ISLAND MEADOW PATH COMPLETED!
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, a number of Newfoundland municipalities declared a State of Emergency, with road washouts completely cutting them off from other parts of the island. The only link through the island, the Trans-Canada Highway, was cut in half at Terra Nova Park, and restoring the link took days.
The Avalon was spared from the damage wreaked on other parts of the island, but it’s not to say the storm didn’t have an effect here. We quickly discovered that the northern half of Island Meadow Path had been turned into a soupy mucky muddy mess. Given the nice firm trails we’d been faced with over the past few days, Séb and I were completely unprepared for the mud – we were both wearing our super-breathable cross-trainers (thankfully, there was a pair of boots in the car for Amélie!). We managed to keep our feet dry for almost a full kilometre by very carefully fording marshes and streams and wet spots. But that didn’t last. An hour in, were were both completely soaked. Trying to ensure Amélie’s feet wouldn’t get wet (since that would probably mean the end of the day’s progress), Séb’s pants got wet all the way to his knees.
At the four-kilometre mark, tragedy struck: We didn’t see how soft the ground was in one spot and Amélie’s foot went all the way in. The black muck swallowed her boot whole. Thankfully Séb caught her before she put her foot back down into the mud, but the damage was done. There we were, with less than a kilometre left for her to go and with a boot full of mud (inside and out). We scraped the inside of the boot as dry as we could, and explained that we were almost to the island (where we’d called it quits when we’d done the southern half of the trail earlier this summer). Thankfully, we were able to encourage her by giving her a hiking pole – something we’ve only allowed on a few occasions before. While it didn’t entirely take her mind off her discomfort and disgust, this distraction was enough for her to finish the hike.
In his fantastic guidebook to the ECT, Sander Meurs says,
“The north end (of Island Meadow Path), from Renews to Bear Cove, is defined by a hillside forest that is frequently so rough and wet you’ll need waterproof boots, gaiters, and a set of trekking poles.”
He wasn’t kidding
The East Coast Trail Association is very good at ensuring that the paths remain in fantastic shape. There are staircases wherever they’re needed for safety, brush clearing operations are carried out regularly so that the trails don’t grow over, stepping stones and wooden footbridges are installed wherever the ground tends to get mucky and wherever a stream is to be crossed (which, given the Southern Shore’s climate and vegetation, happens to be in a lot of places).
Island Meadow Path is definitely not as well-maintained as most other paths in the ECT system. And this is probably for good reason: unlike most of the other paths, Island Meadow offers relatively few great vistas since most of the trail is necessarily hidden away in the woodlands. As the last “hardened” trail to the south, it’s by far the farthest from our major population basins and tourists, and is therefore probably the least-travelled trail in the entire system. Even if this WAS a popular trail, the boggy ground makes it very difficult to enhance to a good dry-foot standard, since this would essentially require the Association to build a 3-kilometre boardwalk. I much rather that the Association invest its limited funds in ensuring our safety than in ensuring our comfort!
Maybe it’s like this so that we learn to better appreciate the other parts of the trail.
Despite the horrible muck, this was Amélie’s longest-ever uninterrupted hike on the trail. When we finally got to Island Meadow, we decided to risk it and keep heading south, to Bear Cove instead of going back on our very wet footsteps. This turned out to be a fantastic idea, since this part of the trail was in much, much better shape. Séb quickly managed to find a ride back to the car at the other trailhead, and came back to get us.
Eating a quesadilla and a burger at the ever-inviting In Da Loop restaurant , Amélie knew she’d surpassed our expectations.
She knew we were proud that she’d overcome her discomfort.
She knew we were proud that she’s managed to hike almost 5 kilometres on a difficult trail.
And she was beaming.
- 0.15km (Our house to Alder Hill)
- 1km (Alder Hill to Bears Cove Inn)
- 1.65km (Bears Cove Inn to Tobin Memorial)
- 1.5km (Tobin Memorial to Otter Cove)
- 1km (Otter Cove to Upper Red Cove)
- 0.6km (Upper Red Cove to South Head)
- 4km (South Head to Bay Bulls Trailhead parking lot)
- 3km (Bay Bulls Trailhead to Captain Wayne’s Excursions)
- 5.8km (Captain Wayne’s Excursions to the Bull Head Light)
- 7.2km (Fort Amherst to The Battery)
- 1.3km (Our house to Harrigan’s Grocery & Convenience)
- 3.5km (Harrigan’s Convenience to Camel Cove Beach)
- 1.8km (Mobile Beach to Herring Cove)
- 500m (Deadman’s Bay Trailhead to Lookout Point)
- 4km (Herring Cove to Camel Cove Beach)
- 2.5km (Mobile Beach to Cape Canine)
- 3.3km (Cape Canine to The Cribbies)
- 2.9km (The Cribbies to Burnt Cove Beach)
- 800m (LaManche Bridge to Herring Cove Point)
- 1km (Riverside Restaurant to the Cape Broyle Wharf)
- 2.7km (Bauline East Wharf to LaManche Bridge)
- 3.1km (The Battery to The Quidi Vidi Village Plantation)
- 1.5km (Quidi Vidi Village to Bawden’s Highlands)
- 4km (Cape Broyle Wharf to Pagoda Projects)
- 2km (Burnt Cove Beach to Bauline East Wharf)
- 5.4km (Cappahayden to Island Meadow)
- 800m (Blackhead village to Bull Cove)
- 3.5km (Brigus South to Hares Ears)
- 1.5km (Chafe’s Landing to Big Hill)
- 2km (Island Meadows Path Trailhead to Renews Bridge)
- 1.8km (Chafe’s Landing to Cape Spear Path trailhead)
- 2.5km (Flamber Head Trailhead to Hares Ears Point)
- 4.3km (Hares Ears Point to Admirald’s Cove trailhead)
- 4km (Calvert Plant to Castle Hill)
- 4.7km (Renews trailhead to Island Meadow)
- Amélie’s total progress: 90.8km/316km
- Distance walked by the adults today: 7km
- Total distance walked by the adults: 174.2km