October River Crossings in Northern Newfoundland
ECT Day 219&220
IAT Day 50&51
Day 219: 32 miles
This morning I woke up feeling so crummy. My throat was super sore and I knew I was getting sick. But we had a long day planned and had to get moving. All of us packed up and were heading out of the room around 7:30am. We all carried out about 2 days of food because we won’t pass by any more gas stations or stores for about 60 miles. The stores are one of the most enjoyable parts about road walking for me, so that’s a bit of a bummer.
After leaving the room we walked for about 4 or so hours before stopping. Everyone was in a good groove and we had miles to get in. The road mostly just followed along a vast wooded area. In the afternoon we passed by an inn which was closed and under construction. We had hoped that they would be open so we could refill our water there.
Fortunately, there was a small pond just down the street from there. So we filled up our bottles and ducked behind a pile of rocks to escape the wind. For the last couple of hours, the wind has been relentless. Plus, it’s been right on our face the whole time. You have to put so much more effort in to walking when the wind is blowing at you all day.
Behind the pile of rock we got great protection from the wind, however. So we decided to have lunch there to make the most of it. I was feeling pretty sick at this point and made myself a ramen. It felt good to drink the hot soup. Then I stretched and pulled some more snacks out to eat as we walked.
After leaving there the road walking continued. It was windy and cold for the next few hours. Having the wind blowing hard in my face was driving me crazy while walking. It just felt exhausting. Then around 4pm it started to rain. The rain was pretty light at least. We all put our rain gear on and continued along. The worst part though was the wind blowing the rain in your face. It was easy to imagine that hiking here on a slightly colder and windier day would be absolutely miserable.
The rain let up after a while and the wind did too. And for those last couple of hours before the sun went down the weather was perfect. I warmed up a bit which felt great. After a few more miles we turned off of the main road and began walking a dirt road. This route seems to be more regularly trafficked by hunters and ATV riders. We’ll be continuing along these backroads for a while.
The sun began to set and we got to witness a gorgeous sunset off the road. Mist was rolling in off the ocean around the same time which added a lovely element. Once the sun went down, we were still walking and trying to find a place to set up camp. There was a beach up ahead that we hoped would have some flat spots to set up.
We were able to set up in a more protected area near the beach. The wind wasn’t bad and the spot was flat enough. Just a bit overgrown. We all got our camps set up and then got into our tents quickly. It was damn cold outside and everyone wanted to warm up. Once the sun goes down around here the temperature drops drastically.
Once in my tent I ate some more ramen noodles for dinner. I’m definitely getting sick, so the soup made me feel a bit better. It’s hard feeling sick when it’s so cold and windy out. After I ate dinner, I did my stretching. Then I headed off to bed.
Day 220: 29 miles
This morning we all packed up early before the sun came up. I was feeling pretty crappy, but we were still quite far from our next resupply spot. There was no choice but to keep on moving. It was pretty cold out when we began hiking around 6:30am. Luckily though there wasn’t much wind.
A few hunters on ATVs rode by us before the sun came up. I always wonder what people think when they see us out here. Most people must just be so confused.
With it being so cold out I’ve been hiking in my sun hoodie, fleece, rain jacket, and hunting vest lately. Plus wearing my rain pants. We’re so close to the ocean and that fast cold wind just cuts right through you. By around 8am it was still sitting right around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Right around this time in the day we walked upon an unexpected obstacle. All of the sudden the road ahead of us stopped, and where there clearly used to be a bridge there wasn’t one anymore. We had to do a river crossing when it was about 39 degrees out.
In this moment I was so incredibly grateful for my camp shoes. Knowing that I could keep my shoes and socks try made the whole thing a lot easier to except. I rolled up my rain pants, took off my knee compression wrap, and then put my sandals on. I was the first one in the water and it was damn cold. It wasn’t cold enough to cause the burning sensation in your skin. But it was cold enough to take my breath away.
The rocks beneath the water were covered in algae and incredible slippery. The edge of the river was about knee deep but as I moved further in it got progressively deeper. That’s one of the obstacles with river crossings. It’s hard to truly know how deep the deepest portion is actually going to bed. Towards the middle of the river the rocks sat on a bit of ledge and then dropped down. It was so slippery, and the water was its fastest near there. I really took my time lowering myself down at that point. I hadn’t even considered the fact that I was wearing all of my warm clothes. So even if I slipped just slightly and got soaked it was going to make my day pretty miserable.
The deepest part of the river was up to about my crotch. Any deeper and the water would have been way too far over the hips to feel safe navigating the river. I made it to the other side with no issue which was great. My skin was pretty cold but a lot less cold than I had expected. Plus, I was able to take my sandals off and put on my nice dry socks and shoes!
Once I sat down on the other side Sparkle and Trucker began to cross. It was at this point that I truly realized how deep the water had been. Watching them both navigate slippery rocks and upper thigh deep water was a bit nerve racking. Even after having made it across easily myself. They both got across but definitely had to take their time in a couple of the sketchier spots.
We all got situated back on the other side. Then we kept on moving. Within the next mile or so we had to cross yet another river! This one was way smaller, but I still had to take my shoes off. I didn’t even put sandals on and just slowly walked across the rocks. Then once again we had to take the time to get situated. Sparkle and Trucker were just going in the water in their shoes, but still were taking off their socks. At least that way your socks aren’t literally soaking wet.
On the other side of the river was a big whale bone. That was super cool to see! Growing up I’ve seen a lot of whale bones in museums in Massachusetts. But I can’t recall if I’ve ever seen one in nature before. Over those next couple of miles, I saw a whole bunch of other things that I had never seen before.
The ATV guys who we saw this morning passed by us again. This time they had the body of a moose in the back of one of their ATVs. But the moose are too big to transport back on an ATV. So it wasn’t the whole moose, which was even more graphic to see. And just another mile or so down the road we walked by all the pieces that they hadn’t decided to take. They had left behind the whole abdominal sack, the hooves, and the head. There are just some things that you can’t unsee. Though I’m glad that that are clearly killing this animal in order to eat it! They didn’t care about the head because they aren’t mounting it. That animal died to feed them and their families.
When we passed by the scene, I called out to Sparkle who was behind me. She hadn’t seen it yet and I knew it would upset her. So she closed her eyes and Trucker helped her walk by without looking. She doesn’t even like to see a dead bird or mouse along the side of the road. We didn’t both have to have that imagine imprinted into our brains.
Not long after that we had two more river crossings. Each one came completely out of nowhere. One second you were walking the dirt road and the next second the dirt road just ended. There had clearly been bridges going across the river at one point in time. But not anymore! The third crossing of the day we were able to rock hop across and keep our feet dry. But the fourth crossing of the day I had to take my shoes of yet again.
This time though I was lazy again and didn’t put my sandals on. I just slowly walked through the water across the slippery flat rocks. The rocks were so much more skippery though with bare feet. I almost slipped in and got my shoes soaked, which I was carrying. But I just managed to save myself and not slip in. Putting my sandals on would have saved a whole lot of time. I had to cross so slowly and cautiously with my bare feet. Though I did make it across.
Around 12-12:30pm we decided to stop off for our first break. The river crossings had really slowed us down unfortunately. I expected that we would have gone a lot further than we did in the last few hours. But there’s nothing that we could do about that. It was super windy out yet again, so we tried to duck into some bushes for our break. We actually found a really nice area that was completely protected.
Trucker and I set our tents up for them to dry out. Then I boiled water to make a dehydrated meal for lunch. While that rehydrated, I made myself a mocha. I made hot water and added two coffee packets and a French vanilla hot chocolate packet. With how cold and windy it was out the hot drink was a damn blessing. It felt amazing to hide from the wind and sip on something warm.
All of us ate some food and relaxed for a while before we got moving again. We still had 19 miles to go to get to our next resupply point. That’s going to be a gas station and we’re hoping to get there either tonight or tomorrow morning. I’m pretty low on food so the sooner the better. But that is still a ways away and we’re moving slower thanks to the wind and river crossings. The wind was still whipping when we got back on the road. It’s just brutal because it’s been at our face the entire. If the wind shifted and was at our backs it wouldn’t be nearly as bad.
We got back to walking around 1pm and walked for a couple more hours on the dirt road. Then our path connected us back onto the main road which continued along the ocean and went by a small community. Sparkles saw on the map that there might be a small convenience store up ahead. It was hard to tell off the google posting whether it would be a legitimate store or not though. We wound up going past around 4:30pm and decided to check it out. The store was just off the main road, so it wasn’t too out of the way. And it was in fact open!
The little convenience store had everything that you could imagine. And it really took to w pressure off to have to make it to the further store by tonight. I got to get some better cold medicine which was lovely. At this point I was feeling so congested and sick. Hopefully day quill will get me right. I also got some snacks to eat over the rest of today and tonight.
We stayed at the convenience store for a while just snacking and hanging out. Then continued along. If we weren’t going to make it to that next gas station tonight, we were at least going to get close. That way we can hit it first thing tomorrow morning. Around 5pm the wind died down which made the rest of the day a lot easier. It was still cold but much better. I was feeling so congested and disoriented at this point though. I really just wanted to be done for the day. Plus, the knee that I’ve been compression wrapping was bothering me a bit as well. I had hoped that that would have resolved itself already, but it hasn’t.
As the sun began to set, we were still walking the road. We got to witness yet another beautiful sunset over the ocean. Canada is spoiling me rotten while simultaneously testing my morale a lot. When we were about 3 miles out from the next gas station, we found a spot to stop off. There was a dirt road pull off and a small grouping of trees. It was the perfect place to get a bit of protection from the cars on the road and also the wind. The area was a bit lumpy and uneven, but we made do.
Once my tent was set up, I did my stretching and got straight in my sleeping bag. I didn’t put on sleep clothes and just kept on my layers and rain gear. At this point I was so congested and uncomfortable that I couldn’t be bothered to do anything. I ate some chips and salsa which I had gotten at the last convenience store. Then I took more cold medicine and tried to fall asleep. I was so congested that I couldn’t even sniffle. My head was pounding and I felt awful. All that I can hope is that the medicine works and I feel a lot better in the morning.
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