Hiking the East Coast Trail, Part 3: Burnt Cove to Petty Harbour

The view from the Whale Watcher B&B.

The view from the Whale Watcher B&B.

 

If you missed them, check out part one and part two of my east coast adventure.

Burnt Cove: Part two ended with me and JK crashing at the Whale Watcher B&B, after a confusing transfer from Flamber Head Path to La Manche Village Path. The La Manche Vilage Path is the only path on the East Coast Trail where the community links count as part of the trail system. Weird. We took the morning off at the B&B to do our laundry and relax. The B&B had an amazing view of the Witless Bay ecological reserve. Around 12:30, we headed out, finishing up the La Manche Trail Path.

Tinkers Point Path: This 5.1k path, connecting Burnt Cove to Tors Cove, was pretty easy and we completed it under two hours. A lot of it was on a cart path.

Tors Cove: This was another teeny community link and it kicked off one of the best paths on the trail — the Tinkers Point Path. This trail was relatively flat and easy and had gorgeous views of the islands off coast. We even saw an island with sheep grazing on it and enjoyed lunch watching waves break over the coast.

 

Red rock!

Red rock!

 

Mobile: We came out of Tinkers Point at Mobile, a community link that wasn’t very long, but involved looping up to the highway, then scrambling over a beach to find the entrance to the next path. We didn’t need supplies, so didn’t spend any time finding out what Mobile had to offer. Just before the next trail head, we ran into two surveyors asking about people’s East Coast Trail experience, but we were going the wrong way to be statistically useful! So sad!

Beaches Path: This was another easy, enjoyable path. The trail was still tricky and narrow, but in a way that makes hiking enjoyable, not terrifying. The path is well-named, as there were lots of beaches we could access (for viewing, NOT swimming) and towards the end of the trail, we found a great camping spot by a beach and a river and set up for the night. (Day 8: 13k)

 

River crossing!

River crossing!

 

Witless Bay: Our camp site was only a kilometre from town, so we were done by 9:30 and got breakfast at the Irish Loop Cafe. Witless Bay felt gigantic compared to the previous towns. As we walked through town, a woman stopped and offered to give us a ride to the trail head, which we happily accepted. She saved us about an hour of hiking!

Mickeleens Path: This was another path that was surprisingly pretty and surprising easy — they all kind of blur together, these three days paths. We were in high spirits these three days and kicked out the kilometres rather quickly.

Bay Bulls: Way back when, we had dreams of kayaking in Bay Bulls. We threw this plan out the window when we realized how tired we were and that rain was coming and we wanted to be done the tricky 16.3k Spout Path before the rain came. Instead, we hunted for the Foodland, stocked up on supplies and walked the long community link to the Spout Path head, as we knew the next day was going to be a long one: the Spout Path is a long and difficult trail. We camped in the Spout Path parking lot. (Day 9: 16k)

Spout Path: The first 6k of this path is amazing. We saw a whale and had ocean views the entire time. The next 5k is horrible, a throwback to the difficult, hilly trails of our early days of hiking. JK’s knee went ballistic on this trail too, so instead of finishing the entire trail, we chose to camp at the Little Bald Head campsite about 11k in. The weather was great, so we spent the afternoon reading and stretching and freaking out about JK’s knee, which she stretched and acuballed and rested like a champ. (Day 10: 11k) Overnight, that’s when our trip hit possibly it’s lowest point yet. (Well, it contends with the Flamber Head  rainy day. Rain is a hiking evil.) The rain, which was supposed to come at noon, came at 3am. And it filled our tent, because we failed to secure it to the tent platform properly. Then, when we tried to move our tent at 7am, in an attempt to salvage a few more hours of sleep and a dry place to wait the rain out, our tent pole broke. We had no choice: we had to hike to Petty Harbour, 11k farther than our plans for that day (we originally wanted to hike the 7k to Miner’s Point Campsite once the rain let up), with our fingers crossed a B&B would have room for us that night. Once we committed, it was okay. JK powered through some serious pain and despite the terrible weather and change of plan, it was obvious how pretty the rest of the Spout Path was. The Spout itself was pretty cool and I’m disappointed we didn’t get to enjoy it more thoroughly.

Motion Path: Why the Spout Path and Motion Path are broken up, I will never know. There’s a 6k “access trail” where these two trails meet, but why walk 6k on a crappy cart path when you can just hike a few extra kilometres? Who knows?! When we reached the cart path, it wasn’t raining at the moment and JK felt pretty good, so we chose to power on. Here’s the thing about the 13.5k Motion Path: had I hiked it under different circumstances, it would probably be my favourite path. I loved the views and the terrain, which is all open and shrubby. There are a lot of climbs and descents, but they added interest to the day, not fear. Around our 5th hour of hiking, it started to POUR. JK and I got soaked. We tried to keep our energy up and took our time. The last few kilometres were cold, brutal and took forever: there’s a huge ascent, then a very tricky descent, which we couldn’t assess properly because the fog hid everything ahead of us. We had no idea how far were were from town or what was ahead of us, but we kept climbing. We had no choice.

 

Petty Harbour, the day after the rain.

Petty Harbour, the day after the rain.

 

Petty Harbour: We arrived in Petty Harbour soaked and exhausted. Petty Harbour is gorgeous, though. We called all three places to stay here and only Harbour House had room — but they also had a three night minimum. Given that our tent was broken, we didn’t have a choice. We said yes. I’m so glad we did. Our one-bedroom apartment was $135 a night, was in the centre of town and came with two lovely owners, Shelley and Bernard, who brought us groceries and offered to drive us to the trail heads once we figured out our plan for the rest of our trip. Amazing. (Day 11: 18k)

 

In sum, while we had struggles during these four days, these are the paths and towns I’d recommend others to do. We met a lot of people on the trail doing Petty Harbour to Bay Bulls as a weekend trip. That makes sense to me — you get the two best trails of the East Coast Trail (Spout Path and Motion Path), two interesting towns to explore, and two dedicated camp sites you can rest at.

 

We’re raising money for the Nature Conservancy of Canada — the hike may be over, but the fundraising isn’t. There’s still time to donate! You can donate to our campaign here. And if you’ve already donated — thank you!

 

 

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