This morning I was wondering what to do with this beautiful day when a last minute idea popped into my head: Spout Path was still on my todo list so I figured I’d give Shoal Bay Road a try, just to see what it was like. This access road is not an actual part of the East Coast Trail but it’s basically a must-hike if you want to get to the north trailhead of Spout Path.
After reaching the end of the 6.3 km Shoal Bay Road I found myself on the coast, with a choice. I could either hike back over the same terrible road I came in on, 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 do, 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:
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 few qualms with wading through every part of this super soaked trail, after all it was now 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.
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:
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.
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:
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 beside it:
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 from pretty close up!! 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. 🙂