Friday, August 05, 2011

Hiking from Bottle Cove to South Head

The committee responsible for developing tourism in the area around Bottle Cove have added some great hiking trails over the past few years. This has involve cutting tracks through the bush and marking the way with ribbons on trees and other signage, as well as making small wooden bridges and causeways from pressure treated timber to go over boggy terrain and streams. The trails are of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty.

Today we decided to walk the trail to South Head over the saddle at the foot of Grassy Gulch. Harvey had often mentioned this hike and it was always a favourite of his. He'd been going to take us, but got sick before we had created the kind of time and space away from building to be able to take leisure hikes. But today we got stuff around the house finished by early afternoon and decided to make the hike. The information said to allow a couple of hours each way. We began at sea level and around 4 kilometres later were at 330 metres. Sometimes the trail was steep, other times it was reasonably flat, but always it was challenging under foot. There were lots of roots and stumps to trip on and loose rock to slide on if we weren't careful. We passed lots of birds and frogs and saw plenty of moose hoof prints.

Setting off from the beacon we first passed the waterfall that constitutes a short hike in its own right. The waterfall hike goes to near the base of the falls, but the South Head trail passes above the falls. There was plenty of bush and occasional small breakouts into grassland in areas where streams and glacial action had levelled some of the land out.

Reaching the half way point we saw that someone had remembered Harvey by scribbling his name on the sign. That was nice to see. From there we crawled our way up Grassy Gulch, getting great views back to the south, including of our house and barn and the gulf and back to the Port a Port Peninsula, which we could see through the gap of Cedar Cove.

Once over the saddle at Grassy Gulch we could see the Bay of Islands, but were almost blown over by the wind blowing up the valley from the west – across from York Harbour, blowing clear up the Humber Arm – the same wind that terrorises the whole “Blow Me Down” area. A few hundred metres on we reached the end of the trail. We could see the South Head Light through binoculars and got a great view of a wood chip boat that had sailed up from Corner Brook Mill and was making its way south toward Nova Scotia.

After having a drink of water and eating some trail mix we turned back, making a few rest stops on the way back, feeling the pinch even though the hike back was mostly down hill.

We got back around 6pm, having left a little after 2pm. It was an honest 2 hours each way, allowing for photo-taking an occasional rest stops. Once back at the cottage I took a couple of photos looking up to Grassy Gulch to give a sense of where we had gone in relation to the house. The saddle at Grassy Gulch is near the centre of the top of the hill line in the photos.

The pix don't do justice to the walk. It was fantastic.

And here's a very raw video of the hike (apologies for the laboured narration).


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