In case you’re wondering, yes, you are permitted to camp anywhere along the coast, just make sure you respect the environment and minimize your impact: that means absolutely no open fires, and packing out everything you bring in.

For some basic amenities, the official campsites are the way to go though, all of them offer an outdoor toilet, and 4 out of 5 have tent platforms and access to a nearby stream.

In addition to the 2 campsites mentioned above, there are campsites located on Motion PathSpout Path and Flamber Head Path, and all of them are close to some major scenic eye candy:

Miner Point campsite on Motion Path

Miner Point campsite on Motion Path

Little Bald Head campsite on Spout Path

Little Bald Head campsite on Spout Path

Roaring Cove River campsite on Flamber Head Path

Roaring Cove River campsite on Flamber Head Path

If you want to learn more about any of these beautiful locations, consider getting the official paper trail maps from ECTA, or have a look at Newfoundland’s #1 digital hiking guide, the East Coast Trail Guide:

2013.05.17__14.16.58

Shipwreck on the East Coast Trail

The coastal waters off Newfoundland are littered with shipwrecks, most of them ancient and buried deep beneath the waves. Some of these unfortunate vessels have managed to avoid that briny fate though, ending up in shallower waters instead.

On the Southern Shore, the Ilex shipwreck is a fine example of such a ship. You’ll find it stranded along Bear Cove Point Path, the East Coast Trail that runs from Kingman’s Cove to Renews:

The Ilex shipwreck near Fermeuse

Short hike to the Ilex shipwreck on the East Coast Trail

At low tide, look for it in the water just off Lance Cove meadow, a mere 300 m from the Kingman’s Cove trailhead. There is no obvious path through the meadow here, so be careful when you make your way down to the water:

Walk down Lance Cove meadow - Bear Cove Point Path

Walk down Lance Cove meadow – Bear Cove Point Path

If the descent had been just a little easier, this short hike would have made a fine addition to my Easy hikes on the East Coast Trail list.

Anyway, at the bottom of Lance Cove meadow, step onto the rocky beach and turn right to find the rusting wreckage of the Ilex:

Ilex shipwreck - Bear Cove Point Path

Ilex shipwreck – Bear Cove Point Path

Rust - Bear Cove Point Path

Rust – Bear Cove Point Path

Rusty shipwreck - Bear Cove Point Path

Rusty shipwreck – Bear Cove Point Path

The remains of this ship have been here since October 27 1948, when she caught fire and ran aground… As final resting places go, it’s a pretty good spot!

2013.05.09__14.28.10

Cape Broyle to Lance Cove beach

After visiting the spectacular sea arch near Port Kirwan shown in my previous post, I was in the mood to see another East Coast Trail treasure: Lance Cove beach.

This long and sandy beach is located about 8 km east of Cape Broyle on Cape Broyle Head Path, one of the longer and more difficult paths on the East Coast Trail.

In Cape Broyle, the beach-side trailhead is a little tricky to find, it’s little more than a ribbon-marked gap in the trees about a hundred metres east of the wharf, but after stepping into the forest the trail is straightforward enough.

Southside wharf - Cape Broyle

Southside wharf – Cape Broyle

Forest trail - Cape Broyle Head Path

Forest trail – Cape Broyle Head Path

Viewpoint on the bay - Cape Broyle Head Path

Viewpoint on the bay – Cape Broyle Head Path

Freshwater Cove - Cape Broyle Head Path

Freshwater Cove – Cape Broyle Head Path

After a brisk 9 km hike which included some great viewpoints, several little side trails and some careful cliff-side exploration, I reached Lance Cove beach, and it was beautiful!

Lance Cove beach from above - Cape Broyle Head Path

Lance Cove beach from above – Cape Broyle Head Path

As soon as I got down on the beach, I took my shoes off and walked the entire 500 m length of it up and down through the icy cold water, a guaranteed way to cool your feet😉.

After that, I enjoyed my lunch, the sun was shining and I had the place all to myself, a perfect day!

Take your shoes off - Lance Cove beach, Cape Broyle Head Path

Take your shoes off – Lance Cove beach, Cape Broyle Head Path

Walking through the water - Lance Cove beach, Cape Broyle Head Path

Walking through the water – Lance Cove beach, Cape Broyle Head Path

Long Will sea stack, Lance Cove beach - Cape Broyle Head Path

Long Will sea stack, Lance Cove beach – Cape Broyle Head Path

At the end of a relaxing afternoon I walked back through the forest completely satisfied, vowing to return soon on some other sunny day.

2013.05.05__13.30.34

Port Kirwan to Spurwink Island

Three years ago today I hiked Spurwink Island Path from Port Kirwan to Spurwink Island.

This beautiful trail is kind of out of the way for me, a 100 km drive just to get to the trailhead, not too far but not exactly close to home either. On the drive to Port Kirwan I enjoyed the Sunday Jigs and Reels on the radio, there’s nothing like some traditional Newfoundland tunes for a trip on the scenic Southern Shore Highway!

Port Kirwan, the start and end of my hike - Spurwink Island Path

Port Kirwan, the start and end of my hike – Spurwink Island Path

When I started my hike in the early morning the ground was still crisp and frozen beneath my feet, but soon enough the bright sun warmed everything up, as promised by the forecast. I walked the entire hike in just a t-shirt, I’m not sure how warm it got in the end but I got a mild sunburn even after using an SPF 60 sunscreen.

It was a 20k hike from the trailhead to Spurwink Island and back, including all the little viewpoint trails and some fun off-trail exploration. I took my sweet time enjoying all the sights and sounds, the trail was in fair shape, a bit soggy in places, many trees down, but most of them were easy to get around.

Here are some pictures from the day:

Bald Head & Shoal Bay - Spurwink Island Path

Bald Head & Shoal Bay – Spurwink Island Path

Waves below Bald Head - Spurwink Island Path

Waves below Bald Head – Spurwink Island Path

Wildlife-wise, I only saw a few squirrels and seals, and they were all quite surprised to see me. Otherwise I had the entire trail to myself all day long, a typically wonderful East Coast Trail experience.

The beach at Chance Bay was a nice place for a rest-stop:

Chance Bay Beach - Spurwink Island Path

Chance Bay Beach – Spurwink Island Path

Forest trail- Spurwink Island Path

Forest trail- Spurwink Island Path

Three hours into my leisurely-paced hike I reached the spectacular sight of the sea arch at Berry Head, and set up my camera to take this photo of me on top. You may recognize the picture from the cover of the East Coast Trail Guide:

Berry Head Sea Arch - Spurwink Island Path

Berry Head Sea Arch – Spurwink Island Path

View from the top - Spurwink Island Path

View from the top – Spurwink Island Path

On top of the arch I enjoyed the view towards Ferryland and the Sounding Hills across the bay; Spurwink Island was also visible from the arch:

First look at Spurwink Island - Spurwink Island Path

First look at Spurwink Island – Spurwink Island Path

Continuing the hike just beyond Little Gallows Cove, I found my turnaround point above Spurwink Island:

Spurwink Island - Spurwink Island Path

Spurwink Island – Spurwink Island Path

I always split these long trails in half when I hike alone, returning for the other half some other day, this way I always have something nice to look forward to:-)

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