Menu Close

newfoundsander

Life in Newfoundland
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:-)

wind-2016-05-02

Spring icebergs, come on down

Spring is just around the corner, and soon we’ll know what kind of iceberg season we can expect this year. Looking at the Canadian Ice Service daily iceberg charts, it’s clear that there are plenty of icebergs around, they’re just not on their way to St. John’s just yet:

May 2 2016 iceberg chart - Canadian Ice Service

May 2 2016 iceberg chart – Canadian Ice Service

We need the right kind of wind to spread these icebergs out all along the East Coast Trail, a sustained wind that blows the bergs into shore where we can all enjoy them.

This is what the wind is doing today, it’s blowing them southeast, further into the Atlantic:

May 2 2016 wind patterns - EarthWindMap

May 2 2016 wind patterns – EarthWindMap

This cool Newfoundland wind map comes from this beautiful website where you can see the wind blowing right across the globe, amazing!

If you’re interested in seeing the icebergs close to shore too, keep an eye on the charts and the wind and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

2012.04.22__06.06.31

Icebergs and shooting stars

Yes, tonight it is once again time for the April Lyrids, but don’t get excited just yet: with a full moon and clouds in the forecast it’s unlikely anyone on the east coast of Newfoundland will be able to see the show…

I know, it’s terrible! So let me cheer you up with some images from this beautiful spring meteor shower a few years back!

The night of April 21 2012 was the peak night of that year’s Lyrid meteor shower, it wasn’t just a clear night, it was a pitch black and moonless night… How could a stargazing night possibly get any better? With icebergs of course! Icebergs make any scenario better, unless it’s 1912 and you’re on an unsinkable passenger liner bound for New York of course.

Anyway, my night wasn’t on the water, it was on the cliffs, and it was breathtaking. I saw dozens of meteors fly overhead from 1 to 4 AM, and after that I enjoyed a picture perfect sunrise over the icebergs that were stuck in Quidi Vidi gut.

Here are some photos:

Lyrid meteor - Quidi Vidi

Lyrid meteor – Quidi Vidi

Do you see the meteor on the left side? Why those things always find the edge of my frame I’ll never know, it’s actually pretty easy catching them like this, it’s getting them to show up in the centre of the frame that’s hard.

Iceberg star trails - Quidi Vidi

Iceberg star trails – Quidi Vidi

The mesmerizing photo above doesn’t show any meteors, it shows the stars moving across the sky for three hours, yes, patience really is a virtue!

The next photo shows the delicate balance of light at nautical dawn, the brief moment when both the stars and the earliest signs of daybreak are visible:

Nautical dawn - Quidi Vidi

Nautical dawn – Quidi Vidi

A little later, at civil dawn, most stars were gone and a glowing sun pillar marked the location of the impending sunrise:

Sun pillar at dawn - Quidi Vidi

Sun pillar at dawn – Quidi Vidi

Daybreak - Quidi Vidi

Daybreak – Quidi Vidi

After the sun rose more photographers started trickling in, so I packed up my stuff and climbed Cuckold Head to escape them, and to get a different perspective on the bergs:

Icebergs from above - Quidi Vidi

Icebergs from above – Quidi Vidi

After a long and cold night outside, 8 AM marked the end of my night shoot, and the start of some well deserved rest.

2011.04.08__18.52.25

Twillingate and Fogo Island in early April

All of Newfoundland is dear to me, but I have a special place in my heart for Twillingate and Fogo Island.

Both are fantastic places to get away from it all, I’ve been there several times in the past few years and I’m already looking forward to my next visit. Since that won’t be for a while yet, let me tell you the tale of a visit from a few years back:

It’s early April 2011 and I’m longing to see sea ice. Like every other year I dutifully watch the ice forecasts and satellite images, I see the sea ice approaching but not reaching St. John’s.

I figure if the sea ice won’t come to me I’ll just have to go to the sea ice instead, so I pack up my things and drive to Central Newfoundland, with no particular destination in mind.

After 7 hours of driving through all kinds of weather I find what I’m looking for in Salt Harbour, on New World Island. At this point it’s close to sunset and after taking the advice from a friendly local I set out on a trail that leads me to this view:

Sea ice sunset - Salt Harbour

Sea ice sunset – Salt Harbour


Frozen cliffs at sunset - Salt Harbour

Frozen cliffs at sunset – Salt Harbour


Sunset gulls - Salt Harbour

Sunset gulls – Salt Harbour

You can imagine how happy I was to arrive on the scene with all this golden light and sea ice moving in the surf. There was even a small iceberg there, or the remains of one at least:

The remains of a small iceberg - Salt Harbour

The remains of a small iceberg – Salt Harbour


After the sunset - Salt Harbour

After the sunset – Salt Harbour

After a good night’s rest in a Twillingate inn I spent most of the following day exploring the local hiking trails and drove around to see if I could find any wildlife:

Seal on the ice - Twillingate

Seal on the ice – Twillingate


Seal on the ice - Twillingate

Seal on the ice – Twillingate


Ice & Rocks - Twillingate

Ice & Rocks – Twillingate


Ice & Trails - Twillingate/Durrell

Ice & Trails – Twillingate/Durrell

In Toogood Arm I saw a pair of ravens eating a dead seal pup, a big lunch for these two lucky birds. Every spring you can find these ‘white coats’ on the ice here, some make it, most don’t, that’s nature:

Ravens eating a seal pup - Toogood Arm

Ravens eating a seal pup – Toogood Arm


Red Box - Salt Harbour

Red Box – Salt Harbour

After taking in the sights and sounds of the many small harbours on Twillingate and New World Island I joined the lineup for the 4:15 ferry to Fogo. On the approach to the island I was already able to spot several coves filled with sea ice and even a few icebergs. Exciting!

Once I was on the island I drove all the way across, just to see what I could find. I liked the look of the blue sky above Joe Batt’s Arm so this is where I got out, walking the trail to the Long Studio:

Zita Cobb's Long Studio - Joe Batt's Arm, Fogo island

Zita Cobb’s Long Studio – Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo island

This beautiful black box always grabs my attention, it somehow looks like it doesn’t belong but at the same time like it’s always been there, left by an alien culture to both puzzle and delight visiting photographers.

The bay in front of the Studio was filled with ice, big chunks of which had crawled up onto the shore:

Chucks of ice - Joe Batt's Arm, Fogo island

Chucks of ice – Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo island


Icy sunset at the Long Studio - Joe Batt's Arm, Fogo island

Icy sunset at the Long Studio – Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo island

After the sunset I walked back to the car, and somewhere along the way was joined by a fox. The friendly animal was perfectly happy following me on the trail at first, but soon it veered away and made me follow it instead.

A friendly fox - Joe Batt's Arm, Fogo island

A friendly fox – Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo island

Keeping up with a fox is hard, but it always leads to something interesting, in this case I observed the fox for nearly half an hour as it hunted down a mouse somewhere underneath the snow:

Pouncing fox - Joe Batt's Arm, Fogo island

Pouncing fox – Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo island

Eventually the mouse was found and quickly dispatched. The fox moved on, vanishing into the darkness, and I returned to my car with a big smile on my face.

That evening I found a place to sleep in Stag Harbour, where I was approached by a wobbly man from Port aux Basques. He had clearly had a few drinks too many and enthusiastically joined me on a pizza-quest across the island, before keeping me awake for most of the night, banging on his empty motel room door after having lost his key.

After sleeping in the next morning I once again woke up to blue skies, and continued my explorations of the island, starting with an invigorating walk up Brimstone Head:

The view from Brimstone Head - Fogo Island

The view from Brimstone Head – Fogo Island

As you may know, Brimstone Head is one of the 4 corners of the flat earth, so I was very careful not to fall off the edge.

For the remainder of the day I drove through all the little towns and harbours, taking in as much fresh air and scenery as I could.

Deep Bay - Fogo Island

Deep Bay – Fogo Island


Fallen house in Deep Bay - Fogo Island

Fallen house in Deep Bay – Fogo Island

The Fogo Island Inn is quite famous now, but back then it was still in the early stages of construction. What a location!

Fogo Island Inn - Fogo Island

Fogo Island Inn – Fogo Island


Bergy bit - Island Harbour, Fogo Island

Bergy bit closeup – Island Harbour, Fogo Island


Pack ice leftovers - Shoal Bay, Fogo Island

Pack ice leftovers – Shoal Bay, Fogo Island

At the end of this last beautiful day of my island getaway I returned to Joe Batt’s Arm for one last sunset, and I was not disappointed:

Sea ice sunset - Joe Batt's Arm, Fogo Island

Sea ice sunset – Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo Island


Sea ice sunset - Joe Batt's Arm, Fogo Island

Sea ice sunset – Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo Island

2024 Solar Eclipse over Newfoundland

I write a lot of retrospective stories these days, and looking back in time is certainly great fun, but how about this time we take a look into the future, 8 years into the future!

Nope, I’m not kidding, please open your calendars and mark April 8th 2024 as ‘Eclipse Day’.

I’ve talked about eclipses on this blog before. Total lunar eclipses are nice, partial solar eclipses are fun too, but the eclipse of 2024 will be a Total Solar Eclipse, the absolute best kind of eclipse possible, and it’s coming to Newfoundland!

For those of you who haven’t seen a TSE before, this will most likely be a once in a lifetime experience, you don’t want to miss it! The last time a TSE swept over Newfoundland was way back in 1970, and the next time (after 2024) will be in the year 2079…

If you’re in St. John’s on April 8th 2024, the eclipse will be 99% complete, which may sound fantastic but believe me it’s nothing compared to the real show: the 100% TSE that will sweep across the island from Port aux Basques to Bonavista over the ‘Path of Totality’:

Total Solar Eclipse visible between the blue lines

Total Solar Eclipse is visible between the blue lines

That 1% difference may not seem important right now, but think of it as the difference between almost winning the lottery and actually winning the lottery, a huge difference!

On Eclipse Day you’ll want to be somewhere between the blue lines, and as close to the red line as possible. In Newfoundland that means being near Bonavista, Terra Nova National Park, the Codroy Valley, or anywhere in between. The duration of the eclipse will be roughly 3 minutes if you’re anywhere near the red line, and it will be slightly longer the further you are out West.

If the weather allows it, this eclipse will be an amazing spectacle! Have you marked your calendar yet?

Learn more about this 2024 eclipse at NASA.

(Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC)

Older Posts
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 142 other followers