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Life in Newfoundland
La Manche Provincial Park in fall colours

Colourful La Manche in October

On my recent visit to Newfoundland I had the chance to visit La Manche Provincial Park after it was closed for the season, and that means my mom and sister and I had the place all to ourselves.

We were there to walk the ‘Trail to the Falls’, an easy boardwalk path through the forest and marshes west of the La Manche Ponds:

La Manche Ponds – La Manche Provincial Park

Boardwalk trail – La Manche Provincial Park

Colours were rich and vibrant, you can always count on October for a bit of colour. 🙂

Waterfall – La Manche Provincial Park

The waterfall at the end of the walk is quite small, but the pool in which it empties is not. In summer visitors walk down this trail in their swimwear to take a dip here, maybe even a shower at the bottom of the falls:

Waterfall pool – La Manche Provincial Park

Of course the water was much too cold for any of that in October, and I brought something to go flying, not swimming:

Trail to the Falls – La Manche Provincial Park

Yes, that’s some aerial view isn’t it? I brought one of those small drones you can take anywhere, and on this visit I did just that. 🙂

East Coast Trail Guide, Version 1.8

Just as many are planning their next big trip, here is the next big update of my book about Newfoundland’s amazing East Coast Trail:

East Coast Trail Guide, v1.8

East Coast Trail Guide, v1.8

Here’s what’s new

Version 1.8 of the East Coast Trail Guide:

  • widens all trail maps to show more of the surrounding area
  • adds new symbols to trail maps and overview maps
  • updates trail maps and trail descriptions of Deadmans Bay Path and Blackhead Path to show recent trail developments
  • updates trail descriptions of Snowshoe to the Spout and Spurwink Island Path
  • significantly updates the Introduction chapter to address frequently asked questions, including updates to the About the East Coast Trail section, the Day Hiking or Camping section, the Other Accommodations section, the Risks of Wilderness Hiking section, and the Support the Trail section
  • updates links to websites

These updates come on top of the improvements already added in v1.7, which I did not announce on this blog when it was released. Version 1.7 of the East Coast Trail Guide:

  • added iceberg viewpoints on the East Coast Trail
  • added thru-hiking directions to the end of most trails

Get it on Apple Books

Read more about the East Coast Trail Guide here or get the first chapter for free on Apple Books.

Stormy sunset at West Point

Stormy weather is common in the fall, and during my fall visit to Newfoundland one day in particular stood out, October 16th:

Newfoundland wind forecast – October 16 2018

The weather forecast warned of strong gusts and showers for most of the day, but there was a silver lining: the hours around sunrise and sunset would be gusty, yes, but clear!

So, during our day inside we waited patiently for the storm to pass, and were rewarded when the sky opened up about an hour before sunset. Torbay, where we were staying, is great for sunrises but not so much for sunsets, so we quickly drove to Portugal Cove where we enjoyed the soft golden light washing over the waves of Conception Bay:

Sunset over Bell Island – West Point, Portugal Cove

Sunset spray – West Point, Portugal Cove

Golden sunset – West Point, Portugal Cove

The hills basking in the sunset light in the background are the hills of beautiful Piccos Ridge Path, more on that later. 🙂

Cliffs and waves of Cape Race

Cape Race used to be hard to reach, when I lived in Newfoundland the road there was in such bad shape I never managed to reach the end of it in our own car.

Thankfully this past October on my visit to Newfoundland, the road was in great shape, newly paved and smooth for most of the way, and well-maintaned for the last remaining stretch of gravel road.

The lighthouse is the obvious destination at the end of the road, but when you come on a blustery day the waves and cliffs along the way steal the show.

I saw many seals foraging at Cripple Cove (on the way to Cape Race), and it was a sight to behold:

Big waves – Cripple Cove near Cape Race

Seal in the waves – Cripple Cove near Cape Race

At Cape Race the waves were a little too rough for seals, so there we just watched them roll in and break upon the cliffs, wave after wave after wave:

Breaking waves – Cape Race

Now the Cape Race lighthouse is not open to the public, but as luck would have it I met a guy with keys to the front door when I was there, and he kindly let me inside to have a look:

Inside the lighthouse – Cape Race

I wasn’t able to go up the stairs because of a mercury leak near the light itself, but seeing it from the bottom up was cool enough. 🙂

From outside the lighthouse looks very sleek in white and red:

Lighthouse – Cape Race

The cliffs around the lighthouse are fun to explore too, here’s my sister on top of them:

Out on the cliffs – Cape Race

On the way back we spotted more wildlife, a fox on the side of the road and a moose on the back of an ATV:

Red fox – near Cape Race

ATV moose – near Cape Race

Stay tuned for more stories and photos from my fall visit. 🙂

2018 Geminids over Newfoundland

If you ask me, the Geminid meteor shower is the best meteor shower of the year, and it’s here again tonight!

Three ingredients for a great show are lining up: the sky will be moonless and dark, the weather forecast for eastern Newfoundland is cold and windy but mostly clear, and perhaps best of all, this year you can also see a comet in the night sky…

Geminid meteor shower

Because the moon sets before midnight tonight, you’ll be able to see Geminid meteors flashing across the sky all night, from 11 PM tonight (Thursday) until tomorrow morning (Friday) when it starts to get lighter again (~6 AM).

Tips for watching the meteor shower are always the same – most importantly you must find a dark place to watch the show from, away from the glare of city lights. Once you’re there, shooting stars can appear anywhere in the sky, so if you’re in a group don’t all look at the same patch of sky. And of course: bring blankets and bundle up, it’s chilly outside especially when you’re not moving around much, but it’s totally worth it!

To see the comet, you must first know where to look:

Comet 46P/Wirtanen

This comet has been approaching us for a while now, it’s not very big but this weekend it will make its closest approach to Earth so we can see it anyway.

Tonight, look for it around midnight on the right side of Orion, the constellation with 3 bright stars in the middle, known as Orion’s Belt:

Look for a green fuzzy light – Dec 13-14, 2018

This picture should help you locate it, I highlighted Orion and some other bright stars, and drew in the approximate location of the comet tonight. Bringing a pair of binoculars will make it easier to spot.

Wirtanen does not have a long tail, nor does it zip across the sky (comets don’t do that), no, this comet looks like a fuzzy green stationary point of light, and tonight it just happens to have shooting stars as its celestial companions, pretty cool eh?

Aquaman on the East Coast Trail

In the trailer for the upcoming Aquaman movie, I noticed a scenic location I’m intimately familiar with: Newfoundland’s very own East Coast Trail!

Specifically, the towering cliffs halfway between Torbay and Flatrock are where young Aquaman gets his first swimming lessons, diving down from dizzying heights into the waters of Whale Cove…

Cliffs of the East Coast Trail – Newfoundland

“This is the exact spot where Vulko gave me my first swimming lessons.”

The trailer flashes past these beautiful cliffs in a matter of seconds, but we may get a better look when the movie comes out next month.

Until that time, if you want to visit the site of these cliffside superhero antics yourself, you’ll find it on Father Troy’s Trail. Whale Cove is #7 on my shortlist of easy hikes on the East Coast Trail near St. John’s. 🙂

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