Tag Archives: Cripple Cove Path

Starrigans on Cripple Cove Path

Hi folks, went for a short hike to stretch my legs after testing them on Picco’s Ridge. I decided the Cripple Cove Loop (or, the loop created by the old trail and the new, to be honest about it, I didn’t go all the way to Cripple Cove) would be a nice, refreshing little bit of exercise.

I didn’t take many pics (the goal was the exercise and so I was just going instead of taking pics) but I had to stop at the starrigans near the start of the trail… it’s just one of those magical places that you can’t pass without stopping to admire.

Few pics below!

The First Half of May on the ECT – Lots of Hikes and New Gear!

May has been about getting myself back into hiking shape. I started the month by taking Heather out to see Cripple Cove for the first time. There was no talk of rope-assisted climbs or kilometers of dirt road, which Heather tells me would have led to a veto of the activity. It was for the best as this is can’t-miss trail IMHO! Anyhow, we had a heck of a day, saw a bald eagle (or two), one of which chased a smaller, unidentified bird of prey away from a perch which could have been a nest: I consistently see bald eagles near Cripple Cove and so I assumed they were nesting in the area. A few pics from the Cripple Cove leg of the White Horse Path; more hike talk below:

I experienced some knee pain at the end of that hike so along with an exercise/stretch regimen I decided to make the next few flat: my issue is “hiker’s knee,” which flares up when too much strain is put on the knees walking downhill. The next one for me, then, would be the first few kilometers of the Stiles Cove Path as far as Shoe Cove. This is mostly flat with one glaring exception on the approach to Shoe Cove itself. I felt a little tinge but it was a spectacular day and overall my knees held up.

There is a moose carcass at Shoe Cove, it is somewhat decomposed at this point but some folks would probably still find it a little unpleasant. It’s in the middle of the beach and is hard to miss. Kind of sad and gross in this prime hiking destination; I understand that it’s the circle of life etc. but some folks are going to be turned off from Shoe Cove which is sad because IMHO it’s one of the highlights of the ECT. Pics and more discussion below, WARNING, there is a pic of the moose carcass:

Next up was the north end of the Cape Spear Path. I was disappointed to see very clear mountain bike tracks on the trail. Bikes are clearly prohibited on this section of trail and as you can see there is a clear impact on the treadway. I saw bike tracks heading off the trail and into sensitive flora. Not cool.

Anyhow, I had never hiked the complete side trail to North Head, and when I got out there I was feeling good, so I checked it out before heading down to Summerside. This is a part of the trail that fascinates me: apparently, there was at one time habitation at this location, complete with its own trail. I have searched and can find no sign of this habitation. It must have been a windswept, difficult location in winter, completely open and somewhat wet in places. In one of the pictures below I have indicated a linear collection of rocks that could be clearing for human activity, a rock wall, or even the base of a building of some sort, but it’s really reaching. There remains little to indicate humans ever resided here. There’s something fascinating about  that to me! A few pics of that hike; and more hike talk below:

Another day, another hike: next up was a tester on the Beaches Path for my new backpack, an Osprey Exos 48, lightweight for the extended trips. I picked mine up at liveoutthere.com, a great little Canadian shop. I packed a couple of things but left it basically empty, wanting to get a feel for it without adding too much weight to strain my knees. I was thoroughly impressed with it. I hadn’t yet removed the Cotton Carrier from my Marmot bag though, so I left the camera home, hence the iPhone pics below.

It was a foggy, chilly day along the Beaches Path, but it made for a crisp hike and some good pictures, and the smell of the ocean was something else. If there’s one smell that brings to mind memories of home it’s the salt air on a cool, crisp day. I breathed it deep as I hiked. There was a fair bit of mud and water along the trail; it was far wetter than I remember it. Perhaps it just needed a few more dry days. More hike chat past the pics:

Last but not least, Saturday started mauzy but turned into a heck of a day for a hike once the sun came out, so I hit Mickeleen’s Path for Saturday afternoon jaunt on another relatively flat trail. There was a  lot of traffic on the trail which is great to see. The treadway itself was much drier than Beaches a few days before, but there was still mud in spots, and for hikers looking to take the loop back to Bay Bulls, the Old Track had a few wet spots as well. These were easy to avoid, however.

Today’s gear test was the first hanging of my new hammock, a Hennessy Hammocks Expedition Asym Zip. I didn’t fully string the rain fly but did successfully lash the thing into place, and then proceeded to nearly fall asleep when testing it out. I packed up the hammock and fly in the “Snakeskin” wraps and put it all away, and left the site with a grin on my face: can’t wait to try the hammock out on an overnight!

Best news of all, which also had me grinning… no knee pain on either of the last three hikes! Fingers crossed that the work I’m doing (exercise/stretching, losing weight, improved trekking pole technique are all partially responsible for the improvement IMHO) continues to bear fruit!

A few pics of the hammock and hike below. Have fun on the trails!

Checking out the Cripple Cove Path!

Hi folks,

A couple of years ago I found out that the ECTA are in the process of building a new trail that starts from Cape St. Francis and would eventually make its way Bauline, and in the long term, points further south. There isn’t a heck of a lot of information out there about it, but between the hints dropped by the ECTA over the last couple of years and posts about the trail on another blog a couple of years back (thanks, Newfoundsander!) I felt confident that whatever condition the trail was in I’d be able to find my way out to Cripple Cove, at least. I was surprised to see a trail that’s nearing completion (with a few big jobs remaining, of course), complete with signage! The ECTA have outdone themselves with this path, folks! In an effort to describe the trail given that there are no official maps yet, this post is a bit wordy… feel free to skip right to the pics!

The first task was finding the trailhead. Having hiked the Biscan Cove Path to Cape St. Francis a number of times (this is my favorite leg!), I had looked but was previously unable to find it. Today though I had no trouble… the trailhead is marked with an official ECT trailhead sign! This was a good start. It can be found at the end of the road to the Cape St. Francis lighthouse, perhaps 25 m or so before you get to the fenced gate.

The tone for the trail is immediately set: up one side of a hill and down the other. The elevation changes on this trail are significant for this first leg, at least, with a big climb up around Big Cove (North). After climbing over some barren rocks, hikers climb back down to Back Cove, and then up the other side, where they encounter the first real obstacle due to the unimproved nature of the trail: the rope-assisted climbs and descents. I knew there were at least two of those and they’re very early in the trail. The first one is in woods and is almost unnecessary, but the second one is in a scary spot for folks who don’t like heights and might be worth skipping if you’re a nervous hiker.

Once we’re down off the hills surrounding Back Cove, the trail enters a fascinating section of dead trees on the west side of Back Cove. I know “tuckamore” is the name given to the bonsai-like trees that grow along the coast in Newfoundland, and these things were at one point that, but I’m pretty sure there’s another name in Newfoundland for areas of dead tuckamore like this and I can’t for the life of me remember it. Edit: the word I was looking for is starrigans! Anyhow, this section is pretty fascinating. From here, hikers round the coast and head up around Big Cove (North), first passing through a crevasse and then climbing steeply to a ridgeline from which views of Biscan Cove are available once again. The view of Big Cove from up here is spectacular.

After walking the ridgeline for a few minutes, hikers start the descent towards Cripple Cove. The intersection with the old trail is here: hikers can find the old trailhead on a nondescript turn on the Cape St. Francis road, hopefully my pictures help. If you’re looking to skip the rope bridges this is the way to go, but be warned, you’re also missing the dead tuckamore and the ridgeline walk which are really worth seeing.

From here, a little more up and down, as hikers pass through a rather large swath of forest regenerating from what looks like insect kill, before descending to Cripple Cove over some bald rocks. The trail continues past the Cripple Cove branch to Bauline. I’ll explore this ASAP!

Cripple Cove itself is accessible by a side trail and is the highlight of this section of the trail, at least. A beautiful little cove surrounded by cliffs, A walk out onto the hilltop known as the Barracks affords hikers spectacular views of Gull and Cripple Cove Rocks just off the coast, and Conception Bay on the other side, which the trail rounds and begins to follow. I was lucky enough to see two bald eagles as I climbed to the top of the headland, this far northwestern point on the trail.

Just a spectacular hike, folks, and highly recommended! I’ve taken a lot of pics so that folks can have a good idea of what to expect on this trail. Included in the pics are a description of the old trail and how to access it: on my return trip I walked out that way and then back in to finish the hike in order to document it as well. At any rate, here are the pics!