Monday, 17 December 2012

Postcards from Home: The Spout Path

Spout Path 9While I was home this summer I took advantage of the nice weather to try out the East Coast Trail. The ECT is new to me, having opened after I left the province. It currently runs from St. John's to Cappahayden. This 250-plus kilometers of trail is far too much to hike in one outing, so I have decided to hike it in pieces each time I am home. My first segment was a 7 hour hike on The Spout Path.

A trail whose sole purpose is for hiking, as opposed to going from one place to another, and that is maintained by a volunteer organization still strikes me as odd for Newfoundland. I cannot say why, though. It is probably just something I associate with other places and not home.

While the trail has numerous rough spots and at times can be hard to follow when passing through the woods, when it passes through barrens next to the ocean, it is pretty easy to see where you are.

Spout Path 10

These "barren" sections of the trail is where vegetation is waging an endless war against the hostile elements and mostly losing.

Spout Path 9

The shore in this part of the island is mostly formed by tall cliffs. This shot of a sea stack will give you some idea about the trail height above sea level.

Spout Path 1

There are parts of the trail where it got a little too close to the edge and my vertigo would kick in.

Spout Path 7

The Spout Path gets its name from a "geyser", which is visible from distant parts of the trail as you approach it.

Spout Path 8

Fundamental to The Spout is this unremarkable little stream tumbling down over the rocks, as wild flowers look on.

Spout Path 3

The magic happens where the stream falls down through a hole and meets surging waves bearing upward. The result is more like a whale's blowhole rather than a geyser, but still impressive.

Spout Path 4

The Spout isn't the only attraction along the trail. As you hike, you can see whales, birds, and assorted sea traffic in the offing. Some of the sea traffic are others looking for whales. Captain Wayne clearly thinks that speed is the best way to track down a whale or two.

Spout Path 5

Further off in the offing there was quite a bit of heavy traffic. In one scan of the horizon I could see a destroyer, an off-shore supply vessel, and this container ship.


My "light" camera pack is still a bit too heavy, and carrying it on a 7 hour hike certainly tested my endurance. I was very happy to see the lighthouse just the other side of Useless Bay. I knew when I rounded the corner I would find a cold beer and a bed in Bay Bulls.

Spout Path 2

Before heading out onto the trail, I bought maps and a trail guide from the ECTA, the group that maintains the trail. I would rate the material as a good effort, but certainly not on a par with the better hiking guide material I have used elsewhere. The guide book was not designed for quickly reading while on the trail; it is too "fancy" a design for that. The maps don't work well with a GPS, which given how expensive they are, is a big oversight. The trail is mostly well signed, but there are a few spots where additional signage would save time hunting for the trail, such as at The Spout itself. The trail is quite rough in many sections and additional work on the trail is needed. All of this is before a major storm blew through in the fall and downed many trees on the trail. Still, the ECTA is a volunteer organization with limited resources and every bit of effort should be applauded and the dedication of the volunteers admired. The trail itself is worth the effort to hike and as always in Newfoundland, the scenery is spectacular.

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