On our return from Fort Amherst we decide to hike part of the initial section of the 230 KM (144 mile) East Coast Trail. Our commitment this day will be about the first 3 KM (1.9 miles) on Section 1 of 19. Our short hike will be on the Deadman’s Bay Path which travels 10.6 KM (6.6 miles) from Fort Amherst to Blackhead.
Although our hike must be brief to allow time for our later afternoon trip to Cape Spear, I am quite excited to have this unexpected opportunity.
At the beginning of Deadman’s Bay Path, within a few feet of the trailhead, there is a singular, rectangular, concrete pillar whose purpose eludes us, however, we will discover its reason for existence very soon.
Immediately, it becomes apparent our section of the trail will be an uphill exercise as we head for the top of a ridge high above us. Some trail sections are on wooden log stairs and others are on a rocky creek bed at the beginning.
Within a kilometre (0.6 mile) we hike to and around a large square concrete structure. From the back, it is apparently a reservoir to hold water from the creek bed we are hiking beside or on. Eureka! The concrete pillar at trailhead supported a wooden duct or metal pipe to supply water to troops at Fort Amherst.
As the elevation gain eases we hike past pristine meadows into forested areas and approach the top of the ridge, rock formations are reminiscent of miniature versions of Yosemite National Park’s granite domes.
Magnificent views of the coastline and the ocean begin to unfold. There is a storm down the coast, in the far distance, but skies over us are simply overcast.
As we make the short, final, altitude gains to the top of the ridge, the beauty of Freshwater Bay unfolds in front of and beneath us. We can see the dividing barachois between Freshwater Bay and Freshwater Pond. The next bay over is Deadman’s Bay.
We can see St. John’s in the far distance. Mel is sucking up blueberries like it is the world’s last crop. My suggestion she leave a few for other people falls on deaf ears. I have seen bears that could not strip berries off bushes so efficiently. Bears are not a big issue here. There are a lot of moose.
There is a lake below us and I am compelled to offtrail my way to its edge.
The lake is created by an old concrete dam. This is Soldier’s Pond. It does not appear to be all that secure but I am sure it is monitored.
Towards the bottom of the return hike, there is a better view of the concrete storage vault to regulate the flow of water from Soldier’s Pond. It also becomes an excellent foreground to the view over the Narrows and the base of Signal Hill.
The Canadian East Coast Trail is 230 KM ( 144 miles) long from stem to stern. It is a wilderness hiking experience combined with visits to 30 historic Newfoundland communities along the east shore of the Avalon Peninsula. There are 18 trail segments, plus one on the north side of Signal Hill in St. John’s called the 8.9 KM (5.4 miles) Sugarloaf Path connecting Logy Bay with Quidi Vidi Village.
The East Coast Trail offers pristine boreal forest, saturated and breathtaking coastal vistas, towering cliffs and headlands, sea stacks, deep fjords, a natural wave-driven geyser called the Spout, abandoned settlements, numerous lighthouses, ecological reserves, seabird colonies, whales spouting and breaching offshore, the 50 m (164 ft) suspension bridge at LaManche and an active archaeological dig from Lord Baltimore’s Colony of Avalon. Additionally, there are well-prepared meals at local restaurants and comfortable bed and breakfasts along the way. I am seriously thinking this trail needs to be done – by me, over three weeks, so there is plenty of time to relax and explore.
On the return walk along Southside Road to the car, we pass Frederick’s Cove and the slim remains of historic Frederick’s Battery.
Our next stop is further down the coast for a walking tour of Cape Spear which hosts Canada’s most easterly point, a historic World War II military installation and Newfoundland’s oldest surviving Lighthouse (ca. 1835).
The drive to Cape Spear passes along coves surrounded by fishing villages so pristine they appear too perfect to be real. There is an exemplary prevailing pride in each community. The two photos below feature one of these picturesque villages.
So far, this day is fascinating and on our way to Cape Spear we do not know the challenge of the day will be dinner at the end of the action packed day.