When we returned from our camping adventure last weekend, I overheard Brian say to his running buddy: “It’s a dream really, having a wife who likes camping and hiking as much as I do.”
It made me smile, and it made me wonder why we haven’t backpacked/camped together until now. Sure, we’ve done lots of hiking and we’ve spent loads of time on our bikes together. We’ve car-camped a dozen times; we even spent 10 days in Arizona and Utah camping in National Parks.
This was different, though. This was planning an overnight trip and 18km of hiking. This was packing a tent, 2 sleeping bags, food and water for 2 people for 24 hours. This was packing clothes for an overnight temperature in the middle of nowhere of 3 degrees. This was new to me and I loved it.
Don’t get me wrong, after my first and 89th soaker there were some colourful curse words leaving my mouth for only Brian and the moose to hear. After trudging through muck and bramble and ascending and descending hundreds of stairs for 4 hours, my thighs were burning, and my back was sore from my 35-pound pack.
But all I could think of was that a year ago, I was unable to walk, let alone hike 18km and sleep on the ground with my husband. That thought, that memory, the realization that sometimes our bodies get hurt and then they heal, had me trucking through a difficult trail for hours, with a smile on my face.
Hiking is incredibly exhilarating, but if you haven’t yet experienced the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland, you are missing out on some of the most breathtaking vistas you’ll ever see. We dipped deep into beautiful damp forests and out again to the finest coastal views. This was the view from the mid-point of the trail.
We chose the Flamberhead Trail with an access road that is 1km long and a hike of 8.2km to the Roaring Cove Campsite where we landed for the night. We did it all again the next morning, and it was just as beautiful, once the clouds cleared and the sun and wind hit our faces for four hours.
This was a nice iceberg surprise after about 4km of hiking. It wasn’t on the IcebergFinder.com website that morning, so imagine our delight when it appeared on our hike!
We left late in the day for our hike, an unusual move for us, but it allowed us to say goodbye to our lovely family of house guests who had been with us for a week, and it allowed for a 30-minute nap before we rallied and started packing our bags. The sun is staying up late these days, so we weren’t too worried about having to hike in the dark. Also, since Brian had been to this campsite in September - accessed from a different trail – we knew what we were looking for at the end of the day. What we didn’t expect in the last two minutes of our four hour hike was the river we had to cross to reach our campsite – usually passable by foot, but much higher than when Brian was there last. That meant the only way across to our campground was walking through the icy river, which would mean having icy cold shoes and feet at the beginning of our hike the following morning. But we would worry about that when the time came. After surveying the the river and rocks we could use to jump across, we grabbed a branch from the ground and balanced our way across the river to the beautiful, remote campsite (my new favourite place on earth) the Roaring Cove campsite.
I surprised Brian with a couple of beers I had lugged all day in my pack and we enjoyed them along with a Backpacker’s hot meal of Veggie Chili cooked on our camping stove. We dressed in warm socks, windproof clothing and enjoyed watching the day disappear into the clouds. My only concerns for the night were hungry moose and keeping warm. I was bothered by neither in the night – I was toasty in my sleeping bag, and no moose (that I am aware of) visited us in the night – despite the thousands of piles of moose droppings we encountered (and stepped in) along the way.
And you know what else? No bugs. Partly due to the wind, the time of year, and the cold air at night. But it finally occurred to me after a weekend away in northern Ontario at the end of May a week later that what probably kept me from this type of camping before now was mosquitos. As a mosquito delicacy, I shy away from hikes where bugs will chew me up. I react to everything, and this hike had none of that. It was windy, and sunny and exciting, and BUG FREE!!! So here’s a picture of me, with soggy feet, freckles and a toque acting as my hair tie (as mine was lost somewhere in my sleeping bag) happy as a friggin’ clam that I had zero bug bites on this trip.