Getting a Hitch in a Semi-Truck
ECT Day 217&218
IAT Day 48&49
Day 217: zero day
This morning we all slept in a bit at the room which was great. Because of the weather here in Newfoundland we are planning to southbound hike the province. Along our way north we stopped off to hike the Gros Morne. Now we need to make it another 250 miles north to begin our hike back south.
Originally, we thought we might be able to get a lift with Ivan, the taxi driver who brought us to Gros Morne. But he isn’t able to drive today. So we spent our morning figuring out what to do. Trucker went out to grab coffee and brought back a bunch of breakfast for all of us. Then we all got our things packed and started a load of laundry at the laundromat down the street.
Around 11am we checked out of the room and then went over to the laundromat. We waited for the dryer to finish up before we began trying to hitch. There are no buses that we could find which go from Rocky Harbour to L’Ance aux Meadows where we will begin our hike south. We wound up making a sign that said “North/St Anthony” and hoped to get as far north as we could.
We waited along the side of the road for maybe 10 minutes before the first car picked us up. Inside was an older couple who was out for a drive. They said that they were headed back to St Paul where they lived. That was about 20 miles north of where we were in Rocky Harbour. They wound up dropping us off at a gas station which was super convenient.
Before continuing to hitch we stopped off at the gas station for some food and drinks. Then we began thumbing again. It took about 10-15 minutes for the next car to pick us up. The man Douglas had his adorable 13 year old dog Jim in the car. Sparkle and I squeezed into the back seat with Jim the dog and got a lift for another 20 or so miles. We weren’t necessarily making it super far but we were heading in the right direction!
Douglas dropped us off near a trailhead parking lot and a motel which had a restaurant. And the three of us went right back out to the road to start hitching again. It was around 3pm at this point and we still had a long ways to go. After waiting for another 15-20 minutes another car pulled over. The guy inside was a fisherman. But recently he’s been working on some plastering for a friend of his. He was actually heading almost an hour north which was fantastic.
While he drove, he showed us some pictures of scallops and fish he had caught at work. All the rides that we had today were really great pleasant experiences. After about 40 or so minutes we made it where our ride was going to turn off the main road and head to his house. He dropped us off at a junction which had traffic intersecting from two different roads. That was helpful because it meant there would be more cars going by us. Then we kept on hitching!
Within just a few minutes of getting dropped off yet another vehicle pulled over for us. But this one was something special. Originally when I saw the semi truck rolling down the road I joked that a dream of mine was to get a hitch in a semi. I always stick my thumb out when they go by even though it’s so unlikely that someone driving a semi is going to pick you up. But today it finally happened!
An 18 wheeler loaded with fish pulled over and the guy inside side that he could take us an hour and a half north! That was truly the hitch that we had been needing all day. Sparkle and I loaded into the back of the truck. We spent the whole hour and a half ride sitting on the truckers bed, which was hilarious. What a comfortable way to travel though!
The semi driver blasted music and I wound up actually blogging for a while. I was seated so comfortably that it was the perfect opportunity to do so. This hitch was going to leave us with just about 50 miles to go. Not bad considering we had hitched nearly 200 miles so far today! Somehow the long drive actually went by really quickly. Before I knew it the truck was pulling over by his house and letting us out. I can’t believe that I get to check this epic adventure off of my bucket list! I’ve always wanted to get a hitch in a semi or on the back of a motorcycle. I’ve just always thought that would be so cool.
Once we got dropped off it was around 5:30pm and we were running low on daylight. I knew in my mind that we would probably wind up stealth camping somewhere along the road. But at the same time I was still hopeful that someone could pick us up.
Within just a few minutes a car pulled over and offered us a ride. He could only bring us for about 10 miles, but we would take anything we could get. So he took us as far as he could and let us out. From there we began walking, continuing to hitch, and trying to find a stealth camp for the night. As it began to get dark the cars driving by seemed progressively less eager to pull over. We may have gotten 5 hitches today but it was looking like our luck had run out.
As the sun began to set, we were lucky enough to see a herd of caribou walking through the marsh alongside the road. They weren’t close enough to get a good picture, but it was so incredible to see. Their coats are beginning to change into bright white as winter approaches. They are such incredible animals.
After 7pm it was clear that we weren’t going to be getting another hitch tonight. So we began to look around for a place to set up our tents. All of the land alongside the road here in Newfoundland is open to the public. Individuals can till the land alongside the road to plant a garden if they would like to. They can even store their firewood along the roads in the summer for it to dry out. We found an old abandoned garden area and decided to tent alongside it because the area was nice and flat. I got my tent set up and then began to stretch and do my nightly routine.
We may not have gotten where we needed to get today, but I still think we did a good job. The hitch we needed was about 230 miles in total. And we hitched just under 200 miles today! That’s honestly impressive. The taxi driver estimated us a price of $450 to drive us that far north. All day today people drove us further and further north out of the kindness of their hearts. Everyone just happened to be heading that direction.
Tomorrow we still have to find a ride those last 40 or so miles north. We plan to get dropped off at L’Anse aux Meadows which is an old Viking village. That will add a few extra miles to our route but we want to see the village. It’s the oldest settlement in the northeast and not something you can just pass by.
I hung out with Sparkle in her tarp tent for a bit after I got my tent situated. We talked in there for a while and then I headed back to my tent to call it a night.
Day 218: 15 miles
This morning we woke up around 6:30am and packed up camp. We weren’t in a rush to get a super early start because we needed to begin hitching once again. I didn’t think there would be a lot of cars on the road crazy early in the morning.
The morning started off cold and quiet. No one was pulling over for us which was quite the bummer. We had such great luck yesterday but today wasn’t looking so good. While we hitched we just kept walking. These miles though don’t even count towards the IAT so it just felt like a waste. We wound up walking until around 9/9:30am when the first car finally pulled over.
To our surprise the driver of the car was the same guy from last night! He was the last car to take us for the day and could only bring us about 10 miles. This morning he was heading over to St Anthony to the airport to pick berries and said he could bring us the 10 or so miles to there. That worked out perfectly. We figured we might have better luck hitching from the junction because it will be busier.
When we got to the junction we all dropped our packs and began hitching. Sparkle isn’t feeling good today and thinks she’s getting sick. Which is such a bummer because we have been spending all of our time together. So now I’m worried that I will likely get sick too. Neither of us wanted to continue walking the unnecessary miles north. Instead we just plopped down to wait for a ride. But after a while when no one came by we decided to see if there were any shuttle or taxi services in the area. We were right by the St Anthony airport.
Trucker found a taxi that was able to come from St Anthony and take us to the Viking Village. They were only about 30 minutes away so we just had to sit and wait. But like clockwork, just a few minutes later someone pulled over and offered us a ride! We didn’t take it because the taxi was already on its way. But it’s so funny how things work out.
The taxi arrived and dropped us off at L’Anse aux Meadows around 11:30am. Finally we are basically back on the IAT! We will walk from here back to the trailhead. It adds a few miles on but I’m excited to see the old Viking village and surrounding area.
There was a visitor center where we were able to fill up our water, drop trash, and even cop some wifi. Sparkle was feeling so sick at this point so we hung out at the visitor center for a while. Then we walked around the property to explore the old village grounds. I can’t believe that it’s the oldest settlement in the entire northeast. Hiking in Newfoundland has been a more incredible adventure than I could at ever imagined.
We walked down by the ocean, and I couldn’t resist sticking my hand in. I have now touched the water at the further point in northern Newfoundland! Later on this year I will touch the water at key west, Florida, after I have hiked the distance in between the two.
There were huts along the property built underground like hobbit houses. You could go inside and explore the set ups similar to a museum. It was such a cool place to walk around. Then we continued along a road to connect our steps back to the IAT. The trail climbed up a cliff overlooking the ocean. There were epic ocean views the entire way up. And once you got all the way to the top there was a platform to sit at and hangout.
We decided to take a break up top to enjoy the views. It’s been such a treat walking alongside the ocean on the IAT. So much of the walking in Quebec and now Newfoundland follows along the water.
After a little while we headed out. Sparkle was still feeling really crummy so we didn’t plan to go much further. There was a motel down the road in about 7 miles. That seemed like the perfect place to call it a night and let Sparkle warm up and get comfortable.
When we got walking again there was a gas station and a restaurant about a mile in. We had to resupply for the next couple of days at the gas station. And couldn’t resist stopping for lunch at the restaurant. I had some of the best fish and chips of my life there! Plus yummy poutine and coleslaw. After we ate lunch we grabbed our resupplies. I picked up some cold medicine for myself because I’m worried that I’m also getting sick. My throat was a bit scratchy today. Seeing how sick Sparkle is does not bode well for me!
Then we continued on to walk the last 6 or so miles to the motel for the night. The road followed alongside the coast the entire way. Road walking may not always be fun, but at least this is scenic. A biker stopped us as we walked to ask us if we were doing the ECT! Apparently he met Out&About and Lil Buddha a couple of weeks ago. It warms my heart knowing that we’re basically following in those guys footsteps up here. They are about 2 weeks ahead of us.
Just before we got to the motel a truck drove by us and pulled over. They asked if we were the ones who booked the room for tonight. Which we were! They knew that we were walking so we said that we would be seeing them soon. It’s so funny how at home you can feel in another country. Canada has been so welcoming.
We got to the motel around 7pm. The whole building was painted in a bunch of different fun colors which was so cute. We got checked in and then lounged. At this point I was starting to feel pretty crummy. I took cold medicine and a hot shower. Then just laid in bed and chilled for the rest of the night. I really hope that I don’t get too sick. Being sick on trail is so damn miserable. But I’ll just have to see what happens.
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