This is a story about snowshoeing along the coast. For the overland snowshoe route to the Spout, check out this page.
The weather forecast told me today was a good day to snowshoe to the Spout, blue skies in the morning and plenty of snow on the ground. The reality of the matter turned out quite different, as is so often the case…
I set out early this morning, so when the sun came up I was already well underway on Shoal Bay Road. Walking this ‘mandatory’ 6.3k road to the trailhead was a breeze this time around, all the bothersome puddles were now frozen and covered by snow. Much to my surprise an area that’s always been flooded near the end of the road was still flooded in winter… Where’s a good cover of ice when you need one.
At the Spout Path trailhead I put on my brand new 30″ snowshoes. I bought these things yesterday and have never tried snowshoeing before in my life, I figured it would be a good experience to try something new. After about a kilometre I got the hang of it, the snow wasn’t particularly good for it though, it was very soft and wet snow, saturated with yesterday’s rain.
Another snow difficulty were the many moose prints, their long legs had left deep holes all over the trail, giving my snowshoes poor support, but of course not as poor as it would have been without them (I tried). Here’s a profile drawing of the way the snow handled different items on it:
The deep tracks are made by the moose, and on the far left you can see something else made by the moose…
One minor disappointment of the day was the weather, the predicted blue skies were rather grey when I started out, and gradually got worse. At one point I felt a freezing drizzle coming down on me, it took me a minute to realize I was standing close to an unseen reverse waterfall and the ‘drizzle’ was actually being blown upwards by the strong wind.
In the end, the biggest disappointment of the day was not the weather, it was the trail: I lost track of it. When there’s no snow on Spout Path you can easily find your way around with an actual view of the well-trodden trail and the ribbons all along the way. In this deep snow the trail was well hidden and so were the ribbons, I had to find my way by memory of the last time I was there, which I’m sad to say was a while ago.
Around Miner Point I was confused by the many crossroads and ‘fake trails’ left by moose, I ended up bumbling through the forested hills for over 2 hours trying to find the real trail again. When I finally did I was just 1 km away from the Spout but I had wasted too much time, I decided to turn around in order to be back before nightfall.
On the way back, at Long Point, the sun broke through for a while. I enjoyed a distant view of the Spout and promised myself to return soon. I was surprised to find I had cellular reception and had my lunch while talking to Marije, it cheered me right up again!
I took one last break on the Queen’s River bridge before I walked back to Goulds over Shoal Bay Road. I made good time, saw some squirrels and grouse, and got back at the car at sunset. It was the end of a very long day of stumbling, but I’m glad I did it.