This morning I was wondering what to do with this beautiful day when a far-out idea popped into my head: the Spout was still on my todo list…

Now, you can’t just walk Spout Path on a whim, because the trailhead isn’t easily accessible. It’s at the end of a long access trail called Shoal Bay Road, not an actual part of the East Coast Trail but basically a must-hike if you want to get to the north trailhead.

So, to make full use of today’s beautiful weather I figured I’d give this access trail a try, just to see what it was like, you know, to prepare myself for another day when I would actually hike to the Spout itself.

After I reached the end of the 6.3 km Shoal Bay Road I found myself on the coast, not tired yet, so I had a choice. I could either hike straight back over the same terrible access road, I could hike a little bit of Motion Path and take the 5.5 km Pipeline Road back to the car, or I could do what I probably shouldn’t, hike Spout Path due south to see the Spout…

I sensibly started out north on Motion Path but almost immediately changed my mind, I spun around and apologized to my legs for what was about to come: my very first hike to the Spout. 🙂

The Spout is a freshwater wave-driven blowhole, quite a unique natural attraction that I have always wanted to see, but let’s face it: I’m not in any kind of shape to hike 22 km over difficult terrain. Still, that’s exactly what I did today, it took me 9.5 hours to haul my overweight asthmatic butt over the hills and back again…

Now I’m home, my legs are completely spent and glowing. But, I made it and I’m definitely going back for more Spout this spring.

Here’s a few photos from today:

Snowy trail - Shoal Bay Road

Snowy trail – Shoal Bay Road

Waterlogged trail - Shoal Bay Road

Waterlogged trail – Shoal Bay Road

What you see here is a part of Shoal Bay Road, totally waterlogged. This road started out snowy and mostly frozen, hardly ideal of course but further east this so-called ‘road’ could have just as easily been called Shoal Bay Brook.

When the wet part started I was able to skip from stone to stone as you can see here, but later the stream got so deep the water sloshed over my boots and eventually got up to my shins. This was strangely liberating because afterwards I had no qualms wading through every part of this super-soaked trail, after all it was impossible to get any wetter than I already was.

On Spout Path itself the going was much easier. There were more elevation changes manoeuvring around every little cove and such but at least the trail was soft and mostly dry.

Falls at Queens River - Spout Path

Falls at Queens River – Spout Path

Near Long Point - Spout Path

Near Long Point – Spout Path

When I got closer to the Spout I found a strange tree blocking the path, there are of course lots of trees on the trail since hurricane Igor but this one seemed to have been put there by a beaver:

Beavered-down trees - Spout Path

Beavered-down trees – Spout Path

I inspected the area beyond the trail and found a pond with many trees gnawed down in the same fashion. The beaver itself was nowhere to be found though, it was probably busy obstructing trails elsewhere.

Colourful Miner Point - Spout Path

Colourful Miner Point – Spout Path

After passing the colourful lichen-covered cliffs at Miner Point I could hear a whooshing sound in the distance, and soon enough I found out what was making it:

The Spout - Spout Path

The Spout – Spout Path

There you have it, the Spout. This blowhole is 10.8 km from the main road and well worth visiting. As you can see there is still a lot of snow around the Spout, I guess this is due to the Spout keeping things a little bit cooler around the ‘geyser’ area. On closer inspection I found the snow to have many distinct layers, the whole thing reminded me of a tiny volcano.

The Spout’s eruptions were erratic, some were mere sputters, other shot up spectacularly high into the sky. To give you a sense of scale take a look at me standing on the cliffs beside it:

Me at the Spout - Spout Path

Me at the Spout – Spout Path

I was quite pleased with what the Spout was doing so before I went home I took a quick Spout shower, I walked right up to the thing and allowed myself to be soaked; very refreshing on this sunny day!

After I left, a Cougar helicopter showed up and got really close to the Spout, I guess they wanted to catch the show too, without all the hiking.

Hiking back was much tougher then hiking in, a fact I had explained to my legs from the get-go. After 16 km I still felt reasonably fit but halfway up Shoal Bay Road my legs slowed to a crawl. After the cumbersome flooded and frozen sections I eventually made it back to the car, just don’t ask me how.

I did get one small reward on the way back though, I saw a coyote!! It saw me too and took off into the forest faster than I could blink my eyes. I’ve seen coyotes before in other parts of Newfoundland but this was a first for me on the East Coast Trail. 🙂