Friday, August 24, 2012

Hiking to Simms Canyon

I'm alive and well after our hiking trip to Simms Canyon. Trent and I left Whitbourne Wednesday evening and drove as far as Springdale, then drove to Frenchman's Cove Thursday morning where the trail head is. The trail only goes the first 4 kms in, the rest we did with our eyeballs and map and compass. I'm pretty tired and sore, and my feet are just about destroyed from blisters. All worth it though. The area we went was just like the moon. Very similar to the Tablelands in Gros Morne. Lots of wildlife including a black bear with 2 cubs, 10 moose in less than 10 minutes, 3 caribou, 5 grouse and lots more moose. Total distance was between 45 and 50kms in 3 days. We hiked for 5 hrs the first day, then 10.5 the second day, then 9.5hrs the third day. We had a couple of big climbs that almost killed me. Getting in and out of Simms Canyon was nuts! We got back to the car at 4pm or so on Saturday, then we drove all the way back to Whitbourne, arriving around 1am. Awesome trip overall, the West Coast rocks!

Theres a lot of cool stuff to see here in Newfoundland, you just gotta get off your ass and go see it.

The start of the trail

After 4kms or so the trail starts to disappear

With the trail gone, the only way to go was up
Near the top, you can see the Bay of Islands and Corner Brook in the distance
Blow Me Down mountains and their interesting geology
Beautiful campsite
Moonscape on top of the mountains
The start of Simms Canyon. Looks like Arizona
The canyon starts getting bigger
Lunch break on the river. Buffalo chicken wraps. MMMM!
Suddenly the canyon dropped away, so we had to skirt to the eastern side to find a way down
This scree slope provided a route down, but it wasn't easy.
Campsite inside Simms Canyon
Western side of the canyon. Big waterfall behind our campsite
Climbing out of the canyon. What a view! We saw a black bear and 2 cubs climbing the same slope earlier in the morning
When we got to the top, the fog rolled in. Time for map and compass navigation
Lots of moose on the 3rd day. These 3 were lying in the bushes in front of us and stood up when we got close. We didn't even know they were there. After that we turned around and 7 more came out of the woods to cross the bog behind us.
We followed this river most of the way back
Making our way back down the mountain. Almost back to the car now.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Cape St. Mary's

This past Saturday Trent and I finally got to do a paddle we've wanted to do for years, Cape St. Mary's. I've read that there are usually only 1 or 2 days a month that you can do this paddle, due to weather and sea conditions in the area. I don't think there are many areas of the island that are more exposed than this.

I had been watching the weather for a few days and driving home from an evening paddle around Dildo Island with Angie I was trying to figure out where I should go for a day paddle when it hit me, the weather at Cape St Mary's should be perfect. When I got home I double checked the weather and wave forecast from Less than 1m seas and max wind speed of 8knots. Ideal conditions for this paddle. I called Trent and we were all set to go in the morning.

We were on the water by 9:30am, departing from St. Brides marina.

Almost the entire coast is 200-300ft cliffs with very few landing options.

The Old Cape Shore

There were lots of caves, slots and tickles to play around in and explore. Due to the distance we had to cover to get to the Cape, we didn't have a lot of time to explore like we would have liked, but some places we just couldn't resist.

Slot between Island Head and the mainland

There were lots of seals hanging out on the rocks along the way. They spook pretty easily and dive into the water as soon as we were in sight of them, so it was hard to get a good picture of anything besides their heads poking out of the water.

What are you looking at?

Cliffs and waterfalls

Heading to the Cape. You can see the lighthouse on top

Another seal on the way

Rounding the Cape. This area is very surly, with shoals and the convergence of  currents. Even with seas today at less than 1m, this area was unstable and confused. We stayed very wide!

There it is! Bird Rock

The bird sanctuary. 30,000 nesting pairs of gannets
Several large caves near Bird Rock

What a day!

There were a lot of birds in the air above us, and the noise was deafening. Very impressive sight. I just kept hoping that I wouldn't get shit on. It was falling all around us, but we got through the shit gauntlet unscathed.

Checking out some caves

A slot in the cliffs. Pretty cool

Another slot directly opposite the larger one shown above

Trent gets close to a seal

Our only stop during the 6.5 hr day. Boy did I need to pee at that point!

Some seals and a Cormorant (aka Shag) about to take wing

Basking seals

The largest slot I've ever paddled through, the picture doesn't really show how long it actually was

The last cave we checked out on the way back

So we had a fantastic day on the water. If you go 'point to point' you can reach Bird Rock and back in about 25kms. With the amount of exploring we did along the way it was about 30kms for us and took us 6.5 hrs including our lunch break. Another option is to leave St. Brides and put out at Point Lance, but you would need a car shuttle in this case. The total paddling distance is also about 25kms. If you plan to do this paddle, you have pick your day carefully. The fetch for this area goes from Cape St. Mary's all the way to Brazil, so the seas are nasty here almost all the time, with only 2 or 3 sensible 'bailout' options.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Whale Encounter in Chapel Arm

On Saturday morning my brother and I went for a paddle from Spread Eagle over into Chapel Arm. On our way back a minke whale surfaced about 30 feet in front of us. Wow! We were really excited. Then we realized we were paddling right over a school of capelin, and this guy was feeding. We were looking around for where he would come up next when all of a sudden SPLASH! He came out of the water right between us. I managed to snap this picture before he went under again.

Holy $hit!!!!!

He came up on his side with his mouth open, you can see in the picture the white of his belly and lines under his open mouth. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life, and I’ve done a lot of paddling over the last 7 years. After that he turned around and started heading toward us on my side.

I see you under there

In the above pic, you can see the foamy water on the left where he had just surfaced, and if you look in the water you can see the white of his right fin. He was heading right towards me, then started to come up. I was yelling “HES COMING UP  HES COMING UP!!!!!” backpaddling as fast as I could. The water under the bow of my kayak started to get foamy, and I could have pushed off the whales head with my paddle, then he quickly went under again. Almost like he realized I was there at the last second then went under again.

 Anyways, after that we were both shaking with adrenaline. We got as close to the cliffs as we could and watched him swimming around feeding for about 20 minutes before he swam away.

Craziest thing that ever happened to me, hands down!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Avondale in the Evening

Last week me, Chislett and Travis Marshall, went out for a few hours in Avondale. Always a great location for a short paddle. 10kms in about 2 hrs. A few photos below:

Shipwreck in Conception Harbour

Travis's S&G Pygmy Osprey. Nice craft

Me having fun

Nice Evening

Checking out some lobster pots

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chapel Arm

My wife is in the Dominican Republic with her friends, my daughter is with her grandparents, so that for me means: paddle as much as possible. After dropping Heidi off in Chance Cove me and Chislett hit the water in Chapel Arm for a few hours in the afternoon. There was a bit of a breeze and some dandy wind waves to play in. We paddled on the eastern side of the arm as far as Little Ridge, where we stopped for a short lunch, then surfed our way back to the slipway. As a bonus, on our way back a minke whale surfaced right behind us! Scared the crap out of me, but was awesome all the same :-)

Altogether about 8kms and just under 2 hrs. Here are a few pics.
Getting ready to leave the slipway

Short stop in Spread Eagle beach

Lovely waterfall

Hanging out under a cliff

Looking back at Chapel Arm from Little Ridge