Hiking Through Freezing Rain in Newfoundland
ECT Day 233&234
Day 233: 25 miles
This morning I was up pretty early after sleeping terrible. My messed up and over inflated sleeping pad was so uncomfortable. I probably would have been better off sleeping on the hard ground. Even though that would have likely been really uncomfortable as well.
By 8am we were all up and hiking once more. It was raining lightly but wasn’t too bad. Though the ATV roads we were walking were pretty awful. There were massive puddles all over and the ground was really rocky. With all of the maneuvering that was required I was just wishing that we were walking on plain old road. Our feet were wet early on in the day which wasn’t fun. But the same thing had happened yesterday too.
Early on in the day we passed the 2 ATV guys from last night. We thanked them for their camping recommendation which turned out to be the perfect spot. Then we continued on for another couple of hours after that. There was absolutely no place to stop off and take a break even if we wanted to. The sides of the ATV path were all fully saturated with water.
About 4-5 hours into the day, we actually walked right past a warming hut though! I haven’t seen one of these since Quebec. It was easy to take them for granted back then because there were so many. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed the luxury until today. We decided to stop off inside and enjoy a nice dry break. The hut was actually enormous, and someone had left a generator outside. If you carried in gas, you could run the generator and turn the lights on inside the hut. But it was just a perfect place for the 3 of us to hang out without getting wet.
Today my calf and right knee are pretty sore for the first time in a few days. I think that sleeping so uncomfortably last night definitely played a role in that. My hips feel out of alignment and I’m just hurting in general. I’ve tried in the past to backpack without using an inflatable sleeping pad. In 2017 I went for almost 1000 miles without one. But my hips just really need one these past couple years. With having IT band issues, I find that I don’t heal very well at night without the pad. Especially because I’m typically a side sleeper. I’m just hoping to find a gear shop sometime soon to replace my pad.
After enjoying a nice long break at the warming hut, we continued along. After a few more miles the dirt ATV road intersected the 404. I could see on my google maps that following along the 404 would save us over a mile. So we decided to do that to save some time. Plus, the ATV road was so rocky and flooded that it was taking much longer to navigate it. Those small obstacles actually slowed us down a lot.
Taking the 404 highway also brought us right past an Irving gas station. That was a good enough reason as any to follow the road in my opinion. We were all pleasantly surprised that the highway was really quiet. That was great because the speed limit was high, so it had the possibility of being sketchy. But in my opinion, it was no more sketchy than any of the other roads you have to walk along the IAT.
Once we were back on regular road and off the rocky dirt road my body felt a lot better. The maneuvering around rocks threw off my gait a bit and irritated my hips even more. We wound up walking the road until around 3:15am when we went past a gas station. It actually had a restaurant attached to it too which was an amazing surprise!
We headed inside and sat down to get some lunch. The resupply in the small store was limited so I definitely wanted to stuff my face at the restaurant. I wound up getting a burger with fried onions on it and some poutine. Then for desert Sparkle and I split a piece of pie.
While we were inside a bike packer came in and sat down near us. We wound up chatting with him and he went by the name The Wizard. He’s going all across Newfoundland in the opposite direction which is really cool. After we ate, we sat outside to dry our things and talked with him for a while. We had to do a small resupply in the store which was difficult. There wasn’t much to be had there. Then we wound up hanging out front for ages before we got moving again. It was sometime after 5pm when we actually were hiking again.
Our plan is to take the ferry Tuesday evening to get back over to Nova Scotia. That means we have to do a big day tomorrow and then will have a relatively short day on Tuesday. That would be ideal so that we can basically just hang out Tuesday and kill time before the ferry arrives.
After leaving the store we wound up walking into the dark. There was a campground nearby, but it was closed for the season. So we walked until we found a cornfield and decided to set up near there. It was quiet and decently protected from the road. So that was perfect spot to set up camp.
I blew up my ridiculous sleeping pad for another horrible night’s sleep. Then got situated and laid down. I didn’t even have the energy to eat much or anything in my tent before calling it a night.
Day 234: 30 miles
This morning when we all woke up it was pouring rain out. What a rough way to start off a long day of hiking. We wound up sleeping in a bit and got walking after the rain let up. But it was still coming down quite a bit.
Around 8:30am we got moving and it wasn’t too miserable. The rain wasn’t too bad and there was hardly any wind. While we walked along the road I combed through my hair and re did the braid. Then I brushed my teeth and got ready for the day. The routine makes me feel like a person sometimes.
After an hour or so though the wind picked up and it began to rain heavier. Out of nowhere the weather really turned and the temperature dropped a lot. It wasn’t long before my feet were soaked and freezing cold. My toes went numb and then after a while I couldn’t feel them much at all. Thank god the wind was at our backs for most of the morning. If it had been blowing in our faces it would have felt so much colder.
All of us walked in those conditions for a while before deciding to stop. We needed to discuss a plan and figure out what everyone wanted to do. Trucker had suggested that we could set up our tents at a spot nearby. It really wasn’t up until that point that I understood the severity of the situation. All of us were almost entirely soaked and were freezing cold. The wind was whipping hard and the rain continued to come down. It was the perfect storm for future hypothermia. If the weather continued this way for another couple of hours we would probably have to bail out to a motel.
When we got off the main road and got onto a parallel dirt road the wind let up immediately. The trees were blocking it which was a major relief. It was still raining but much more comfortable. While we sat there, we discussed our options. If the weather stayed like this, it was going to be unsafe to walk after a while. There really weren’t any motels or places within walking distance for the day either. So if we wanted to head somewhere to get out of the rain we were going to have to hitch.
After sitting along the dirt road for a little while we decided to head back out into it all. Our plan was to start hitching and see what happened we. We could get rides right away or it could take hours. And it was definitely the ladder this time around. We had our thumbs out and walked in the pouring rain and wind. Even in those sad conditions no one stopped off to ask how we were or offer a ride.
We wound up walking for a half hour longer before the wind let up. We were finally able to warm up a bit even though we were still wet. Not long after that the rain let up as well and we finally began to get dry. We were no longer at risk for hypothermia at this point which was a relief. No one ever pulled over while we hitched for an hour or so. After a while we decided to just stop hitching and continue walking. Now we will definitely be making it to the Tuesday night ferry off of Newfoundland.
Once we got back to walking after that “risk assessment” break we never stopped again all day. Luckily, I was able to warm up and dry off a bit and was comfortable by the midafternoon. I truly didn’t expect that the wind and rain was going to let up at all. So the turn around has been great.
The rest of the day we just pushed on along the road. All of us are excited to complete Newfoundland and get to our final province along the IAT. We’re getting close now. I think the rest of the day flew by easily once the rain stopped. We had all been expecting the whole day to be terrible. Once the weather let up, I didn’t mind the hiking at all. At least we were just hiking, and not hiking in the rain.
Around 7:30pm we actually made it to a gas station and small town. There wasn’t any place to stay but we didn’t need to anymore. The weather tonight and tomorrow looks good as well. We did however pop into the gas station for some food and drinks. There was a Robins inside, so I got a hot beverage there. Then the lady behind the counter let us pick out any muffins or donuts we wanted. The place closed in 30 minutes, so everything was going to get thrown out anyways.
We got to stuff our faces and grab whatever snacks we wanted for tomorrow. Then continued down the road to find a place to tent. There was a dirt road that we wound up taking to a big open field. The field was flat and the grass was lush. We all set up for the night there. It was truly perfect.
Luckily the area was so nice and flat because I decided not to sleep on my thermarest tonight. It’s so uncomfortable now that the baffles have blown out. I’ve hardly slept or healed my body at all the last couple of days. It’s been brutal honestly. My hips are absolutely killing me and the worst part is knowing why and not being able to change anything. Sleeping on the ground tonight might be a bit better, but it’s still going to be rough.
After I got set up, I finished my drink and ate some snacks. Then I did my stretching and tried to get comfortable. The ground was definitely more pleasant than the blown-up pad. My body could actually relax a bit. But the ground was still really hard on my hips. My hips are definitely a main problem area on trail for injury. That’s where most all of the injury that I’ve had over the years has stemmed from. Eventually I fell asleep and hoped to get a bit more rest than the last 2 nights.
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