Morning Greeting with the Foxes : Day 2 

Start:  Shoe Cove      End:  Torbay

Mileage: 24K ( 14.5 miles)

I walked to a seriously soaked this morning after condensation passed through the open screening and saturated my sleeping bag and everything else that was inside.    A few minutes after I was out of the tent I was surprised by the presence of a small gray dog-like creature that was a grayish and black fox which was soon accompanied by its mother. They had no fear of us so I immediately suspected that the foxes might have rabies and threw a couple of rocks in their direction and they ran off into the thick brush.
I’m only a little frustrated by the measured distances that are published on the maps that are sold by the East Coast Trail. They seem they are registering 15-20% less than my corresponding mileages tracked by both Strava and Fitbit. Tomorrow I’ll run my Garmin eTrex 30, which should settle whether there is a true discrepancy.

Bad influence took some dramatic footage from his drone today. He was able to get the little unit out over the water and film back into a huge waterfall that was dropping several hundred feet onto a rocky beach. 
The trail today became more varied. It included a long descent along the edge of a beautiful meadow bordered with wildflowers. We started the hike a third of the way into map N#4, then completed all of map N#3, and we’re now set to start map N#2. The maps have great detail, including dates of shipwrecks, with five of them documented on this map. I’m a bit concerned about a missing kilometer’s worth of trail at the end of today’s first map. Hopefully we’ll get the answer from local folks who we might see on the trail today.
I’ve included here most of today’s hike. It was cut short at the end. We’re staying in the See the Sea B& B here in Torbay.   There are no motels here, and I slept on the floor at the foot of BI’s double bed. It was the only room left for us. Sandra is a great host, but I would not want her dusting bill. Knicknack city. Looking forward to a Newfoundland breakfast soon.

Another glorious day outside awaits us.

Day 1 on Newfoundland’s Eastern Trail      

Start: Cape St. Francis. End: Shoe Cove.  Mileage:  10


​​  “This East Coast Trail will make you feel like you died and gone to heaven,” said my hiking sidekick Bad Influence.

First, I really enjoyed my stay at Wild Roses B &B last night. Mary’s place is a one-stop hiker’s oasis, providing airport shuttle, home cooked dinner and breakfast and make-your-own sandwich lunch lunches plus a morning shuttle through a long and seriously cratered-up gravel road of sorts. Mary’s brother Frank is retired from 32 years working up at the Churchill, Labrador power station and helps out with his sister’s business. Frank and I discovered that we both are friendly with Happy Valley, Labrador’s Joe Goudie.
This Newfoundland family supporting this lodging/ shuttle business is the real deal. For example, this morning’s breakfast features lassi tutons, a Labrador legendary delicacy of soft cake consistency, that is dosed by the fortunate consumer with blackstrap molasses.

The rain that had been falling all night stopped as we exited Frank’s Caravan just below the Cape St. Francis lighthouse at the northernmost tip of the Avalon Peninsula.   The evergreen boughs bordering the path released showers of cold rainwater on my shirt as I rubbed by against them drenching my pants, shirt, and shoes. It’s unavoidable, and the sun that is breaking out should help dry things as the day passes along.

 We’ve been hiking along dramatic cliffs punctuated by gorges that frame the churning blue and green waters hundreds of feet below us. We’re camped here tonight at Shoe Cove, where we scored a couple of dramatic spots of for my tent and BI’s hammock.

Beside my tent there is a talkative brook flowing that is draining into the ocean, with a view of the North Atlantic framed by sixty degree cliffs on both sides anchored by the floor of the sea.
In the morning, we’ll head downstream, and follow a traditional cow path cutting up an eastern slope.

 Once on top we plan to enjoy viewing laurel heaths of the extensive Grazing Grounds.

Backpacking here on an abbreviated schedule ( started at 10:45 AM) this first day out was “world class hiking”, a term I reserve for the top 5 percent of the trails that I have experienced in my life.

The trail is segmented into sections that each have their own maps. Our first segment was detailed on a topographic map that covered 7.3 kilometers, and we are already half way through N#4 which adds another 15.1 k down.

Bad Influence and I are excited about how interesting it is to hike here in Newfoundland. The trail reminded me of hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where roots, rocks, wetness, twisting progress and relentless ups and downs, almost with every step, made total focus a priority.

Both of us felt good today.
It is beyond understanding why we saw no one else all day. The air off the ocean is so fresh. The post- rain clearing rain triggered a mild cleansing breeze that felt like a cosmic air conditioner was stuck on the Low setting. Perfect hiking weather if you ask me. No black flies or mosquitoes. Tics don’t live here!

Preparing for Long Distance Hiking

In the next couple of days I am simultaneously prepping for two events.

I present this coming Sunday at the 41st Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s biennial Conference “Views from the Maine Woods,” which runs August 4-11 at Colby College in Waterville.

Here’s my Sunday, August 6 workshop description:
Why Walking Matters: Benefits of Walking and Improvisational Skills in Long-Distance Hiking. Tom Jamrog, Triple Crown thru-hiker, author, and Maine Guide with Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures.  From the ages of 57 to 63, “Uncle Tom” thru-hiked four National Scenic Trails. Tom reviews the latest research on the physical and mental health benefits of walking, and discusses pre-hike training and mental practices that can bolster an aging hiker’s continued success on the trail.

Two days later, I fly out of Boston to St. John’s to attempt a 185 mile thru-hike of Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail.

East Coast Trail website
East Coast Trail- Newfoundland

Foot care will be a priority activity that I’ll discuss in my workshop and that I’ve been applying on as I approach this rugged hike. I’ll tell the audience that I’ve been walking barefoot as much as possible in the past week in order to toughen up my feet. I have also been applying rubbing alcohol to the soles of my feet toes and heels, a technique I picked up years ago from Colin Fletcher,’s  The Complete Walker IV book, formerly described as “The Hikers Bible” when it came out in 2002. Alcohol cleans, dries, and toughens the skin. Addition to the alcohol, I use an artificial pumice block to buff up callous areas in my forefoot, toes, and heel.

IMG_2933I’ll be backpacking in thin wool socks from Darn Tough and my broken-in New Balance boots, a combination that has resulted in blister-free freedom over the past 5000 miles of hiking. Roomy footwear is  best.

Right now, I’ve signing off to work on my updated Powerpoint for the Colby ATC talk.

Maybe I’ll see some of you there?