Hiking the East Coast Trail, Part 4: Petty Harbour to St. John’s

This counts as a whale sighting, right?

 

Be sure to check out parts one, two and three first!

Petty Harbour: After we checked in, made dinner (curry supplied by Shelley) and passed out at 9:30 (which felt late compared to our usual 8-8:30 bedtimes!) We woke the next morning to more rain and a plan: A complete rest day. We had the room in the schedule, so why not? We ate lunch at the restaurant next door, Chafe’s Landing, and watched terrible television. It was delightful. (Day 12: ok) We made arrangements with Shelley to get a ride to the end of Blackhead path, meaning we’d hike 14.5k the next day — in the opposite direction. This made the most sense, because it meant we could walk back to the apartment when we were done, instead of trying to finangle a ride back to Petty Harbour at the end of the day. And we could hike with just day packs! Bliss! Blackhead has about one building, but it has horses, so don’t expect anything here. Bernard pointed out a whale in the harbour before we took off, upping our whale count to two!

Blackhead Path: This path was great. It was one big up and then one big down over 3.7k but gave us great views of Cape Spear and took just over an hour.

 

Cape Spear lighthouse!

Cape Spear lighthouse!

 

Cape Spear Path: We spent some time exploring Cape Spear and being impressed with being on the most eastern point in North America before continuing on this 11.5k trail. The first 8k was easy, well-maintained (except for a few tricky river crossings) and gave us great views of all the peaks we have hiked in the past week. After about 8k, the trail changes: it becomes woodsy and there are a few tricky passages as you scramble over rocks. For most of the trail, a woman was following us, so we chatted with her and helped her over the river crossings. This paid off: her husband gave us a ride back to Petty Harbour! (Day 13: 15k)

 

St. John's!

St. John’s!

 

Deadman’s Path: The next day, Shelley gave us  ride to the same spot we were dropped off the day before. Deadman’s Path is the final path into St. John’s and it’s rated “difficult” and now we know why. This path encapsulated all the trail terrain we experienced over the past two weeks: shrubs, woods, cliffs, beaches and tricky climbs. Once you hit a difficult to cross beach, there’s a 1k climb to the top. This was our longest climb of the trip, but not the hardest (those were on Cape Broyle Head Path). After that, we walked over lots of shrub and exposed rock, got a view of St. John’s and started a tricky descent into Fort Amherst, where the trail ends. Overall, this trail was unremarkable, decent and difficult, but not particularly memorable. Again, a trail angel (whose name was Bob Angel, I kid you not) ended up behind us for about an hour. We got chatting as we walked into Fort Amherst and he offered us a ride to our hotel. Thanks Bob! (Day 14: 11k)

 

We did it!

We did it!

 

St. John’s: This city is TINY, but adorable. It’s so colourful and the harbour is so interesting. I can’t wait to come back during iceberg season. Over the course of the two weeks, JK and I became obsessed with getting pizza at the end of our journey (pizza was our Snapple), but once we were in the city on the prowl for pizza, we couldn’t find it anywhere. We ended up at the Yellow Belly, discovered they had pizza and went all out: pizza and nachos and beer. We also ran into two guys we met on the trail, who were in town for a wedding. Then we walked around town, got ice cream, and headed back to our hotel to watch some design television before passing out early (a habit I still haven’t kicked, despite being home for a few days.)

 

In sum, while I was disappointed our tent broke, the Harbour House gave us the energy we needed to make these last few days enjoyable — especially since we still managed to hike into St. John’s with our packs, as we always imagined. It was a necessary break. JK was a champ these past few days, as her knee situation was scary, but it all worked out in the end.

 

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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