Whale Cove and Church Cove, found halfway along Father Troy’s Trail, are coves so big you can easily spot them from Cobbler Path 4 km across the bay.

Today I hiked the easy trail to Whale Cove and added the difficult loop down to Church Cove for good measure. Both these ‘side trails’ are fairly recent additions to Father Troy’s Trail and especially the ‘Church Cove Loop’ is quite spectacular.

At both coves kittiwakes dominated the scenery with their antics. From the top of Whale Cove I could see them flying into the cove one after another, twisting and turning as they flew right through a thin sprinkling of water falling from the cliffs above, quite an amusing thing to see:

Showering kittiwakes – Father Troy’s Trail

Another shot of Whale Cove:

Colourful Whale Cove – Father Troy’s Trail

After Whale Cove I walked north, there was hardly any snow in the forest but on the trailbed itself the snow was deep and abundant:

Snow on the trailbed – Father Troy’s Trail

When I turned into the Church Cove Loop the hiking got especially tricky, at the lowest point of this loop there is a waterfall which had carved out its own tunnel through snow. I couldn’t see where the trail was under this ‘bridge of snow’, but I figured the worst that could happen was me dropping down 1 metre in the middle of this faux bridge, so I cautiously crossed it:

Snow bridge ahead – Father Troy’s Trail

10 seconds and one big crack later I was standing in the stream, waist deep in snow. It was a sudden and vertical drop which I half expected to happen, so I was totally fine. I crawled out and I was able to get to the other side without further surprises.

At the Church Cove viewpoint I sat down on a flat-topped boulder that I swear was put there especially for me. It was so comfortable I decided to have my lunch there. A few chewy trail mix bars and a bottle of water later I was still enjoying myself. There’s a huge kittiwake colony down in Church Cove and when 4 bald eagles paid them a visit they all had a spontaneous hissyfit as they swooped down from the cliffs by the thousands and flew around in a huge whirling twister of flapping wings and nervous chatter:

Kittiwakes in a tizzy – Father Troy’s Trail

That shot is just a detail of the much larger group of birds, I should have filmed the thing in order to properly convey it here. It may sound crazy but these gulls put on quite a show if you just sit down and take it all in, I was there for a few hours today and had a great time.

On the way home I had to get on top of Church Cove, when I was treated to an unexpected way of climbing this steep hill:

Rocky stairway – Father Troy’s Trail

Yes, there is a trail in that picture. At first I wasn’t sure about going forward because every other stepping stone rocked back and forth as I put my weight on it. I spoke to the trail: a loose assortment of rocks does not a path make! Unsurprisingly, the trail remained stone-faced and beckoned me to climb up further, so I did, and everything was fine.

Big kudos to the people who built this trail, it must have been near-backbreaking work.

As for me, I’m already looking forward to my next visit to this Church of kittiwakes and the rocky stairway that will bring me there. 🙂