Kerri Ough - a work in progress...

Cold Weather Hiking: Biscan Cove Path

November 5, 2017
Biscan Cove Path: Pouch Cove to Cape St. Francis (7.3km one-way)
Weather: sunny with a high of 3 degrees
Our hike: Pouch Cove to Spud’s Rock (6.3km one-way, 13.6km round trip)

On Saturday afternoon, on a whim, we drove up to Pouch Cove (pronounced “Pooch” Cove) because the sun came out and we were getting squirrelly indoors. There’s a road up north of town that we’ve always wanted to drive down, but could never consider doing with our former car, a small Hyundai Elantra. I was driving, and when we reached that road, Brian urged me to go for it and I did for about 200 metres, before backing down the road, shaking my head saying, “No, no, no, I will not be responsible for bottoming out our new beautiful Subaru Outback.” I turned back, parked at the nearby ball field, where East Coast Trail hikers are asked to park, and we headed toward the trail. It was about 2:30pm, the weather was sunny and windy, probably 8 degrees. We walked in maybe a kilometre or so and reached a gorgeous bald rock and looked over the Atlantic Ocean. Neither of us was hike-ready as this was supposed to be a driving trip, not a hiking trip – I was wearing rainboots, Brian was in jeans. We stopped at the bald rock, consulted the weather forecast for Sunday, considered that we would have an extra hour of daylight due to DST and made plans to return first thing the next morning.

Sunday morning, we awoke to a sunny one-degree day, Brian made oatmeal, I hardboiled some eggs and made coffee. We packed trail mix and water, dressed in our warmest hiking clothes and headed back to Pouch Cove toward the Biscan Cove Path.

I opted to bring my Canon 60D camera with me, since it wasn’t an overnight camping trip, meaning I could stand the extra 10-12 pounds in my backpack. I knew the views were going to be gorgeous, and I wanted more than iPhone quality pictures to bring back with me.

As an early side note to this story, one-degree weather along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, with whipping winds feels a lot colder than freezing. I mention this because, when we decided on Saturday (in 8-degree weather) to return to do this hike the following day, we knew it would be cold, and started to mentally prepare for a cold-weather hike, but no matter how hard I tried on Saturday to “feel the cold” it didn’t set in until we started the 300m walk from the car to the trail head and truly felt the cold in my bones.

It didn’t last long though, because the first kilometre of the trail is essentially a climb up a rock. It warmed us and we were greeted to a great first vista. I’ve seen the ocean from many spots along the East Coast Trail, and I’m here to tell you, it never gets dull. On a sunny day, it’s especially fetching.

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The trail is marked moderate and we found it to be more or less true. There are parts of the trail that are so easy to walk, and so beautifully cared for I was kicking myself for never having hiked this part of the ECT until this weekend and for not bringing any of our visitors to Biscan Cove in our four years living here.

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The interior parts of the trail are as pretty as the coastal sections. There are a lot of stairs along the trail and mesh covered wooden trail sections, which make it feel especially well maintained. Because it was cold out, the boggy and muddy sections were firm and I appreciated that. It makes for easy and quick hiking not having to constantly side step muddy sections. There are about four steep climbs along the trail (to where we ended at least) and this was the only thing that made me think the trail should be marked as “more than moderate.” The climbs were pretty intense.

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When we were on the coastal sections, it was cold and windy. Almost out of nowhere, especially after a quiet and peaceful forest section, an icy breeze forced our faces down and our feet to pick up the pace. I took a few photos out there anyway because I’m driven by a need to archive. I told Brian years ago, if he ever wanted to convince me to go on a hike, all he had to do was tell me there would be great photo opportunities along a trail. It was worth carrying my heavy camera to have this crisp clear photo of Brian enjoying an early November hike.

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(The photo below is from my iPhone. I love how he looks like a logo for an outdoor equipment company.)

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The next three photos were taken from Spuds Rock, probably around the 6.5km mark on the path. It was 11:30am at this point and we had probably been out for 2.5 hours. Though the goal was to go right to Cape St. Francis (the full 7.3km) we chose to end the hike up there on a high note and start trekking back along the same trail. If we had kept going, we anticipated another descent and climb, and maybe an extra hour of hiking. We were happy with what we’d accomplished and we were already making plans for a return visit.

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At noon, we stopped here to gorge on oatmeal, eggs and trail mix, and to shelter ourselves from the wind. Probably we stopped for 20 minutes, long enough to start to feel the cold creep back in.

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While I ate, I removed my gloves (obviously) but I left them off too long, because the fingers on my left hand started to tingle and go white. This is my camping weakness, when my tiny hands and fingers are exposed get cold fast, and start to freak out. And since I need my hands and fingers to play the piano, banjo and guitar, I doubled up my gloves with winter mittens and took to the path, doubling my pace in an effort to get my circulation moving and to get blood to my extremities.

As always, I don’t take as many photos on the return trip, which means two things 1) that the last photo I have is from our lunch stop, and 2) that we made incredible time not having to stop for me to lug out good ol’ 60D for more photo memories. I had what I wanted at this point, so I was happy to boot it back to the car. My hands warmed up in 5 minutes of climbing one of the steeper inclines and we made it to the car by 2:30pm.

For dinner we gorged on noodle soup and hearty yam sushi. We fell asleep at 8pm (no word of a lie) partly because of daylight saving time, partly because that’s Brian’s ideal bedtime before a cruel 4:30am wake up call, but I’d say mostly because of that epic 13km hike out and back in the cold on a glorious Sunday.

xo/ko
Nov 7, 2017

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